Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Great Movie Line Comes to Life

One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies of all time is this one, spoken by Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) in Broadcast News:

Wouldn’t this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If “needy” were a turn-on?

But a new study suggests that this might, in fact, be true.

The students who had rated themselves as self-confident tended to bring to their courting tactics a hey-this-is-who-I-am approach that can come off as arrogant. The insecure, Brumbaugh found, are never that dumb. They seem to be acutely attentive to the other person’s needs. They share of themselves; they appear interesting, because they want desperately to seem that way. “Insecure individuals [present] themselves as warm, engaging, and humorous people,” Brumbaugh writes in the paper, published in the journal Personal Relationships. The self-confident may have these traits, too, but they’ll stop working so hard when their game’s not proving successful.

Insecure people don’t give up so easily. The same hyperawareness that attends their daily lives–always dressing of-the-moment, always listening to the right new band–also helps when talking with a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. It may be that the insecure are able to perceive how they’re being perceived, then mask their undesirable traits, or at the least counteract them with knowing jokes on the array of topics that their insecurities force them to stay up on. “There seem to be,” says Brumbaugh, “these interesting side effects of being insecure.”

The only problem is that the insecure are eventually found out. “Insecurity leads to problems like poor communications, and anxious people in particular are jealous,” Brumbaugh says.

I suspect that last paragraph is an important one. Insecurity may make one work a bit harder to get someone to go out with them, but it also is more likely to undermine the relationship once it gets going. Then again, what the hell do I know about it?