When we describe a man or woman as “sweet,” it means different things to different people. Conventional wisdom says that a kind, gentle, considerate person is sweet. Others believe it has a negative connotation. implying weakness and a lack of character. Remember Melanie in “Gone With the Wind?” Scarlet O’Hara called her a “mealy mouth.” even though everyone else thought she was a saint. Obviously, Scarlet wasn’t sweet, although she could pretend she was when the situation called for it. As my mother used to say, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Sweet people are considered more trustworthy, But does a sweet person ever lie?
Most little children are sweet, because they’re naïve and trusting. But by the time they’re teens, they’ve maybe been bullied, had an unhappy childhood, or found out the world expects more from them than their parents did. Then, they get a bit snarly and snotty. But sooner or later, they discover that doesn’t work so well, and they decide to smile and get along with others and at least come across as “sweet.” Thus, a veneer of sweetness may be manipulative. Conversely, some of the kindest most generous people I know have a cool, gruff , exterior.
It’s easier for some of us to come off as sweet than it is for others. If you have dimples, a soft voice, even features and pretty hair, it doesn’t take much effort , But what if you’re born with close set eyes, a perpetual frown, gravelly voice or down turned mouth? You may be a kind , good person, but you won’t come across as “sweet” upon first impression.
Most of us are suckers for sweet people, especially when they’re trying to sell us something. Or get out of something. As a landlord, I’ve encountered many a sweet talking renter who lies about their background, doesn’t pay their rent, and burns cigarette holes in the carpet. Then there are the “sweet” co workers who leak your confidences and get you in trouble. The “sweet” service people who think they can sugar coat their way around shoddy work. The social climbing backstabber who is only sweet to people on the way up. Sometimes, you have to bite your tongue when you hear a person you know only too well described as “sweet.”