Do I Need to Lose Myself to Beloved by You: SELF-CONFIDENCE in Relationships

“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.”  Marcus Garvey

Once I read an article on self confidence that stated, “You may face difficult neighbors, failed romances and jealous co-workers, but you can emerge unscathed if you just have confidence in yourself.”  I smiled and wished that was true all the time.  For me, the statement is right and wrong. Whenever relationships hurt, people suffer the consequences whether they put their heads up or down.  Confidence does not inject us immunity from feeling relationship pains.  However, it has an element of truth.  I do believe that self-confident people recover quickly from relationship ordeals, learn about what it means to be human, use their past as stepping stones to excel, and extend themselves to others transcending their dysfunctional relations.

One of the ways our belief about ourselves manifests itself is in our relationships.  The dynamics of relationships change in every aspect whether in parent/child, teacher/student, husband/wife, boss/subordinate, family members, friends, neighbors, and so forth; showing strong self confidence or a sabotaged one.

In relationships of couples, where confidence is matched, partners respect each other’s space, give rooms for the other person to grow and be themselves, and refrain from trying to control the other person’s life.  However, where confidence is highly mismatched, which affects a high proportion of relationships, one partner is likely to grow in esteem as he/she settles into the union and achieves his/her own goals, while the other will noticeably lag behind, more than likely feeling insecure and inadequate. In such cases it is difficult to be mutually supportive because the confident party would be keen to get on while the other would be more cautious, fearful or even resentful. As expectations will not be met, frustrations soon become apparent, strangling enthusiasm and effort, while competition or apathy sets in.

People with low-confidence partners are also very self-conscious in appearance, being difficult to please and to reach, because of their defensive barriers. They tend to be overtly superficial, mean with their appreciation and often inspire little faith in, or respect from, others.  They cannot reciprocate love. However, feeling low in self-worth, and also with an insatiable need for reinforcement to boost their own egos, those with poor self-confidence are always expecting others to affirm them, to love them and to value what they do continuously. They tend to believe their more positive partners are never doing enough to appreciate them – a situation which is likely to become wearisome for the partners because of the one-way nature of the relationship. No amount of love and encouraging words are good enough for a person with low confidence. We have to love ourselves and have proper expectations in relationships first before we pass it back to others.

People with low-confidence also find it hard to solve personal difficulties. Being too ready to blame others for their own misfortune (which could be true), they expect scapegoats to provide the answers, often refusing to believe that any solution lies within themselves. Blaming others becomes a handy crutch for doing nothing. Sadly, it also maintains their low self-acceptance and reduces their personal value and appeal.

Males with low self-esteem tend to be controllers in relationships, always keen to control their environment excessively, and to point out others’ errors. They tend to feel insecure if they are not in charge.  They could be excessively jealous of partners and try to dominate in all aspects.  Such men often seem quiet, retiring and competent to others, but are likely to behave like bullies at home, especially towards their family – the captive audience.  As aggression is reciprocated by a confident partner, the split-up will be destined.  Last week, I was listening to a radio session held on gender equality.  One discussant explained why some men resent the idea of equality.  She stated, “It all revolved around their feelings of lack of confidence on their ability to accommodate someone with better salary, or knowledge or experience and make the most out of that dynamic relationship.”  Aggression and defeating the partner are signs of low self-confidence. Those who do not act aggressively may resort to withdrawal, doing only the bare minimum, which is another sign for lack of self-confidence.

Characterized by weakness and dependency, females with low esteem tend to behave like doormats, always trying to please, even at their own expense. They are usually the last to appreciate their negative circumstances which many others can easily see. Often they take their treatment without a whimper, no matter how degrading, violent and brutal, in return for the continuing attention, approval and self-reinforcement they crave.  Some people strongly argue that women who have confidence are threats to marriages because they would not be submissive.  Hence, they threaten the core value of intact family by increasing the number of divorcees.  Hence empowering women is detrimental to the low self-esteemed man. If a woman keeps a low profile, it is refuge to her partner of lower self-confidence. The question is should a woman strive to be the person she is made to be or should she keep low profile to protect the ego of a mate who suffers from low self-confidence and unwilling to come out of his shell?

Some men complain about women that they feel proud whenever they excel in their education, income, power, or other resources and therefore giving hard time for men who would not know how to handle them.  In fact it resulted in the disintegration of family.  I am questioning whether this is due to women’s higher self-confidence or their spouses’ low self-esteem, unequally yoked pulling and pushing each other.  Self-confidence is not being puffed up or feels pride in what we are or have or achieved.  It does not put others down.  However, it responds appropriately in personal accomplishments, failures, in the face of difficulties, and resolving problems. It is important to maintain your own friends and interests, and work for win-win when there are disagreements. Confident people learn how to solve problems without diminishing each other.  They can focus on issues than persons.

Let me answer the question posed in the title – Do I need to lose myself to be loved by you? The only way to truly know if you have developed self-confidence is to interact with others, which bring us the most amazing experiences. At the personal level, my answer is an emphatic “NO!” You can be who you are and chose to relate right without minimizing yourself in all types of work, love, family, friendship or other relationships.  You benefit yourself and others from being self-confident and help others respect that and know their boundaries.  However, this may come with a price tag of losing those who are around you that put you down.

We want our relationships to be pleasant. Keeping things pleasant does not translate into not having a backbone, though.  Having confidence may mean at times we let people have their way to maintaining positive family, work or love relationships, but if you do this with confidence, you\’ll feel better knowing that you\’re making a conscious decision to say, “Yes!” to a disagreeable task.  This cannot hurt you unless you let it.  Our self-confidence should empower others to be themselves and not control them and rob them of their freedom to be creative.

Self-confidence is not antidote to all difficulties but it contributes as success element for relationships.  If you are confident, you will remain your own unique person even as you become part of a couple. No matter what the relationship and no matter what the problem, confident people are better off for they know how to be themselves without diminishing others, resolve conflict in a positive manner and focus on common good to build others.

Yes, be self-confident to contribute to your race of life!