Backhanded compliments are sometimes used as a dating strategy, but one that usually backfires. A guy might use this type of compliment to come across as confident and aloof in the hopes that a girl will chase him. The strategy, however, is part of an act -- one that he can't keep up. A truly confident guy isn't afraid to give a genuine compliment.
What They Are
A guy approaches you at a party and says, "Nice dress. I've seen about seven other girls wearing the same one." You aren't sure whether he just complimented or insulted you. The backhanded compliment does not really mean there is something wrong with you -- and it might mean that he likes you. In this case, he is trying to act confident and make it seem as though he isn't really interested.
Effects on You
The backhanded compliment might make you feel uncomfortable, confused or even angry. You are probably thinking to yourself, "Why are you comparing me to those other girls? Don't you see what is special about me?" As a dating strategy, his compliment hasn't really worked, but rather left you feeling defensive and needing to prove yourself. Those aren't really the types of feelings that you should have when you first start dating someone.
Relationships are based on sharing thoughts and being honest, as discussed in the Teens Health article, "Love and Romance." If a girl finds out that you used a backhanded compliment to get her attention, she will be angry and hurt. A far better strategy would be to offer a genuine compliment that makes her feel good, says psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne, in the Psychology Today article, "9 Types of Compliments and Why They Work (Or Not)." Examples might include "That dress really brings out the color of your eyes," or "I like those boots. Where did you get them?" A sincere compliment shows that you aren't afraid to be yourself.
Rather than put others down with backhanded compliments, build your confidence by becoming an interesting person. Take up new hobbies, practice your social skills and become a good listener. Learn how to flirt without saying a word -- for example with a bit of eye contact, as discussed in the Social Issues Research Center article "Guide to Flirting." Have a few conversation starters ready such as "Crowded in here, isn't it?" When you have true self confidence, you don't need to put others down to feel good.
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