Complimenting a Woman


Women are incapable of simply saying, “Thank you.” It’s not in our DNA.

We justify compliments by making excuses. We diffuse them by giving others the credit. And we deflect them by batting ’em back in the other person’s court with the obligatory, return of same compliment. It goes something like this…

“I love your outfit.”

“Thanks, I LOOOVE yours too,” (said before even looking to find she’s wearing ripped sweats, and a tee shirt that crassly says, ‘Check out my Box’ with a picture of a boom box on the front.)

“You threw an incredible party.”

“Oh, I had a ton of help, Mark Bittman has the best recipes and my hubby did a great job on the grill… and the people at Party City really know how to fill a balloon… and the guy at the supermarket double bagged all the sodas so, I didn’t have to worry about them falling out and over-fizzing later… and… and… and…”

“You look so thin.”

“Oh please, it’s just these jeans I’m wearing. I live in them because they hide all the rolls I have under them. Luckily, they were on a sale or I never would have bought them.” (G-d forbid we told someone we paid retail.)

So, so sad, ladies. I mean, could you imagine if guys did that?

“Hey dude, great outfit.”

“Thanks. It’s funny, I was just thinking the same thing about yours. I didn’t even know people were still wearing overalls and yet you make them look so on trend.”

“This was a killer party, man.”

“Well, I had a ton of help… My wife marinated the chicken in that bottle of Bullseye sauce we had lying around. Thanks to not cleaning the grill in like, a year, there was that unique cooked-in flavor. And it wouldn’t have been as good without the fine people at Samuel Adams making their Pale Ale that just screams fun times.'”

“You’re lookin’ thin these days.”

“Really? It’s just these Dockers I’ve been wearing to work with adjustable side bands. They allow me to wear a smaller size and open up the waist for some extra girth around the middle, plus the pleated front never hurts. Plus I got them at Target… on sale.”

I know, it makes us sound insane. Especially considering the person giving the compliment would like to hear, a “Thank You,” rather than get a dissertation on why they shouldn’t have complimented you, in the first place.

P.S.  I’m sorry for calling you insane, before, that was thoughtless. What I meant to say is, you look fantastic… hey, are those new shoes? Love them, but everything looks good on you! Well, you know that.

About the writer


Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog is the humorist behind The Suburban Jungle. A card carrying Gen Xer and columnist at Huff Po and The Stir, her goal is to you keep herself sane and to teach dolphins to read. She is failing at both. Join the insanity on Facebook and Twitter.


Charity 3 years ago

OMG! So true, I had not realized it until now. I wonder why we are programed that way, makes you wonder..

The Next Step 3 years ago

Believe it or not, I actually learned to say a simple “thank you” and accept a compliment from reading an article in Cosmo magazine, waaay back in the early 90s.

That changed though when I had kids – it seems SO weird to accept a compliment that was clearly given to them. “You’re baby is SO beautiful” – saying “thank you” to that seemed somehow arrogant, like saying, “she’s only beautiful because she got that from ME!”

Such a bizarre world, the mind of a woman. 😉

Momchalant 3 years ago

Damnit. I’m so guilty of this. I’ve already done it twice today. I’ve gotta start saying thank you and quit giving a speech about how the other person looks good, or how I got this shirt from Goodwill.

Paige Beach 3 years ago

I decided I worked so freaking hard to lose my baby weight that when someone gave me a compliment about how thin I looked I was just going to say “thank you” or “ya you should see me naked.” Instead of doing the excuse thing. I worked my skinny behind off so I deserve the compliments!

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    Hell yeah and then you should immediately strip down and really shock them out!

Coffee Mom 3 years ago

100% true! I’m the worst with my husband.
Husband:”Wow, baby you look great today!”
Me: “Um, yea. thanks. It must be because I’m wearing make-up or something.”
Husband: “No really, you just look great.”
Me: “Oh my god, stop. I don’t know what to say!”
Because a simple thank you wouldn’t work. I always feel like such a loser after those situations!

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    OK Coffee Mom – you have to change it with the hubs. Try doing a 180 and give a kiss and a thanks baby. I usually just stare at mine and then at myself and back and forth until he says I look great, then I’m all, “really? Awww thanks.”

      Coffee Mom 3 years ago

      Your 100% right and I would not have thought to change it had it not been for your post. So thank you =)

Cassie 3 years ago

I just thought about this! I had a baby 8 weeks ago, and people keep telling me how good I look. My response is always something like, “Oh, thanks. But I have a long way to go.”, or “I wish I looked like you did after you had your baby!”, or “Thanks, but your the one who looks amazing.” I like hearing their compliments, why can’t I just say, “Thank you!”? Great post!

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    I’m sure you deserve the kind words… it’s almost like we’re so worried what people will think if you simply say thanks. You go first tell me if it works.

redbronco 3 years ago

All true,.. all true. I have recently started running and have lost a noticeable amount of weight, especially around my hips/thighs/butt area. When people comment on it, instead of saying “thanks,.. I’ve been working hard”,.. I will moan about how much more I have to lose, how hard it is to find the time, blah, blah, blah. And I know how hard it’s been. Next time I promise to say “thanks, it’s very thoughtful of you to mention that”. (Ok,.. I’ll TRY to say that, but probably won’t : P )

    Tarina 3 years ago

    Way to go, Redbronco!! Keep it up! And even if you forget, you can go home and call/text that person (if you know them, of course) and say it in retrospect! I bet that would make their day, too!

      redbronco 3 years ago

      Thanks Tarina! (see,.. I did it!). I find that no matter how many people encourage me,.. it’s ten times better coming from another mom. They know how hard it is to go (running, that is), when you have a free hour, instead of just lying on the couch like a corpse, which is what I feel like some days. : )

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    More important than their reaction, you’d probably feel amazing just saying thanks.

Mama D 3 years ago

Too funny and so true!!

Stephanie 3 years ago

I was starting to think that I was the only one totally incapable of just saying thank you. Instead, I just blurt out something ridiculous. Glad I’m not alone.

Stephanie 3 years ago

The people at Party City really know how to fill a balloon. HA!

Evalynn Rose 3 years ago

I do have a problem saying “thanks” when people tell me I’m a badass. Instead I usually say, “you’re welcome.”

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    Hmmm I don’t think I’ve ever been called badass. I wouldn’t know what to say, but it would start with, “really, you think?”

steph 3 years ago

thats so true! whenever someone compliments my long hair im like thanks even though it makes me look like a hippy lol

MILF Runner 3 years ago

Ha! I just read something about this the other day! It included a challenge to simply say thank you and accept the fucking compliment. Tonight I went to a party all dressed up for the first time in a really long time (lots of kids…tired a lot…you know the drill). It was my personal mission to accept the compliments I received. It was super fun and felt AMAZING!!!!! We should all do this accepting thing ALL THE TIME! Thanks for this post :)

    Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

    I’m with you, in fact, screw it, I’m going with “yeah, anddddd???”

Mercy 3 years ago

Why is it so hard to just say thank you for a compliment? I have no idea.

Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

It’s always that fine line, with girls … we can be our worst enemies.

Jessica Smock 3 years ago

It’s so true! But it’s hard when what happens if a women takes charge in the workplace — and takes credit for her accomplishments, demands a raise when she deserves it, etc.? She gets called aggressive, dominating, bitchy. Women know the stereotypes, and we learn our lessons young!

jessica 3 years ago

On of the best things that I ever heard as a teen was from a friend of my mom’s who complimented me, and when I tried to shrug it off, encouraged me to simply say thank you. It had honestly never occurred to me, and it has stuck with me alllllllll these years. So go tell all the 11-19 you girls you know to just say thank you and leave it at that!

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Good advice. I remember a parent’s friend trying to tell me how to properly give a bj. No joke, I feel like you got the better deal on this one.

      Tarina 3 years ago

      LOL!!! Awkward! I had a friend in High school ask me that once, cuz I was “more experienced.. and she wasnt sure who else to ask”… I wasnt sure if I should be complimented or offended, but I couldn’t IMAGINE a grown up explaining it! Yikes!

        Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

        Yikes barely scratches the surface!

      Jessica 3 years ago

      WOW, yeah kinda glad she left it where she left it!

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 3 years ago

I JUST did that the other day! I was doing a kickboxing class and this woman came up to me and said, “Your kicks? SCARE ME.” and instead of saying “thank you,” I said “Oh I used to be in Karate forever. And my mom’s a third degree black-belt. Actually they’re kind of sloppy right now to tell you the truth.”


    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    So funny, we need to take a course in taking compliments, we all seem to suck at it!

Victoria 3 years ago

I used to be like i take any compliment i can get an say “thankyou” haha! Thats mummyhood for you x

tarina 3 years ago

Its because as we grow up we are taught that agreeing that we look great is being conceited! It is hard to reconcile that as you grow up. The line between confidence and Arrogance is a thin one… So accepting that we did awesome is very near to saying “Hey I threw one hellofa party today, didnt i??!”

That said… I will make an effort myself to just say thankyou for the next week!

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    I’m with you and frankly, I’m gonna start saying things like I Threw One Hellofa Party from now on too. Screw it, I throw good parties.

      Tarina 3 years ago

      lol!! No kidding – and while we’re on topic — did you ever notice when our kids looks really cute, we take THOSE compliments with just a “thanks”?? Instead of a “Damn right they do! I make fine lookin’ kids and I spent a half hour picking their damn outfits, thanks for noticing! And check the ponytail! Masterpiece!!”

      I think im jumping on THAT bandwagon! :)

        Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle 3 years ago

        Ooh I got one on you there. I have been known to say, “I know they look cute, don’t they?” Is that bad of me?

          Tarina 3 years ago

          lol i dont think it is :) sometimes knowing you made cute babies is all a mom has!
          or maybe thats just me <.< *sigh* lol

Mom 3 years ago

I say thank you, and often times get an evil shocked glare from other women. Men love it!

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    I think you’re doing it right … that’s my goal. Well, saying Thank You, not getting evil glares.

Victoria KP 3 years ago

So true!

Amanda 3 years ago

I can take a compliment on my work. It’s easier with the soaps and scents than the writing, but I’m fairly confident in my work.

Anything else though, and I end up giving them an, “Are you nuts or just blind?” look before I can say anything. It has everything to do with my own insecurities. I can’t take the compliment because I honestly think they either have a problem with their sight or are just lying to have something nice to say, and it just makes me feel so embarrassed and weird, I kind of freak out on how to respond without asking if they’re blind or lying.

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Yes, what is your motive? Do you want one back or do you want me to watch your kids this afternoon, or something???

Meredith 3 years ago

haha that’s so true!!! I’ll have to get out of my sweats to get a compliment though lmao!!!!! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that does it…

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Why Meredith … I love your sweats?

      Meredith 3 years ago

      Awe, Jenny “Thank You” !!!!! and nothing else…

Murphy Must Have Had Kids 3 years ago

So true. So true. Thanks for the reminder.

Allen@Funny Baby Videos 3 years ago

Women can’t accept a compliment because they compete with other women over every single thing. The social interactions of women are screwed up. There is a reason why there are few women leaders here on Earth.

Yes, I am a man. A straight man.

    Evalynn Rose 3 years ago

    There are quite few chicks like that… and there are also quite a few old white dicks in power who do everything they can to perpetuate the cycle. (Wow did you see the new… I mean old… white pope?)

    I’m excited about my generation though. I think we can beat them. If not, I’ll give my daughters a fighting chance.

grownandflown 3 years ago

So, so, sadly true. Yes, just yesterday I received a compliment about a pair of black boots I was wearing. Did it occur to me to respond with a simple “thank you” and move on to a higher level of conversation? No, I prolonged the boot discussion by mentioning that they were half-off, and purchased at this story, when the weather was this cold, etc. etc. When it comes to clothes, maybe it’s that we can’t resist telling the backstory rather than the thank you.

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Although sometimes telling the low price is part of the bragging, no? I’m certainly in a weird way proud when I get a great deal. More to talk to my therapist about!

Essher Lock 3 years ago

I think the reason we act so modest when it comes to taking a compliment is because it’s hard to sound graceful without sounding over confident or conceited. It’s become so normal to dismiss the compliments or credit others or return the compliments that we almost expect it. Maybe we should also practice not being disappointed when we only get a simple Thank you after we compliment another a woman?

    tarina 3 years ago

    Hehe – I wrote basically the same exact thing before I scrolled up to read more of the comments — You are SO right!

    Jenelle 3 years ago

    I didn’t realize other women did this until I was in college, and on my own. I used to just say “Thanks!” But you know what? Other women think I’m a real bitch! Some of my closest friends have finally told me that I come off as conceited and bitchy because I don’t dish out the fake compliments back! (They love me now, but hated me before they really knew me.) It’s so hard to find a good balance!

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    It’s true… it almost sounds funny when someone simply says thank you. From now on I’ll just say something nonsensical like giraffe and walk away.

rachel @RunningRachel 3 years ago

LOL! I love this! I too fall victim of the “Thank you… {continue ramble about price of outfit or negative self talk about myself}. I need to work on STOP talking after the word THANK YOU :)

MrsSmith 3 years ago

Guilty as charged.
I’ve made a point to try to teach my children (both young daughters) to say “Thank you”. Not only for compliments, but also for “I’m sorry”. Our tendency is to say “Oh, it’s okay”, but sometimes it really is not okay, and we need to just say Thank you and let it be.

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Ooh I like that.

Ariana 3 years ago

Them: Love your outfit, Ariana, is it new?
Me: Oh, gosh thanks, it was a BARGAIN, you wouldn’t believe how little I paid! At Ross (Marshalls, Burlington, insert bargain store here) of course!
Why do I do this?!?

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    I do it whether I got it at a bargain or not … how sick is that?

Megan 3 years ago

I did this Tuesday and I kept thinking – why do I feel the need to say something beyond thank you! It’s certifiable!!

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    Oh, Megan we are all certifiable.

JD Bailey @ Honest Mom 3 years ago

I love this. You are 100% right – about me, at least. 😉

absence of alternatives 3 years ago

This struck a cord because I am the worst offender of all. (Now that sounds like bragging, and for that, I am very sorry…) I have been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and she talks a lot about how women tend to have a hard time accepting compliments and praises.

    Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog 3 years ago

    I knew I was on to something with this… I’m sure Sheryl got her thought from the initial post of this piece. No?

Gigi 3 years ago

Yes, we are insane. Why is it so hard to accept a compliment? Why?

Anne Kimball 3 years ago

Hey, great post! And those jeans, wherever did you get them?

    Jenny from the blog @ thesuburbanjungle 3 years ago

    Thanks love. They were on clearance and they actually make my ass look fat.

      Arnebya 3 years ago

      Mossimo? I WANT a fat looking ass. But not too fat, you know. Not like my stomach in this shirt. Oh, you like this shirt? It’d look so much better on you.

      I embrace the insanity.


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