A lot of women I know to tend to do this thing. It usually happens in the midst of a conversation. We'll be chatting, and they'll throw in an insult. Directed at themselves. "I'm so fat/ugly/pimply/stupid!" they'll exclaim. Then they will look at me, or whoever they're conversing with, expectantly. The expectation is that the other person will either console them, or commiserate with them. Either protest, "oh no, you're not!" or agree, "me too".
Me? I am no good at this dance. I don't like to initiate it, and I don't like to participate in it. "No..." I fumble, "your hair is really pretty..." Then she will protest again. "You're lying!" And we continue the tango back-and-forth until she eventually relents with a shy, reluctant "thank you", and the conversation resumes.
I don't know why this talk makes me uncomfortable. It could be because I am more secure with myself than the average young woman in her early twenties; it could be the opposite, and I am terrified that my companion will agree with my poor assessment of myself. I think it is a little of both. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.
I think the awkwardness also arises from the dishonesty of the whole game. We don't expect or want an honest, heartfelt answer from our acquaintance. Unless it's a complimentary one! Furthermore, it reveals our yearning for validation. Even though we know, secretly, that we're okay, we can't just accept that and be pleased with it. We need to hear it from somebody else in order to really believe it.
I guess what I am trying to say is... let's just stop this nonsense. Let's not ask each other to be disingenuous and perfunctory any longer. Let's not ask questions we don't want answered truthfully. Instead, let's interact wholeheartedly. Let's be ourselves. Let's listen and teach and advise and share love and truth and wisdom. As Ben Lee would say, we're all in this together. So let's stand tall and united, with grace and sincerity. It's the only way.
"What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it."
— C.S. Lewis