Worried about the current state of your relationship or what your girlfriend thinks about you. Let me stop you right there. Women like confident men. Period. Five ways you can be more confident in your relationships.
Geez, relationships are hard.
You’d think they’d teach this stuff in school, but instead, I spent my time learning what neutrons get up to and what the French are for “commitment-phobe.”
The direction our relationships turn is the product of our intention and how unknowingly fucked-up we are, and nowhere is that more evident than when we’re trying to be all “I know what I’m doing here” when it’s our insecurities, doubts, and fears that are calling the shots.
The unknown, the uncertain and the uncomfortable hang out on every street corner in relationship-Ville, and the temptation is just to duck into the nearest bar where you can safely ignore them and flirt with the waitress until closing time.
So in the interest of shining a light on how insecurities, doubts, and fears drive even enlightened men to screw things up, here are five ways you can be more confident in your relationships.
1. You don’t need to fix everything
Fixing things doesn’t make you a man. Nor does it make you a great boyfriend or husband.
It makes you the repair guy. Someone who does a job. Someone who has a clear role.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re not the Equalizer or Dr. Sam Beckett.
It’s not your job to go around trying to fix everything or put things right, and this can be more about trying to make up for your insecurity in the face of uncertainty than any good intentions. When your partner’s having a tough time at work, for example, it’s great that you want to help because you hate to see them stressed out, of course, it is, but there’s also the urge to fix it because that’s what you think you ought to do to get things back to how they were.
You can’t control what time the sun comes up or how many toes your partner has, any more than you can control everything that happens in your relationship.
The safety and control offered by being the repair guy is just an illusion. You can’t control what time the sun comes up or how many toes your partner has, any more than you can control everything that happens in your relationship.
Confidence isn’t about control or certainty. It’s about letting go and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
2. Your role isn’t to provide
That old male stereotype of being the provider still has a lot to answer for. Things have changed since the days when the wife stayed home and vacuumed while the man of the house went out and won all the bread, but those days aren’t quite dead. Not yet.
A lot of men are brought up with the expectation that they need to take the role of provider or they’re less of a man, an expectation that’s absorbed through the skin rather than any explicit teachings.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for your partner, your home and your life together and working hard to get to the good stuff, but you don’t have to conquer the mountain, kill the bear and bring it home for your cave wife to grill over the open fire.
You’re in this together. Confidence is about making choices that matter rather than playing roles, following unchallenged assumptions or people-pleasing.
3. There’s more to life than strength
Shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown tells the story of one guy who came up to her after a book signing and told her how “convenient” it was that she hadn’t done any research on male vulnerability. When Brene asked him what he meant, he said, “Those books you just signed for my wife and my three daughters? They’d rather me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall down. When we reach out and be vulnerable we get the shit beat out of us. And don’t tell me it’s from the guys and the coaches and the dads, because the women in my life are harder on me than anyone else.”
The perceived need to be strong above all else is perhaps the most pernicious and damaging pressure facing men today.
I get it. I go out of my way to deal with things myself rather than ask for help. I run myself ragged trying to “be strong” rather than admit I could use a hand. Sometimes I’d rather quit than admit that I can’t do it by myself.
Strength can be an admirable quality. It really can. But sometimes it what’s men go to in place of allowing themselves to be vulnerable, and it’s invulnerability that sharing, learning, and growing take place.
Try it. You might like it.