Ironically, the self-loathing are often very sure of “who they are”—it’s just that who they think they are isn’t a pretty picture, which makes their brand of confidence less attractive.

At the time, however, this also means they’re even less competitive than the ordinarily confident person: they are perfectly willing to praise others, a) because they honestly think others are usually better than them and b) even if they thought that praising others reflected poorly on themselves, they haven’t got much to lose.

Perhaps, if the less confident person thinks some of that confidence may rub off on him or her.

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But you can also have a false negative, such as when a person has great qualities but doesn’t recognize them—or have confidence in them—herself.

This is the problem suffered by self-loathers, who often have great qualities but, for one reason or another, will not or cannot believe in them.

It’s an awareness of who you are, regardless of how you compare or measure up to others.

It shows people that you’re comfortable with yourself, which grants you a certain poise, charm, or assertiveness.

So if you want to take steps to boost your confidence, that’s great—but also know that there is a place in the world for the less confident as well.

(I’ll save a place at the table for you.) ---------- For a select list of my previous Psychology Today posts on relationships, self-loathing, adultery, and other topics, see here.

The common wisdom maintains that the one thing everyone finds attractive in others is confidence. The first, more formal version of confidence is similar to faith: it’s based on believing something you don’t know with certainty.

I think, however, that the truth is more nuanced than that, especially when it comes to the self-loathing, who tend to lack in confidence and may not find it particularly attractive in others. If you were aware that you possessed a certain quality, you wouldn’t need confidence in it—it’s only when you can’t be sure that you need confidence.

Finally, it may trigger a bit of self-loathing in even mildly unconfident people, in which they simply feel they’re not good enough or have little to offer more confident people.

But consider the less confident person meeting someone else like himself or herself: if he or she picks up on this, there is less reason to be intimidated.

The best kind of confidence is like a classical virtue: it strikes the “golden mean” between self-doubt and arrogance, allowing a person to embody his or her positive traits without bragging about them.