7 Phrases and Gestures that Are Actually Not Polite

April 26th 2016

Almie Rose

To quote George Costanza, "We're living in a society!" And as such, we usually try to do our best to be polite and civil to each other.

But there are mishaps, either intentional or unintentional, that prove that sometimes, the line between being polite and throwing shade is a very fine one. The next time someone serves you up one of these "polite" phrases or gestures, keep in mind that they're likely anything but.

(Note: of course, not everyone everywhere is out to insult you, and if a friend says or does one of these things to you, you know them better then we do, so interpret as necessary.)

1. "You'll just wear anything!"

This sounds like it could maybe be a compliment about your creativity in your outfit, but it usually isn't. The implication here is that the person telling you this has far more discerning tastes, and wouldn't be caught dead wearing what you're wearing.

2. "Bless your heart!"

This is the ultimate Southern diss. Kelly Faircloth, a staff writer at Jezebel, wrote at length about the phrase and how cutting it can be: "By far the most dangerous 'bless your heart' usage—a situation requiring absolute mastery—is when you want to call someone a goddamn idiot straight to their face." It's a phrase that's used to belittle.

3. Describing something as "interesting"

"How the hell is 'interesting' an insult?" you may be asking. Good question! There are a few ways "interesting" can be use as an insulting adjective. For example, if you're pouring your heart out to someone, and all they offer is an, "Uh huh, that's interesting." Or if your friend is proud of a terrible painting they made and they want your opinion and you say, "It's so interesting!" It's basically a filler word that is rarely used to describe something that is actually interesting.

4. "When are you due?"

Never ask a woman when she's due unless you're the one who got her pregnant. The idea being, you don't want to ask a woman who looks pregnant when she's due, because she may not actually be pregnant. And it's generally not a good idea to comment on strangers' bodies, anyway.

5. "Sweetie/Sweetheart"

When men want to be condescending to women, they'll call them "sweetheart." When women want to be condescending to other women, they'll call them "sweetie." Both basically have the same meaning, and it's similar to "bless your heart." It's a way to take someone down a peg without using the words "bitch" or "stupid woman."

6. Holding the door open for someone when they're far away

The impulse is understandable. You're entering a building, and as you open the door, you notice someone behind you is headed in your direction, so you hold the door open for them. However, if they're more than 3 feet away (max), now you're basically forcing them to do that awkward half jog to get to the door. The lesson here isn't "NEVER HOLD THE DOOR OPEN FOR ANYONE EVER," it's, "Don't feel like you always have to be helpful."

7. Motioning for someone to "go ahead" at a stop sign when it isn't their turn

This is another example of trying to be helpful and trying to be polite but actually coming off as unhelpful and annoying. Don't disregard traffic laws for the sake of being polite. That just fucks everything up, and can actually be dangerous. If you're at an all-way stop (AKA four-way stop), defer to the driver/cyclist who has the right of way. If you don't, at best, you'll be stuck there while each party waves their hands in their car and mouths, "No, after you." At worst, you'll cause a traffic accident.