You’re My Favorite

The message of the backhanded compliment could not be more clear: stay away.


“You’re my favorite.”

Turn and run. Seriously. Put no stock in that person’s appraisal of you and your abilities. Assume that his preference for you is based on whatever issue he has and not, as he would flatter you to believe, in some superior skill that you possess.

Also consider that the others who are not her favorite are very likely having an impact you’re not, giving that the likes of this person, who  traffics in backhanded compliments, doesn’t like those others as much. They’re probably pushing and challenging in a way you’re not. At least not yet.

There are few curses more serious than the backhanded compliment.


6 thoughts on “You’re My Favorite

  1. This makes me so sad. Because it’s what I say to my husband. When he asks, “Your favorite what? ” I answer with, “You’re my favorite mood, flavor, person, weather, everything!” Is what I say when I feel sparkly and overwhelmed with love. And I also feel sad hearing this because you’re my favorite preacher. Can you help me understand why this is a backhanded compliment? Maybe I’m reading this wrong?

    1. Well I hope your husband is your favorite! I suppose there are better or worse ways to express such a preference to a person. What I have sometimes experienced sort of feels like being used. Somebody has an issue with one of my colleagues, and they choose to air that issue by giving me a contrasting compliment. Years ago a church member said he preferred it when I led worship because my shoes didn’t make the “clack, clack, clack” sound on the chancel that my colleague’s did. Because they were heels. Because my colleague was a woman. A genuine compliment as an expression of preference is good and healthy, as long as it’s grounded in our awareness of what we’re responding to and why, and as long as it isn’t couched as a criticism of “the others.” For what it’s worth, I’ve never experienced you as anything but genuine.

  2. Ohhhhh… yes! I totally get what you’re talking about now. And I see how sometimes declaring a favorite paints something else as unfavorable by default. You’re disliking when the commentary is actually focused on the (sometimes unmentioned) unfavorable person/thing/situation.

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