Have you ever seen the way women show love to each other? I’m talking about those endless streams of compliments ready for distribution in every comments section, for every outfit, on every occasion. It's like clockwork, the love is always there. Not one opportunity to exchange praise is lost on women and I think men can learn a lot from that because more often than not your boys really just kind of...break you down.
It can best be described as a perpetual state of roasting one another but I both acknowledge and appreciate the roast's place in the culture. It thickens the skin and strengthens the immune system, but the fact remains that few things help you keep it together more than the fear of embarrassment. That considered, I feel like people sometimes view a good roast as a method of delivering advice through targeted insults. Felt a little dark writing that down. I’d say the average overall distribution of praise vs. insult between men is about 25/75, and while I’ve been cool with that virtually all my life, I’ve come to understand that there has to be balance.
For me, over the past few years my friends and I have unintentionally moved toward that balance through a gradual increase in contests of humbleness I’ve labeled “praise wars”. An exchange of compliments, each of which an attempt to downplay one’s own clout while simultaneously raising the other person’s through a series of denials and comparisons until the interaction is sealed by physical contact (dap, hug, etc).
Y'all know what I'm talking about, here’s an example:
A. Yo you came out the house just tryna make us all look bad today huh?
B. What do you mean, you got all the juice anyway so it don’t even matter how clean I come out the house.
A. Those words coming from the JUICE MAN himself??? I’m not hearing it.
B. Me the Juice Man? You’re buggin bro I’m tryna be like you. It’s you they be asking about, not me.
A. Look at this guy man, stop tryna act like we not all tryna get like YOU.
B. I appreciate you bro, what y’all got going on though?
And scene. The exchange is sealed.
Whenever I see my friends I try to initiate or participate in a praise war, but admittedly it's nothing compared to both the frequency and quality of love women show each other. I don’t really mind either but that's probably because I’ve been socialized to think of that disparity as normal and acceptable. In its own way, a praise war or any similar exchange is still kind of facetious; at its core it’s a competition and the compliments are mostly masked in humor. The statements are made to sound more matter of fact than…kind, I guess? Like when someone says “I’m not being sweet, I’m just telling you how it is” (you ever had a dude tell you that after you thanked him for a compliment? Classic).
When you break it down it’s definitely not perfect, but day to day we’re not breaking it down, we’re just enjoying each other. I have no trouble giving praise but to this day when I get a real compliment from another man, I mean no jokes, no competition, and not concerning
1. How well I dress – to include hairline and/or facial hair
2. My interactions with women
It’s so rare that I find myself almost unable to react organically. Rather I'm fighting my impulse to downplay it or crack a joke, to throw something back and make it a contest. So capitalize on these moments with your boys and don’t be afraid to show some love. Make it a habit. Dudes are still out here asking whether or not it’s okay to hug your homies and the answer is yes. Withholding praise to and refusing praise from other men really sucks and what's wild is you don't even know that it sucks because you know nothing else. Your homies are your homies for a reason and they are no less deserving of appreciation and love than anyone else, including you, so play your part.