Loneliness is a bitch. I have a ton of empathy for people who are alone but don't want to be, and for people who are certain they're going to be alone forever, and for people who feel excluded from the possibility of love altogether. It's such a shitty, self-perpetuating cycle—and I know that because I used to live in there. I hated it! It's also a breeding ground for nasty, gendered bitterness—particularly misogyny (men tend to blame women; women tend to blame ourselves). The drive to be nurtured and accepted by another human being might not be the biggest challenge we grapple with as a species, but it foments a unique brand of self-destruction.
Ugh, fuckin' dumbass romance. It'd be better if we were all just blocks of cheese. And NO, I DO NOT HAVE A WEIRD SEXUAL THING ABOUT CHEESE.
So what do you do? One of the main talking points in every single How to Make Yourself Attractive listicle is confidence. Confidence, confidence, confidence. Fake it till you make it. Except also don't fake it, because nobody wants to bang a faker. That can be an incredibly discouraging logical dead end—turns out, the one weird trick you need to solve all your problems is this thing that you just have to be born with because it's a vaguely George Clooney-shaped ungraspable abstraction that scampers away when you look directly at it! So just figure out how to, um, have that. But without trying too hard. Or looking at it. Now go get 'em, tiger!
A lot of guides for how to meet people tell you to fake confidence. To force eye contact. To dress outside of your comfort zone. (This Reddit thread falls into that trap a bit, but it's genuinely pretty adorable and could be useful for people struggling with this.)
- Having confidence in yourself is probably the biggest one. A lot of people don't realize the difference a little confidence can make. Even extreme arrogance is better than low confidence.
- Yeah, I hear that so much. Unfortunately I don't really have much of an idea of what it consists of. What are some examples of behavior in confident people? And how is one to go about increasing it?
- Try not to give a shit about what people think of you. If you can do that then you will have a lot more confidence in yourself.
So I want to talk about confidence for people who are struggling with confidence. Here are the things:
1. The opposite of confidence isn't shyness—it's fake confidence.
It seems like a good plan—to just mimic the confidence you see in others and hope it passes for genuine—but it's not. It is a bad plan. There's a big uncanny valley when it comes to confidence, where you think you're swaggering around like James Bond but really you're just frenetically fumbling through magic tricks and insulting everyone at the bar like a fucking freak. It's disconcerting for those of us on the receiving end. And by the way, if you take a look at how James Bond actually picked up women—mostly he was just like, "Hey."
A way better plan is to stop trying to carve yourself into this socially prescribed shape that you think deserves confidence, and start finding actual confidence in the things that make you you. If you're unhappy with your body or your mind or your social life, that's one thing—but change yourself for you, not for some faceless ringwraith you plan to bone some day in the future as soon as you get good enough at kettlebell squats. That's bad for you and dumb.
2. If you trick someone into liking you by being full of shit, you end up dating someone who wants to date a bag of shit.
Honesty is so great! Here's what happens if you're completely honest about yourself with people you might want to date: You end up maybe dating people who actually like you instead of people who like that weird character you made up. (Plus, cuts down on continuity errors.) Here's what happens if you're not honest: You end up hanging out with dicks you don't like. Worse than being alone! Hooray!
3. People are attracted to love, not hate.
About six months into dating, my current boyfriend and I discovered that, coincidentally, both of us had spent a few (dark-ish) years obsessively listening to the Ricky Gervais podcast every night as we fell asleep like weirdos—like a kind of fucked up, screeching security blanket. It's not something we do anymore, or ever did together, but it's one of the many threads that make up our big tangly connection. He doesn't love me because of how much I hated being alone. He loves me because he sees how much I love the things I love.
If you want people to love you, you should love stuff. Bitterness is like Citronella for vaginas. Are you interested in anything? Do that thing. You never know who you might meet in Thing Class—and even if you don't, hey! You got to spend a bunch of time doing your thing!
4. A great way to endear yourself to women is to fight against the societal structure that oppresses them and made you lonely in the first place.
All this shit—your "type," the "criteria" you think you need in a mate—is arbitrary. It's social conditioning. I used to think I wanted to date someone tall (I'm tall), until I started asking myself why I felt like that and couldn't come up with a single coherent answer. Then I dated some dudes who were way shorter than me, literally never even noticed after the first 2 minutes, and then literally never thought about it again. Because THEY'RE PEOPLE. That arbitrary people-criteria you think you really, really want but can't get? Just try to imagine not wanting it. Voila! Now go out and bang whomever, Criss Angel. You can do this. Now please stop making eye contact with me.