Doubts, insecurities, cynicism and negative thinking can dog a dater after even a few bad experiences or a drought between satisfying relationships. The following hang-ups are extremely common, but better jettisoned to make room for confidence. If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking any of the following things, let me explain why you never need to again!
Dating Hang-Up #1: “The kind of person I want has better options than me”
While it’s possible that you’ve set your standards too high and are dating way “out of your league,” I can tell you one thing—if you believe this, you have no chance of winning the heart of the one you want. People want to date equals, not someone who obviously feels inferior to them. To give yourself a shot with someone whose overall attractiveness is intimidating, constantly remind yourself of your own value. Before you see this person, mentally review the list of wonderful things you have to offer a partner. Think about your best traits. Imagine the scenarios where you’re confident that you would make your date very happy. (If you’re having trouble coming up with what’s great about yourself, talk to your friends and family. Ask them what they like about you—chances are, it’s applicable to a romantic relationship as well.)
Never think about other people who might be “better” for your date. Just confidently make your best case for yourself and see what happens. You might be surprised at who appreciates you!
Furthermore, putting someone up on a pedestal is always a mistake. They’re sure to disappoint you, which is no fun for either of you, and before they do you are going to feel insecure when being comfortable in your own skin will make you much more attractive to them.
Dating Hang-Up #2: “My body’s not good enough”
This is a corollary to the last one. How many perfect bodies are there in the dating pool? Do you expect your date to have one? Most of us are not professional athletes, models or actors. You don’t have to have six-pack abs or a great butt. Just try your best to be healthy and fit. Eat well, go to the gym or exercise outdoors, and concentrate your available resources on attainable goals for yourself. You’ll find that if you’re making small improvements to your routine—spending an extra 10 minutes on the Elliptical Trainer, saying no to dessert, taking the stairs one day instead of the elevator—will increase your confidence. But don’t wait to lose 50 pounds before you feel good about yourself. You may be waiting a long time! Life is short. Replace negative thoughts like “I’m fat, maybe I’ll be attractive if I do X or Y” with “I’m moving in the right direction with my health” and “I have a good body and it doesn’t need to be perfect.”
Again, remember that people pick up on how you feel about yourself. It’s a cue to them about how to feel about you. Why should they find you desirable if you don’t? I’m not saying to pay no attention to your appearance or stop taking care of yourself—quite the opposite—but remind yourself about your best attributes (maybe your eyes? Your smile? Whatever the case may be) and don’t obsess about your weak spots.
Dating Hang-Up #3: “Nobody wants a serious relationship these days, they just want sex”
This is such a myth! The casual daters are usually pretty upfront about it and easily avoidable but most people, at the end of the day, want to find their life partner. Do you know anyone who never wants to fall in love? I think most human beings agree that love is one of the greatest experiences we can have, and most of us would like to have it! The sooner, the better. So stop thinking this and just ignore the folks who are still notching their bed-posts—there are PLENTY of singles online who share your goal of true love, right now.
Dating Hang-Up #4: “I have kids. Who wants to deal with that?”
Actually, a lot of people do. Growing to care about someone else’s kid doesn’t bring with it the same pressures and expectations that having your own does, and can deliver the same moments of pride, joy, and connection. Most adults are comfortable playing some kind of role in the lives of their partner’s children, whether or not it ever comes to marriage and adoption. And there’s often the Brady Bunch scenario, where single parents blend their families. Simply put, most people have children sooner or later and a lot of them become single again, somewhere down the road. You aren’t alone and shouldn’t feel bad about this for one second. No, you shouldn’t date people who won’t accept that you and your kids are a package deal, but if you’re up front about this you’ll find that a lot of people understand your situation. Those are the folks you want to date.
Dating Hang-Up #5: “I get nervous on a date and never know the right thing to say. I’m boring!”
Remember that your job on a date is not to entertain the other person from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave. You’re there to get to know each other and find out if you’re compatible or not. Just because you’re not a world-class surgeon, skydiver or TV personality doesn’t mean you’re boring. The details of your life, your childhood, your interests, pet peeves and favorites are going to be interesting to the right person. So don’t be shy, be yourself.
That said, you don’t want to only talk about yourself—there’s a big world out there! Being plugged into our fascinating times is a turn-on for most people. Don’t rehearse in front of the mirror or anything, but give yourself a number of conversational topics before the date that you feel comfortable discussing in some detail. Check the news, the TV listings, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated or whatever you think your date might be interested in. When you run across something that interests you too, read up on it and formulate some opinions. Give yourself two or three different lines of conversation to pursue. Even if one or more don’t go anywhere or you never get to them, you’ll feel more confident in conversation knowing that you’ve got something to turn to in a lull. That said, definitely don’t force anything into conversation, look for segues before you change topics.
These are five of the foremost hang-ups that keep people from dating with hope, confidence and a fun attitude. Remember that those three things virtually guarantee you a good time, and certainly hold more promise for finding the love of your life than a defeatist attitude. Banish these hang-ups from your mind and you’re more attractive already!