Thursday, April 14, 2011

BS Dating Advice: The C-Word (`You Just Gotta Be Confident`)

(This article originally appeared on the Suicide Girls website in 2009)

Today we're going to get a little controversial. That's right, we’re going to talk about the C-word.

The C-word gets thrown around a lot. It used to be used mostly among men, but lately, women have started to take it back. It doesn’t sound any better coming from them either.

I’m talking, of course, about the word ‘confidence.’ Being confident is the holy grail of dating advice. “Women love a confident guy.” “If you believe in yourself, the man of your dreams will find you.” "You just need more confidence, Dude."

There are times I’m a fan of stock dating advice, but this is plain unhelpful. If you’re confident, you don’t need to be told. If you aren’t, being told what you lack often leaves you feeling even worse.

Of course, there's always the 'fake it 'til you make it school,' but I've found clever rhymes (Well, kind of clever. Rhyming 'it' with 'it' isn't exactly the height of lyrical sophistication) are a lot easier to say than to put into practice. Besides, pretending to have something you don’t--even if that something is a positive quality--goes against one of my most fundamental secrets to long-term happiness: Always represent yourself honestly.

The truth is, you don‘t need exceptional self-confidence to be successful at dating. Nor do you need to be mysterious, rich, alluring, or even a particularly good-looking. Those things are nice bonuses, but they won’t do you any good without the Big One, the other C-word, the one no one talks about.

That word is Comfort.

To me, comfort has two components--being comfortable with other people and being comfortable with yourself.

Many guys worry about whether or not a woman is attracted to him. But for most women I know, attraction is an ephemeral quality. It comes and goes, arises and fades. Attraction is an untrustworthy accomplice. Believe it or not, a woman doesn’t have to be THAT attracted to you, at least not at first. All she needs is to like you enough to give you a chance.

Comfort, on the other hand…comfort is king.

I‘m not talking about the Just Friends platonic blandness that comes with hesitating too long to make a move or we‘ve-been-going-out-two-years-so-I-don‘t-have-to-make-an-effort-anymore laziness. I’m talking about true comfort, where you feel you can say--or do--anything and you won’t be judged for it. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a one-night stand or the love of a lifetime. Comfort is the doorway to intimacy(*).

How do you make others comfortable? Do you ask them questions about themselves? Do you buzz around them like a hummingbird offering to take coats and mix drinks? Nope, nope and nope. You can do those things if they’re in your nature, but they aren’t the secret.

The secret to making people around you comfortable is to be comfortable with yourself. That doesn‘t mean having an unwavering belief in your own awesomeness. Nor does it mean refusing to accept feedback or change your behavior. It just means being okay with where you are and whatever you happen to be feeling.

Confidence is unreliable. It comes and goes. But you can always be comfortable. Even in times of uncertainty, you can be at ease with feeling unsure.

If you’re confident, be confident. If you’re afraid, be afraid. If you’re angry at yourself or fearful…well, embrace those things too. The more at peace you are with different facets of yourself, the easier it is for others to open up to you. They don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings. They can trust you. When you meet the world open and unguarded, those around you can relax and let down their own defenses…and that’s when you crush them like a butterfly beneath a boot-heel.

Ha, ha! That last part was a joke(**). Obviously, the correct course of action would be to sleep with them and never call again until you need help moving or getting back at your significant other. No, wait, that’s not it either…

Look. Your life is your own. Do what you want. But if you truly want to be comfortable with yourself, you might want to avoid making choices that leave you feeling uncomfortable.

It might not be as glamorous as being confident, but sometimes, just feeling okay about yourself is enough.

(*) As an aside, if comfort is the doorway to intimacy, then being judgmental is the dragon at the gates. It isn’t easy to slay that sucker--he has a tendency to rise from death more than Michael Meyers, but if you can do it, you will find yourself in a treasure-house beyond compare.

(**)Unless you’re a character in Dangerous Liaisons or the seneschal of a Vampire Court. Then you do what you gotta do.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

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  1. It's funny - I was just talking about feeling like a character in Dangerous Liaisons the other day. John Malkovich, to be specific.