Female Insecurity: A Guide for Men (or, Why She’s Afraid That You Can Do "Better")

A friend of ours recently told my husband that while out and about, his girlfriend was noticing all the hot women around, and expressed her insecurity to him. He told her, “That doesn’t matter; I’m only into you.” Her reaction was something along the lines of, “Yeah, right.” He found this puzzling. My hubby said he had experienced the same sort of thing with me before (which is true).

Being a woman, I know the workings of the female brain are tricky at times. Especially in a situation like this, the guy is essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you agree with your lady that whoever she’s noticing is in fact hot, you will quickly find yourself in the doghouse. If you try to insist that you only have eyes for her, you may be spared from the doghouse, but nonetheless, she probably won’t really believe you. Granted, not all women deal with this circle of insecurity, but many do. So, in an attempt to help the good-hearted but confused guys out there, I will attempt to explain the logic behind this train of thinking.

The first thing you need to know is that women are competitive. It’s usually not outright as is often the case with men. Many times, it’s not even on a conscious level. However, that element is still lurking. And while sometimes it is a direct competition against a particular woman, more often it’s “checking out the competition.” And with the implied standards of beauty and accomplishment always becoming more exacting, there are always occasions to critique others, and especially yourself. 

This brings me to the second point, which is closely related to the first: we always compare. There are some days when we feel as though we would be in the upper eschalons of the implied “food chain.” These are the days when you know you look good, and there are strangers checking you out. (As a sidenote, as much as we appreciate our guys telling us we look good–after all, at the end of the day, that one opinion is the only one that matters–when strangers gawk, it’s the final confirmation that it’s true, as strangers have no personal loyalty to us, and thus no implied social contract that they should be as positive as possible.) On the good days, you still know the competition is out there, but you feel like you could at least have a shot against some of them (celebrities, etc. excluded as they are pretty much always in a whole other superior category looks-wise). And of course there are also days when you look past any implied competition because you just don’t feel like dealing with it. Then there are the other extreme days, when you either don’t feel like trying, or have circumstances beyond your control keeping you from being the “optimum you.” On those days, the comparison is at a high, and almost everybody wins over you. In between these extremes lies your average day: when you look okay, but not great, and you feel okay about yourself, but not great. Translation: on the average day, it’s common for certain triggers to set off a woman’s insecurities. Clothes shopping. Seeing someone who is more attractive and/or compatible to your man than you are. Running into people from your past who are more successful than you are. This list could go on forever.

The third point is a natural finale to the previous two: We have eyes, and we know you do, too. In other words, if I can consent that such and such girl is hot or more successful or more compatible with you, somewhere you must know it, too. This last point is generally the one that brings the questions and expressions of insecurity. We’re basically expressing a fear that we could be easily replaced or upgraded for a “better model.” In that moment of insecurity, it’s a weird combination of observation, commentary, and emotion. We see the other girl, and make the comment that she’s good/better looking, etc. In that moment of insecurity, it looks like a fact. But it’s a fact wrapped in emotion and self-critique, thus why you have to tread carefully. If I say, “She’s prettier than I am,” I’m stating it as a fact, because to me, it looks as factual as the grass being green; that’s just how it is. However, what I’m feeling about that fact is probably some form of dismay. I’m recognizing a divide that, to me, I can’t cross.

 This leads to the very appropriate question from the guys: Well what am I supposed to do? A very good question indeed. The answer is: reassure, reassure, reassure. However, you probably will need to go a step beyond a one-line quip. You need to reassure with specifics. Don’t just say you prefer her over any other woman–tell her why. This can definitely help quell the suspicion that you are “just saying that.” For example, instead of saying, “I’m only interested in you, honey,” try something like, “I am only interested in you. I love that you like action movies as much as I do, and you are my absolute favorite person to watch them with.” You could also go from the other angle, saying you would miss her if she weren’t with you watching your favorite action movie. Basically, saying that you only have eyes for her is a good start, but if you don’t fill in the implied “why” after that statement, she probably won’t feel that much more secure.

 As I said at the beginning, not all women are the same. Just take this as friendly advice to try. To my guy friends and guys who are trying to be helpful to their partners, I hope this is helpful. 🙂

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