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I like to be complimented about things I made or did. Intention is key -- if someone compliments me on something I am, rather than something I meant to do, I often miss that it's a compliment and take it as more of a general observation / conversation starter, as if it were a comment on something else I had nothing to do with, like the weather. (I do recognize the very common general compliments and respond to them appropriately, but that's because they're social scripts and not because they feel like compliments.)

If the comment's specific enough, it doesn't even need to be positive for me to take it as a compliment. You were interested in the thing and examined it closely and understood at least bits of it and then stayed interested enough to want to talk about it! That's great! Even if what you're saying is "I don't think these colors here quite work together. Do you think something with more contrast might look better?" I will eat it up with a spoon.

What do you like to be complimented on?

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It's secret because the point of clawing my way into the middle class is to do so in such a way that people can't tell there was ever a time when I wasn't...but then I don't get the acknowledgement of and admiration for having done so.

That does sound like a tricky one.

And I like to be told how much fun I am to be around, because my mother always told me it was my own fault nobody liked me.

Aw, man, some people's mothers.

I haven't actually been around you in quite some time, but I like reading your posts.

I don't tend to take compliments well. Not that I get mad or anything, they just make me uncomfortable. I am my own harshest critic, so if I'm being complimented about something that I think is less-than-perfect, I get antsy and feel like I should have done better.

Where I do like compliments is for 1) my cooking and 2) acquisition/improvement in a new skill, especially in the physical realm (e.g., box jumps).

Do you feel like cooking and new physical skills are things that are not supposed to be perfect, so it's okay to compliment them for what they are, or are they more exceptions to the general rule?

(I am fascinated by the variety of answers so far. People's brains work differently!)

Since taste is somewhat subjective, it's hard to judge cooking on the same scale as other skills. Getting compliments on my cooking means that I've successfully pandered to the tastes of my guests (perhaps better with some than with others) and is thus "perfect enough".

Physical skills are a largely new domain for me, so achieving competency in a new such skill is a good accomplishment. If it's something I've worked on for a while with less improvement than I expect, then compliments are generally viewed in my usual "meh" fashion.

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Huh, that's interesting. So if someone gives you a straight-up compliment, you don't really believe it, but if they say something kind of mean that still includes mention of something you think is positive about what you did, then they must have meant it because they don't even like you and they still see the good thing? (What a tangly sentence.)

Also the idea of accidentally writing an essay on tulip growing instead of porn is really funny.

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