“Your butt looks really good!” – Why we value the opinion of strangers more than friends

I was at work yesterday when two of my colleagues complimented my derriere. It was quite spontaneous but they both seemed impressed and said that it looked really good; one of them even asked if I did squats to achieve my physique (does once two weeks ago count?). It made me blush a little as I am not used to that sort of attention but I found that I quite liked the compliments I was receiving. I don’t particularly work out and while my boyfriend frequently tells me that my butt looks good, I find it hard to believe him – possibly because I think he is bias due to being in a relationship with me. However, when my colleagues said the same, I appreciated the comment from them more than from the person who loves me.

So, it made me think: why do we value the opinions of strangers more than the people who love us?

For years I have thought it easier to tell a stranger my problems than tell a friend or an accquaintance. I think the primary thought behind this is that you know you aren’t going to see a stranger again so they can say whatever they like – be it good or bad – and you know that they are telling you the truth. What would they gain from lying?

Friends and family can sit on the fence for fear of hurting your feelings and having to pick up the pieces of a potentially strained relationship after they have told the truth, but strangers don’t have to pick up the fallout. They can say whatever they like and not have to worry about how they are perceived as they will never meet you again.

Sure, not every stranger is a polite person; there are some people who will lie in order to gain a reaction. My friend was singing kareoke at a pub a few years ago and a stranger walked past her to go to the bathroom during my friend’s performance, and whispered that my friend is a bad singer. I may be bias when I say that my mate is a good singer but I was upset to see just how much her confidence had been knocked by this stranger’s comment. Opinion or lie, whatever it was the stranger should have kept it to herself. But she didn’t and nothing my family or I said could change my friend’s opinion or build up her confidence and I can’t say I would have felt any differently if I had been in her shoes.

Friends tell friends compliments to massage their egos and give them little boosts. It is almost expected of friends and I partially think it is because you want your friend to be happy. But if a stranger gives a stranger a compliment it is because it is genuine. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to pluck up the courage to speak to a stranger on the street, I have to really like their hair or their shoes – I’m not just going to pay a compliment for the hell of it like I would to a friend.

So yesterday, when my colleagues complimented my derriere, I blushed (even though I firmly believe it is the trousers that make my butt look good) yet when my boyfriend said the same later during the day, it affected me less. I wish it were the other way round and I was able to take more from the compliment when it came from the man I love but I think it is now almost customary to seek acceptance from strangers as a form of self-evaluation since strangers are more likely to tell the truth. Afterall, we almost expect compliments from boyfriends and girlfriends and mothers and sisters whereas we expect strangers to keep their mouths shut.

Ultimately, we would expect friends, partners and families to tell us the truth and while they may do this, I think it takes someone incredibly confident and self-assured to be able to openly and honestly say that they don’t value the positive opinion of a stranger.


Peace, love and happiness

– Taisie ♥


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