My development as a male has come with a lot of realizations. Many of them have had a substantial impact on both my outward life as well as my own mental growth. For example: that girls will have sex with you on the first date, or that I shouldn’t care so much about one girl versus another, or perhaps how all girls love being dominated. Another one of my biggest epiphanies came this November.

Until recently, in addition to my own beliefs about a girl I would date or sleep with I also paid attention to what others thought. After all, I had just developed this “power” and wanted to show off — and what is more (seemingly) impressive than the ability to take a complete stranger of a woman and then have her submit herself sexually to you? I was quick to tell all my friends about my conquests, show them pictures of the naked girls and so on.

Validation can be defined as the process by which one provides evidence to establish the truth of something. This is exactly what I was doing—I was seeking validation. In other words, I was seeking from my friends some evidence (their agreement or approval) that this girl was hot, sexy, or bangable (my desired “truth”).

The chase became inspired partly for the joy of texting my friends a +1 after completing intercourse. Often times when she would do obligatory post-sex bathroom run I’d grab my pants, pull out my cell and send the text. I’d be way too happy to show them the pictures of my conquests. Then that day in November, it all died.

I’ll save the full story for another time, but I met a girl that if I had such a thing as a list of random physical features that fit my ideal girl…well she was ticking them off left and right. I love brunettes, she had dark hair. I love light eyes, hers were hazel. I love really skinny girls, she flaunted ribcage and boxgap. Olive skin? She mimicked that of Sloan from Entourage. Raspier sultry voices do it for me, and she could be a voice double for Emma Stone.

I ended up sleeping with her that night, after what turned out to be a ridiculous few hours. Given the craziness of the night that ensued, and describing her as fitting my ideal, my friends asked for pictures so I showed them. They agreed she was very attractive but had varying stances on my classifying her as “ideal.” One friend in particular was somewhat dismissive as he prefers curvy blondes, and that sparked some thought in my mind.

I reflected on a lot of things the next day. One being I’d never see this girl again because she lived in another state and also had a boyfriend (surprise). While I wasn’t developing any sort of feelings or attachment to her, if you bang your ideal girl you’d probably want to do it on more than one occasion. But more importantly was the contrast about how satisfied I was with this girl’s appearance versus what some others thought, particularly the dismissive friend. And that’s when I realized I not only could, but should, really care less about what others thought.

It was liberating.

I used to be deathly afraid of flying. Every bit of turbulence resulted in my unjustified belief that the plane was going down. Then during one flight I tried to calm myself during turbulence and started thinking of it as bumps on a road while driving. For whatever reason, that portrayal of turbulence completely dissipated my fear of flying and now flying is one of my favorite things to do.

The same could be said about that day in November. Probably stemming from some sense of insecurity, I cared a lot about what my friends thought of the girls I bedded. And then when I realized how little my dismissive friend’s opinion affected me relative to my own opinion on the aesthetics of this girl, that prior way of thinking became absurd to me. My +1 texts diminished only to instances where I wanted to motivate my lazy friends into trying. Pictures were taken now for my own reflection as opposed to show and tell. If I wanted to hit on a dark-haired girl with bushy eyebrows because she reminded me of my younger days’ crush on Jennifer Connelly then I would.

Unless you are born with the natural confidence and resolve of a James Bond, chances are you have or still are seeking validation every now and again. Ever bump up your rating of a girl, even slightly, when telling your buddies about your latest bang? Ever pull out a cell pic of your last bedmate without prior request? Ever start your conversation with a good friend talking about your latest conquest rather than something neutral?

We’ve all been there and there’s no shame whatsoever to it. Hopefully you eventually begin to understand there is no real value in seeking validation for such things. In fact, by definition it’s impossible as you cannot establish the truth of an opinion…seeking to do so is not only empty but will cause frustration. It took me a while, but I’m glad to have made this realization.

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