15 Harmful Compliments You Didn’t Realize Were Offensive

Compliments are meant to be uplifting. However, some seemingly positive and well-intentioned remarks can actually be incredibly offensive. Adding a qualifier to any compliment is almost guaranteed to turn a well-intended comment into something inappropriate. 

Here are 15 compliments and phrases that are just better left unsaid. 

Congratulations, You’re On Time!

Grateful boss handshaking employee
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This is more of a passive-aggressive or sarcastic remark than a compliment and is often used to out someone’s tardiness. 

Your New Hair Makes You Look So Much Younger

Great view on woman with long curly hair in hair salon and professional hairdresser styling her hairstyle with hairspray.
Image Credit: Maksym Fesenko / Shutterstock.com

You may like their new hair, but don’t belittle your admiration by implying they look better now than they did before. Making the comparison is unnecessary and can leave them feeling pretty insecure about how they looked before.

You Look Great For Your Age

Doubting dissatisfied man looking at woman, bad first date concept, young couple sitting at table in cafe, talking, bad first impression, new acquaintance in public place, unpleasant conversation
Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Again, there’s no need to qualify a compliment. Just tell them how great they look; it’s not that hard. 

You Look So Much Better 

woman trying clothes in changing room
Image Credit: Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

No matter how well intended, telling someone they look better than they did implies that they looked bad before. It’s guaranteed to make you seem condescending and disingenuous and can easily offend. 

Wow, Have You Lost Weight?

Depressed Red haired Teenage Girl Looking at Her Reflection in the Mirror. Unhappy, Dissatisfied, Insecure Teenager. Concept of Eating Disorder, Anorexia, Bulimia. Mental Health.
Image Credit: Alex_Maryna / Shutterstock.com

As a basic rule for life, never comment on somebody’s weight. If they have lost weight, you don’t know what they did to get to that point. The easiest thing to do is just compliment them. You don’t need to know how they look so good, nor should it matter. 

You’re Beautiful, How Are You Still Single?

woman making an exasperated expression gesture on a bad date at the restaurant
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This is a classic example of a backhanded compliment almost everyone has received, usually from an extended family member. It’s important to remember that not everyone is seeking a relationship. Being single is a perfectly valid and comfortable place to be in your life. 

You Did So Well Handling That On Your Own

Group Conflict. Sad latin woman in eyeglasses standing away alone, suffering humiliation and public disgrace, crowd of bad people bullying pointing fingers at victim, laughing. Discrimination, Gossip
Image Credit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

You may be trying to credit someone for their actions, but it comes across as somewhat backhanded. It suggests that you’re surprised they’re capable of completing a task unaccompanied, which just comes across as incredibly patronizing.

Your Friends Are So Hot

Three best friends enjoying at road trip traveling at vacation in the car.
Image Credit: Zoran Zeremski / Shutterstock.com

Telling someone how attractive all their friends are immediately makes them feel insecure in comparison.  

You’re So Much Better Looking In Person

Rear view woman sitting at table in cafe with handsome smiling man, people spends time at meeting searching for soul mate, male telling about himself making good first impression, speed dating concept
Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com

This is obviously better than telling them they look worse in person, but still, telling them they’re unphotogenic is never going to go down well.

You Seem So Fun On Social Media

Young woman using dating app on mobile phone
Image Credit:Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com

This is a bit weird, especially if you don’t know each other well. It implies that you’ve taken the time to scroll through their social media and that you’re disappointed by their real-life persona.

You Clean Up Well

Annoyed girlfriend listening to her boyfriend reproaches
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This may be a compliment for how they look now, but it really just implies that you think they look a mess most of the time.

You Look Just Like Your Dad

people talking during dinner
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Looking like your parents is inevitable for most of us, but for some reason, young girls often seem to take offense at being told they resemble a middle-aged man.

You’re Not Like Other Girls/Boys

Confused young woman gesturing with hand and looking at her boyfriend
Image credit: Shift Drive / Shutterstock.com

Telling someone they’re the exception to whatever worldview you possess of the group you’ve classified them, isn’t exactly a compliment. To be honest, it says more about your prejudices, implying you view the person’s identity as secondary to their grouping and suggests you find other women or men are somehow undesirable.

You Have A Great Personality

Young woman getting bored during first date
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For most people, being told they have a great personality is the same as being told they’re unattractive.

Congratulations! When Are You Due?

Shocked Woman in Office
Image Credit: RollingCamera / Shutterstock.com

This is great to say to someone if they are indeed pregnant. However, it’s always best to make one hundred percent sure, or else this can be incredibly insulting…​​

If You Can’t Say Nothing Nice, Then Don’t Say Anything At All

Man shrugging
Image credit: Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

You don’t always have to say exactly what you’re thinking, and if you’re not genuine with your compliment, then don’t give them one. As a basic rule of thumb, try not to ask questions or make comments you wouldn’t want to receive.

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