Let’s Tease Apart “Confidence”

When asked to describe what qualities would attract them to someone, most people list “being confident” as a must-have.

While this quality is popular, it means different things to different people, so I looked up the definition.  They include:

  • Dictionary.com:  Feeling or showing confidence in oneself; self-assured.  Feeling or showing certainty about something.
  • Merriam-Webster.com:  Full of conviction, certainty. Having or showing assurance and self-reliance.
  • TheFreeDictionary.com:  Very bold; presumptuous.
With these different meanings, confidence has a high potential to confuse and mislead those looking for it in a partner and those who seek to possess it.  I pose the following questions to you:
  1. Is feeling confident as valuable in the person as showing confidence?
  2. Does it matter what produces/is the source of this conviction/certainty/self-assurance?
  3. Does being confident necessarily benefit a love relationship?
You already know the misadventures of certain confident politicians/business people and bankers/entertainers and sports figures.  Here are a some smaller scale examples of “confident” people I know:
Example #1:  He always wears the right clothes, has well-groomed hair and nails, and has an impressive CV.  His face is handsome and he has a ready smile.  Anyone meeting him sees him as confident.  However, upon longer acquaintance, I found that he is full of niggling self-doubts which express themselves in a need to constantly compare what he has with those around him, and then views himself as a victim when things seem to stack up against him.  There are multitudes of males and females like him, competently hiding behind a veneer of socially- and professionally-defined confidence.  Eww!

Example #2:  She is confident not because of her outward appearance, but because she has moral conviction, and she’s going to make sure you know about it.  Her certainty is such that she doesn’t hesitate to tell you why you’re wrong and that her way is the only way.  Her self-assurance propels her to push her agenda with single-mindedness, never stopping to hear what others have to say, or to gauge the temperature and mood of the audience.  Whether male or female, the source of this type of confidence comes from a Higher Authority and is unshakable:  Ugh!

Example #3:  He is confident that he will capture a winning idea/project that will bring him riches and fame.  He seems the picture of energy, idealism, and persistence — what an inspiration to others!  Over time, you realize that most of what he does is sell his vision — there is no actual grunt work done to move from concept to reality, and there is no plan to do so.  He is attracted to those who honestly support him, and con-artists who use his self-confidence to turn a profit for themselves.  He is impervious to sensible critique, rejecting those offering it as “not believing in him” or “jealous, because they don’t have his clarity of vision.”  In my experience this type of self-deluding confidence runs more in males than in females.  Run away!

Example #4:  She had a childhood cluttered with hard knocks, saw the ugly side of people, and learned lessons the hard way.  She projects confidence and pride in who she is, built over time of turning rot into roses, doing work most people wouldn’t, and learning who is trustworthy and who to keep out of her life.  She’s tough and reserved on the outside, but is loyal and giving in the relationships she value.  However, she’s a real pain in the ass when she disagrees with someone because she has real conviction that she is right and she won’t let it go easily.  It takes skillful coaxing and time to get her to accept a different point of view, and I know many others like her, male and female.  Even though you’d have to put it work and exercise a good deal of patience, she’s a keeper.

Based on my own observations, I posit that without self-awareness, empathy, and openness to productive and positive influence by others, a confident person is of no value to a long-term love relationship.Let me know what you think.

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