Most women want to date a guy who’s confident. Insecurity and passive behavior won’t exactly get you the girl of your dreams.
That being said, true confidence doesn’t equal a complete lack of self-doubts. It’s only when you let that part of you win over more often than not that you get yourself in trouble.
Contrary to popular belief, confidence in a relationship isn’t about thinking you’re the most powerful alpha male in a five-mile radius. It’s about knowing your strengths and weaknesses. And it’s about knowing how to work with them.
Most of all, confidence lies in fostering a sense of love and respect for who you are as a person – without getting too cocky or arrogant.
Healthy self-confidence in relationships is vital. Studies show it contributes to relationship satisfaction, and some psychologists describe it as the very opposite of narcissism because it doesn’t include any of the following:
- A constant need for attention
- The desire to be excessively admired
- A lack of empathy
What’s more, the confidence you build within yourself shouldn’t depend on your partner. To quote one of the world’s leading experts in emotions, Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D.:
“It has been found that relationship-contingent self-esteem is an unhealthy form of self-esteem.
In these circumstances, self-esteem is low and often is connected to dependency on our partner, feeling incompetent, lacking care and love from one’s partner, and is associated with an emotional roller-coaster.”
Uhm. That doesn’t sound ideal.
Want to know how to be confident in a relationship in an authentic, sustainable way?
Gentlemen, please welcome the attachment theory!
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How to Be Confident and Secure in a Relationship: The 4 Types of Attachment
Attachment theory, a psychological phenomenon first explored by John Bowlby, is the key to being confident in a relationship.
According to this principle, there are three major types of attachment. These are often derived from the way you were treated as a child and translate into your intimate relationships without your even realizing.
1. Anxious Attachment
This means you crave your partner’s attention and validation because you inherently feel insecure. You seek a partner who will “fix” all your problems, will make you feel whole, and will essentially become the parent you always wanted.
2. Avoidant Attachment
People with this type of attachment keep their distance, feel uncomfortable opening up to others, and value independence above all else. They tend to shut down emotionally and avoid arguments with their partner. Avoidant attachment is basically the opposite reaction of an anxious attachment when faced with the same situation: a lack of sufficient love in the early developmental stages.
3. Secure Attachment
This is what we’re trying to achieve here. A secure attachment manifests in honesty, mutual respect, stability, healthy independence, and a deep emotional connection.
Later theories have added one more type of attachment:
4. Disorganized Attachment
This is an ambivalent mixture of anxiety and avoidance. You want to get close to your partner but are afraid to do so lest your feelings get hurt.
If you think you may have one of the three insecure attachment styles, don’t worry! One study shows that you can relearn security in a relationship. In fact, 46% of participants changed their attachment styles in just 2 years.
The most important aspects of a secure attachment are:
- Respectful and direct communication about your feelings
- An active effort put into working on your relationship, especially when in a crisis
- The ability to be alone and thrive
- Healthy emotional self-regulation (e.g., you don’t flip out just because you didn’t get what you want – anger issues are especially common among men)
- Setting boundaries in a respectful manner
- An ease when it comes to expressing affection
- Communicating instead of over-thinking, assuming, or taking things too personally
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Confidence in Relationships: How to Build a Secure Attachment
First things first – you are only one half of the relationship. To create a healthy and secure dynamic, there are two of you for the job. An avoidant partner, for instance, makes it very difficult for an anxious partner to grow in confidence.
The two people can easily fall into this cycle:
Everyone says it because it’s true: Communication is key. Effort, however, comes close second. Both of you need to put in the work.
So, how the heck do you become more confident in a relationship?
Create a World Separate from Your Girlfriend
“My girlfriend is my best friend.”
Many men say this, and for a good reason – if you spend all your free time with your partner, how are you supposed to form close bonds with other people?
Don’t get me wrong, your partner can be your best friend. She shouldn’t be the only one, though. Your world can’t revolve only around her.
She’s a huge part of it, sure. If she takes up the whole galaxy, however, you:
- don’t have any space to breathe
- probably don’t give her any space to breathe, either
- would completely crumble if you ever broke up.
Instead of living in a codependent relationship, aim for interdependence.Psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. explains it thus:
“This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values. What they have is a balanced relationship.”
Re-discovering your passion for your hobbies, meeting up with friends, and enjoying your time alone is the best way to regain confidence in a relationship.
Not only does this give you a more complex, fulfilling existence, but it also makes you hotter.
Why? Because women love independence.
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Jealousy isn’t a sign of love. In the words of the philosopher Erich Fromm:
“Envy, jealousy, ambition, any kind of greed are passions; love is an action, the practice of human power, which can be practiced only in freedom and never as a result of compulsion.”
Research has linked jealousy to low self-esteem, insecurity, and excessive dependence on your significant other. If you get grumpy when your girlfriend goes on a night out in a short dress or finds a male coworker funny, it doesn’t show you love her.
It shows you want to own her. In the 21st century, this is the opposite of attractive.
The thing is, there will always be people you and your girlfriend are attracted to. For most of us, sexual chemistry with others doesn’t go away only because we’re in a relationship.
True love is the difference between being attracted to someone and acting on it. True love is choosing your partner every single day, no matter what possibilities lie beyond the horizon.
It’s built on trust and respect. You trust your partner not to betray you and you keep your own promise of staying faithful in return.
Confident men don’t obsess over what their girlfriends wear or who they talk to. Confident men know their partner is choosing them above all others.
At the end of the day, she always comes home to you. Remember that.
Don’t Try to Impress – Instead, Be Secure in Your Own Skin
Boasting, bragging, and trying to act too confident comes across as exactly that – trying.
Low self-esteem can hide behind a portrayal of excessive confidence, and many women can sense what’s truly going on. The ideal way to be confident in a new relationship is to display quiet confidence, respect, and some amount of modesty.
Plus, you don’t want her to fall in love with a persona you’re putting on. You want her to love you for who you are.
The takeaway? Don’t try too hard.
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Forgiveness Is Your Friend
I’m not saying you should quickly forgive every single thing your girlfriend does. If she breaks your heart, you have every right to leave.
However, holding onto grudges can make a real mess out of things. People with a secure attachment don’t tend to dwell on the past too much because they know that you simply need to let things go in order to move forward.
Dredging up things from the past signals to your girlfriend that you’re not fully confident in your relationship as it is now.
No couple goes through life without some challenges along the way. Everyone has their faults, and if two people commit to each other, issues will eventually bubble up.
However, confident men know that each obstacle is precisely that – an obstacle in the way of a long, fulfilling relationship. They don’t lose sight of the goal in all the chaos. Instead, they try their best to light up the path.
In fact, forgiving past harm has been linked to better relationships. While forgiveness is a complex and sometimes slow process, make sure you don’t just move on from the experience without emotional resolution.
Trying to forget something doesn’t mean you’ve forgiven the person.
Once you do forgive, however, your confidence in a relationship skyrockets. You now know your love can’t be torn apart by the occasional challenge, and you’ve also grown stronger as a man.
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Learn to Self-Soothe and Be Compassionate Toward Yourself
Men are constantly given the impression that they should hide their emotions. The only socially permitted emotional states are anger and desire.
That’s not much to choose from, to be honest with you.
Many men resolve to repress their feelings and shelter themselves from the world. It’s therefore no surprise that every minute, one man dies by suicide.
Here’s how to love yourself and be confident in a relationship: become your best friend. Have some compassion, man. You’ve been through a lot. You deserve to have your pain acknowledged.
One of the best self-soothing videos I’ve come across is this short clip by The School of Life.
Telling yourself the words mentioned in the video can actually lead to a change in how you view yourself. Thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity, the connections between neural networks strengthen and weaken based on what thoughts you focus on.
This is why positive affirmations work so well. Look, I know it may sound a bit cringy to tell yourself, “I am confident and loved.”
However, the more you practice, the more sincere the exercise becomes – and the more you connect with yourself on a deep, emotional level.
Tell yourself what it is you need to hear. Your girlfriend doesn’t have to be the only one who gives you love and affection. You can be your own source of validation.
Other excellent self-soothing methods include:
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Listening to relaxing music – it has been found to decrease cortisol levels, which generally makes you a calmer, more composed man
- Giving yourself a hug
Moreover, don’t be afraid to open up to your partner, friends, and family. Put your trust in your closest ones. Talk about how you’re feeling.
Some men tend to forget that women find vulnerability extremely attractive. Sharing creates a deeper bond between you two, and as long as you’re aware of your behavior and are taking some active steps toward improvement, the right woman will love you completely.
Feeling socially supported can also boost your confidence a thousandfold.
Gain a Deeper Insight into the Inner Workings of Your Mind
The more you know yourself, the better you can handle your insecurities.
Once you start learning what your triggers are, the patterns of your thoughts, and the ways in which you act out, you can step on the brake before you swerve in the wrong direction.
For instance, if you suddenly get very jealous and begin having ruminating thoughts, the moment you realize what you’re doing – and that it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism – you can bring your awareness back to the present moment and calm down in healthy ways, such as going on a walk or telling yourself what you need to hear.
“I feel jealous because of what happened to me in the past. I’m afraid I’ll lose her, and that’s a valid emotion. But this fear doesn’t control me. I trust my girlfriend. Everything is alright.”
Self-awareness is attractive because it inherently makes you more confident over time. The better you get at working with your mind, the more you grow in self-esteem.
This ultimately leads to a confident relationship that’s grounded in trust, authenticity, and security.
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How to Be More Confident in a Relationship: Final Thoughts
Confidence is a skill that can be learned. Just like any other ability, it needs to be practiced and slowly incorporated into your identity.
To be confident in your relationship, focus on the following:
- Recognize your attachment style
- Create a world that is separate from your girlfriend and fulfills you on multiple levels
- Learn how to cope with jealousy in healthy ways
- Don’t try too hard – instead, show you’re happy in your own skin
- Don’t hold onto grudges
- Learn to self-soothe and be self-compassionate
- Open up and find power in your support circle
- Gain an insight into how your mind operates and work with it
If you want to be a more confident man in a relationship, you first need to become a confident man. Full stop.
You can’t hate yourself into having high self-esteem, though. Love is the answer.
To quote Oscar Wilde:
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”
Before you go, check out this comprehensive list of how well do you know me questions, that are sure to give you even more confidence in the dating game.
Are you lacking confidence in your relationships?
Let’s continue the discussion over in the Gentlemen Within Private Facebook Community.
Looking forward to seeing you in there.