It recently occurred to me that women are always complimenting each other. At least, it seems like they’re always complimenting each other.
But perhaps the reason it seems that way is because men rarely do it.
Think about it… When was the last time one of your friends complimented you? How often do you compliment them?
It just doesn’t seem to happen.
Compliments are great. They strengthen relationships, they give people a little self-esteem boost, and they’re generally just pleasant things to give and receive.
So why don’t men compliment each other?
Firstly, I wonder if it’s simply the case that men don’t compliment anyone at all. Maybe they find the whole thing a little awkward.
Personally, compliments can often make me feel a little uncomfortable. I don’t always know how to respond, other than mumbling a quick thank you.
I’m guessing other men feel the same way and would prefer not to be complimented at all. It stands to reason that if you don’t like being complimented, you won’t compliment others.
That’s the simple answer to this riddle. But it must go deeper.
Why don’t men like receiving compliments?
What if it’s because we aren’t used to them. As kids, boys are often left to their own devices. We don’t need compliments to keep doing our thing, whatever that may be.
Girls, however, grow up in a world that’s a little more hostile towards them. Parents are often more protective of their daughters than their sons. Perhaps compliments are spread around in groups of girls because it helps strengthen them.
Women have grown up complimenting each other and so as adults they’re used to it. It’s just part of life.
I think there’s also another underlying reason why men don’t compliment each other, and why they find it so awkward and difficult.
It’s because it isn’t seen as a manly thing to do.
I asked some friends about this phenomenon on social media and one told me that he often tries to compliment other guys if he can tell they’ve put effort into something, like a new hair style.
The man will then just shrug it off as if he doesn’t care. Funnily enough, that response leads my friend to think twice the next time he wants to compliment a guy.
The reason why men tend to shrug off compliments is because a compliment suggests we’ve made an effort. If someone compliments my hair style, it implies that I’ve worked to try and pull the hair style off.
Personal grooming is not considered a stereotypically manly thing to do (though that’s starting to change) and so you don’t want to admit that you’ve put any effort in.
And seeing as most compliments are about appearance, perhaps that shines a light on why men don’t like receiving compliments, and hence, don’t give them.
But why does all this matter so much?
As I mentioned earlier, compliments are great. They raise our self-esteem, they improve the relationship between the giver and the receiver, they show we care.
Caring is considered “unmanly”, yet there’s no real reason that should be the case. In fact, if men were more caring we’d all be in a better place. (That’s one for another blog post.)
I’m not saying you have to start complimenting every guy you see. Start with your friends. If you see that they have a new shirt that fits them well, or they’ve started working out, or anything like that, let them know.
The more men compliment each other, the more we’ll get used to it.
And lord knows we all need a bit more self-esteem every now and then.