People throw around a lot of theories and a lot of advice to each other about how to be attractive or how to deal when romantic entanglements don't go as planned, but I think a lot of it is very, very unhelpful.
1. He just doesn't want to ruin the friendship - this is crap every time. Every. Time. I honestly don't know why people still believe this.
Here's a great scene from The Mindy Project where Dr. Mindy Lahiri faces this lie head on:
(SPOILER ALERT: This is from the April 8th episode. If you're not there yet, skip to #2)
DANNY: I don’t know if you know this, but… you’re my best friend. Sort of my only friend. And I need to have you in my life. I have to have you and this- I’m afraid that this is gonna-
MINDY: No, no, no, don’t, don’t.
DANNY: Wait a minute – you don’t know what I’m about to tell you.
MINDY: I do. I do. You don’t want to risk our great friendship. It’s a bunch of garbage. That’s what guys say – that’s what cowards say when they want to get out of something, but they still want to seem nice. Don’t tell me you want to be my best friend, ‘cause I have friends.
BAM. You go, girl.
Look at how excited this man on a camel is to talk to whoever is on the other side of this phone call. Don't settle for anything less than this.
3. Boys like girls who don't know they're beautiful.
Well put, Colbert. Guys don't dig girls who "stare at the ground", are "insecure" and "turn away when I look into your eyes".
4. Here's another example of crappy advice people give each other:
There are approximately zero useful tips in that list.
As I've been thinking about how this whole "dating" thing works and why people lose so much time and self-esteem trying to date the kinds of people they want to date, I've formulated a theory.
This theory comes from my experiences and my observations.
THE GREAT DISCREPANCY:
It all comes down to confidence.
We are attracted to people who are confident; people who like themselves and likely don't care whether or not we like them. What we think about them does not affect how they feel about themselves.
Don't let the opposite be true. Don't let your self-worth be dictated by what your crush thinks. For example, a guy you perceive as hot thinks you're pretty and you suddenly feel gorgeous. Or, a guy you perceive as hot calls you a fat loser and you have a sad afternoon.
Not a good system.
You don't want to date someone who is obsessed with you or even overly worries about your opinion of stuff. What a drag. It works the other way too. The guy you're pining after does not want to date you. No one dates piners. They end up sad and their self image goes down another step.
My theory is that we end up with people who have the same confidence levels as we do.
If you have your eyes on someone who likes themselves more than you like yourself, things will not work out. You will be sucked in like a tractor beam, gently patted on the head and dropped off a year later with no idea what happened to you.
This also explains why so many weirdos are obsessed with you: because you like yourself more than they like themselves. You are their tractor beam and you spit them out the same way that Mr. Hottie Body spits you out.
I'm not saying that attractive people exclusively end up with attractive people. Although this is the case many times, it doesn't always work that way. It does make sense that a male 10 would fall for a female 10 because, reasonably, he would like himself about the same amount that she likes herself.
But it is also possible for a male 10 to fall for a female 6 who sees herself as a 10. But if the female 6 sees herself as a 5 or even as an 8, then Mr. 10 has the ball in his court. And as we all know, when the ball is in your court, it becomes all too easy to drop it altogether. And that's what he would do.
Let's face it, Emma Stone is a mega babe and Kieran Culkin looks like a sleepy asexual ghost. But as long as Kieran Culkin thinks he's a catch, then it doesn't matter. These two totally dated.
How can we become more confident in ourselves? That's the fix, right? If we want to be attractive to the people we find attractive, then we need to match their confidence levels (which, ironically, might mean we care less about what they think and thus may not even care about dating them anymore, but hey - your chances of having attractive babies will increase).
I read in a book once that if look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful everyday that you will come to believe it. Let me tell you, I tried that until my reflection got bored and went to the movies and never felt any different about myself. A mirror pep talk was a feeble suggestion that led to feeble (and by that, I mean zero) results.
I also tried some serious soul searching. But soul searching only gets you so far. I discovered one day that rubber needed to hit road and I needed to actually start making some serious moves in my life if I ever wanted to like myself more.
I had an epiphany one day while reading "No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline" by Brian Tracy. I'm going to be completely honest and say that I've only read the beginning of this book (not enough self-discipline to finish it...), but what was said in the first 20 pages hit me like a sack of bricks.
We gain confidence in ourselves by setting goals and accomplishing them. What? Brilliant! Big or small, we have to set personal goals then work to accomplish them.
And I mean real setting/achieving. "I want to be healthy" is not a goal. Neither is "I want to make more money". You have to have something measurable and attainable with a deadline attached.
"I want to run a 10K in an hour or less by June 4", "I want to learn how to play Pachelbel's Canon in D on the piano by Christmas" or "I want to save $3,000 by September so I can go to New York" are the kinds of goals we should be looking at. Write it down, make a plan and go go go!
We all have our own list of things we wish we could be better at (playing piano, exercising, eating better, finishing projects, reading books) or bad habits we wish we could rid ourselves of (smoking, eating too many Doritos, having a sedentary lifestyle, watching to much TV, buying too many handbags). Figure out what's keeping you from liking yourself more, turn it into a goal, and cross that baby off your list!
Will it be easy? Nope! But that's where the change occurs.
As we accomplish things we didn't think we could (or ever would), we come to see that we are much more capable, smart, beautiful people than we thought previously possible. If you start taking care of your body (and I'm not talking about losing weight -- I'm talking about dropping bad habits you know are holding you back from better health), you will start to like yourself more. You will probably also like your body more, but what I think is infinitely more valuable is the change that will happen in your beliefs about yourself. "I didn't think I was the kind of person who could ever _______________. But I just. did. it."
It's a beautiful thing to see yourself for who you can become rather than all the things you're not. Get off the couch, turn off Netflix, sit down at a piano, or the computer or get in your car and make yourself a plan to actually do the things you KNOW you could be doing, but never before had the strength, motivation or presence of mind to do.
Only then can our confidence increase.
THE SIDE EFFECT:
Having a larger and better-looking dating pool is definitely a perk of higher confidence, but I think it is far from the only noticeable difference in the life of someone who has truly set and accomplished personal goals.
Higher confidence is a reward in and of itself.
But it also just happens to be the cure of crappy dating/pining experiences.
This is Marilyn freakin' Monroe being a hottie and dancing like a weirdo. The reason everyone thought she was such a bombshell? She thought she was a bombshell too.
As your confidence increases, so does the amount of boys who are obsessed with you.
It only makes sense. If you thought you were a 5 and now you see yourself as a 10, all the 6, 7, 8 and 9s will be your new obsessors -- when yesterday, they were your obsessions :).
Basically all the boys of One Direction will be in love with you.
So will these guys, which is totes fine if you're into it.
I have had my fair share of sad, pining experiences where a boy who seemed "just out of reach" was actually completely turned off by me and my attempts to turn a friendship into something more. I don't really believe that men and women can be close friends without one of them (at some point) having feelings for the other (though that's a different chat altogether), but all the talk of "not wanting to ruin the friendship" sounded like sound logic to me - at least it sounded better than the infamous "he's just not that into you".
But when I met my husband, I had a different experience altogether. I had just accomplished some pretty serious goals (health-wise and job-wise) and was feeling pretty proud of myself for doing hard things. Austin was just a bad A business man who wore nice clothing and did his own taxes. Basically, Austin was (and still is!) a goal-setting machine, making him feel pretty satisfied with his life and pretty confident in his ability to woo hot ladies.
The only reason we ever ended up in a serious relationship, then a marriage was because I had the confidence to walk away sometimes, to tell him no sometimes and to not be available every time he wanted me around. These were things I had never really done before. It was hard because he's an amazing guy and I wanted him to like me, but I knew that sitting around waiting for him would cause him to lose interest and disappear.
One night, he was playing volleyball with a group of friends from church. I was waiting for him to be done so that we could chat and flirt and I could show him how amazing I was. But he was taking FOREVER. So there I was, just sitting, waiting for a volleyball game to end when I realized: "I am sitting around waiting for a volleyball game to end. That is lame."
So I left. I didn't tell him I was leaving and I didn't make a big drama moment out of it -- I just went home. It felt a little odd at first, like "Am I really going home? Why would I do that? I don't know. Let's just do it before we change our mind..." But as soon as I pulled into my driveway, I got a text from my future husband. It said: "Where did you go?"
He knew I had the confidence and self-control to do other things with my time besides watch him play volleyball. It probably would have been better if I was going home to do something amazing like swim laps in my pool or knit a sweater, but what stood out to him was my ability to walk away.
I surprised myself in this moment and learned that I could do things I was previously not strong enough to do. I felt like a catch.
1. Be careful of compliments. Insecure people love compliments because it makes them feel justified and temporarily better about themselves. Confident people appreciate a compliment with a nice "thank you" and move on.
2. Don't set goals just to impress boys or girls you are interested in. These need to be your goals. If your crush thinks that skateboarding is cool, setting a goal to be a great skateboarder is kind of counterproductive.
What do YOU want to be better at? If your crush is not impressed by fancy cakes, but you have an interest in becoming a better cake baker, then put on an apron and pull out the flour. He or she will become interested in cakes as soon as you show them the confidence to be yourself. And if they don't? You've got a great hobby and new skills to impress someone else with.
3. There is a big difference between confidence and cockiness. I'm not saying men love women who are full of themselves. Often cockiness is a sign of insecurity. Men like women who like themselves. And vice versa.
4. If you're currently pining after a boy or girl who does not feel the same way about you, listen to my birthday twin Snoop Dogg...
It will probably be very hard. You probably think that he or she is your best friend. But as long as you are pining and he or she is not committing to a relationship with you, you are wasting time. Stop texting, stop hanging out one-on-one. Set a goal for yourself (unrelated to this person) and make yourself so busy accomplishing your goal that you have little to no time to spend with this "best friend".
Remember, dropping bad habits raises your self-esteem.
Or you can just move 2000 miles away. That's what I did.
Basically, I just share this info because I wish someone had told me this years ago. I knew I was having a horrible time with dating and I knew it was because I didn't have any confidence, but I couldn't connect those dots.
I hope somehow, in some way, someone somewhere benefits from this info sesh.
Remember, you are amazing. But as much and I (and everyone else) tells you how amazing you are, it means nothing until you believe it. And you're not going to believe it until you prove it to yourself. You have to raise the bar for yourself. You have to do things you don't feel like doing, things that seem so far out of reach. But, you just have to start by writing down your goal and taking the first step to accomplish it. Remember these simple, but powerful words:
Also these words, which are slightly less simple, but still pretty good: