Interpreting Dating Data: Confidence or Conceit?

conceit or confidenceInterpreting Dating Data

Decoding the data of a date can be tricky, and determining whether the signs point to confidence or conceit can be important in the early stages of dating when so much is on the line. It can help to look at the signals your mate is sending when s/he communicates, how you feel around them, and what you notice. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

How interested is s/he in you?

One of the key differences between confidence and conceit seems to be the level of interest a person has in you, as opposed to themselves. The confident person conveys interest in others, while the conceited person focusses mostly on themselves. Ironically, the core of conceit is insecurity, male or female. Beneath a veneer of confidence, the conceited person (a.k.a. narcissist) feels insecure and seeks constant approval from others. This behavior often takes the form of charm or lavish attention on a victim, such that a person can confuse this attention with actual interest. But in fact, the conceited person (narcissist) is only interested in you insofar as how you feel about them. As a great humorist often jokes, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you! What do you think of me?”
By contrast, the confident person of both genders knows who they are and doesn’t seek constant approval from others. When in a conversation, s/he is interested in who they are speaking to, and may not be the most polished conversationalist. Their goal is not your approval, their goal is to meet someone they like.

How much do they talk?

Conceited people of both genders generally talk a lot, and can be entertaining and magnetic to a listener. At the same time, they are guarded, and don’t ever say too much about themselves.
Confident people on the other hand understand that to be interesting is to be interested, and so they engage easily with people around them, asking questions of you and remembering your answers later within an exchange. They do not need to redirect every conversation back to themselves, nor do they require your approval. This frees them to follow a conversation naturally, and not drive it. They listen as much as they speak.

What is their style of humor?

For conceited people, conflicts are always the fault of others, and their humor is usually at the expense of others or sarcastic. By contrast, confidence allows for honesty about their interests, and the luxury of humor, often at their own expense. Confident people celebrate other’s successes, and their humor is more situational (think Bill Cosby or Jerry Seinfeld).

Body Language?

Conceit demands constant vigilance to audience approval. Conceited people often display closed and guarded body posture and may struggle to stay focussed on their audience, easily distracted by other action around them.
By contrast, the body language of a confident person is open and engaged, and eye contact and attention during conversations is easily maintained. Confident people do not require constant monitoring of others around them.

Online Profiles

Online profiles of conceited people are polished, and well-marketed to catch a reader’s eye. Their email communication is practiced and engaging –  remember they are professionals at getting your attention. Whereas online profiles of confident people are easy to read, strait-forward, and even unpolished. They don’t try too hard, because they don’t need to.

How do you feel around them?

Probably the most important signal of whether a person is confident or conceited is’t overt at all, and is measured by how you feel when you are around them. People in the company of a conceited person often report feeling invisible, and desirous of that person’s attention and approval. By contrast, a confident person is an engaged conversationalist (as opposed to an entertainer) and easily makes people in their company feel heard, stimulated, and often more confident themselves.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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