A woman was missing. Helping to locate her, a news agency published a story along with a very flattering, if enhanced, photograph it presumably borrowed from one of the woman’s social media profiles. To actually help searchers recognize the missing woman, however, the agency had to publish a separate, unenhanced photograph, one more natural and significantly less flattering.
Same woman, two sharply contrasting representations.
Ah, the gifts of modern technology. One can make chicken fried steak look like filet mignon. Interestingly, chicken fried steak would have looked rather appetizing on its own in this case. Pictured next to filet mignon, however, chicken fried steak looks like, well, chicken fried steak.
Moral: better is sometimes worse.
Nevertheless, let’s call this behavior what it is: fraud. Light fraud, certainly, and amusing fraud. Yet, fraud just the same. The question is: why do women participate in this low-level deception? Why do they feel compelled to misrepresent their appearance—and reality too, for that matter—to become someone they know isn’t genuinely them?
The answer is simple—rather obvious, actually: women don’t like the way they look. Why else arise every morning, look in the mirror and groan, and set to a ritual of required improvement? To a ritual of required disguise and deceit?
Clearly, women disapprove of what they see. Or to put it a deeper, more thematic way: women aren’t, good enough.
Talk about unearthing the secret place miles below the surface—
Houston?… [static]… We have arrived.
[static]… Roger, Deep Diver One. Advise caution, over …
Indeed, women rarely admit to these feelings of inadequacy. When they do, it’s usually to therapists—people no less bound by client/counselor privilege! Still, not good enough is how women feel. Spending so much money on appearance-enhancing merchandise, product ranging from cosmetics to plastic surgery, their behavior certainly implies it.
And just to be clear, who has these inadequacy issues?
Women. It’s their problem.
Yet, here’s the challenge: women project their not good enough feelings and beliefs onto the men in their lives, and thus make their issue, men’s issue. It is to say, women feel they aren’t good enough, and then punish men for it.
For example, women continually compare themselves to other women. Jealous and envious, they project those feelings onto their men, who must then provide affirmation and reassurance.
And sex. For their appearance failures and insecurities, women avoid sex. They don’t initiate sex. They argue over sex. They are self-conscious and inhibited participating in sex. And to cap it off, they make men responsible for the relationship’s sexual dysfunction—men who would enjoy more sex, incidentally, were they merely more affirming and reassuring.
At least, that’s what they’re told.
Nevertheless, punished. See how it works?
This is but a couple of examples from a very extensive list. But as to its entirety, why all these troubles for men and relationships?
Because women aren’t, good enough.
The assumption, the mindset—it’s not only a severe drain on relationships. It’s a burden for men, an affliction overlooked and ignored for whom it indicts. And how many women are indictment-worthy? To varying degrees, all of them. Film stars, super models—even the most attractive women wrestle with being good enough. Although, these elite beauties do indeed pretend pretty well via all those sexy photoshoots and perfume advertisements, leaving the impression they are confident and assured and, well, good enough. Back at home, however, they can’t keep a relationship together. And why?
Not good enough.
The entire notion is utterly absurd, of course. So let’s calmly, constructively, sit down with women and try to explain this shortcoming to them.
“Honey. You’re insecurities are unnecessary, and they’re causing us a lot of needless strife.”
“My insecurities?! Ha! Like you’re perfect!”
“Honey, I’m just saying I don’t like all the fighting and dysfunctio—”
“Oh sure. Like it’s all my fault! You’re such a narcissist!”
That went well.
Amazingly, a counselor can deliver this same message not only to rousing success, but to a warm reception.
Dr. Jones, Ph.D.: “Now Karen. Your insecurities are raging. They’re putting a significant strain on your relationship. You must tend to these issues, Karen, if you want your relationship to survive and flourish. Robert is no doubt weary of all the fighting and dysfunction. So, say it with me: You-are-good-enough …”
Karen: “I-am-good-enough! I know, Dr. Jones. I feel terrible sometimes, so guilty. Robert’s wonderful, and I need to be more secure.”
Atta girl, Karen. Two grand in counseling fees for what could’ve been admitted at home, in the living room, to Robert. Better late, and more expensive, than never.
And to stay on point, why are Robert and Karen in Dr. Jones’ care?
Because Karen doesn’t feel, good enough.
Singer Amy Lee cuts to the heart of the matter with this honest lyric: “… am I good enough for you to love me, too?” And there it is—the fundamental question. The eternal question. When women become emotionally invested in men, that they’re good enough and loved is what they desperately need verified, and of what they need to be assured, and reassured. Interestingly, when women are assured, it annoys them.
For example, women know Mr. Adoring loves them. His servile affections aren’t very inspiring at all. Bad boys, on the other hand, they make women stretch. Always pursuing the attention and affection of bad boys, women are continually asking themselves, “Am I good enough for you to love me, too?” It’s hard to tell with bad boys. Hence, women keep striving—striving to be good enough, that is. Although, this isn’t something to be discussed. Else, women be exposed and lose their feminist mojo.
The truth is women are better mates when their good enough status is uncertain. When they are sure of their status, they would rather be unsure—or a little unsure. Or maybe a lot unsure, and then sure again. And then, not so sure …
Ahh, yes. The eccentricities of women. Indeed, the quirkiness is fabulous at times.
At others, not so much.
Of course, bad boys don’t treat women this way intentionally. They’re merely being bad boys, men who couldn’t care less about all the girly, emotional stuff, and who aren’t afraid to be independent men.
“Do you love me, Robert? I mean … really love me?”
“Of course I do, Karen. You’re my girl. I can’t see the television, sweetheart.”
This how it goes with bad boys—just a spoonful, but never the whole bowl. And despite their objections, women love this treatment. It’s infinitely more inspiring than Mr. Adoring’s servile affections. Eyeroll.
Even so, bad boys aren’t spared the not good enough assault, either. Slowly, methodically, women project their inadequacy issues onto them, too. Eventually, bad boys buckle under the strain and submit, transforming into servile Mr. Adorings themselves. Of course, this leaves women with exactly what they don’t want and, rolling their eyes, uninspired.
And again, what caused this unwelcome transformation?
Not good enough.
So, for the sake of their relationships. Moreover, for the sake of the burdened—men. It’s time women were honest about their not good enough problem, because it accounts for a majority of the difficulties in relationships.
Yes, it’s that profound.
Solve, or merely mitigate, this issue alone and relationships will improve dramatically. No more inadequacy-driven criticism and accusation. No more anxiety over other women and infidelity. Better, more frequent, and less-inhibited sex. Much happier men—and not for the sex, either. But for having more secure, happier, and thus less controlling and less contentious women.
A situation otherwise known as: a relationship worth maintaining.
Women want to know they are good enough for their men, want to be assured in this. That’s not so outrageous. Every human being wants to measure up and to have assurances in some regard and at some point. With women, it’s being good enough for the men they choose.
Of course, nobody can convince women they’re good enough. It’s like getting people to exercise or diet. People don’t do these things because someone tells them to. People do it because they decide, and when they decide. Lord knows men have gone blue in the face trying to convince women they’re good enough, and to no avail. So, likewise, being good enough is up to women.
To that end, don’t expect miracles. But here are a few ideas that might assuage the doubts and inspire some much needed confidence in women, and that might help chart a course to that dramatic, and welcomed!, relationship improvement—
A guy walks into a diner where a young waitress catches his eye. Wearing little to no make-up, she’s working the tail end of a long shift—and exhausted. Her uniform is soiled, reeks of the day’s “special.” Her disheveled hair is pulled mercifully into a ponytail, a ballpoint pen pierced conveniently behind the hairband. Approaching, she smiles demurely. They chat briefly, cordially. She takes his order, and then turns on her heel for the counter.
Watching her leave, he likes her. In fact, he’s quite taken with her. Over the course of the next few weeks, he returns routinely to see more of her.
Delivering his check one evening, she sets it down with a now warm and friendlier smile. They chat more intimately, more revealingly. And finally, his request: “Would you like to have dinner?”
After a brief pause, “I’d be delighted,” she says reticently, concealing her enthusiasm.
Arriving for their date, he knocks, the door opens, and she looks amazing! Completely different, in fact—a contoured dress, hair down, drawn neatly, seductively over one shoulder, exquisite makeup, and wonderfully aromatic.
Surveying her, he grins. “You look terrific,” he says with reserved elation.
The date thereafter is a success, and a relationship begins.
Now. Here’s the point: women see this grinning, eyebrow raising “elation” from men at their fresh, feminine, optimally kempt appearance, and they think this is the look men prefer and desire. It is as if women feel the need to make a visual statement, See, I’m not that smelly, unattractive waitress you saw at the diner. I can be sooo much more striking.
And what are women ultimately saying, incidentally?
They’re saying they did not previously feel good enough. Hence, the subtlety and ease with which women assume the role.
Nevertheless. This perception of male preference is a mistake. How so?
Because our guy was initially attracted to an exhausted waitress with disheveled hair, wearing little to no make-up and a pedestrian work uniform that reeked of the day’s “special.” Our guy returning repeatedly to interact with this woman proves one thing incontrovertible. In her less-than-optimum state, our waitress was deemed … good enough.
Moral: an optimum appearance isn’t necessary to gain a man’s approval.
The fact women would think it necessary demonstrates the problem. And the problem?
Not good enough.
At a bar with a few male colleagues many moons past, we were holding down a pub table and surveying the local talent. Unbeknownst to me, a group of women graced the main entrance. My buddy elbows me—
“Look-at-that!” he says, in that choppy way that implies urgent disbelief.
I look in the direction of his gaze, see the targets. I was missing the urgency.
“What,” I impassively say, as in what’s the big deal?
“Are you kidding me?! The brunette—far left,” he says.
He was very inspired.
I saw her, was still missing the urgency. Perhaps she was a victim of overselling.
“She’s nice,” I said, not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm.
“Nice!?” he blurts, offended.
“Well, go get’em tiger,” I say, pointing in encouragement.
Eventually, that’s exactly what he did. The brunette and her friends joined us at our table, where my buddy and his brunette prize were chatting it up. It wasn’t long, however, and he was dancing with one of her friends.
At the table, I later asked him conspiratorially what happened with the brunette—the supposed hottest woman in the known universe. He made a dismissive face, and said, “Eh.” But it was more than “Eh.” Overhearing their conversations, I know exactly what had occurred.
She talked herself out of his favor.
To be brief, and to our point, she didn’t feel good enough. Basically, she thought her friends were more attractive, more deserving. And soon enough, they were. This, despite being the hottest woman in the known universe, and the very object of my buddy’s desire.
Moral: humbly assume you’re the hottest woman in the known universe, because sometimes you actually are.
Now. When women manage to make it to the next level and into a relationship, this good enough matter need not reemerge. Men would not involve themselves in relationships if they did not approve. Men approve; that’s why they are involved. And marriage? If men take that step, women can be supremely confident men have thoroughly thought the matter over and reached this conclusion: she’s good enough.
So, let’s review: women are deemed good enough when approached by men, good enough for a relationship, and good enough for lifelong commitment and marriage. The fact is, the only participants thinking, concluding, believing, and projecting they aren’t good enough at every stage of the process, are women.
See the problem? Good.
Not being good enough—it’s unhealthy, introductorily costly, and a severe drain thereafter on both relationships and men.
It isn’t men’s job to make women feel good enough. Making it men’s job is just a way of women saying, “Here, hold my bags. You be responsible for my emotional well-being,” which means being accountable for my emotional suffering and misery, too, namely my feelings of inadequacy.
Women need to feel good enough on their own. Why is this vitally necessary? Because if women are constantly questioning if they are good enough, then it is impossible for them to ask a more important question:
Is he good enough?
Either, you’re the one making the assessments and determinations, or you’re the performer auditioning for a role—a role perhaps beneath your talent and ability. And obviously, if you’re the one making the assessments and determinations, you haven’t the burden of proving …
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JMWs latest book — New Rules: Relationship Logic for the Darkside