On Insecurity

Wikipedia says:

“An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity.”

No shit, right?

Anybody who’s reading this spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about relationships – how they work, when they happen, what kind of people they happen to…

I’ll bet you could spell out in exact detail the type of relationships you want, and with whom.  Would you consider a single mom?  Your current girl, but 15 lbs lighter? A reformed carousel rider?  Twin bisexual cheerleaders who inherited a chain of liquor stores?

How should she treat you?  Supportive and submissive?  How many blowjobs a week is optimal?  You looking to start a family?  How much debt is that hottie dragging around?

All that stuff is important to work out, right?  You’ve got to know what you’re looking for and who’s a bad bet, or you’ll never be happy.  That’s common knowledge, of course.  Of Course…Everybody says it so it’s gotta be true…

Right?

Well….no, not really.  Not yet.

You’re starting in the wrong place.  You’re attempting a kidney transplant surgery believing a semester of high school biology is perfectly adequate preparation.  Make an incision and get started, if you want.  In the grand scheme of things, another rapidly cooling corpse is no big deal.

So, Smart Guy, I hear you ask – just what should I be thinking about?

The answer, as with so many things, is You.

Seriously – what the hell are you after?  What are you hoping to achieve, to feel, to become, in your relations with women?  If you’ve never before thought about this, it’s deceptively hard.

“No it’s not!” the novice crows,”I just wanna bang that receptionist with the big tits!”

The novice isn’t answering the question.  Why her?  Why not some other clerical worker with similar mammary glands?  Why not an actress with small boobs or a lunch lady with one?  If you can’t honestly answer, you’re going in blind and dumb.  You’ll have more fun and better long-term results wrapping 50 feet of duct tape around your head and sprinting across highways.

Why is this particular question so critical?

It’s the only way to recognize your insecurities as they pertain to relationships – and every human being yet born has insecurities.  The answer to that question is the first part of identifying the habits and subconscious strategies you use to compensate.

Insecurities are highly individual – possibly even unique in their manifestations from person to person.  A lonely nerd might pine for a gregarious woman – a relationship with her might prove to himself that he’s just as good as the “popular kids”.  It might salve the red, suppurating rash of loneliness, or offer an opportunity to shed his old social identity like a snakeskin against the rocks of her world.

A disorganized, grabasstic underachiever might be drawn to a woman who keeps a clean house – possibly seeking to benefit from her structure and stability, to learn a bit of that for himself.  He could also be working with some weapons-grade cognitive dissonance, seeking to prove to others he’s not actually that much of a slob.  Shit, his girlfriend wears librarian glasses and has plastic wrapped couches in her apartment.  She makes people take their shoes off inside!  A girl like that would never date a guy who didn’t have his shit together – obviously.  Her librarian glasses signal to himself and others that he’s reliable and organized…at least in his mind they do.

Even though insecurities are as unique as fingerprints, they have some common attributes.  They all influence one’s social environment – from the girl with a weird tooth who hates smiling to a fat asthmatic kid who affects intellectual superiority toward athletes.  Tooth-Girl’s lack of smiling will gradually nudge her toward interests, peers, and activities that are different than a more smiley person.  Maybe she wears a lot of black eyeliner, listens to The Cure and VAST, and starts smoking at age 15 with the goth kids.  They don’t smile, either, and she’s more comfortable with them.  The fat asthmatic kid will preserve/obtain his self esteem from other kids who don’t like sports – maybe he gets into programming or theater.

Insecurities also influence who we sustain intense attraction with.  A partner who assuages, invalidates, or compensates for our insecurities evokes more than attraction from us.  In extreme cases, you can feel like a person has “fixed” you or made you whole – in addition to more pedestrian love and attraction.  You can come to depend on them for your identity. They fill some hole you have in your ego. This can be very powerful.

Your insecurities are communicated overtly and covertly to the people you interact with.  It’s helpful to think of them like smells – you stink like hobo socks and skunky Budweiser and you ain’t getting in to that club.  The right kind of pheromones, though, can make a pretty girl into a goddess – for the right kind of guy.  So it is with insecurities – you’re interacting with people who’s brains are highly adapted for picking up subtle cues in their fellow humans.  Not much gets missed.  Many times you think you’ve gotten away with compensating, the other person simply didn’t call you out/think it relevant.  They notice and evaluate, though, even if it’s subconscious.  Uncle Paul’s elevator shoes ain’t foolin’ anybody, and neither are Jeremy Piven’s hair plugs.

It seems that most people never bother to examine their insecurities in any meaningful way.  We’re all experts at spotting others, but our own might only warrant some blustery talk or a bullshit waist size on some relaxed-fit jeans.

Consider that for a moment.  Other people can’t fool you very easily, can they?  You can spot the Napoleon Complex after 10 seconds of interaction.  You see the strange head tilt and heavy makeup of the girl with the big zit on her forehead.  They can’t hide this stuff they so obviously want to hide.  You are no different – you broadcast your crap just as they do.

How do your insecurities influence you?  What “choices” do you make that are really the dictates of your insecurities?  What does being massively infatuated with some particular person indicate about your self image and your personal context?  How has that influenced other areas of your life?  Why are you attracted to X?

Could you change it if you wanted to?

Couple things about this stuff I wanted to mention:

Sometimes our insecurities are ugly, or stem from ugly causes.  That’s fine – if you liked something about yourself, it wouldn’t make you insecure, would it?  If you shy away from thinking about them, though, you’ll never, ever improve.  It’s necessary to either bull through this natural aversion, or learn to examine yourself objectively.

One technique to identify subtle insecurities that influence your present behavior is to get ruthless and clinical about your past. Sit somewhere quiet for an hour and think.  What were you after when you did X? How did Y make you feel, and what would have made you feel different?  Why do you like Girl 1 but not Girl 2, and what does that mean?  What would your mother say about that?  Your best friend? Teddy Roosevelt?  George Washington?

Also, this stuff might not be useful if you’re just looking to bang bar-skanks.  It can be a lot of uncomfortable work, and there are many easy, somewhat effective ways to camouflage the insecurities most detrimental to rapid-rate booty.

It’s also tempting for a naturally shy guy to use this focused introspection as a means of avoidance.  Don’t bullshit yourself.

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11 thoughts on “On Insecurity

  1. T @ The Rawness has an excellent series helping guys do just this. He is intensely thorough (some posts going 20,000 words). Solid gold. Any guy who absorbs everything he discusses will be an incredibly more solid person for it.

    Choice quote:
    “Here is what I think chemistry is. Some people think we get attracted to partners who represent our opposite-sex parent. Women supposedly marry their fathers and men supposedly marry their mothers. This is not necessarily true. In relationships, we feel intense chemistry with partners who remind us of aspects of our parents we have the most unresolved, open issues with. And in relationships, we become those aspects of our parents we most identified with.”

    Part 1: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-part-1/
    Part 2: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-part-2/
    Part 3: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-part-3/
    Part 4: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-part-4/
    Part 5: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-part-5/
    Epilogue: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-epilogue/
    Resources: http://therawness.com/reader-letters-1-resources/

    • Thanks for providing all those links. I quite like Mr. Raw – he is a valuable resource for a thinking person. Apparently, you have excellent taste in bloggers…

  2. Damn, Dogsquat – that’s some deep thinking you just put on our plate for a long weekend.

    Bring more – I’m hungry.

    • I was in the military for 8 years, and most male members from both sides of my family do a little time in uniform. Despite this, I will inevitably be shocked and pissed off as Monday will turn out to be the one day out of the year that I really needed the bank to be open.

      My own personal Memorial Day tradition seems to involve muttering,”Fucking stupid military fucks. Assholes hadda pick today of all days. Prolly some Air Force douche in charge of that bullshit. That’s just like some fucking Zoomie personnel officer to shut stuff down at random for a stupid barbeque. Goddamn farglerugglemarglblrthghfuck.”

  3. DS – good stuff man. I’ve often contemplated how to teach someone to be introspective and examine themselves the way we all instinctively examine each other. I really can’t say where I learned it other than spending a lot of my youngest years with my grandmother (who was surprisingly logical for a woman of her day) and having the luck to be in class with a rare few exceptional teachers that spent time teaching “critical thinking” instead of just following the class plan for the year. To be honest, I sometimes can’t believe how much school work now is simple memorization and regurgitation. Sure I had more than my fair share of that, but at least some teachers in some classes tried to not only cram facts down our throats, but to teach us how to apply those facts to real life situations. I don’t see that happening at all in my son’s school, so I’m having to do the job myself. That isn’t bad necessarily, but it makes me fear that as a society we simply do not value critical thinking skills anymore.

    That might be part of why so few people ever put a moment of thought into why they do the things they do. I don’t feel like I’m overly obsessed with this, but compared to many people I know, I appear to be. It amazes me when someone says “I can’t believe I did X” and when I ask them why they did it, they look at me like I asked the the square root of 234,909. Surely I don’t question why I go to the bathroom to take a wiz, but if I find myself wanting to do something that is out of the ordinary for me, the first thing I do is stop and figure out why I feel that desire so strongly. In fact, anytime I have a strong reaction to something, I stop and consider why before I act. I still shy away from some of my darker insecurities, but I’m not oblivious to them. And I do my best to minimize how they change my behavior as best as I can.

    I can tell you exactly why I was so attracted to my current SO from day one, because that first night I went home after meeting her, I knew something was up. Because of where I was in my divorce process, I set out to kill that desire in fact. But, as it turns out, things worked out and instead I found myself with the opportunity to act on those desires. We’ve discussed this at length, and she appreciates the amount of thought I put into it, and for that matter everything I do. Although she also often states that she feels like I think too damn much.

    What can I say, my grandmother started teaching me what ‘common sense’ was when I was three years old.

    • Ted said:
      “I can tell you exactly why I was so attracted to my current SO from day one, because that first night I went home after meeting her, I knew something was up.”
      ________________________________
      That immediate powerful attraction is interesting and a little scary, don’t you think? It can be an amazing stroke of luck to meet someone that evokes it in you – or the worst thing that ever happens in your life. Either way, it’s a great illustration of how much communication is sub-vocal and subconscious.

      I’ve got about three half finished posts involving that issue. If anybody else mentions this phenomenon I might post something earlier than otherwise planned.

  4. Hi Dogsquat – found you through HUS (long time lurker there). I’m a woman and I’ve known for a while that my own hypergamy primarily manifests itself in intelligence. i.e. I want to be with a man who is at least (ideally more) intelligent than I am. However, recently, I’ve been thinking about how my intelligence is actually a big source of insecurity for me. I’m still not totally sure why, so that’s the next step, or at least to accept that that insecurity exists and be aware of it. And not attempt to define myself (or my choices) by my intelligence.

    Anyway, also wanted to say that I love reading your comments at HUS and am excited to continue reading your blog!

  5. Pingback: stagedreality

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