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!