If you’re someone who revels in the power of wordplay, you’ve probably figured out by now that there are some people in this world who excel at what we sometimes like to call “backhanded compliments” – meaning they sound like a compliment, but if you look again, they’re actually an insult.
If you’re looking to add a few of those to your arsenal (you know, for reasons), these 17 are pretty darn solidly both at once.
17. It’s a classic for a reason.
There’s the classic, “I don’t care what they say about you, you’re alright.”
16. This one is just tricky enough.
“I love how you’ll just wear anything” -John Mulany
15. Do people not realize?
You look so much nicer now!
I had a teacher in high school tell me, in front of the class, how much better I looked since putting on a little weight.
I had always been super skinny but had put on 20 pounds that year because my doctor was trying out depression meds on me after my dad died.
F**k you, lady.
14. So super cringe.
“You’re very beautiful for your age.” or “I can tell you were beautiful when you were younger.”
I got a “you’re looking pretty good for a guy in their 40’s”. Well, thats nice i guess, but I was 35 at the time.
13. Doesn’t everyone go through a funny-looking stage?
My auntie once said to me: You know, you used to be a bit funny looking as you were growing up but you have turned in to a really handsome chap.
I really didn’t know what to make of that, if I should be happy or offended.
12. You gotta love old ladies.
It’s a good thing you’re so pretty.
Ah yeah, old lady snark.
“Oh honey. You’re not pretty enough to be such a b*%ch…”
11. Thanks, grandpa.
After I gave birth to my first son I had just lost the baby weight. My grandfather said “Well, I guess you’re not gonna be fat now like your mama and your sister.”
My mom and sister were sitting right there. Win for me…insult for them.
10. In the same vein.
“Wow, you smell a lot nicer than usual!”
“Wow, it’s so wonderful that you are not stealing stuff anymore”
“You smell different when you’re awake.”
9. Never ask this question.
” wooo are you twins??? ” Said the cashier to me and my brother… who’s 12 years older than me…
Edit: of course my brother took it as a compliment… that little-
8. Those first impressions.
I always get “Wow, we used to think you were a real b*%ch but you’re actually really nice!” from friends at some point.
It makes me so sad that I’m a naturally shy person around a new group of people.
It makes me so self-conscious when I meet new people because I know that line and its variants will eventually be said again.
7. This one makes me laugh.
I wish I had the confidence to wear that…
6. Looks influence more than you think.
People easily accept shyness in girls who are mousey-cutesy looking, or are very petite, or have resting friendly face. But if you have more of a glamorous look or are tall or have a touch of resting b face, then your quietness becomes very intimidating and people don’t like it. (I know this because I have the same problem! And one day someone was nice enough to explain it to me.)
I’ve found that it helps to announce “I’m such a fucking dork you guys” and take opportunities to make light-hearted silly jokes at my own expense (no low esteem stuff, I always laugh when I’m making fun of myself!) . This seems to really help people relax around me and I’ve stopped getting the “I thought you were such a bitch at first but you’re really nice” note.
5. True story.
“Of course you don’t, bless your heart.”
[Disclaimer – I’m not this sassy or this clever, I dated a southern girl for a while. They are vicious.]
4. Classic burn.
Back in the 1980s, New Zealand’s prime minister said that anyone who chose to emigrate from New Zealand to Australia could be proud that they were raising the average IQ of both countries.
3. You gotta hang onto this one.
My friend use to lob this backhanded compliment / joke burn:
“Hey I stood up for you. They said you weren’t fit to sleep with pigs. But goddamnit, I said you were!”
2. “I can see where you were going with this…”
“I can see that you’re trying.”
(When someone shows you something they worked hard on, and it’s the only positive thing you can think of to say.)
1. Yeah, just no.
You’re pretty bright for someone that has (insert any disability here).
Or when they tell you “you’re so brave/such an inspiration” for simply existing.
Gee, good to know that me doing groceries with a brace on inspires you to…what exactly?
I’m definitely going to be putting a few of these in my back pocket, how about you?
If you’ve got more you’d like to share, we’re all ears in the comments!