Animal Instinct: When Compliments Are Creepy and When They’re Not

Lana Turner once said, “Gentlemen are patient wolves.”

I really don’t know what the hell she was talking about- or who. But I feel you, Miss Lana.

Those of us with Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds- we feel the anonymous poster’s eyes. Their sex-laden lingo, pics showing a sunglass-clad cad on a yacht. He doesn’t check the “interested in men/women” box. We can’t see what he’s doing with the other hand as he chats with us.

Then there’s the comment on a photo followed up with a personal message, as if you are now real friends. After all, he has climbed the boulder in the pic behind you. He shoots with a Canon, too.

It could be these little things that connect you. It could be a similar sense of humor. Or,  you are fucking bored and he was there. But here’s the thing–it’s relatively safe. You are probably not even in the same state and you can control the conversation. You can click off and walk away.

But, unfortunately, you will  probably confuse the message and intent.

How many arguments with your significant other have you had since using Facebook and Twitter and texts? I’ll bet quite a few. Sure, these are people you might have never spoken to IRL, and you can’t show true emphasis without the personality being appreciated in full- a wide eyed look, the dismissal with a hand wave, the difference between a chuckle, a belly laugh and a nervous titter. LOL does not suffice.

Comments in person are simple to understand. Your body gives you away- offering us a glimpse into the depths of the words you utter. I see a hurt little boy abandoned by his mother and belittled by an angry father. I see a suave conniver with a pregnant wife at home who will never lose the babyfat.

I see the teenaged boy who never grew up, the old man who yearns to regain his youth, asking for a do-over.

In person, that person says, “You are beautiful.” We smile, nod a thank you, then zip off in our car, phone to ear, calling our girlfriends to tell them what the creepy guy in the produce section said.

And we are wrong for doing that.

We should tell you- sincerely- THANK YOU. and we should be able to offer a compliment in return, or a comment, such as, “That is so kind of you to say,” or “You have made me smile, I appreciate that.” 

Because compliments are only creepy if you let it come to that.

Remember: You get what you give. So, give a kind word or a smile to a stranger. But, dang, don’t give them your number.

Be the wolf with dull teeth and arthritic knees, cunning, patient and potentially dangerous.

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