Confidence as a relationship skill
All the ways confidence gave me a much needed ego… and greater confidence let me set my ego aside.
As I gained confidence as a man, I was able to skillfully take the lead in my relationship, in a way that felt good to my partner. I became attractively assertive.
But I’ll tell you something. You know what else takes confidence? Apologizing cleanly.
With no defensiveness. And not to placate or manage her feelings. Just a clear, honest expression of regret.
I didn’t get good at apologizing — or rather, I didn’t really understand what an apology was — until I was a lot further along in the development of my own self esteem.
As I gained confidence I started standing powerfully for what I believe in. I became willing to risk disapproval, disagreement, or even loss of connection.
But you know what else takes confidence? Recognizing I’m wrong about something and admitting it. Allowing my mind to be changed. Receiving uncomfortable feedback and recognizing the truth in it. Finding myself on the wrong side of an argument, and choosing not to try to “save face.”
Being able to say to say, “I was wrong,” full stop, and have it be matter-of-fact.
As I gained the confidence necessary for me to start showing up as a leader, in life and in my intimate relationships… you know what else now required confidence? Relinquishing all control and following.
Surrendering fully to my partner. Taking a supporting role in an organization. Getting behind a strong leader.
To be honest, following was totally easy when I had no confidence whatsoever. It’s what I did all the time, as a default.
But the more I grew to be a leader in the world, and the more I was able take the lead in my personal life, the more critical it was that I not attach to that role.
I came to understand that surrender is very different from acquiescence, which is what I had been doing before. For a powerful, capable human being, there are times when the next level of growth comes in the form of volitional surrender.
As I gained confidence I became a lot more fun in bed. I was more relaxed, less caught up in performance anxiety — or even specific outcomes — and could just enjoy giving and receiving pleasure.
But you know what else takes confidence? Saying, “I don’t know how to touch you right now, can you give me some guidance?”
Being unsure doesn’t mean you’re not good in bed. Hiding it, or not being able to receive requests from your partner — now that’s a problem.
Yes, even for a sex coach. The more my experience was that “I know what I’m doing,” the more critical it became that I never, ever go on autopilot.
If there’s anything that really shines a light on the difference between confidence and hubris, it’s sex. Because confidence is so very necessary for a great sex life. And hubris, so very unwelcome.
I had to see how much I cared about the perception of being a great lover, and how that gets in the way of being one.
So if the truth in the moment is that I’m unsure… I’d better not have any ego attached to it. I’d better be totally comfortable saying it. (Or hearing it!)
As I gained confidence I became more capable and self reliant in the world in general.
But you know what else takes confidence? Asking for help.
(And getting it. And accepting it with grace.)
Confidence was not a light-switch for me, something I acquired and that was it. It has continued to evolve. Other superpowers that have confidence and self esteem at their root:
- I can afford to be attentive.
- Other people’s strong feelings don’t scare me or victimize me.
- I have a sense of self worth — I treat myself well, and naturally garner the respect of others through how I show up.
- I can experience the full spectrum of healthy emotions, feel them fully, and respond in appropriate ways.
- I can say uncomfortable truths to others without mincing words, in such a way that they’re grateful for the honesty.
- I’m certainly not fearless, but I can feel fear and still decide to proceed.
- Where I lack mastery I have self-trust, rather than paralyzing self-doubt.
- I can give others the spotlight and have them shine.
- I can enjoy others’ success and happiness without feeling threatened or competitive.
- I spend less time in “narrative brain” and more in “experiential” brain.
- I can flirt for the pure enjoyment of it, not as a means to some end.
I want you to have these superpowers, too.
I believe couples who have relationship skills and want to be together can create an epic life partnership. When I’m working with someone, sometimes just a shift in their confidence alone, naturally brings forth a whole constellation of relationship skills they didn’t previously have, or didn’t think they were capable of.
I consider confidence, rooted in healthy self esteem, to be a core superpower for thriving relationships.
Copyright © 2019 by Ken Blackman. All rights reserved.