By Kate Richlin-Zack
Ok, ladies. The mystery is solved. Over a dinner meeting last week, I discovered what men are looking for in a woman and based on my statistically significant sample size of one, survey says: confidence.
How can one guy’s opinion possibly carry so much weight?
Because he’s right.
Insecurity is the one quality that will end your relationship faster than your droopy boobs, your inability to do simple math, your student loan debt, blah blah blah i.e. any of the things that you’re self conscious about. Why? Because doubting yourself will make you do crazy things like only get naked when it’s pitch black, rummage through your boyfriend’s personal belongings looking for “evidence,” or dump a guy for being “too perfect.” All of which, I’ve done, though not proudly, which is precisely why I’m going to talk about them here in a public forum.
Let’s take my insecurities about my body as exhibit A. Sadly, my dress size has little to do with how comfortable I am naked. Since I can only do so much with regards to my appearance, I’ve resorted to controlling the setting as much as possible. I’ve replaced high wattage light bulbs, not to be environmentally friendly but to avoid harsh lighting that might emphasize my cellulite and I’ve installed blackout curtains to prevent the sun and moon from foiling my perfectly crafted lighting design. For you theater geeks out there, no I haven’t used gels, but that’s not to say I haven’t thought about it. I’ve double checked the reflective angle on all mirrors in the room to create optical illusions . I’ve even strategically removed a pair of Spanx mid-makeout session so he’d never know I didn’t have a perfect hourglass figure. I’ve done everything short of putting this magic act on stage which is a shame because David Copperfield would be impressed. And if that wasn’t exhausting enough, once I was actually naked, I made sure he never got a handful of saddlebag or belly bulge. It’s impossible to really enjoy yourself when you’re spending the entire time avoiding harsh lighting and re-positioning his hands. I’m willing to bet he’s not enjoying sensory deprivation and rubbing one out in solitary confinement is more satisfying which is probably why I got dumped.
And as if my insecurities about my body weren’t enough to sabotage my relationships, enter my need for constant reinforcement. I’ve been burned in the past. Badly. Burned to the point that I had a hard time believing that all men aren’t lying, cheating, scumbags with pregnant wives and ulterior motives. So when my text messages go unanswered for more than two hours or he doesn’t tell me how beautiful I am exactly when and how I need to hear it, I assume he’s finally showing his true colors and there must be someone else and she’s prettier, thinner, funnier, and all around better than me. It couldn’t possibly be that it’s 10am on a Thursday and he’s in the middle of a business meeting or that he’s not clairvoyant. Nope. Definitely not. So of course, I had to learn the hard way that there are some nice guys out there but only after I go through his phone, email, pants pockets, and wallet and come up empty handed. And single because no man wants to be with a woman who doesn’t trust him!
Then there’s the guy whose success and admirable qualities expose me for the pitiful harpie that I truly am. There were a few of these “perfect guys” that I was lucky enough to date for a hot second before I dumped them for making me feel inadequate. Not once did any of them ever say anything disparaging. Quite the contrary. In addition to their promising careers, dashing good looks, and kind hearts, they sent flowers and cards at the perfect time and always said just the right thing. But their sheer perfection in comparison to my glaring lack-there-of made me feel like I had nothing to offer. So naturally I’d dump them before they could dump me. Clearly I’m not that smart.
But it’s so easy to fall into the insecurity trap when we’re constantly bombarded by photoshopped images of what the media defines as “perfect.” Let’s face it, without airbrushing and spackle, most of us will never look like we just stepped off the pages of Playboy Magazine. But guess what, THAT’S OKAY because THAT’S REALITY.
And based on my male perspective research last week, we should put the kibosh on this pity party we women seem to be having because guys aren’t looking for perfect breasts, a poreless complexion, or any other unattainable quality; they’re looking for women who are comfortable in their own skin and that’s perfectly attainable. We just need to play up our strengths and ignore our supposed flaws. Businesses do this all the time when marketing a product. They highlight the features that customers will find most attractive in order to sell it and that’s precisely what we should do too. Figure out which qualities you are most proud of – trust me, everyone has at least ONE quality they like about themselves. So whether it’s a great pair of gams, a repertoire of hilarious dirty jokes, or your knowledge of tensor calculus, play it up and stop worrying about everything else. It’s way easier than staging a light show or stealthily rummaging through your boyfriends personal belongings. Plus if you’re focusing on the things you feel good about, you’re only further building your confidence and I can guarantee someone will take notice and fall in love with you because you’re you.
Kate’s Dates runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Her articles have been featured on YourTango and Romance Never Dies and she’s even been quoted in Fox News Magazine. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.