'Safe' Strategy Is Your Downfall

We've all tried to put what we hoped a hot prospect would see as our "best foot" forward, while trying to hide our "worst foot." Predictably, we fall on our face.
If we want an enduring relationship, we have to stand on our own two feet, the truth of who we are, for better or worse. There's nothing more liberating or satisfying, but that's a little known -- or experienced -- fact.
Why? When we fall on our face, instead of getting the lesson, we're apt to lose some of our confidence … and the more confidence we lose, the more scared we are to gamble with what little we have left!
Thus, we find ourselves trying to have heart-to-heart talks and relationships while shielding our hearts and stumbling over our own two feet. We think that if we can just manage to keep our "flaws" under wraps until after the "I-dos," everything will be OK.
When it's not, we can learn from it, or we can reinforce our defenses and keep our distance. Enter the emotionally unavailable.
By hiding the pieces of ourselves that we fear will be rejected, we live a lonely existence, regardless of how visible we make our facade in the process. Trying to play it safe in relationships, we ensure our downfall.
We want to be known and loved, "warts" and all. And the only way to open ourselves up to that love is to open ourselves up to rejection, but we avoid rejection at almost any cost.
We can find ourselves in one relationship after another doing what we think we must in order to win approval, rather than just being who we are. We can also find ourselves afraid to say what we really think or handle things in our own way, even after years of living with the same man or woman.
Maybe you keep your mouth shut about money, for fear of losing your negligible voice. Or maybe you still attend a church you never liked or habitually entertain "friends" you don't enjoy.
What we ultimately want is a companion who knows us down to the core and loves us. We want somebody who sees those "warts" as endearing idiosyncrasies -- or helps us to get rid of them!
Now, that's a lovely thought. What if being vulnerable is a means of winning love as well as eliminating our "flaws"? It is not only (SET ITAL) a (END ITAL) means; it is the only means.
What feels the most risky is actually the one thing you can do to ensure your happiness in relationships. So, drop the shield and stand up straight with your arms open as though you have nothing to hide. You don't … and you're learning to fly.
If you're thinking, "Not so fast, I still have no confidence to spare," I understand. But, what if somebody else's opinion of you didn't cut into your confidence? What somebody else thinks can't alter who you are. It only affects your thinking -- or confidence -- when your opinion is up for grabs.
"I'm not frightened by anyone's perception of me," says Angelina Jolie.
Yes, she has a lot of confidence to gamble with, but she didn't get it by being scared.
Get to know yourself well enough that your opinion is less easily swayed, and you'll be far more ready to share who you are with a hot prospect -- for a lover, a client or an employer.
No wonder we stumble around trying to put our best foot forward. We're still figuring out that we have two perfectly good feet.
The solution is obvious, right? Get to know what you're made of and live up to it. Don't beat yourself up for taking so long, though. Only about one in 10 people do it!
You can be one of them.


Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a nationally syndicated columnist, author of the just released "Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You're Not" and "Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams," speaker and consultant based in McIntosh, Fla. Please e-mail her at, or visit her website at