People Puzzles: Confidence

There is this misconception that abounds in regard to the tastes of women, that we like assholes. It’s not true, you know. We don’t like assholes at all. What women like is confidence and strength. Unfortunately, more often than not, both men and women interpret these traits to mean “asshole.” This interpretation is either because the jerks of the world are the only people we see embracing anything we could interpret as “strong,” or because we have such a limited way of looking at personality traits that we don’t grasp the fact that a nice guy can be strong and confident, and not be an asshole.

But what is confidence? What is it that we classify this way? I know that when some hear the word “confident” they think of the sort of man who could sell ice cubes to the Inuit. To these people, then, it has a negative connotation, and that’s unfortunate. This brand of confidence is not strength — it is a put-on, a construct, a manipulation. This sort of confidence smacks of lies, of being led down the garden path, of overly loud voices that are not trustworthy, but are designed to sell you a cheap lie, at a price as over-inflated as the manner of speech.

Sometimes it’s simpler to attempt to define something in terms of what it isn’t, than it is. That said, I’m not sure I’d call it confidence, what these sorts of people display, the sort who could sell an ice cube to an Inuit. Brashness, bravado, boastfulness, bombast even, but confidence? No. Confidence is also not taking charge or control (control of other people, that is) because control does not always equal strength. Taking control is power, and that isn’t the same sort of strength as the personal inner sort that exudes confidence. I do know that trying too hard to appear confident can, more often than not, make one seem just the opposite. One can also find ways to display confidence that don’t involve arrogance or the sort of in-your-face tactics some of the above are wont to be party to. My feeling, at least, is that confidence is born of truth and strength, not out of a loud voice or being the bully.

I heard an expression once, one that seemed to sum up personal strength and confidence: “owning oneself.” This, to me, speaks of someone who knows themselves very well, and is honest with themselves about this knowledge; it does not mean that they are strong all the time, happy all the time, or live without any weakness or doubt. I think it all boils down to a certain sense of trust in the self. You trust who you are, how you’ll feel, what you’ll do, and are in little doubt as to how you deal with unknowns. You trust that you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way, and if you can’t, you at least trust that you can find out how. In fact, I’d say that it’s very indicative of the confident that they embrace the unknown, because they like the challenges it brings. Embracing the unknown is not the same as thrill seeking. Someone who looks for danger purposely is flirting with something other than confidence.

If I were to try to pick out someone who could, in at least a superficial fashion, embody confidence to me, it would probably be the actor Gregory Peck on screen. To me, he always seemed so solid up there, so sure of himself and certain of who he was and what he was doing. I don’t believe he ever felt neurotic about himself or the people around him, or what the world was going to do him. I think that’s one word that, for me, sums up the confident man: “solid.” Solidity and owning oneself carry a sense of cohesiveness, wholeness, and a sense that this person isn’t going to fly apart at the seams at the first sign of danger. They feel “safe,” but not in the sense of a lack of danger. They are a safe harbour where you could find shelter if you needed it. (To be clear, “safe” does not mean “passionless” either and by passion I don’t mean sexual lust.)

I got a little off-track there, didn’t I? But I think I’ve addressed the misconception. No, women do not like assholes. We like strength, confidence, wholeness, solidity, and maybe a touch of danger (presented in the unknown) now and then. Unless a woman is a particular kind of person, I can assure you that she’s not out looking for someone who’s going to treat her like crap.

%d bloggers like this: