Putting yourself out there in the dating world is a lot like applying for jobs. You advertise your positive attributes in a résumé (this can be an online dating profile, for example, or choosing the most flattering clothes for a night out), express your interest in various prospects (responding to a potential date online or starting a conversation with someone interesting in person), go through an interview process, decide whether you are still interested, and hope, if you are, that they are also interested.
And just like the modern job search, modern dating involves a lot of anxiety and rejection. That can lead to discouragement and even depression. Some people become so discouraged they either stop applying for jobs or stop putting themselves out there on the dating market. Even if you aren’t necessarily rejected, you can lose heart if you aren’t finding people you want to date.
What are some of the problems that contribute to giving up on dating?
A big one is undervaluing yourself, or selling yourself short. Time to stop doing that.
What, exactly, do I mean by selling yourself short?
Do I mean – to continue the job-hunting analogy – it’s time to start exaggerating on your résumé, as some people are tempted to do?
No, not at all. Lying on your résumé is never a good idea, as you will nearly always get caught out. The same holds true for your online dating profile, for example. I don’t think you should ever lie on it, whether about your age or anything else. First of all, if you do end up dating someone after lying to them, they won’t appreciate it when they figure it out. Love is based on trust, and they’ll feel they can’t trust you after that.
But if you’re sixty, overweight and bald, does that mean you describe yourself as “sixty, overweight and bald” on your profile?
Well, you could do that – it would be a bold and honest statement. But I’m not really talking about this sort of “selling.”
So then, do I mean bragging about yourself? You might think I’m crazy, telling you to stop selling yourself short, and then you brag about all your accomplishments on the first date and the other person loses interest because they think you’re arrogant and narcissistic.
No, I don’t mean bragging about yourself, either. Excessive boasting on a first (or second, or third …) date can be a real buzz kill, and will drive people away from you. Braggarts are usually insecure, and are trying to convince themselves they’re great, not other people. Insecurity ain’t attractive.
In fact, it may seem a little paradoxical, but when I say stop selling yourself short, I’m not really talking about how you “sell” yourself to others. I am talking about how you sell yourself to … yourself.
If you’re discouraged by dating, it’s time to give yourself a pep talk. It’s time to change the things you say and think about yourself.
Have you ever heard yourself saying things, or thinking things like, “I’m never going to find anyone who loves me” or “Nobody is ever going to be interested in me”? Maybe you’ve expressed frustration: “Why do I only attract jerks?” or “What’s wrong with me?”
Trust me – nothing’s wrong with you, except perhaps you lack a bit of confidence and hope.
What can you do to change that?
First, get a pencil and paper and make a list of all your positive qualities. Do this alone and tear up the paper when you’re done. This is just something you’re doing for yourself. Write down everything you think of that’s positive about you – a good sense of humor, a nice smile, patience, red hair, loyalty, curiosity, education, passion, ability to dance, good taste – anything you can think of, large or small, no matter how silly it might seem. List as many things as you can. Remember, this list is just for you, and no one else is ever going to see it.
When you’re done, read over the list. Remind yourself of all the qualities you have going for you.
Repeat this process every day for a while, or once a week at least. It should only take a few minutes. But it will remind you that you are a good person, an attractive and interesting person, someone who will make a good partner in a relationship.
Next, work on other things that will make you more interesting by making you happier and more self-confident. The best way to do this is to get out of your home and do things. Travel, either alone or with friends. Seeing new places is good for your mind and gives you great stories to share with other people. Remember, travel doesn’t have to mean flying thousands of miles or crossing an ocean. Travel can mean a road trip, or a train ride to a nearby city to visit a museum.
Get out and spend time with friends and other people. Be social. Go to parties, or host a dinner party or backyard barbecue or cocktail party yourself. This will help remind you that you are a fun person who enjoys being with people and who has interesting things to say.
Learn something new – take a class at your local university or community center. Anything that interests you, whether cooking or painting or music appreciation or history. Join a book club. Using your mind is good for you and is another way of reminding yourself, consciously and subconsciously, that you are an interesting person because you are interested in new things.
Make these sorts of helpful activities part of your regular lifestyle and they will show through in your happiness and the energy you give off to other people. That confidence in yourself is what will draw people to you and is what gives you a great chance of finding someone interesting and fun to date.
So stop selling yourself short – to yourself.