Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

Why Compliments Are A Man’s Kryptonite

Adulthood has taught me two indisputable tenets about women

1. Most women possess a ton of unnecessary sh*t.

Some of this sh*t is somewhat practical (layers of expired coupons, Thai cook books, etc), some is understandable (dozens of bottles of overpriced oils and lotions and sh*t all doing the exact same f*cking thing, pictures of Santonio Holmes’ wang, etc), and some is so hilariously frivolous that you start to wonder if they rob Tuesday Mornings in their spare time (pink couch pillows with the names of the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy monogrammed in Arial Narrow, candles with scents like “depression mahogany” and “Oprah at night,” etc).

2. If you ever happen to be somewhere where your girlfriend is going to meet up with a few of her girlfriends, be prepared to witness an extended period of compliment cunnilingus when they see each other.

Now, it’s possible that all women don’t do this and that the women in my sphere of influence are just a little nicer than most others. But, from a completely anecdotal perspective, it seems like women are completely unable to see each other without devoting the first 10 to 25 minutes of their conversations to complimenting each other about anything.

Yes. Anything. Seriously, it’s really not that far-fetched to overhear some sh*t like “Wow, Jane. Ever since that pitbull bit off your nose, I couldn’t help to notice how pretty your eyes are. I’m so jealous. I’d definitely let a pit bull bite off my nose and eat my nephew if I could have eyes like that!”

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because of a statement Lady Champ made a few days ago. (Actually, it was more of smart-aleck tease than a statement. But, for the sake of the discussion, it’ll stay a statement today.) She made notice of the fact that I have a tendency to turn into a slobbering bastard when a woman other than my mom gives me a compliment, and she followed that by saying that most men are the exact same way.

My initial reaction was to dispute this, but then I remembered that just that day I got all verklempt when I accidentally overheard a Starbucks barista matter-of-factly say “…see, I’d definitely date him. But, black guys like that don’t like me.” to another barista. Never mind the fact that she didn’t actually say it to me, and never mind that I had no idea what a “black guy like me” actually was, she gave me an indirect compliment and I almost choked on my orange juice when hearing it.

Why did this affect me so? Well, the answer comes from that barista. You see, although she complimented me…she didn’t give me the compliment. She didn’t just come out and say “Hey, young black sir, I think you’re attractive and I wouldn’t mind sharing a cinnamon rice cake with you” because, well, women very, very, very rarely give direct compliments to random men.

If fact, not only do men rarely hear compliments from random women, most of us rarely hear compliments from women we’re actually sleeping with.  Seriously, aside from the usual mid-coital kudos (ie: “Your d*ck is on some American Airways sh*t tonight, baby! Damn! You got the magic motherf*ckin touch”), most men reading this can probably count the number of compliments their girlfriend has given them on one hand.

When you combine this with the fact that you’re probably going to see Casey Anthony giving the headline speech at a CYS conference before you see the majority of men freely, easily, and directly complimenting other men, you understand why the compliment is a man’s kryptonite — the one thing that can turn goons to goo and thugs to ticklish teddy bears.

Now, it’s completely understandable why women — most of whom are quick to compliment each other about anything, remember — are reluctant to freely compliment men. Something as innocent as “Hey, you always have the nicest pencils.” could (and probably would) be interpreted by most men as “Hey, I have some space in my vagina that I need for you to fill.

But, maybe that leap is due to the fact that we just aren’t used to hearing them and don’t know how to react when we do. Maybe more experience with receiving them would stop us from automatically thinking “She wants my meatloaf” whenever a woman says something nice to us, and maybe we’d be nicer people. Maybe “more female to male compliments” would = “less crime.” Who knows?

I do know, though, that I’m officially “not allowed” (Ha!) in that Starbucks anymore. Moral of the story, ladies? Be careful. More female to male compliments just might get you cut.

—The Champ

***Speaking of compliments, the homies at Jenesis Magazine ran a pretty complimentary profile of The Champ and VSB on Friday. Check it out if you haven’t already***

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • I’m a compliment giver (when its necessary), but I HATE receiving compliments. I think this is because of my social anxiety. “Thank you” sounds so arrogant sometimes. Like you were expecting a compliment and ignore a compliment is just rude. So, I smile and change the subject quickly.

    I never compliment guys. I’ve learned my lesson.

  • Dione


  • So what to do in the meantime when I tell a guy that his haircut looks especially nice and he attempts to immediately hump my leg. Do you know how much dry-cleaning costs?

  • I know for a fact that I own more crap than God himself, smh idk how or why I’ve amassed so much but I still think that I’ll put it to use one day.

    I do my part to lower urban crime all the time but yeah men do often take it as an open invitation.

  • HA this is so true and because men get all beside themselves I have stopped doing it. I remember telling me co-worker I liked his cologne one day. He wore it EVERYDAY for like 4 years LOL. Men are hilarious but you gotta love them!

  • Now that you mention it, every time I give a man I am dating a compliment he looks at me in utter disbelief. This always leads to my questions I ask most dudes, “Who are these evil b*tches you are dating?” I guess you figure what you do is the norm, I didn’t realize so many men didn’t get that kind of acknowledgement. Now I see why I got such props for simple observations and basic sweetness. The More You Know and sh*t.

  • My mother is a player from way back. When I was growing up, she told me that the first thing you do to win a man over is compliment him. It’s been the secret to my game for the longest. You see, I am one of the women who actually compliment random guys on a regular basis. Yes, most of the time, dudes immediately think I wanna let them get it when I compliment them so I also have to make sure I settle them down before it goes too far.


    I try to give guys compliments when I can b/c I know they don’t get the kind of compliments we women get. We compliment each other so much (and receive compliments from men) that we kind of take it for granted everyone gets that type of recognition and appreciation.

    It’s tricky, though. Telling a man you like his cologne could lead to him thinking you want his scent lingering in your sheets and pillows, lol. So, I’m careful not to toss compliments out all willy-nilly.

  • Amarie

    It’s really funny that your post was about compliments. This guy that I’m kind of “talking” to always makes statements that are almost like backwards compliments. For example, I wore a pink razor back shirt grey workout capris and pink and black Nikes when we worked out. And he said, “You almost look too cute to be working out.” He made some other statements about how I was matching before this. It’s like why not just say “You look sexy” or something. Another time after a workout he said I put on a lot of deodorant. And I made him smell my wrist and it turned out to be my perfume. All this irritates me because I know he’s joking but I wish he was more direct.

  • AfroPetite

    I’ve learned that men don’t know how to take compliments at all -____- A simple “you smell nice” quickly get’s turned into some lewd remark about the scent of my lady parts on his face…. (0_o)

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