Confidence: Is There Any for Sale?

Credit: tumblr/seeksthenight

The Good Men Project is a bit of a mixed bag, leaning heavily towards wuss-worthy advice that would make GMP seem progressive and feminist-sympathetic. But a lot of their dating advice (especially their articles by women) seem like a grab bag of wishes that women would oh so love for guys to hear and internalize, even if that advice really does men little good.

And here’s one article by Rachel Rabbit White that so infuriates me, I could hardly get past this one line about what guys need to do in order to get the girls. Summarizing advice by Amanda Marcotte, which she calls “smart and useful” (like she would know), she finishes with this:

Find some real self-confidence, kid.

Which strikes me as kind of, well, cunty. To me that’s the equivalent of telling a woman who complains she can’t find any good men: “Lose fifty pounds and get a nose job, kid.”

Some men are confident by nature, but the vast majority are no more confident than your average woman, which is precisely why so many turn to pick-up artistry. Because confidence isn’t like a pair of shoes that you buy for 100 bucks at S&W. When you have 9 our of a 10 women give you a sneer in response to a smile and a cheery “Hey,” it isn’t easy for most men to just move on and try the next girl. (And that’s aside from the fact that women dehumanizing men as sexual-predator-until-proven-otherwise isn’t exactly a great motivator for men to become all sensitive to women’s oh-I-wish-men-would-respect-women-more kind of whining.)

In the end, I just wish women would stick to giving advice to their fellow females, and leave the advice-for-men to, you know, men. Who actually know, at the end of the day (or night, as the case may be) what they’re up against, and can better tell you what does or doesn’t actually work. Women may not like it, but I say, tough luck for them.

Update: Turns out, just about a year ago, there was a more thorough discussion here about Marcotte’s idiotic just-get-confidence advice. And another discussion here about the overall contents of her dating advice article.

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On Negging and Other PUA Stuff

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Came across this post on the Rachel Rabbit White blog, where she writes about an interview with a Pick-Up Artist. I have lots of thoughts on PUA culture, and will leave all that for another time, but a comment there by a fellow named Xakudo summed up some thoughts I’d had about power inequities when a guy tries to strike up a conversation with a girl:

There are different areas of social power…. But I think the kind of social power he is talking about is more along the lines of what Norah Vincent describes in “Self-Made Man” when she posed as a man and tried to approach women:

“We don’t have to do the part where you cross the room and you go up to a stranger that you’ve never met in the middle of a room full of people and say the first words. And those first words are so hard to say without sounding like a cheeseball or sounding like a jerk.”

From the male perspective, women have a great deal of power in that kind of interaction. Being the initiator is actually a role of submission by default (think: applying for a job) and you have to be particularly confident and have a lot of social chops to break out of that. As as guy, you are put in the position of having to prove yourself to her (not necessarily by her, but at least by social norms/indoctrination).

To which some girl LoriA responded:

The idea that ‘being yourself’ doesn’t work can be disproven by any man who’s hooked up with me…

This last comment (by Lori A) is particularly senseless. For one thing, LorA has no way of knowing whether or not those guys were actually “being themselves.” Second, of course guys will occasionally score by “being themselves.” What LoriA fails to mention–unless she’s a particularly unattractive girl–are all the guys who tried “being themselves” and she turned down! I can bet there were far more of those. I don’t give a rat’s ass about LoriA’s distaste for pick-up artistry (and I have plenty qualms about it myself). But this is just sheer stupidity. No one–no one!–is ever him- or herself when seeking out romantic or sexual encounters. We calculate our actions for likability and desirability. Women do that as much as men. The “just be yourself” advice is either absolutely moronic or disingenuous–and probably both in equal measure.

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The Challenge: Shy Guys and Sex

It’s tough being a shy guy. At work, in social situations, or any place that requires interacting with others, shy people are at a disadvantage. When it comes to sexual opportunities, however, the shy guy face a near-insurmountable challenge for two reasons. The first is that most women are attracted to confident men–blame evolution for that–and shy guys often don’t appear confident. The second is that without confidence to approach a woman, a guy simply won’t get very far.

I am a shy guy. I’ve been that way as far back as I can remember. When I was a kid, I would grow tongue-tied if spoken to by an adult. As a teenager, always self-conscious around strangers, I struggled to adjust to new environments. Whenever I started at a new school–which happened several times as my dad’s job required us to move around quite a bit–it would take a few days before I’d finally drum up the courage to say something to the kids around me. I would usually form solid friendships after a while, but in those first few days, before I could get a word out of my mouth to anyone (almost always waiting for others to initiate), I would wonder if I’d ever overcome my shyness.

And as an adult, my shyness has been really frustrating. And nowhere more so than when it comes to dating and sex.

Credit: tumblr/seeksthenight

I enjoy sex best within a relationship. That means if I’m not dating someone, then I’m on the lookout. Every semi-cute girl is a potential girlfriend. But I never initiate conversation. I know guys who will just walk up to strange girls on the subway, in coffee shops, in bookstores, and make conversation. They’ll easily transition from small-talk to flirting. I am in awe of such skills. Never once in my life was I able to do that without feeling like a total idiot. When I see a cute girl, I usually obssess for several minutes over whether or not to say something to her. Those who don’t have the shyness-gene might be quick to say, “Oh, just don’t be so afraid, just go over and say ‘Hi’! Talk about the the weather. Just anything.” But shy people know what it’s like. In my case, as soon as the thought enters my mind, I imagine all kinds of negative responses. My hands turn clammy, my heart begins to pound wildly. My knees begin to shake. The few times that I’ve tried to initiate conversation, my voice would be croaky, and I’d trip over my words. I’m sure there are a minority of girls who might find a shy bumbling guy endearing. But my own attempts have elicited expressions ranging from stiff smiles to disdainful horror.

The result being: weeks without a date. Months without sex. Years without an actual relationship.

And the end result: Sadness, frustration, anger, self-loathing, and lots of determination to end my shyness only to realize that it’s virtually impossible.

I’ve discovered that shyness needs to be dealt with on its own terms. It needs to be recognized as something that’s part of you but needn’t be something to hate about yourself. That’s what this blog is about.

In particular, this blog is about finding sexual and romantic opportunities despite the shyness handicap.

Sex is a powerful aspect ofthe human experience, and even though I prefer it within a relationship, sex is my primary objective. Safe, mutually respectful, mutually pleasurable sex. (Preferrably with a girl; preferably an attractive one.) Romance is nice. So is love. So is owning a pimped-out luxury mega-yacht. The key in life is to prioritize: needs, wants, and so on.

I don’t have any brilliant ideas, nor do I have a great track record for dealing with it myself, but this will be an attempt at a conversation on the subject, if nothing else.

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