I’ve got sex to write about—I had quite a few adventures worth recording at the end of the year. But I’d like to take a brief moment today simply because it’s the first of the year, and so many of you out there might still be finalizing your list of resolutions. Some of you might want to add one more item to that list, at my behest.
I using one of those location-based GPS cruising apps on my phone, today. It doesn’t matter which. They’re all roughly the same in the way they arrange the men currently using it into a grid of tiny thumbnails for one perusal, from closest to further away. I have only spotty luck on those things. When I’m traveling I get hit on like crazy; when I’m within a fifty-mile radius of my home, I can go for weeks without a shout-out. Anyway, today I fired up the app and during a look at the faces appearing nearby, I saw that a younger man with a great, great smile had taken a look at my profile only a few minutes before. He was in his later twenties, wore a layer of heavy-duty scruff on his handsome face, and his enormous smile made his eyes crinkle. He was offbeat enough that I knew he wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but his photo really took my breath away.
So I sent him a compliment. A short and simple compliment. You have a really amazing smile!, it said. I wasn’t intending that he should be so overwhelmed by my eloquence that he’d want to hop into my bed. It wasn’t a marriage proposal. I just wanted to honor an impulse, to let this individual know that for a couple of brief moments, just the sight of his face took me out of my worries and woes and made me feel good. You know?
This is what I got back from him:
-Thanks I guess, but your profile says you’re in a relationship.
-Fuck, why does everyone who thinks I’m cute have to be in a relationship???
-I guess I should put in my profile that I’m SINGLE and only looking for SINGLE guys huh
-It’s like I’m cursed or something so that the only people who talk to me are married guys and it fucking sucks.I came back to the app at this point, a little astonished at the negativity my statement had generated. I told him, I didn’t mean to upset you. I only offered a compliment, kindly intended.
In reply I got a flurry of messages back.
-Yeah whatever it just feels like being on the receiving end of really fucking awful luck.
-You’ve got a boyfriend or whatever so you don’t know what it’s like being alone on day like today
-One day some single sexy guy is going to message me maybe but I’ll probably be dead by then.
- God now I feel fucking miserable.I was about to write back to the guy and try to get him into a more reasonable state of mind. In the end, though, I just put down my phone and backed away with my hands in the air. I can spot a losing battle when I see one.
Do you guys know why it’s so rare to receive genuine compliments on the internet, and why it’s so difficult to find friendly guys? Because when at the drop of a hat guys turn compliments into psychodramas in which they’re dead on their living room floors on New Year’s Day, friendly men like me are frightened into keeping our mouths shut. That’s why.
Guys, a compliment is a compliment. When you receive one, simply say Thank you. If you’re so moved or attracted, offer one back. But all you really have to give is your simple thanks.
A compliment is not intended to imply that the guy wants to pick you up in his car right that afternoon so the two of you can spend the afternoon at Macy’s working on your wedding registry before you drive off together into the sunset at the end of the day. It’s not necessary to look at a man’s profile, when he proffers praise, to establish how well he fits some preconceived template you’ve envisioned for your one true love. It’s definitely not necessarily to castigate a perfect stranger for his relationship status, or his looks, or his age, or his photographs, or however else he doesn’t happen to match your ideal Prince Charming. You are not obligated to meet, sleep with, or marry a guy who tells you on Grindr that you’re cute.
He’s simply telling you that you’re cute. Say thank you.
When a man offers a compliment, he’s trying very sincerely to say that he finds some aspect of you delightful. You’ve managed to make him feel good in some meaningful way; he’s trying to repay the favor.
He’s honestly not intending to send you into depression. If his words send you spiraling into despair, that’s really something for you to address and work on in your own or your therapist’s time; throwing all that self-negativity at him does nothing to honor the simple, sweet intent of a moment’s impulse.
Don’t say Oh my eyes are too close together or My body’s not all that. Don’t launch into a monologue about how you’re trying to lose thirty-five pounds so that then you’ll be really cute. Don’t ask if he needs eyeglasses, or if other people have questioned his taste before.
Say thank you. Mean it. Don’t qualify it. And then bask in the knowledge that you live in a universe generous enough to send your way a little positive energy—a little bit of its bounty—through another man’s random act of kindness.
If you’re going to resolve anything this year, resolve this: to address those shortcomings that are under your own control, and to accept the well-intended goodness that comes your own way.
That’s what’s going to make a great 2013.