05/02/2012 11:52 am ET Updated Jul 02, 2012

Peacock Men

In Italian, there is a phrase commonly used to describe a man who likes to show off his assets: Un uomo che si pavoneggia.

This roughly translates to a man who likes to strut around like a peacock.

I only know this because my Italian friend recently exclaimed: "He's a peacock!" shortly after meeting a guy I'd started dating, who, granted, was pretty full of himself. In retrospect, she'd kind of summed him up in a single phrase.

At the time, I was defensive. I squinted my eyes and grilled her: What do you mean he's a peacock? She then sort of mimicked an actual peacock, pushing her chest out, with her head high, before proceeding to slowly sashay around her apartment (yes, it is nice when people spell things out for you, especially when denial is involved).

My face fell. Thanks to Hitchcock, I hate birds. That aside, I was giving this fellow a chance and my friend's comment made me feel like I was dating a self-obsessed egomaniac. So what if he seemed to strut, not walk, around in his fancy leather jacket? Or zoom around town in his brand new Porsche, which was only the color of the Mediterranean Sea at dusk? Of course, she tried to back peddle, but that never works, does it? The truth was out and I could no longer feign ignorance: I was dating a peacock.

I now realize he wasn't the first peacock I had dated, and they aren't necessarily good-looking or in possession of nice things. Although they generally tend to pay special attention to their attire and overall physique, what really distinguishes peacocks from other men is that they truly believe they are the bees' knees, which somehow makes you believe they are the bees' knees, and then it becomes a confusing situation where fantasy and reality morph into each other and you forget what's really real (something involving the projected self or some kind of psycho-babble I'm not qualified to digress about).

Basically, peacock men are so skilled at exuding confidence that sometimes it is easy to get sucked into the whole self-adulation thing whilst in their presence, until you have an epiphany or they do something really wrong and all you can manage to muster up about them is a sound effect along the lines of "ugh."

I guess what all this means is: A Man with Confidence is Bloody Alluring.

Of course, so is a woman with confidence (a peahen?) But I'd argue that it takes less for men to love themselves than it does for women to love themselves, which means that we (women) are harsher critics of ourselves and have higher standards of how we "should" be or look in order for us to even think of strutting around in our Jimmy Choo's or our Tom's. A man can just have a flashy car or be rich or have nice guns to feel this way, but a woman seems to need more in order to feel confident, especially when it comes to the way she looks. And even if the stars align and we happen to vaguely resemble Grace Kelly for a night, we'll often still manage to find something wrong with ourselves, focusing on the one negative trait and ignoring all the positives. Like I said, I am not a therapist, but this doesn't seem healthy.

For example, even after a whole-hearted attempt to make myself look impeccable for a night out, including professionally blown-out hair that always makes me feel like I'm the star of a Pantene ad, I will inevitably end up fixating on some flaw while looking in the mirror, e.g., why oh why did I not wear my retainer when they took off those damn braces? It's just a small glitch, just my two front teeth trying to overlap, no big deal, but I notice it like I'm wearing a pineapple on my head.

Didn't someone important once say imperfection is beauty? Someone did say that once, I swear. Marilyn Monroe? The Dalai Lama? Maybe it was just a nice friend. In any case, I repeat that "mantra" every time I find a flaw that is really only noticeable to me. Oh and those mean skin cream saleswomen at Bloomingdales who like to say things in horror like: "You're skin is so dehydrated. What have you been washing it with -- SOS??" (When I honestly haven't.) I want to tell them a) I cannot have a large bottle of Smart Water glued to my lips all day long because I actually have to get things done and b) didn't you get the memo? Imperfection is beauty!

But when it comes to men, nothing's wrong with dating confident men, or even peacocks, as long as they have substance and are fundamentally nice. In fact, it can be kind of cute when a guy fancies himself a bit, but some questions you may want to consider before proceeding: Would he make a selfless dad? Would he hog the full-length mirror? Throw out the moldy bread at the back of the fridge instead of pretending not to see it? Eat bread? Tell you you're pretty even if you have crooked teeth? See you not as an object of affection, but as a deeply soulful woman he'll never fully understand? I'd also be wary if you discover he's a Sephora Beauty Insider.

I suppose if a peacock makes you feel good about yourself, that's a sign he could be a keeper. Yet it's probably more important that we get better at making ourselves feel this way, even if it sometimes seems like society is harder on women. We could definitely do with taking a page out of a guy's book of confidence. It could be as simple as uttering the words: I am one hot mamma once a day whilst looking in our compacts. Because if you're banking on those skin cream women, you just may end up leaving the store with mascara-streaked cheeks.

That's not a great look, though some might call it beautiful.

In an imperfect way, of course.