It Was Just a Compliment!

By Rachel

At some point in the MySpace Era of social media, there was a rapid increase in relationships being ripped to shreds over suspected infidelity. Social media makes it so easy to be dishonest with your significant other without the threat of getting caught. Admit it: you fought with your boyfriend or girlfriend at least one time over some shit that happened on MySpace, whether it was innocent or not.

I know I did. With more than one boyfriend. But those are stories for another day!

It basically goes down like this:

“Who the fuck is this dude? Why is he calling you gorgeous?”

“Oh for fucks sake, that’s my brother’s friend. But I’d like to know who that bitch is!”

Ah, MySpace. Our gateway drug to sharing way more information that we ever imagined possible about our personal lives.

Some of the fighting was real though. The internet makes you call every little comment into question because you can be extremely secretive about what you are saying to another person and cross boundaries without even touching someone else. (Read: Cheating Without Touching.)

The flip side of this though is that people tend to sit on pins and needles over every little thing they say or do now regarding the opposite sex (or same sex if that is your preference). I noticed this back in the spring.

I had changed my profile photo on Facebook and Twitter. Within a few minutes I received messages from multiple male friends, some of whom were married and some who were single. These are my friends. There has never been anything between any of us beyond friendship, but they all messaged me to tell me that I looked pretty in the photo (which also never happens so the messages were stunning for that reason as well).

The odd thing about the messages though was that they all had one thing in common other than the compliment. All of the compliments were prefaced with, “I’m not trying to be a creeper but…”

I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s creepy now to tell a friend that they look nice? Twice in the last few months I have told completely platonic guy friends that they are very attractive. Whatever the conversation was about, a compliment was warranted. One was talking about girl stuff and the other was talking about weight loss. I meant what  I said to each of them. They’re very good looking guys.

I don’t feel like that makes me a creep or that it means I want to jump into bed with them. It was an honest compliment and it is possible to find someone physically attractive without wanting to be physical with that person.

But because there is so much cheating and misconstrued comments because of the constraints of text messaging of any sort, you lose context. We have reached the point where we unfortunately cannot give a nice compliment to a person without having to justify it or ensure that we weren’t internet stalking them.

About two weeks ago, I posted an article on my other blog about my weightloss progress. A male friend of mine who is married sent me a personal message about it. Last year he lost a lot of weight and wanted to drop me a line of encouragement. I appreciated this greatly. But, because he is married, he began with, “You know that I am happily married. but…” and then proceeded to tell me that I am pretty and that he is proud of my progress.

We ended up having a discussion that inspired this blog. He’s my friend. I know that he has a strong marriage, but I don’t find it to be inappropriate to give me a compliment. Not in the context we were speaking.

Don’t say this to someone if you have a wife.

But some people do not understand where the line of appropriateness is. I think that in using common sense, you can get your message across without the need of a disclaimer.

“Hey, I saw the photo you just posted and just wanted to say you look really nice.”

There. That is simple and honest. It isn’t over or understated.

Now, because this is via text, there are ways to virtually change the context. Adding the “wink” face is one way to turn a compliment into something a little more. It’s our go to when we are insinuating something more. “You look hot as fuck” is a way to take a compliment and turn it into crossing the line.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  If we are all mindful of how we are phrasing our compliments and commentary, there is no need for anyone to feel confused or threatened or like their friends are skeevy pervs.

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