Learn the hidden meanings behind passive-aggressive compliments

Who doesn’t like getting compliments? We all do.

However, there is a difference between admiring someone genuinely and passing passive aggressive compliments. Such compliments are deemed more as an insult that is disguised as praise.

No matter how infuriated we get upon receiving such remarks, we usually have no other option than to suppress our anger.

 Today, we will discuss some of the commonly used passive aggressive compliments so that those who are unaware of the taunts hidden in sugar-coated words would know better the next time such a comment is passed at them.

Everyone knows of the changes that a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy. It is a fact that losing weight and coming back into shape is a time-taking process. However, some individuals are rude enough to comment on the physical appearance of new mothers without being considerate to their emotional distress and postpartum depression.

Others take a more sly approach telling these ladies that they look great for someone who has recently given birth to a child. This is a passive way to taunt their weight by implying that they do not look perfect or ‘good enough but still better than most women who are in the same phase.

Similarly, it is not the right approach to point out someone’s obesity and tell them to lose weight. Someone passing such a remark would be making a passive aggressive compliment.

Commenting on someone’s dressing style to point out that they don’t stress over what to wear is low key telling them that they do not put any effort into making their style stand out.

Sometimes the passive aggressive compliments are not intentional but a slip of tongue or just an honest reaction that contradicts our expectations.
One such hilarious example was shared on the internet by a daughter who framed a picture of herself and gifted it to her mother. The mother had been asking for the photograph for a long time. Rather than praising the daughter’s photograph, the passive-aggressive mother’s immediate response was:
“Oh, what a lovely frame!” This left her daughter a bit disappointed.

At the end of a competition or assessment, the evaluators often say that they admire the participants’ confidence. However, if you have ever been through such contests, you would know that this expression is used to communicate that you did not make it to the next round while making it sound like a compliment so that you do not feel bad.

“Is that a new haircut? It looks like you did it yourself!”

This is a remark most of us have received during the lockdown. Reason being that we all attempted the above-mentioned act and failed at it miserably.

Therefore, do not be under the misconception that someone passing this comment meant to appreciate your hair-cutting skills. The person is most probably using it as a taunt to point out the pathetic quality and style of your haircut.

The next time you feel over cloud nine because someone told you that you should be glad you’re pretty if nothing else, take a pause and try to digest this sugar-coated taunt. The person is trying to imply that you are unintelligent and do not have brains. If you are wondering how we reached the underlying meaning of this passive aggressive compliment, try focusing on the words “at least” and “nothing else”.

Sometimes taunts are used by family members to subtly express their dislike for one of our actions. An amusing example may be a husband purchasing car accessories when the wife wanted to spend that budget elsewhere.

To communicate her disappointment, the wife may say something like:

“I’m glad at least YOU are happy”. This implies that she is not happy and her partner only cared about fulfilling his wish.

Though gender stereotypes are now diminishing, they still exist in many parts of the world. The elderly still hold them, dear, because they lived in an era during which such beliefs were a norm. Consequently, they sometimes pass comments which can be classified as passive-aggressive compliments.

One such example was shared on Reddit by a girl whose brother made a first attempt at preparing a pie on Thanksgiving. However, when the boy proudly asked for feedback from his grandmother, she told him he’d become a good wife.

The compliment meant that the pie was really good but since he, being a guy made the dessert, the old lady equated him to a “wife”- thus implying that he was performing a “girly” task.

A hilarious, as well as a meaningful example of a passive-aggressive compliment, would be telling someone they’re too smart, hence they can perform a task all by themselves. It denotes that one is subtly backing out from offering help or taking any responsibility.

Though passive aggression may seem amusing under certain circumstances, it can be difficult to deal with at times. The situation becomes even more challenging when those passing such compliments belong to our family or social circle. One of the tactics could be coming up with equally passive-aggressive responses that seem polite and hence serve the dual purpose of making your point across and avoiding a fight.

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