It should come as no surprise that confidence is a big deal when it comes to success at dating. Confidence, after all, is sexy.
The problem of course, is that confidence can be hard to come by. Confidence boosting is a big-money industry these days. Even the Pick-Up Artist community is flooded with products designed to help men with what they call “inner game” issues. But for all for all of the times we wrestle with issues of deservedness or a scarcity mentality, there are certain areas where men are just especially vulnerable.
Men are more sensitive than culture gives them credit for. For all of the proclamations of manliness and machismo and how men just don’t worry about the same things that women do, the male ego is surprisingly fragile. We may be able to endure the jocular insults and shit-talking that are often part and parcel of male friendship but there are certain areas that are just off-limits. They’re little emotional Van Der Graaf generators of anxiety that serve to wreck a man’s self-esteem, prompting him to throw hundreds or thousands of dollars towards any snake-oil or hokum that promises to fix the issue.
The problem is, of course, in your head rather than on it… or in your shorts, for that matter. But let’s look at the top 5 most common insecurities in men… and talk about how you can overcome them.
#5: Your Body
For decades, feminists lamented the damaging power of the Male Gaze and the toll that it’s taken on women’s self esteem and health, and it seemed to be profoundly one-sided; Naomi Wolfe wrote in The Beauty Myth that men would never fear being objectified in the way that women are.
Fast forward 20 or so years and suddenly eating disorders and body dysmorphia are on the rise in men1 and liposuction is one of the fastest-growing plastic surgery procedures performed on men. Men have suddenly realized that – contrary to a lifetime of being told that men are visual while women are intellectual – women like to look too. For the first time in generations, women are openly ogling men the way that we’ve been drooling over women and it makes us profoundly uncomfortable. And now that men have realized that women are having the screaming thigh-sweats over Ryan Gosling’s abs, we feel like we’re not measuring up.
We’re worried that we’re too fat, too thin, too hairy, too tall, too short, too… something. And it’s driving us to dangerous levels of desperation trying to match up with a societal ideal.
How To Get Over It:
Well to start with, eat healthy – decrease the level of simple carbohydrates, up your intake of green leafy vegetables, avoid excess fats and sugars and processed foods – and start getting more active. A healthier diet and increased exercise will increase your baseline health and make you feel better over all. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit the gym – and in fact, there are plenty of people who are just not suited for traditional exercise routines. If you’re the sort of person who couldn’t dream of spending 20-30 minutes on the elliptical runner every day, find another way of getting active that you enjoy. Play pick-up games of basketball after work. Join a dojo and start studying martial arts. Get into swing or salsa dancing. Work towards a goal such as the Couch to 5K program or train for the zombie apocalypse by training for the Run For Your Life races. Your local gym will also have any number of classes; don’t dismiss them as being “too girly” – that Pilates class will beat your ass into painful submission and laugh at you all the while.
Of course you also have to realize that just because you’re eating right and exercising doesn’t mean that you’ll magically become a Men’s Health cover model. To start with, you’re restricted by your genetics and build – not everybody is going to have those perfect six-pack abs no matter how much they work out. In addition, those shirtless dudes you see in ads, on covers and in the movies don’t live the same lifestyle you do. Their job is literally to look good – their day to day life is entirely structured around the routines and meals that it takes to look like that. You simply don’t have the same time to commit that they do.
Not to mention how much of it is smoke and mirrors. You’d be amazed what you can do with basic make-up tricks, lighting and dehydration long before you get into Photoshop.
What you need to do is learn to accept who you are -and, more importantly – that you don’t need to live up to some bullshit ideal in order to be attractive. Just as men love a wide range of body types and shapes, so do women. There are women out there who like big, burly, hairy, men. There are women who like skinny ectomorphs. Accepting your build for what it is, instead of trying to force yourself to live up to a physical ideal that you literally cannot match, will do wonders for your esteem. Wearing clothes that fit properly will help improve your look no matter what kind of body you have.
And let’s face it: if a woman’s into you enough to come home with you, she’s not going to worry that you’re not a cinema idol. By the time sex is in the equation, it’s fait accompli.
#4: Your Finances
For generations, part of how men have identified themselves has been as The Provider – your ability to care for and support your mate has been a measure of manliness since time immemorial. As a result, men as a group put an inordinate amount of importance on money and material goods; witness every song or music video whose main narrative is “I’m so fuckin’ rich I can have any woman I damn well feel like.”
Now let’s be honest: money may not buy you love, but it certainly improves your bargaining position. There’s no denying that material wealth is attractive, even if the woman in question isn’t a gold digger.
Obviously, 99% of us2 aren’t crazy rich and we never will be, but somehow there are still people who aren’t Donald Trump who are having plenty of dating success even with their middle-class lifestyles. You don’t have to be crazy-stupid rich in order to find love or a relationship.
But what if you’re not even middle class? What if you’re stuck with public transportation, a minimum wage job, a shitty apartment and a “ramen-five-nights-a-week” diet? What then? How can you expect to find a girlfriend then? What woman is willing to put up with riding the bus to your very-occasional dinner out and your once-a-month-maybe movie date?
How To Get Over It:
First of all, look around. The economy is in the fucking tank. We’re all floundering around trying to find work and having to scrape to make ends meet. We’re all having to deal with tight financial times, and any woman worth dating is going to understand that. If the women you like are looking as much at your bank account as they are at your personality, you really need to quit dating shallow materialistic bitches and date women who appreciate a man who has more going for him than a fat wallet.
Now, if you’re doing badly, financially, because you’re lazy or have no ambition, that’s one thing. That’s an unattractive trait no matter what your take-home pay rate is. Women like a man who not only has goals and ambition but who is actively working towards them. Drive and determination are incredibly attractive traits.
Being on a tight budget doesn’t mean that you can’t look good or treat a woman to a good time. To start with, you can find awesome clothes on a budget. Learn to harness the power of the Internet – you’d be surprised at the discounts that you can find with some Googling and a little skill on eBay. Learn how to work the sales. And again: make sure your clothes fit. A proper fit makes all the difference.
Never forget: romance is more than material goods or price. It’s about spontaneity, personality, atmosphere and attitude. You can date without breaking the bank; there are plenty of dates that are awesome that won’t cost you a small fortune. A romantic home-cooked meal by candlelight will mean more to the right woman than impossible-to-get reservations at that exclusive French bistro. Museums and art galleries make for amazing low-cost dates that are classy as fuck. You can also find a surprising number of free or low-cost events in your town, especially if you’re in a college town if you do some research.
Don’t worry too much about your finances. Any woman worth your time will be won over by your caring personality, wit and charm and sexiness.
Speaking of which…
- although frankly, calling it cutesy names like “manorexia” or “bro-lemia” really minimize the seriousness of the issue, for both men and women [↩]
- Hey look, I’m relevant! [↩]