In a recent issue of Archie spinoff Jughead, the comic’s title character falls in like with a girl. Jughead has canonically identified as asexual, so he’s shocked and confused. He doesn’t know what this girl looks like; he’s only seen her dressed as a giant cheeseburger. So his friend Betty urges him to make a move – but a polite, respectful one. And for a young woman on the wrong end of a love triangle over a ginger, Betty has great advice.
Jughead issue 9, by Ryan North and Derek Charm
This might sound like the contradictory tips Lumière and Mrs Potts give the Beast about courting Belle. But as Betty says, that’s only because romance is complicated.
But one of Betty’s lines is so helpful that writer Ryan North, who loves to annotate his comics, repeats it at the bottom of the page: “Compliment people on what they choose to do, not what they happen to be.”
Like North says, that’s an industrial-grade romance tip. It isn’t the only measure of a good compliment. But it’s a great start, especially with people you don’t know well. When you compliment someone on their choices, you show you’re paying attention. The recipient is more likely to have an interesting response, and there’s a better chance they will want to talk about what you brought up.
If you just compliment someone’s body or voice or a role they clearly didn’t choose for themselves, you look lazy and unobservant, and you might stumble into something the person actually hates about themselves. And this is not the time to change their mind about their height, weight or quirky nose. Save these compliments for later, when the person already knows you like their choices.
Betty isn’t saying you can’t tell your boyfriend he has a hot arse. She’s just saying that when you’re hitting on some dude at a bar, you don’t open with “Nice legs,” because he’s probably already heard that five times that night.
JK, women bear the brunt of these objectifying compliments, because men are lazy and entitled and for most of history we’ve just let them be trash bags. Stop being trash bags, men! Be more like Jughead Jones!