Is Imitation Really the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

You’ve heard it a million times: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But is it really? The saying goes all the way back to the 1800s and has been repeated ever since, but that doesn’t make it true – it just makes it easier not to punch someone in the face who seems to be trying to steal your life. Of course, it’s occasionally flattering when someone digs your style enough to want to know how you got it, but that depends on the situation. How can you tell the difference? Read on.

  1. Your best friend copies every fashion trend you pick up. Yes, this can continue outside of childhood and throughout all of adulthood. It might be incredibly annoying to feel like she’s always on your tail, but in this case it’s probably worth being flattered.
  2. Your coworker steals your ideas before you get to present them. Nope, not flattering. That’s just downright playing dirty and something to take seriously to preserve your reputation as a hard worker.
  3. Your friend tries to one-up all your date nights. Competitive much? Watch out for people who try to outdo you, because for some reason they’re trying to keep you down. There’s room for both of you to find love, and if you have to point this out, there’s a problem.
  4. Your sister is following in your alma mater footsteps. That’s cute for the most part – you inspired her. See, you accomplished something with your college degree after all!
  5. You start to talk like your boyfriend. Don’t freak out if you start to pick up some of his lingo; it doesn’t mean you’re becoming the same person. Sometimes we mimic back to people as some sort of bonding thing. Plus, what do you expect when you spend most of your time with him?
  6. Your friend couples up just because you did. That’s a little weird, but could only be coming from her own insecurities, so try not to take it too personally and just do you.
  7. You cop a makeup look from a red carpet photo. Your favorite celebs are supposed to look attention grabbing when they get in front of the cameras, so yeah, being inspired by a look is totally normal. (And fun.)
  8. The girl next to you at the nail salon asks what color you have on. Flattery all the way – you’re just inspiring strangers left and right with your awesome style choices.
  9. Your friend’s new hair looks so good that you want to dye yours the same color. Just be sure that it’s actually a shade that looks good on you, and if not, just use it as a sign that you’re ready for a change. You don’t want to be twins.
  10. You’re attracted to a taken guy. If someone else snagged him, then you know for sure that he’s desirable… but is that the only reason that you’re interested, or is it really something else?
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog