How We See Ourselves Really Matters in Dating

the way you see yourself

It’s kind of obvious that how we see ourselves matters in dating and our love lives. And yet, even though it’s a something we can influence by working on ourselves people often prefer to choose blaming the world for why things don’t work out for them.

In general people can be divided in three groups when it comes to the way they see themselves: realistic, overly positive and overly negative. Now, these attitudes have shades too so, for instance, there’s a person who thinks a tad too much of themselves and there’s also someone who literally thinks they’re as close to perfect as one can be. I, on the other hand, have spent most of my life with an overly negative self-image but today I’m much more realistic than I used to be.

Because I myself was an ugly duckling I have focused in my writing for this blog on encouraging people to believe in themselves. I’ve written about women who love too much, sensitivity in relationships and many other issues to encourage people like me to take accountability for their actions, work on themselves, avoid the “bad people” and find their happiness.
Overly low self-esteem that’s the reason behind a negative self-image is a problem for dating because you keep agreeing to things you don’t want to, to please others. You don’t think you’re worth much so you take what you’re given. The word “no” may not even exist in your dictionary. Also, people don’t love hearing you having a pity party over and over again.
It’s a turn off in dating but it also becomes a problem later in a relationship as someone who loves you doesn’t want to hear you bitching about yourself. Last but not least, the fact that you think you’re not loveable may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Namely, you may push away the ones who truly care and be attracted to those who don’t to prove to yourself what you already believe to be true.

This isn’t the whole story of an overly negative self-image, though. Many people with low self-esteem behave as if it was actually high. They’ve learnt the confidence tricks and they know how to make others think that they’re truly self-confident or even full of themselves why in reality they feel like frauds regardless of their actual achievements. Many people really buy it!
This kind of self-confidence is like a bubble, though. It’s enough to tell such a person that you disagree with them or criticise them and they will blow up. They thrive on reassurance so they need to tell themselves that something is wrong with you not to admit that something may be wrong with them.
I’ve dated tons of guys like this. Relationships with them were unbearable longterm because I couldn’t imagine nodding and clapping to applaud their behaviours happily ever after.
Everyone seeks reassurance in their relationship(s) but if you can’t function without it, try to work on yourself. It’s truly difficult to date you and it’s not anyone’s job to keep telling you you’re worth something.

The ideal is of course having a realistic view of yourself. Realistic people see their shortcomings as well as their advantages. Sometimes when something bad happens, they fluctuate towards negativity, at other times (when they win a Noble Prize or something) they think they’re the king of the world. Most of the time they’re simply aware of who they are.
There are not many people like that and I’m jealous of them. I think they come from wholesome families and therefore are rare.
I’m quite lucky because my husband is like this. You want to date and marry a person like this, because they’re also support your own sense of realism about yourself.

The last group of people, the ones who truly have an overly positive view of themselves, is something I’ve discovered recently. Because, you see, I always thought that the groups were: the ones that are negative openly, the ones who pretend that they aren’t negative by being overly confident and realists. Recently, however, I have realised that some people are just delusionally positive about themselves.

How did I discover that? There’s this one person in my life that’s actually a nice person all in all but is… disconnected from how they make other people feel. The last word I’d use to describe this person is “empathic”. In fact, at times when we weren’t getting on I’d shout this sentence at them in my head “You’re literally the least empathic person in the world I know!” and then I’d proceed on saying something more constructive. Now guess what word this person used when they were asked to describe themselves…
It literally blew my mind. How can it be that someone thinks of the word I (and other people we both know) would never use to describe them as the best way of presenting themselves? How can one see themselves so differently to what other see them?

To me that was initially a mystery. Of course, we all have our weaknesses. For instance, I have a weird sense of humor that new people I meet don’t always get. That’s the reason why I’d never say that making jokes that will make everyone laugh is my strength. But when I thought about it a bit more, I realised that enumerating my weaknesses comes naturally to me because people with low self-esteem like me tend to be overly aware of their shortcomings. I thought that people with a healthy self-esteem (probably coming from wholesome families) always become realists. However, it seems that some instead of evolving into realists develop an overly positive view of themselves and become delusionalists.

Delusionalists seem to do just fine in the world of dating… if they’re smart and attractive. Then their conviction about the fact that they deserve top-notch matches and won’t settle for less serves them just fine. Others, however, who were not given all the assets in the factory but still want a Mister Universe with at least a PhD are much worse off.
Just think about all the people in your life who match that profile, particularly on the forever alone side of things both among men and women.
Once I understood that being delusional is an actual option, many people started to make more sense to me. You know the type who’s too good to do online dating or put themselves out there? They expect the date just to land on their lap. They won’t make themselves look attractive because people should love them as they are. I even know a guy who who took it to extremes and developed a hygiene problem. People gossiped about him but he still was convinced that he was god’s gifts to humanity.
From all visions of self this one may be the most detrimental. After all if there’s a massive discrepancy between how you see yourself (= perfect) and how others see you (= kind of average) you become annoying to your prospective dates. All I’m saying is that it’s much easier to listen to someone who’s telling you about their muscles, if they have them!

So here it is: our perceptions of self and what it may mean for our dating and love lives. Each of us has a task of working on oneself, if you recognise yourself in any other type than the realist.

Which type are you, Dear Rinser? Which type do you tend to date? Can you think of any more types? Tell me, tell me!




  1. Firstly, let me say the man in the picture is rather hot.

    Secondly, nice post. I think how I see myself differs according to my mood and whats going on in life. I do often joke though that all I ever want in a guy is someone that can throw me over their shoulder and reassure me that I’m not fat!

    I agree with what you say about your family setting foundations for our self-esteem. Dove did quite a good advert which showed that how a mum views herself has an impact on her kids self image – it was like 5 year olds complaining about their cellulite. Haha!

    I think another, possibly more significant influence our one’s self-esteem especially as we grow older are those we have romantic relationships with. After all, boyfriends/girlfriends are probably the people we have the most intimate relations with. Of course, unless you marry your first love we all have relationships that fail but that doesn’t mean our exes necessarily have to have been total douche bags.

    On the whole, I’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to exes, in that respect. Despite their faults, they have pretty decent humans. I did have one six month encounter (it would be a push to call it a relationship) with a sociopath who basically spent much of the time telling me I was morbidly obese, stupid and that noone loved me. Despite his lack of high school education, he was smart in that he spotted my insecurities and played on them. Thankfully, I did eventually see the light and the fact that the stuff he was saying had more to do with his issues than with me.

    As with parents, you can also have friends/significant others that help boost your self-esteem in a positive. As I grow older, the more I learn that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. While it is nice to dish out compliments, one shouldn’t go overboard either. I mean a parent telling their kid that they are the most beautiful person in the world won’t do them any favours if they have a face only a mother could love. But there are also ways to help boost a person’s confidence without making them feel like shit in the process. For instance, when I was constantly complaining that I was morbidly obese (see past trauma above) my subsequent boyfriend told me it wasn’t really an issue in his eyes but if it would make me feel better to lose a few kgs and get fitter then he’d help me. Lets just say, that one left me much better than he found me.

    In terms of dating, people still often think in ‘leagues’ and I think we all need to be reasonable about where we stand. I admit that I’ve dated a few bad eggs/less good looking fellas in my time because I felt that I couldn’t aim any higher without the risk of having my heart broken but this is a silly view, because even the ones you least suspect or think should be ‘nice guys’ can smash you. On the other hand, I’ve had many friends who won’t even give a guy a chance because they seem to believe they are super model or someone earning a million rand a year because that’s what they feel they deserve. I don’t think that sort of attitude gets your far either.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t rule out people that don’t meet your deal breakers. We are busy people after all. It’s normal to have a type and blah blah but you should still give potential matches a chance at least. I mean if you find you’ve been around 38 years and have never been on a date in your life, I think its time to face facts its really not the dating pool, its you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He is but we don’t know anything about his self-esteem 😉

      I think it definitely fluctuates day-to-day but we have our general tendencies.

      Our choices of partners somewhat reflect what mommy and daddy gave us until we’re more aware of ourselves, I think. With my first boyfriend, for instance, my attitude was “can someone just LIKE me?”. So when he did love me and cared I really wasn’t paying attention to anything else. I definitely told him I loved him but now I don’t think I did. I think I just wanted him to love me and I felt like saying “I love you” back would secure that longterm. I liked him for sure and he gave me some juvenile butterflies because he was a really nice and handsome guy.
      I think if your family is judgy and makes you feel like you’re not good enough in the beginning of your dating adventures you just want to prove to yourself (and them!) that you’re loveable so you focus on others and how they feel about you. It may mean that you’ll end up with a nice guy or a douche as long as he likes you and there’s attraction. My next boyfriend was a complete ass and for that one I actually had proper feelings (that’s daddy issues for you). Friends do matter and I had great friendships in high school. Really deep and meaningful but even if my friends liked being around me I felt I needed the acceptance of a man to be worthy. That may also be cultural programming cause Poland is pretty patriarchal and people do ask you all the time whether you have a boyfriend and why not (or even what’s wrong with you? your friends do) even if you’re 12 or something. It took me a long while to realise that sure, someone needs to want me back but I need to focus on whether I want them first.

      I totally agree on “leagues” and I can relate to dating “bad eggs”. I even remember looking for …ummm…body positive guys on IRC and other online communicators, thinking that I’m better looking than them so they’re “safe” bets. This idea ended abruptly when after a month of chatting to one such guy he didn’t ask me out so I asked him why and he said that he thinks we’re very different and we wouldn’t work out. I asked him whether he saw himself in the mirror and told him he can’t do better than me ever. He blocked me. How shallow of the 13-year old me? But being a teenager in this world just makes you like that. You think in leagues and leagues have mostly to do with looks, especially when you’re young and there aren’t that many other differentiating factors… I guess we should just try to connect with human on human level and try to forget about all this other stuff but world makes us think that way!

      Yeah so self-respect is one thing but not allowing yourself to even chat to someone because of your arbitrary “only lawyers”, “only Porsche owners” or whatever requirements is a bit silly.


  2. I asked him whether he saw himself in the mirror and told him he can’t do better than me ever. He blocked me. How shallow of the 13-year old me?

    This made me laugh. But I a similar conversation (in my head) with a guy in my 30s! I was also doing the whole ‘ummm….body positive’ vibe and even had a friend shout at my in the ladies asking me what I saw of myself when I looked in the mirror because she just couldn’t bear the thought of me going home with such an unfortunate looking guy – crossed eyed, wonky teeth…you get the picture. Bless her for trying! But my thoughts were well a good looking guy broke me heart, this one must thank his lucky stars I’m even giving him the time of day. Let’s just say he treated me worse than any of the beautiful men I’d ever dated. It really was too much for my ‘league’ mindset to handle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Go figure. Maybe these guys haven’t heard about the leagues? Clearly works just fine for them! Jokes aside you should never date “below” because you consider someone “safe” because if they ditch you it hurts a lot. But them when you date what you consider “above” it’s difficult not to have it in your head that they could do “better” or someone who’s more of a fit… I guess more or less equals is best.


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