Sassy Replies For People Who Always Fish For Compliments

Validation-seekers crave compliments like oxygen, and their blatant attempts to stoke their ego can make even the most patient person cringe. If you’re ready to subtly shut down their fishing expeditions and spare yourself the awkwardness, here are some comebacks to help preserve your sanity and shut them down once and for all.

1. “Sorry, I’m not biting.”

When someone’s fishing for a compliment, they’re essentially dangling a hook in front of you, waiting for you to take the bait. But you don’t have to play that game. Instead of giving them the validation they’re seeking, simply let them know that you see right through their tactics. A simple “I’m not biting” will send the message that you’re not going to be reeled in by their self-deprecating remarks. It’s a way of setting a boundary, Harvard Business Review notes, and letting them know that you won’t be manipulated into stroking their ego.

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2. “You must be exhausted from all that fishing.”

Fishing for compliments is hard work. It takes a lot of energy to constantly put yourself down in the hopes that someone will build you back up. So, the next time someone starts angling for a compliment, call them out on it by acknowledging how tiring it must be. Saying something like, “You must be exhausted from all that fishing” is a playful way of letting them know that you see what they’re doing, and you’re not going to fall for it. It’s a gentle reminder that their behavior is transparent and unproductive.

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3. “I’m sure you didn’t mean to insult yourself like that.”

When someone’s fishing for a compliment, they often do so by putting themselves down. They might say something like, “I look so fat in this dress” or “I’m such an idiot.” But here’s the thing: self-deprecation is still self-insult. By responding this way, you’re calling attention to the fact that they’re engaging in negative self-talk. It’s a way of reframing their behavior and encouraging them to speak more kindly about themselves.

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4. “I’ll save you the trouble: you’re amazing.”

Sometimes, the best way to shut down a compliment-seeker is to give them what they want, but on your own terms. By preemptively telling them how great they are, you’re taking control of the situation and removing their opportunity to fish for validation. It’s a way of acknowledging their worth while also letting them know that you see through their behavior.

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5. “I’m not a fan of catch-and-release compliments.”

Just like in catch-and-release fishing, someone who’s constantly seeking compliments is often looking for a quick ego boost rather than genuine connection or growth. By expressing your distaste for this kind of superficial validation, you’re setting a boundary and letting them know that you’re not interested in engaging in insincere flattery. It’s a way of encouraging more authentic interactions.

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6. “If you’re looking for validation, look in the mirror.”

True self-worth comes from within, not from external sources. When someone’s constantly seeking validation from others, it’s often a sign that they haven’t yet learned to love and accept themselves. By encouraging them to look inward for validation, you’re reminding them of their own inner strength and resources. It’s a way of empowering them to find their worth from the inside out.

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7. “I’m allergic to insincere self-deprecation.”

awkward first dateiStock/nd3000

Self-deprecating humor can be a great way to show humility and relatability, but when it’s used as a ploy to fish for compliments, it comes across as disingenuous. By expressing your “allergy” to this kind of insincere behavior, you’re calling out their actions in a lighthearted way and encouraging them to be more authentic in their interactions.

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8. “Your humility seems fishy to me.”

True humility is about acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses without constantly seeking external validation. When someone’s humility feels more like a tactic to get compliments, it starts to seem insincere. By pointing out the “fishiness” of their behavior, you’re calling attention to the fact that their modesty doesn’t feel genuine, and encouraging them to be more authentic.

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9. “You don’t need my approval to feel good about yourself.”

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Seeking constant validation from others can be a sign of low self-esteem or a lack of self-acceptance. By reminding them that they don’t need your approval to feel good about themselves, you’re encouraging them to find their worth from within. It’s a way of empowering them to be their own source of validation and to trust in their own self-worth.

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10. “I’m not here to feed your ego.”

Constantly seeking compliments is often a way of trying to bolster one’s ego and feel better about oneself. But as a friend, it’s not your job to be an endless source of validation. By setting a clear boundary and letting them know that you’re not there to feed their ego, you’re encouraging them to find more sustainable sources of self-esteem.

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11. “If you were really worried about your flaws, you’d work on them instead of fishing for compliments.”

When someone’s fishing for compliments by pointing out their own perceived flaws, they’re often looking for reassurance rather than genuine feedback or support. By calling out the fact that they’re not actually taking steps to address their concerns, you’re encouraging them to be more proactive in their personal growth. It’s a way of holding them accountable for their own self-improvement.

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12. “I’m not taking the bait, but I’ll take you out for a coffee and heart-to-heart.”

Sometimes, when someone’s constantly seeking validation, what they really need is genuine connection and support. By offering to have a meaningful conversation with them over coffee, you’re showing that you care about their well-being while also setting a boundary around their compliment-fishing behavior. It’s a way of providing support in a more authentic and constructive way, Healthline explains.

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13. “I appreciate you more when you’re sincere.”

couple having coffee dateiStock

Authenticity is key to building strong, healthy relationships. When someone’s constantly fishing for compliments, it can feel like they’re not being fully genuine or vulnerable. By expressing your appreciation for their sincerity, you’re encouraging them to be more authentic in their interactions with you. It’s a way of building trust and fostering more meaningful connections.

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14. “I’m happy to compliment you when it’s sincere, but not when you’re fishing.”

Compliments are a wonderful way to show appreciation and build others up, but when they’re constantly being sought out, they can start to lose their meaning. By setting a boundary around when you’re willing to offer compliments, you’re encouraging the other person to seek validation in more authentic ways. It’s a way of showing that you value genuine connection over superficial flattery.

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15. “If you’re feeling insecure, let’s talk about it directly.”

Teen couple drinking juice and having a date in the coffee bar

Fishing for compliments is often a sign of underlying insecurity or self-doubt. By offering to have a direct conversation about their feelings, you’re creating a safe space for them to express their vulnerabilities and concerns. It’s a way of providing support and encouragement in a more meaningful and constructive way than simply offering superficial validation.

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16. “I love you, but I’m not going to enable your need for constant validation.”

Constantly seeking validation from others can be a form of emotional dependency that ultimately hinders personal growth and self-acceptance. By expressing your love and care for the person while also setting a clear boundary around enabling their behavior, you’re encouraging them to find more sustainable sources of self-esteem. It’s a way of showing that you support their growth and want to see them thrive.

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Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.
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