General Etiquette > general

"If you're happy, I'm happy"

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I've always thought of this as one of those loaded statements generally not to be taken at face value.  e.g. when a person says "If you're happy, then I'm happy" what they really mean in most cases is "I don't necessarily agree with your decision/lifestyle, but it makes you happy so I won't say further on the topic".   

Do others agree with this assessment, or do you think of this as just a routine way of saying you're happy that the other person is happy, with no further judgment or disagreement implied?

The most recent example I saw was an acquaintance posted on facebook announcing her pregnancy to her new fiance.   It's a fairly new relationship, she has two older children from her first marriage.   Amongst all the expected "Congratulations!!" posts, her sister posted "If you're happy, I'm happy"  and it definitely struck me as a little... odd.    After all, why not just say "I'm so happy for you!" or similar - I think the "if" in there is what implies some kind of doubt as to whether that's the case e.g. questioning if the person really is happy themselves.  I don't think it's an outright rude thing to say but I do think the wording is a bit loaded.  Curious to know if that's others experience/interpretation of this phrase also, regardless of whether in person or online.

I agree, the phrase does subtly imply disapproval, or at least a questioning of the other person's true feelings--a bit of poking to see if that happy face is only a brave facade after all.  Not rude, but you could hardly call it enthusiastically supportive either.

I've seen it in contexts where "If you're happy, I'm happy" just means "I don't have a strong opinion about [this subject], so seeing you be pleased with this decision is all I need to be satisfied."

In the context you've posted, that isn't what's being said here. The sister is definitely getting in a jab, or at least expressing a doubt that would be better said privately.


--- Quote from: Marbles on May 11, 2014, 01:36:23 AM ---[snip] The sister is definitely getting in a jab, or at least expressing a doubt that would be better said privately.

--- End quote ---
I agree.

I sometimes use the phrase when someone insists they're satisfied with a task I'm doing for them, but I'm not completely satisfied with it myself.  I can be a bit obsessive about things.  When I say "If you're happy...", I'm letting the person know that I'm willing to do more but am also willing to finish up if that's what they want.

Yeah, that's...not a thing I'd say to anyone on Facebook announcing their pregnancy. If I had mixed feelings about it and couldn't honestly just say "congrats" I'd not reply to the post at all.

I feel the same way about "if you're happy, I'm happy". I think with that meaning, it can be passive-aggressive or OK, depending. Like, it's sort of mean to say in a case where the other person would have no reason to suspect you would be anything less than thrilled for them. But in a case where the person has a pretty good idea that you wouldn't be overjoyed (say getting back together with an ex after tons of drama)I think it can be a nice sort of "well, we both know how I feel, but I'm not going to second guess you; good luck".


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