Self-confidence is one of the biggest turn-ons in the world of dating and that includes in the swinging lifestyle. People are attracted to sources of positive energy, trust and love that comes from within and allows a person to feel worthy regardless of other people’s opinions.
The complexity of an open-relationship like swinging can bring out personal insecurities and make a person wonder whether they are enough for their partner or other swingers.
To swing, both partners need to have confidence in each other, but also – in themselves.
The question is – how can a person improve their self-confidence?
But first, what Is Self-Confidence?
It has become one of those words we use so often that we feel like its meaning is assumed.
Yet, defining it seems rather difficult.
What creates a sense of self-confidence is individual. For example, a person will compare their looks or smarts to the standard(s) of beauty and smarts they find relevant.
Ever heard about people who seem to have everything needed to feel self-confident and still feel insecure?
- A model everyone thinks of as beautiful is self-conscious about his looks.
- An actor who everyone finds to be talented rates herself as undeserving of a role.
- A person everyone knows as sociable and outgoing says they feel uncomfortable speaking up.
The thing is, self-confidence comes in different shapes and forms, and it’s not always what people show us that reveals what they feel and think.
Self-confidence is not a trait you either have or don’t. It’s about the ways a person thinks and feels about themselves and the behaviors they practice.
Let’s think of self-confidence as the acceptance of both our strong sides and shortcomings, knowing that we are still free to (re)define ourselves in the ways we feel are comfortable, compassionate and loving towards our inner being.
Signs of Low Self-Confidence
Just as there are different manifestations of self-confidence, we can also see the lack of it through different behaviors. How we interpret the behaviors depends on a person and the context they are in.
Here are some examples of behaviors that may signal low(er) self-confidence.
- Resistance to Meeting New People
Meeting new couples can carry a pressure for a person to come across as attractive, fun, sexually open and confident. Needing to present themselves as such can provoke anxiety. A person may fear rejection and instead choose not to expose themselves at all.
When you enter the lifestyle, you might not know exactly what you are signing up for. Sure, you know that your partner will have some sexual contact with another person. Even when you feel ready, the first few times may be difficult for you and it’s common for first time swingers to feel jealousy. Over time, you are likely to learn to cope with it and, knowing that you and your relationship are safe, simply enjoy the thrill. Yet, there are cases in which jealousy will remain as the residual of personal insecurities or insecurities around the relationship. Jealousy can stem from one’s self-doubt. There are situations in which, out of the need to please their partner, a person will join the lifestyle without really wanting to. In that case, jealousy can reflect a fear of not being enough.
- Indecisiveness and Self-Doubt
A person may not trust their own judgement and leave the important decisions to their partner or other people. In swinging, they may choose to play along even when that makes them uncomfortable. They may have difficulties setting boundaries and expressing the need for a certain set of rules. Their desire to please others may stop them from speaking up about little things like where to eat and big things like whether to swap.
- Social Comparison
A person who is lacking confidence may constantly compare themselves to others looking for evidence that others are smarter, more attractive, fun or interesting than they are. A comparison does not help them grow, but serves to reinforce their own perceived shortcomings. When we miss the inner compass of what it means to be beautiful, attractive, fun, smart, fulfilled etc., we tend to compare ourselves to others to find the kind of model we think most people like. Many plus sized swingers report having trouble with social comparison. For example, in swinging, a person may compare to those people they see as more attractive, so that they can learn to behave or look more like them. however, the core of this intention is a feeling that the way they are is not enough and that they need to become more like someone else to be desired by others. Even if the results seem good (and a person starts feeling more liked by others) they are likely to again, end up feeling insufficient.
These are just some of the signs of low self-confidence. Take a moment to reflect – which of these behaviors might you be noticing in yourself?
How to Improve Self-Confidence?
The first step to improving self-confidence is understanding what it means for you and what the positive change would look like. It is difficult to address insecurities when you are not fully aware of what they are.
Here are some useful questions to help you explore.
- How would you assess your self-confidence? Or, how self-confident do you feel you are?
- What do you think or feel are the behaviors, attitudes, feelings, skills, accomplishments, looks, etc. that reflect self-confidence? Which ones do not reflect it?
- How do you feel when you are not self-confident?
- What do you want to feel more confident about?
- What would you need to change about the way you think, behave, or feel to become more self-confident?
- In which areas of your life are you confident, and in which do you feel that confidence is lacking?
- What are the biggest differences between these contexts or areas of life?
Swinging may be just one of the many or a few contexts in which self-confidence issues emerge.
It also happens that people notice pre-existing self-confidence issues for the first time when they start swinging. The complexities of the lifestyle can start to bring up new topics around sexuality, safety, personal growth and others which can help us gain insights into ourselves.
The path to boosting self-confidence is unique to each individual, which is why you need to find what works for you.
Let’s look at some of your options.
- Learn More About the Lifestyle
Starting the lifestyle may bring up some questions that can leave you feeling unsettled and insecure, such as “Am I enough for my partner?”, “Is it okay to be jealous?”, “What can I say no to?” or “Am I attractive enough?” Talking to other swingers can help process these questions and (re)build the confidence in yourself around the idea of swinging. Sometimes, it is a bit of encouragement from the community and learning about the lifestyle that can help a person restore their feelings of self-confidence.
- Get Healthy and Restyle
Self – confidence is not about the packaging, but what’s on the inside. Yet, people tend to feel happier with themselves when they exercise, eat healthier, or when they change their style or get a new haircut. Change sometimes goes in the outside-in direction. In fact, exercise has a proven positive effect on our mood. People are likely to report feeling stronger, more enthusiastic, better looking and energized, even when there are not that many visible changes on the body. The same goes with clothing, hairstyle and makeup. Finding what feels and looks good for you can affect the way you see yourself.
- Expand Your Horizons
When we feel insecure, we tend to shrink our world to a few activities within our comfort zone. So, try to find things that make you feel comfortable (or at least tolerably anxious) and allow you to expand your interests, meet like-minded people, feel empowered and excited. New activities allow us to see ourselves in a different light, uncover the sides of ourselves that we could not see before. Attend a party, learn a skill, research a topic around swinging (or anything else) you are interested in. Allow yourself to explore.
- Connect with People Who Bring Out the Good in You
We tend to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. When we are exposed to toxic messages, over time we may start believing them. Our insecurities usually sound like other people’s voices telling us what’s wrong with our being. Try to focus your attention on people who see and bring the good in you, who help you grow and learn.
- Share with Your Partner
When you feel ready, discuss your challenges with your partner. Share what makes you feel insecure. Walk them through situations that cause anxiety or discomfort, familiarize them with triggers that provoke negative thoughts and feelings. When they are more aware of how you feel, they can provide better support for you.
- Work Together On Improving Intimacy
If you are considering swinging as a solution for the lack of sexual chemistry in your relationship, you are both likely to feel as if it is possible to replace each other with someone else, or that you are not enough for each other sexually. This still doesn’t mean that swinging will be counter-productive for improving intimacy. Many couples feel that they become closer and connected after swinging. However – it helps to know the cause of your insecurities, so that you can work together on overcoming them.
- Avoid Comparison
Comparing yourself to others to find what’s wrong with the way you think, look, feel or behave will not help you battle the self-confidence issues in swinging. Some people find that comparing comes as a reflex and that they cannot stop themselves from doing so. The catch is in understanding and believing that there’s nothing universal about the way people perceive beauty or smarts. Whenever you compare yourself to others, you will see the differences. However, the chances are that the differences you see are not relevant and seen differently from each person’s point of view. Also, the effort you spend on them diverts your attention from what’s the best in and about you. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare the person you are today to the person you were yesterday. Then, make the kind of changes that allow you to feel good about who you are becoming.
- Consult with a Counselor or a Therapist
Self-confidence issues sometimes stem from the narratives we have lived with for a long time. On the behavioral level, personal insecurities are intertwined with the insecurities around our relationship. Sometimes, the change needs to happen from the inside-out. In the atmosphere of trust and a connection with a professional, we can openly share and work on our struggles. It is okay to ask for support to get to the next level.
Remember, self-confidence is not something you either have or not.
It’s about the things you do, feel and think, and you are able not only to affect it, but to define what it means. Also, remember to practice some self-compassion. Do not push yourself into swinging if you are not comfortable. Instead, think about ways swinging can help you grow, both as individuals and as a couple.