How to date with great self-worth
When my single friends or coaching clients ask me for feedback on their dating profiles, I often point out that they are selling themselves short. I know these people, either personally or through my work. I know that they are vibrant and colourful, or intuitive and intelligent, or funny and friendly, or supportive and kind, or generous and open-hearted, or, in many cases, all of the above. Yet this doesn’t come across in their profiles…
They haven’t done the best job of singing their own praises or blowing their own trumpet. They haven’t put their best foot forwards. They haven’t learned to date with great self-worth. I get it.
Many of us struggle to write a glowing profile about ourselves. We don’t feel good enough, or tall enough, or slim enough, or attractive enough, or successful enough, or sorted enough. We feel a bit old or a bit unfit or a bit bruised and broken.
But if we go into dating with our heads hung low and with a negative opinion of ourselves, lacking in self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence and self-belief, we are likely to make unhealthy choices and sabotage our chances of finding a loving relationship.
We may scroll through other people’s profiles, seeing someone we like. We may be tempted to reach out to them. Our finger may hover over the ‘like’ or ‘message’ button, but then we lose faith.
We tell ourselves that they wouldn’t be interested in someone like us. And we scroll on by, until we find someone whose profile is more in line with our downgraded view of ourselves, or until we decide to give up on the process entirely, because “nobody out there would be interested”.
We may approach face-to-face dating in a similar way, struggling with self-doubt and low confidence. This leads us into dangerous territory. We may date people who don’t treat us with the care and respect we deserve. Or we may sabotage potential relationships with people who are right for us, because we don’t feel worthy, because we’re afraid that once they get to know us, they’ll reject and abandon us.
In some cases, the opposite may be true. We may go into dating with an unrealistic view of the person we want or think we deserve to meet and this can hamper our chances of meeting our match too. Perhaps we are holding out for someone perfect – someone who doesn’t exist – an approach that will guarantee our singleness.
So, how do we make sure we are dating with our self-esteem intact, with a positive and optimistic outlook, and a realistic one at the same time? How do we show up as God sees us?
Here are some suggestions:
Before you go dating, pause and check your self-worth and self-esteem. Do you feel good about yourself? Do you feel reasonably happy with yourself?
If you find your self-esteem lacking, take steps to build it up first. I often say that “self-esteem comes from doing estimable things”.
Estimable things take many forms – acts of self-care and self-compassion, treating ourselves to new clothes or a haircut so that we feel better on dates, standing up for ourselves in relationships rather than people-pleasing.
Think about growing your self-esteem with small, regular, consistent actions, just as you would strengthen a muscle by repeatedly lifting a weight.
You can take one of these actions now, today, after reading this post, or you can plan to do something as soon as you can to build your self-worth.
When you explore your self-esteem, you may come across some deeper wounds. Memories of being criticised, judged, hurt, rejected or left out; memories of not feeling loved.
The key here is that you have to feel the feelings in order to heal them. So, write about your feelings, share them with trusted people and bring them to God. Make sure you have spent some time healing these early wounds before you go dating. If not, you risk being deeply hurt all over again. You don’t have to be perfect, just not overly vulnerable or exposed.
A good question to ask is: how lovable do I feel? Do I love myself and do I feel lovable? Self-love doesn’t come easily to everyone, but you’ll need to feel reasonably lovable to be successful in romantic relationships. You can do this by showing yourself the love you are seeking in a relationship, as best as you can.
If you are dating with an unrealistic view of the person you want to meet, ask God to help you to proceed with a balanced view of yourself and with realistic expectations, to help you to meet the person you need, not the person you want or think you should be with.
I know from experience that when we dismiss potential partners as “not good enough” for us, we are often dating with a deep fear of love, relationship, intimacy and commitment. The “not good enough” line is simply an excuse, one I used for many years. I’m pleased to say I’m now happily married to the man I initially deemed to be “not good enough for me”.
If you keep growing your self-esteem and self-worth, keep healing your deep wounds and keep digging deep to understand your fears, you will date successfully and find your happy relationship.