dichotomy

I know a man who mistakes arrogance for confidence.

Every morning, he dresses himself in his accomplishments. One by one, he lovingly pulls them on like beribboned medals, pinning them across his shoulders, checking the mirror to see how they reflect on him. He's quite satisfied with what he sees.

He walks out into the world, clinking and clanging, proudly announcing to anyone within earshot what each token represents. Everyone he meets already knows, though, because he's a record on repeat. They nod politely, abiding his conceit with patience, wishing he'd stop making so much noise.

He fancies himself an expert in the art of achievement.

He's happy to tell you what you're doing wrong, because it's an opportunity to talk about what he does right. He is his own favorite example of success.

He is the master of the humble brag, and he never met a buzzword that didn't get him hard.

Women exist as an abstraction to him. He'll talk all day about how much he "values" them, but that's because he thinks he's supposed to say that. But listen to him speak about them and you can sense his misogyny. Women have hurt him, and he's out to hurt them back. He views them as challenges, as objects to be conquered. Beauty is their only selling point. The more attractive a woman he can place on his arm, the more impressive he deems himself.

He belongs to several dating sites, because he thinks he looks irresistible on paper.

He is incredibly, devastatingly, transparently insecure. Validation is heroin to him. The envy of others, crack cocaine. He is exhausted by the need to prove his worth to others.

He is extremely passive aggressive. When he cannot have something, he immediately and loudly dismisses it. He finds ways to subtly criticize the choices and lifestyles of those who threaten him, because he cannot stomach coming in second in any of life's competitions. And that's what life is to him: a series of competitions.

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I know a man who has no idea how sexy his humility is.

He places his achievements deep in his pockets, assured of their existence, but with no need to put them on display. He makes me dig to find them, and when I do, they are like treasures unearthed. I unwrap the details of his life with delight, while he quietly watches. He doesn't need to say anything, because they speak for themselves.

He accepts praise with modesty, often deflecting it. And when he does, I am moved by a need to make him understand how impressive he is. I want to cup his face, look into his eyes, and tell him that he's amazing. I want to kiss him, utterly charmed by the secrets he's too modest to wear on his sleeve.

He's outgrown the need tick off boxes on a public bucket list. He either does things or he doesn't, but he doesn't parade his privilege in front of others, tone deaf to how entitled and boastful he appears.

If you asked him about the woman he loves, he'll tell you how smart, funny, and talented she is. "And she's pretty," he'll add as an afterthought.

I know a man who makes me feel like there's room for me in his life, because it isn't already too full of himself.