One much-ballyhooed necessity on the dating scene is confidence. Tons of dating books, advice columnists, friends, etc, will say that confidence is the best thing to have on a date. So go buy gold chains with your name on them! Er, maybe not. What exactly is being said when people say that confidence is all you need? Like all things, it can be overdone or overlooked. In the world of online dating, it can be especially tricky to do it right. You don’t want to seem cocky, or arrogant—and yet at the same time you don’t want to be some self-effacing nebbish. So how can someone tread this line and come out ahead?
The secret is about understanding what confidence is. It isn’t thinking yourself some sort of perfect, Herculean ideal. It isn’t believing that you are a genius, a comedian, an orator. These things don’t make you confident—they make you a jerk. The more full of himself (or herself) a person becomes, the more easily offended and angered he or she becomes. With a head full of exaggerated images of the self comes huge insecurities. If someone is convinced they are a certain kind of person, anything that suggests that they aren’t is an attack, and will be perceived as an insult, a threat, or a step toward being exposed for what they are—namely, a normal person. Because really, that’s what we all boil down to. Everyone’s good at something and bad at other things. It’s possible to be both confident in yourself and flawed. In fact, it’s almost necessary.
Dating online, with all its profile pages, seems to tempt the user to embellish just a little. Throw in a few slightly untrue details to make yourself look better, what’s the harm? This mindset makes it far less likely that the person would be confident on an actual date. You need to accept who you are, flaws and all. Own your limitations and know that they’re there without being ashamed. Only when you admit to yourself who you really are can you be confident in yourself.
Otherwise you’re simply lying to yourself about how great you are, which can lead to cockiness and a thin skin, and those are pretty horrible attributes to have if you’re trying to make an honest connection with another person. One of the best parts of a conversation is when the other person says something surprising or interesting that you didn’t know. You learn more about them by finding out what they know, and you also have a more interesting conversation.
With someone too cocky, however, they can be hurt and offended if the person they’re talking to knows more about something than they do. I know one girl, a self-described music geek with a nigh-encyclopedic knowledge of music, who has had to suffer through many guys who talk down to her as if she couldn’t possibly know the music trivia that they know, no matter how common-knowledge it may be. It’s disrespectful and counterproductive. Only when you accept that you’re imperfect can you be confident in yourself. If you hate and resent your imperfections, you can’t accept yourself as you are.
That doesn’t mean you should flaunt your weaknesses—I admit I suck at playing football, but I still avoid playing football whenever possible. It just means that confidence comes not from thinking yourself great, but acknowledging who you really are, and being comfortable with what that entails.
Lori Bizzoco is a writer, journalist and blogger living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on a memoir detailing how she found love in less than a year. For more dating advice, follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/loribizz