Confidence Leads To Healthier Partners

Colleen Sheehy Orme

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There's no denying confident people make better partners. They make better friends. They have the ability to feel your pain, celebrate your joy, and see you for who you truly are. There are plenty of people who project confidence. What's more important is determining whether they are core confident.

In this Psychology Today article How Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Power the Most Fulfilling Relationships Aaron Ben-Zeev Ph.D. explains "romantic thriving is influenced by self-focused activities, including self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-fulfillment."

"Thriving in romantic relationships, which expresses not merely feeling good, but also the feeling of growth and development within that relationship, is more than merely surviving—it involves implementing and nurturing our values and capacities."
"Romantic thriving is influenced by self-focused attitudes, including self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-fulfillment. Self-esteem is our subjective overall evaluation of our worth as a person; self-confidence expresses our ability to successfully perform various tasks, and self-fulfillment involves the implementation of our values and capacities."

In short, our inner being has a dramatic impact on our relationships.

The better we feel about ourselves, the better we treat others.

How do we gauge confidence? Dr. Ben-Zeev explains it this way.

"Self-esteem is measured by one’s level of agreement with statements like: “I like myself just the way I am”; “On the whole, I am satisfied with myself,” and “I feel worthless at times.” High self-esteem is not based on constant comparison with others—it includes self-acceptance, calmness, humility, generosity, gratitude and a lack of feeling superior to others. Although partners with such self-esteem are less dependent on each other, the bond between them is deeper, since it is based on more fundamental and stable aspects. Low self-esteem creates low quality relationships, a tendency towards pessimism, jealousy, insecurity, hostility, conflict and fear of rejection."

What's interesting is a high degree of confidence can lead to decreased conflict.

"Romantic thriving can be seen in high quality relationships which hold a high degree of satisfaction, commitment and intimate connection, as well as fewer conflicts. High self-esteem improves the quality of the romantic relationships, personal satisfaction and happiness as well as leading to success and satisfaction in other realms, such as work and health. High-quality relationships typically do not improve self–esteem, which is relatively stable. The average level of self-esteem increases until the age of 60, remains constant until the age of 70, after which it continues to decline (Erol & Orth, 2016; Orth et al, 2018)."

Dr. Ben-Zeev emphasizes healthy self-esteem should be derived from within and not from dependence on a romantic partner.

It seems both individuals should enter a relationship with core confidence.

This article is encouraging. It exposes indicators that will improve our relationship success. It may be easier to determine our own self-confidence than that of others. Especially, since some individuals project confidence but don't necessarily authentically possess it.

In an era where narcissism is a popular buzzword, Dr. Ben-Zeev explains the difference.

"High self-esteem is the opposite of narcissism, in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and constantly need attention, confirmation and excessive admiration, while lacking empathy. The narcissist is like a bucket of water or an inflated balloon, where every minor stabbing (such as a negative comment about them) causes water to leak or the balloon to burst."

I think one of the most interesting things the article points out is the quote below. Since we often look to our partners for a degree of our own happiness.

"The importance of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-fulfillment in the creation of romantic thriving indicates that our happiness greatly depends, among other things, on ourselves."

It's certainly exciting confident people can allow their spouse to shine.

"Romantic relationships do not considerably change self-esteem but they can improve the partner’s behavior. Close partners sculpt one another in a manner that brings individuals closer to their ideal self, thus bringing out the best in each other. Statements like “I’m a better person when being with her,” are natural in such relationships (Drigotas, 2002)."

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA
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