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Young African American traveling couple standing on the street at night

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The other day, my husband had me watch some video of a man giving dating advice to other men. In it, he shared that it’s better for a woman to have negative feelings or associations with you than it is for her to feel nothing.

While there were some valid points made, ultimately I concluded that his message was a little irresponsible and dangerous. I don’t think there’s any shortage of men who are willing to abuse, mistreat, or disrespect and degrade women for attention over apathy. We’ve seen it a thousand times.

I was reminded it of it again when I met with my friend and a friend of hers yesterday.

The three of us were riding back from an errand when my friend’s homegirl started talking about a text she’d received from a man she had been “seeing.” (More on that later.)

The text read, “Drink water and tell yourself you’re beautiful.”

She was perplexed by its meaning. I didn’t think too much of it, aside from it being weird until she said this, “This was probably his way of giving a compliment because he told me he doesn’t give women compliments.”

I was half-sleep in the front seat of my friends car, in a nasty combination of hungry and tired. But the notion about a man withholding compliments piqued my interest and I had all of the questions.

Throughout the conversation, I learned that while this woman had gone out with this man a couple of times, she had no idea that he was romantically interested in her. She thought he just needed someone to talk to because the way he communicated was very friendly. In fact, she shared that everything he’d ever said to her, he could have also said to a man.

If that didn’t show a lack of romantic interest, I don’t know what did.

But this man was interested in her. And it came out in a round of uncharacteristic flirting that caught her off guard.

When she questioned this man about the change, he told her he liked her. That’s when she told him there was no for her to know that based on the way they’d been communicating with one another.

And that’s when he told her that he wasn’t in the habit of giving women compliments because it allowed them to start thinking too highly of themselves.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this man didn’t have a problem with taking little jabs at this woman. But compliments were out of the question.

I thought perhaps this was a one-off maybe just one random weirdo. But then my friend shared that she’d also dated a man who told her, “You know you look good, so I don’t have to say it.”

And that’s when I thought about that video my husband showed me, were these men trying to establish some level of dominance in their relationship? Were they attempting to have women constantly chasing their approval?

Would complimenting a woman dredge up their own feelings of inferiority?

I don’t know.

But all of it sounds like mind games too stupid to play.

Thankfully, my friend’s friend said something poignant, something the man with the relationship advice in the YouTube video also suggested.

These types of tactics: only pointing out flaws, refusing to compliment, stirring up negative emotions, only work on women who don’t love themselves. For those who do, who know they are worthy and deserving of compliments, this “strategy” and the relationships they attempt to create employing them, just won’t work.

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