I love confidence. It is the most attractive quality I can find in any guy, which is not to be mistaken for arrogance.
When I meet a confident man, whether it’s in his self-assurance to be completely himself, or the way his presence is felt in a room, I know I’ll have a hard time fighting off my attraction.
Conversely, insecurity is the biggest turn off for me. I know everyone has insecurities, just as I do, but it’s different to be an insecure person. Insecure people are in constant search for validation and aren’t comfortable being themselves.
When I meet nice guys, no matter how attractive or nice they may be, I lose all interest if they are insecure. Immediately.
Why do I find confidence so attractive, and why is the opposite such a turn off? I turned to some research to help me figure it out.
1. They Are Full of Vitality
Esther Perel proved to be the greatest help in answering my question about confidence in her Ted Talk, “The Secret to Desire in a Longterm Relationship.” She explained that in her hometown full of Holocaust survivors, there were two groups of people: “Those who didn’t die and those who came back to life.”
She says, “Those who didn’t die lived often very tethered to the ground, could not experience pleasure, could not trust, because when you’re vigilant, worried, anxious, and insecure, you can’t lift your head to go and take off in space and be playful and safe and imaginative.”
If you are an insecure, worried, and anxious person, then you don’t allow yourself to fully live and come to life.
Many women know that we can’t fully be in the moment of intimacy when we feel insecure. We tend to shut down, and not enjoy what’s happening. I like how Perel describes this experience.
In 20 different countries, she asked men and women to finish this statement, “I shut myself down when.” She reverses the question that people often ask, which is, “What turns me on? He/she turns me on when.”
We are turned on by confidence and turned off by insecurity, but it’s important to answer, “I turn myself off when… when I feel dead inside, when I don’t like my body, when I feel old, when I haven’t had time for myself, when I haven’t even had a chance to check in with you, when I don’t perform well at work, when I feel low self-esteem, when I don’t have a sense of self-worth, when I don’t feel like I have a right to want, to take, to receive pleasure.” These were the responses she received.
Perel describes the other group: “Those who came back to life were those who understood the erotic as an antidote to death. They knew how to keep themselves alive.” She says they knew how to have better sex, which was to, “reconnect with that quality of aliveness, of vibrancy, of renewal, of vitality, of Eros, of energy.” These same qualities can be attributed to confidence.
Matchmaker and dating coach Joann Cohen says that being full of life is a particular reason men are drawn to confident women. “Unafraid of living life big, these women embrace life fully and freely while pursuing their dreams,” says Cohen. She says that these women don’t wait for “Prince Charming” so their lives can begin, but instead go out and live their life now. Cohen says, “these women won’t be caught clinging to their man, begging for his attention 24/7.”
We’re drawn to people living their lives, because we want to live our lives that way, too. Or, if we already are, we don’t want to be with someone who will hold us back.
2. They Don’t Need You, They Want You
Maybe it’s because of childhood issues, or just because I’m an independent woman, but I absolutely can’t stand being needed by a guy.
I love being able to be there when someone needs me, but what I mean is that I have no interest in being with a guy if it’s just because he needs me.
If we are attracted to vitality, radiance, and self-sufficiency, it makes perfect sense to be very unattracted to insecurity and neediness. Perel explains, “There is no neediness in desire. Nobody needs anybody. There is no caretaking in desire. Caretaking is mightily loving. It’s a powerful anti-aphrodisiac.”
What she says is true. In relationships, we want to be able to take care of each other, but when it comes to attraction and desire, we don’t want someone who needs us to take care of them. “Wanting them is one thing. Needing them is a shutdown and women have known that forever, because anything that will bring up parenthood will usually decrease the erotic charge,” adds Perel.
Perel further explains that when you feel needed, you feel less free. When you aren’t needed, you feel free to explore, be curious, and discover, whether it’s in the bedroom, or in your own life. You feel free to do your own thing, whether it’s near or far, because you know your significant other can take care of his/herself and doesn’t need you around all the time.
I once went out with a very nice respectful guy, but then was leaving on a two week vacation. I explained to him that I don’t like talking or texting a lot when I’m vacation, because I’d rather be in the moment with the people I’m with. He said he understood, but then went on to call me everyday, and was hurt when I didn’t respond to his texts right away.
This guy needed my attention and validation in a way that was unhealthy. I felt suffocated though I was hundreds of miles away. He was insecure and it showed in the way he couldn’t let me live my life.
Two confident people in a relationship can be separated and connected at the same time, which isn’t possible if one or both are insecure.
Admittedly, I can be very needy. I like a lot of attention, and I want to spend as much time as possible with my significant other. But I’m never with someone because I can’t live without them. When I’m with someone, I’m secure enough to give the other space when it is asked for without having to feel anxious about it.
I can live very self-sufficiently on my own, so anyone who ends up with me is there because I want him. Not because I can’t be alone, or can’t support myself, or can’t [fill in the blank]. I don’t need a guy in my life, and a guy shouldn’t need me.
A confident person will want you and an insecure person will need you.
3. They Are Comfortable Being Themselves
What does it look like when someone is full of vitality and living their life to the fullest? The answer is actually very well depicted in my favorite movie — Aladdin (1992 version).
One of the messages of the story is to bee yourself. Aladdin gets transformed into a prince to impress the princess. She didn’t like any of the suitors who came to court her, and she didn’t like Ali when he showed up as an obnoxious prince either. She liked Aladdin when he was genuinely just himself. No pretense and with nothing to prove.
The biggest indicator of confidence is when someone is completely comfortable and happy being his/herself.
In Barbara Aleks Hecht’s article, “Why is Confidence so Sexy?” she adds that confident people stand out because, “You want to know what makes them so self-assured. They’re intriguing and we’re beguiled.”
Years ago when a new co-worker started working with us, I remember he was liked almost instantly. After his first week, he brought donuts just to liven our day. He was one of those guys who was very nerdy, but felt zero embarrassment about it.
He presented no façade, felt no shame in sharing his likes and interests, and neither did he brag like he had something to prove. He was simply himself and had an “accept me as myself, but I’m fine if you don’t” attitude. Needless to say I fell hard.
Aside from being himself, he was also very positive towards others, which is perhaps why he was liked so much. Confident people tend to be emotionally healthy and positive, both towards themselves and others.
People who are comfortable with themselves also don’t need validation, which can be draining and a complete turnoff. People who seek validation are trying to prove that they are valuable, whereas confident people already know they are.
I’m attracted to confident men because I think they’re worthwhile and valuable because they think that of themselves. It’s sad, but if I’m being completely honest, when a guy doesn’t think much of himself, then I won’t either.
As much as confidence attracts me, it’s one of those qualities that’s not all too common to find. Most often I meet men who so desperately want me to like them and are in need of my validation. Or I meet men who are so full of bravado that their first interest is to try to impress me by going on and on about themselves. I’m sure the same could be said of women.
What I don’t find often are men who are truly living their life without the need to show me that they are. Men who don’t need my validation, approval, or attention, but appreciate what I add to their life. Men who are completely comfortable being who they are.
The last reason I’m so attracted to confidence is because it’s rare, as rare as a diamond in the rough.
Originally published at http://www.tryingtogainperspective.com.