Confidence and Insecurity, Part 1: Men10
So I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence: what it is and what it’s not. People who dispense dating advice are always pushing singles to show confidence, saying that confidence is sexy, sexier than a good income or a great face. And they’re right.
The problem is it’s much harder to actually define what confidence is, and what it’s NOT.
What is Confidence?
Google defines it as: “A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”
In Changing Your Game (for men) and It’s Not Him It’s YOU (for women), I talk about confidence as believing in yourself. Confident people don’t know all the answers, but they believe in their ability to figure things out, to get what they need out of life (including dating). Another way to view confidence is being comfortable in your own skin, flaws and all.
Why is confidence important in dating? It’s simple: confident people are more attractive than less confident ones. They have an easier time dating. I’m not talking about the over-confident, full-of-themselves people (yes, they attract dates too, but they have other serious flaws); I’m talking about your average person who has imperfections but manages to remain reasonably confident. More on this later.
Men in particular are expected to be confident in themselves. A woman without enough confidence won’t do as well as a confident one, but men without enough confidence really struggle in dating. Fair or not, people expect a certain level of confidence in men. So I’ll devote today’s article to men, and the next one to women.
Sometimes it’s easier to define something by stating what it’s NOT, what its opposite is. We can’t always put our finger on what confidence is, but we can tell when it’s lacking. As a general observer of human nature, I can often identify where someone is insecure pretty quickly. And the more they try to hide it, the more obvious it is. Yet, there are different ways to telegraph a lack of confidence to women. Here are some common examples:
TNG (Too Nice Guy) syndrome. I talk about TNGs in Changing Your Game. These are the guys who are nice to a fault, where their niceness makes them appear weaker than they are. They put pleasing others, avoiding conflict, or making a woman happy over their own boundaries or their sense of right and wrong. Or, they don’t ask women out or make a move sexually because they’re afraid of being like the pushy douchebags they’ve seen prey upon women. When you think about lack of confidence, these are the kind of men who often come to mind. TNGs often have repeated difficulty attracting or keeping women because they’ve buried the natural confidence that comes with masculinity.
The Big Man. Big Men will brag, act cocky, or criticize others. They may be loud, obnoxious, or pushy. They can be bullies, and are often the guys who torment the men who wind up becoming TNGs because the TNG would rather be a TNG than an asshole. They can be abusive. But here’s the truth: Big Men lack confidence in themselves and do all their Big Man stuff because they’re terrified of appearing weak. Big Men and TNGs are opposite sides of the same coin. A confident man doesn’t have to prove his masculinity; he has it by merely being male and believing in who he is.
The Know-it-All. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a man who thinks he knows everything and goes on and on about it, who always has to be right, who knocks other people for having a different opinion, who gives unsolicited advice (especially to women). Academia is full of them. And while it’s men’s nature to state an opinion and to stand by it, and to help, guide, or advise others, you can tell the difference between a man who’s doing these things because he wants to help and a man who’s more interested in proving how smart or important he is. The latter will annoy the hell out of most women (often without meaning to) because he’s actually talking down to women instead of helping. And when a man puts feeling important over the needs of others, he lacks confidence in himself.
Mr. Defensive. Defensive men get angry or defensive at any perceived slight. They have difficulty with criticism (real or perceived) and don’t handle rejection well. They’ll lash out at you if you trigger their sensitive areas and can be very negative in general. They often expect the worst when it comes to women and dating. This is an interesting type of insecurity that you’ll see in men who’ve experienced a lot of setbacks in life, including in dating and relationships. Much like a cactus’s spines or a snake’s bite, their defensiveness is a way of protecting themselves from more pain. Unfortunately, it also protects them from getting what they want most.
Before you feel too deflated when you recognize these traits or tendencies in yourself, relax. We ALL have our weak areas and insecurities. And we ALL have ways we attempt to compensate for them. This is the human condition and it’s unavoidable.
However, the difference between a man who lacks confidence and one who has enough is that the latter is aware of his weaknesses and what he does to compensate for them. He may never conquer all of them, but he makes them manageable and learns to accept the rest of them. Then, he is someone women want to be with.
Give some thought to areas where you’re insecure. Do you relate to the above types? If so, which one? Or is it a mixture of them? If you’re unsure, think about the things you’ve fought about with friends, coworkers, or prior girlfriends. Did they tell you you’re “such a sweetheart,” that you’re a bully, that they don’t want your advice, or that you’re too prickly? Think about what your sore spots are and what you do to protect them. What in your past pained you the most and what did you do to salve the pain? Once you become aware, you will start to think through situations that trigger you, instead of just reacting on autopilot. You will become more comfortable with yourself and your flaws. And then you will be more attractive to women.