Jennifer Smith is now 24 years old and has just moved out of her parent’s house. She’s tasting true independence for the first time and loving every minute of it. She goes to the gym regularly, takes yoga classes, reads often, and spends time with her growing circle of friends from work, college and ever day encounters.
More and more she is dating different types of men and while she isn’t looking for a relationship, is growing pickier about what she feels he needs to bring to the table.
The last guy Jennifer dated long term was Jake. This was her college sweetheart of 2 years. He was sweet, gentlemanly, affectionate, considerate, attentive and very present. It didn’t work out though because the excitement and passion fizzled and they both grew apart. Now she wants to try something different.
Because she’s independent, she expects her mate to be the same. A man “in between jobs” is no longer considered acceptable, as is a man who is not open minded like her or ambitious and confident about his career. Needless to say, living with his parents is out of the question.
She really likes her new boyfriend Paul. When he first picked her up at a Café local to her job, she fell for him right away. Not only was he handsome, he had a strong personality, was very outgoing and totally take charge. He didn’t take no for an answer when he chased her and went to the ends of the earth to finally win her over.
Paul is an entrepreneur that fell into Real Estate and has his “fuck you” money so he doesn’t think twice about telling someone how he really feels, for better or for worse. She finds his brand of honesty refreshing compared with Jake, who would sooner tell a white lie than to hurt her feelings in the smallest way.
Further, she feels safe and protected with him when they’re out because he won’t stand down from a confrontation and manages to stay cool and relaxed during mishaps.
However, after dating for 3 months, she notices a very jealous side to him. And as they continue dating over the next 2 months, the relationship seems to stand still. She grows closer to him but he’s more preoccupied with his career than building their relationship. His jealousy is getting more intense and so do their fights. He grows distant, they snap at each other and neither party is willing to give up their pride. It’s starting to get the better of them.
She begins to wonder why they are still together but their passion is as strong as it was on Day 1.
A month later, Jennifer is dating Doug. He’s the opposite of Paul and like a breath of fresh air. He’s sweet, laid back, non-possessive and affectionate. He reminds her of her old college boyfriend Jake. And after dating for 2 months, the attraction fizzles… just like it did with Jake.
Do you see the pattern here yet? Maybe you’ve experienced this first hand?
Unfortunately, Jennifer doesn’t realize that she is bouncing back and forth from the Alpha male type to the “nice guy” because she’s simply avoiding the worst qualities of her last relationship.
While she is attracted to the Alpha male, the passion is eventually overcome by their inability to build a deeper, healthy relationship. And while she feels connection and intimacy with the nice guy, the relationship fails in the passion department… so Jennifer bounces back and forth, back and forth, over and over again… eventually believing “there is no such thing as a good guy”.
Because to her a good guy is a man that she is attracted to who can also be as emotionally available as the nice guy. The problem with this is that she can’t recognize what she truly wants is a man who is confident… not just superficial confidence, but the kind of deep confidence in a man that allows him to be open emotionally and still shout “NO!” if he feels his personal boundaries are being crossed (of course, this assumes he knows who he is and what his boundaries are!).
In short, she doesn’t know the difference between a cubic zirconium and a diamond!
So what is the difference, you ask?
This often takes the form of the classic “nice guy” versus “jerk” scenario. And the challenge is in recognizing not only the patterns of behavior, but the motivation behind it. Let’s take these two extremes and break them down together.
The man who acts like a jerk because “nice guys always finish last” is just as trapped as the guy who was a jerk and decides to be a nice guy. He’s merely trading one box for another. Either way you cut it, he is limited in a world that doesn’t allow him to be himself.
The nice guy is trying to please everybody so that he doesn’t get rejected. The jerk is rejecting people first and pushing people’s buttons to prove how much he doesn’t care because he does not want to get rejected himself. The jerk fears intimacy. Otherwise, if it truly didn’t matter to him, why would he bother to resist it so much in the first place? Human connection is not only natural, it is our default mode. We are pack animals that have survived precisely because we have learned to survive together.
Both the jerk and the nice guy are living in reaction to fear, yet both will adamantly state “I am just being myself!” I can assure you, they are not.
The woman who goes from one extreme of dating a nice guy to the other extreme of dating the modern jerk also begins to feel the frustration of not having the deeper connection along with the passion she really wants, because he is not being himself in the first place (and perhaps, neither is she).
True confidence in a man comes down to his being comfortable enough with himself, with who he is and mature enough to be vulnerable. The first half (being himself) is what allows him to set strong boundaries, while the second half (being open and vulnerable) allows him to develop intimacy and connection in his relationships. It’s like a glass of water. It may be fluid and clear, but it can’t be enjoyed without the boundaries of the glass that holds it in the cup.
The common ancestor in both these qualities is that it comes from a proactive way of being. It is non-reactionary. It doesn’t revolve around the fear of how others might react to him. He has the freedom to be both the nice guy when appropriate and the jerk when appropriate. But in both cases, he is acting from within HIMSELF because he has matured enough to be true to himself… and therefore allow others to touch his true core. And of course his core, his sense of self, beliefs and identity is already defined.
Likewise, a man who chooses to treat people nicely because that’s how he chooses to live his life is coming from a place of strength. He is strong enough to not care about what others think and derives pleasure from his personal belief in doing good. However, if he can’t stand up for himself and what he wants when it counts, when something is important to him, he is still trapped in his way of being. He loses the freedom of not being nice because of his fear.
And a man who isn’t strong enough to be vulnerable and open, or admit when he’s wrong, is nothing more than a scared little boy. Being vulnerable demonstrates a significant level of emotional maturity and inner strength. It shows a healthy self acceptance and self love.
Without this, no love or acceptance is available for her.
Yes, today’s woman wants a man who is truly confident. Superficial strength will always show it’s weaknesses and insecurities over time and she recognizes that no matter how attractive he may seem at first, he does not yet have inner strength and no healthy long term relationship is possible.
Women of course are not completely innocent when it comes to keeping their guard up! But it takes a much more subtle – and deadly form –with them, which we can cover another time.
Fast forward a few months. More and more, as Jennifer becomes aware of this pattern, as she keeps dating, she begins to recognize what true confidence is and begins to grow attracted to a new type of man. She is now successfully able to separate the zirconium from the diamonds.
In The Tao of Leadership, John Heider writes about lessons from Lao Tzu:
“Striving to be beautiful, makes a person ugly.
And trying too hard to be kind is a form of selfishness.
The braggart probably feels small and insecure.
He who would be first, ends up last.
True simplicity is not easy” But I’ll go John one further with this…look for extremes, in both your dates and yourself.
Because with true fluidity, comes true balance.
Now go find YOUR true north…
Until Next Time,
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