I know you have discussed the attractiveness of confidence in several columns, and, in fact, you've even recommended a person fake it if necessary. What about the people who really have no confidence? Are we doomed to be alone? I've tried faking it, and it works, but only to a point.
I've always looked for a soulmate of some sort, and I've probably come close a time or two, but this "lack of confidence" thing always gets in the way. Last time out it started really well, but eventually I wound up too afraid to tell the woman forthrightly that I didn't think it was going to work in spite of obvious splashes of brilliance between us.
After thinking about this a lot, I wondered if I hadn't been unfairly placing the burden of my self-esteem on my partners, and concluded that in some cases I had. And so I've removed myself from the dating pool. This isn't what I want, but neither do I want to be a jerk.
While I'm generally a very private person, I like talking with people, but I don't know the right way to take the risk that appears to be needed to make a decent life really colorful again. Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated.
Swearing off women is a very drastic step, and I demand you get back in the game immediately. Dating, much like physics, is difficult. But if you keep at it, you eventually get laid and fall in love, which is heaps more rewarding than deciphering quantum theory.
If you can't muster up even a dollop of feigned confidence, I'm going to suggest an alternate strategy. I call it the "Don't Give a Shit" approach. Instead of dwelling on your various shortcomings, stop caring. Yes, you could probably be taller or have better skin or whatever (for the record, I could be thinner and more tolerant of loud teenagers), but you're stuck with what you've got, and I suggest you make the best of whatever genetic cards you were dealt.
Once you've accepted that you're losing your hair (or whatever your deficiency is, real or imagined), I think you'll feel, for lack of a better word, empowered. Which is another way of saying, accepting yourself as is goes a long way toward developing confidence.
Next, I want you to take a realistic look at your life. Think back to the most tragic event that you've ever had to get through. If you're like most people, it involved the death of a family member or a health scare. Once you've retrieved that memory, I want you to keep it in an easily accessible place so you can use it to compare and contrast the next time you get rejected.
I inadvertently discovered this groundbreaking method in the midst of being dumped by someone I'd devoted six years of my life to. While rapidly cycling between racking sobs and homicidal ideation, I forced myself to recall sitting in ICU with my mom and realized that if I got through that, I could get through some schmo declaring his ambivalence for me. So yes, being shot down hurts, but it doesn't hurt half as much as your MPM (most painful moment), does it? And if you got through that, you can get through this.
And quit pressuring yourself to find a "soulmate." It's when people project unrealistic expectations onto the women (or men) they're dating that they run into trouble. My boyfriend loves science fiction and cartoons, whereas I'd sooner jam sharp sticks in my eye than sit through an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. I'm sure he envisioned his dream girl would possess a higher tolerance for squealy baby voices and flying saucers, but he's making do just fine.
So why don't you just jerk off more often, get a weekly massage, and relax a little. Quit being such a big girl's blouse about things and realize that life is made up of shades of gray.
I'm not one of those annoyingly couple people who'll offer Hallmark platitudes, like "Love will find you when you stop searching for it." The fact is, love is like Lotto—you've got to be in it to win it.
Dating difficulties? Write Dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.