This past Saturday morning, I woke up to find a photo of a bare-chested man in my inbox. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not going to complain about the view. However, its unexpected appearance was surprising to me for a number of reasons.
One, since when does Instagram have an inbox where you can send direct messages to users? Two, the photo was of a relatively new IG friend, with whom I’d previously just exchanged likes on yoga pictures and shown appreciation for videos of his music. Three, I am almost 100 percent sure this guy is married.
However, there was no salacious comment accompanying it. All he wrote was the popular hashtag #FlexFriday. So I decided to simply take it as a compliment. Perhaps he just sought to be appreciated.
Seeking Attention and Appreciation
It’s human nature to want to be appreciated and desired. Knowing that we light someone else’s fire can make us feel validated or can nudge us into greater self-confidence. Frankly, it just feels nice to be appraised and appreciated—for our looks, our talent or our mind and soul. Ideally, this appreciation confirms our own suspicions that we might actually be pretty special human beings after all. With this knowledge, we can more lovingly treasure and embrace our selves.
Ideally, if in a relationship, we feel desired by our lovers for all these things that make up who we are. But there are certainly times we take our partner’s desire for granted. Of course she desires me—she loves me. And because we are loved are accepted, we get comfortable, and we let it all hang out—baggy pajamas, no make up, unshaven body parts, unbridled burps. Hey, our partners love us anyway.
When it feels like desire is starting to drop, some of us choose to shine ourselves up for our partners and rekindle why they were drawn to us in the first place. Others seek and seem to need additional, external validation regardless. Our partner’s desire, while appreciated, does not snuff out that burning need to be wanted by others as well.
Seeking Validation From The Outside
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Several years ago, a male friend of mine was newly engaged but increasingly felt the need for external validation. He truly loved his future bride, more than anyone before, but he was getting older, starting to lose his hair and wanted to know that someone who didn’t love him—perhaps even a stranger or two—could also find him appealing. He sought proof that he hadn’t lost his desirability, despite his external changes and internal transformations. Just one or two looks from attractive females would revive his mojo and boost his confidence.
Another friend of mine is currently also struggling with the issue of desire in his marriage. While he has always sought attention and admiration outside his relationship, since he found out he had cancer, the yearning has grown. Facing the thought of mortality, enduring chemo, losing his hair and experiencing side effects that affected his ability to have full physical intimacy with his wife has left his self-confidence shaken. His need to feel desired has deeper, emotional roots that also need to be untied.
When Isolation Breeds Insecurity
His wife, fearing for her husband’s health and overwhelmed by the stress of being a fairly new mother, also has her needing extra attention. Frustration mounts when she is unable to find someone to give her a little ego boost. Uncertainty sets in with her increased libido, her husband’s limitations, her own insecurities and elusive sense of self.
I can certainly relate. I’ve had so little interaction with other people these days as I work from home and rarely get out and about without the Warrior Poet—it’s either total drought or flooding monsoon in my social activities with friends. I feel the lack of not having an ever-present, reliable group of friends, nor a place outside home that feels like home filled with friends who feel like family–Warrior Poet has all this with his martial arts school. My insecurities about my own path in life are poking up more often as I’m striving to pursue something where real success is rare and requires a lot more drive and confidence in my abilities than I sometimes feel.
I know Warrior Poet believes wholeheartedly in me. My parents, friends and acquaintances, who know what I am working up to, are also very encouraging and supportive. Yet it’s times like these when there’s so much uncertainty and not enough validation for many things in my life that allows a teeny crack in the emotional foundation to seek, enjoy and thrive on the attention from others.
Validation From Instagram
Instagram is the perfect drug to meet that need. The likes, comments and praise of my yoga photos give me a little ego boost—without the messiness or confusion of direct, face-to-face interactions. Even more so, the interaction helps further motivate me to keep improving my practice. It encourages me that there is an audience for what I do and have to offer. And it also just reassures me that while I may be a bit secluded, my presence is appreciated.
Warrior Poet had a guys’ night the other day to celebrate his best friend’s success. Dressed up and dining at a moderately upscale restaurant, he couldn’t help noticing that there was a woman staring at him. He asked me if it was bad to feel good about the positive attention. His looks and passionate energy are more appreciated by others than he usually realizes, I pointed out. (Of course, he thinks I draw a lot more attention in public than I feel I actually do.) I reassured him that everyone likes to be admired, and it’s great to know someone else might be interested in what I’m blessed enough to have.
Recognizing What We Desire Most Actually Comes From Within
Hopefully as I further my involvement in the community of like-minded folks here, that will give me more of the real connection, attention and support that I genuinely seek. Meanwhile, I’ll still feed and cherish the desire from my love. And hopefully we’ll all realize the most meaningful and enduring attention and appreciation we can get is what we give ourselves, coming from within.