Earlier this year I had a really tough break-up after being cheated on. I thought I’d stay single through the pandemic however, I met an amazing guy, and we have been talking for months now (we haven’t met in person yet). He is very kind and caring, and I trust him completely.
However, I often find myself wanting to be reassured of his feelings, even though he is very open about how much he likes me. I am an anxious person, and I don’t want to drive him away, it must be draining for him. I don’t want to lose him, but I worry he will find someone who is ‘better’ than me. I try and think of positive qualities I have, but this is still something I struggle with and I would really appreciate your advice.
I understand that you are writing to me because you’re looking for help with your confidence, and we’ll get there. But there’s something I need to address first.
“I Trust Him Completely”
It’s nice you have a potential boyfriend on the horizon, but I wouldn’t exactly call him “in your life” or someone you can “trust completely” since you haven’t met in person yet.
He’s likely to be perfectly wonderful and over time, you’ll be able to rely on him. But for right now, there is so, so, so much you don’t know about him, and you won’t truly know him until the two of you have logged a significant amount of in-person time together. We’re talking quantifiable, repeatable examples of his actions matching his words — that’s when you can trust someone.
It’s different for everyone, but I’d say it takes at least three months of an in-person relationship on the regular to truly see who someone is. You may feel that you know what you can trust him for right now, but those feelings are based on a wish, a hope. They are not based in the day-to-day reality of his accountability. Trusting someone “completely” without spending in-person time with them is a mistake.
Confidence That You’re Enough
I hear you that you’re worried he could find someone better, but there’s only one you, and so far, he likes that person! You’re amazing in the ways that make you you — and clearly, he’s into that.
When you’re super focused on being reassured you’re special, it’s draining. Try worrying about this with someone other than him. Your friend, a therapist, a family member. With him, you can focus on ways to bring value to your relationship as it grows.
Men Are Simple
I have a secret to tell you about guys: They’re simple. No, not like that. I mean simple as in easy to understand. Growing up, you might have heard that guys only want one thing, but the truth is that they want four:
#1. Sex with you. Duh, obvious.
#2. Your attention. Yup, just like you want attention from him, he wants attention from you. Listen to him, see him, laugh at his (funny) jokes, touch him, etc.
#3. You to be happy. Did you know that guys leave ladies they can’t make happy? As they walk out the door, they often say, “You deserve to be with someone who can make you happy.” It’s important that we share with our people the things that make us happy in a relationship. “You did that thing! Thank you! That makes me really happy,” or, “You got my favorite take-out! You remembered! That makes me happy.” Like that.
A happy woman is a sexy woman.
#4. You to have what you need. When you’re with a guy, he’s likely checking that you have what you need. A lot of guys express their care and affection through acts of service. Think “Have you eaten? What do you want to eat?” or, “Let me fix the hinge on that door, it’s about to fall off.”
Being willing to receive the things he wants to do to help, and vocalizing appreciation where it’s due, is also something he needs to feel comfortable and satisfied with you.
That’s kind of it. I bet these are answers you didn’t expect, huh?
The Perfect Girlfriend
So many of us worry that we need to be the perfect girlfriend. Pretty, great body, brilliant, driven…the whole package. But if a guy likes you, you can assume you’re his type — after all, you likely picked him for the same reasons, not because he’s “perfect.” From there, if you show up ready to pay attention to him, get a little attention from him, express satisfaction when he does something that makes you happy, and meet him at whatever level of physical intimacy you both want, you’re winning. Don’t waste time worrying he’ll find someone somehow “better” than you. He’s with you because he wants to be. That means everything.
Need vs. Needy
It’s fine to ask, “Can you tell me something you like about me?” It’s not fine to constantly need him to lick the wound your ex left by cheating on you. This is the difference between having needs and being needy. We all have needs as human beings; the only time it becomes a problem is when the need for reassurance becomes constant. It’s draining, and that lack of confidence in yourself and your relationships can drive people away. If you see this behavior cropping up in yourself, remember that it’s manageable — through a therapist, a friend, and/or self-reflection. Write a love note to yourself on the bathroom mirror, whatever it takes — you’re in charge of getting yourself back to “good.” Good?
Good luck out there!