I’ve noticed a nervous habit of mine that has been driving me crazy as of late. First off, when I was training for some major scholarship interviews in college, I learned I have the habit of raising my voice at the end of statements. This generally would occur when I wasn’t 100% certain of what I was saying. Similarly, when posed a question that I wasn’t 100% sure of, I would sometimes say “I don’t know,” but then proceed to answer the question. Once, a mock interviewer compared me to Sarah Palin because of that habit. I no longer have those problems in the professional world – trust me, there’s nothing like comparing you to a mocked public official to shake you of a habit.
While I don’t always have those tells, I’m still less than terrific about being persuasive when I’m not 100% sure of my argument. If I’ve done the proper research and analysis, then I’m confident that I can withstand any argument (legal training for the win). If I haven’t done the research, while I may know more about a subject than those debating it, I don’t know enough to stand up to my own standard, so I get uncertain and self-doubting. It’s a very female problem, and it’s obnoxious. I’m working on acknowledging my own expertise (and I have been for quite some time), and I’m excited to read the book On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not by Robert Burton.
So while I’ve noticed, acknowledged, and been working on improving my tells regarding certainty in those realms, I haven’t really done a lot with it in the dating world. In my defense, it’s rare that a guy makes me nervous enough to fall into those habits. It may sound heartless, but while I date a lot of men, my level of interest is usually only moderate. I might get nervous about being awkward on a date, but I don’t get that “squee” feeling frequently. Notably, when I date people who are Dominant in nature – from date 1 – the problem is more noticeable Essentially, the rules surrounding dating are altered, I’m less familiar with that type of dynamic, and as a result I’m uncertain. Part of the D/s dynamic involves keeping the submissive a bit out of her element, nervous, anticipatory, etc., and having less power – not having control – pushes me out of my comfort zone. I like it, but I fall into these stupid traits.
Basically, when someone asks me a question about feelings or thoughts, I may say “I don’t know.” I generally do this whenever I’m uncertain or doubtful of a response to something I’d say. It sort of gives me an out for whatever I say. By saying I don’t know, it looks like I’m just sort of pulling something together, so I’m asking someone to take it as a less certain truth. This goes against so much of what I believe, though, and I piss myself off when I do it. I’m all about owning your emotions and statements. If I have an answer, than I DO know. I’m saying it, so people should take it however they want, and saying I don’t know is a cop out. It’s an excuse and a placation, and it is me hiding.
I want a relationship where I’m not allowed to hide. I want my partner to force me to answer the difficult questions…I actually want him to enjoy my discomfort. (There’s a great line in an erotic story I read recently that captures this dynamic: see here, in the fifth section.) I want my partner to make me awkward, uncertain, flustered, and visibly enjoy that slight humiliation. I want him to either make it clear he enjoys my emotional predicament, or to command/sooth the awkward away, but it’d be delightful for it to be intentionally exploited. When I get strangely uncertain and nervous, and I have these tells, it’s a prime opportunity for a partner to dominate me, should he share my interest in power exchange. It’s in these sorts of ways that the power dynamic can be established gradually over the course of time, in unassuming ways.