How Giving Flattery Is Hurting Your Relationships
Do you tend to be an over-complimentor in your relationships? While it’s nice to give genuine compliments in relationships- and even a love language- this can also be holding you both back from getting closer. I’ll explain how giving flattery is actually hurting your relationships in the long-run and where this dynamic of giving excessive compliments comes from.
As cliché as it is, flattery most likely stems from your childhood. One or both of your parents needed flattery- and you were so perceptive to their needs that you picked up on it. Well done- this was a great way to get your needs met when you were younger. When you complimented your mom, she was so filled up with joy, and she liked you more for it. Maybe you were favored over your siblings, maybe it led to her doing favors for you or letting you off the hook. Whatever it was- it worked.
Now you take that dynamic into other relationships: friendships, relationships, coworkers. In general, people tend to like others who think highly of them and so this works to an extent. In relationships at first, you want to praise the other person and let them know that you like them- and that’s a good thing.
So what’s the downfall here, you ask?
- You attract insecure people who become dependent on your flattery.
While compliments are more frequent in the beginning, they start to fade out as relationships progress. If you are using flattery to connect with someone, then it’s someone who needs it. They might want to hang out with you or do great things for you because they need that affirmation, not because they like you. Ouch. You can safeguard yourself from this dynamic by watching how someone responds to your compliments. How flatterable are they?
Have you ever tried to compliment a confident person? Not proud, but confident…they don’t even wince. Their way of connecting to the world isn’t through getting admiration, but by really connecting with people. They are the salt of the earth. They do amazing things and don’t expect anything from you. This is the person you ultimately want to be in a relationship with, but at first you might feel a disconnect since they aren’t receiving your flattery. You might have to connect with them in a more real way: vulnerability, time together, stating your needs, getting to know them.
- The relationship becomes about them.
You can realize from point #1 how you can start to get trapped into giving compliments as a way of connecting with the other person. They expect it, so you give it. When you are the compliment-giver, the attention tends to lean towards the other. So now they tell you about how amazing they are, you compliment them, and now your wants, accomplishments, and needs, are all out of the picture. They tend to not know you very well, and when they help you it’s not out of love, but to receive flattery.
- It’s an indirect way of getting your needs met.
We all enjoy a little challenge, but maybe stating your needs and being vulnerable is not one of them. While you keep this person tied to you by giving compliments, it’s not authentic connection and eventually you will start to notice you’re not actually getting your needs met. It’s important to first know what your needs are: Reassurance? Closeness? Help? When you have the unconscious- now conscious- urge to give flattery, maybe ask yourself first: “What do I need from them that I’m not asking for?” Once you figure out what you need, ask them directly: “I’m feeling a little insecure- do you enjoy hanging out with me?” “I want to be closer to you- could we hang out more often?” “I’m really exhausted- could you help me?”
Do you flatter others a lot in your relationships? I would love to work with you. I’m a therapist in the Los Gatos/San Jose area. If you are close by, or just have a question, please leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.