How To Avoid Taking a Self Esteem Hit When Dating
Dating can be stressful - and it can result in a hit on your self-esteem. Rejection, in particular, will always make us feel worse about ourselves. Being the one rejecting can also have an impact - it can make you, for example, feel as if you simply have no ability to pick good prospects. This can then become a cycle - dating makes your self esteem drop and your lower self esteem makes dating harder. There are even articles on why you should never date somebody with low self esteem - way to make people feel even worse.
Online dating can make things even worse for a variety of reasons. In fact, there is evidence that Tinder users have lower self esteem (and worse body image) than people who don't use dating apps. This effect particularly hits men, more than women. Why? Here are some reasons:
1. Dating apps make it much easier to both approach somebody and reject their approaches. In person, for example during or at the end of a date, people think carefully about how to reject their approaches. On a dating app, the left swipe is easy to do and move on from. One of the reasons why men are more strongly affected is because they tend to swipe right on more possibilities.
2. People with low self esteem may be more inclined to use dating apps, where they don't have to face as many people in the real world.
3. The first impression of a person when dating online is a picture - the system tends to encourage making shallow judgments about looks and making very fast judgments. Somebody who is already nervous about being rejected can easily be crushed. Poor body image is a major cause of low self esteem, especially amongst younger individuals who are more likely to be "on the market."
4. Dating apps, because of their impersonal nature, may make people more inclined to make negative comments about another user's weight, face, hair, or fashion statement.
Outside of the online world, bad dates can lower somebody's self esteem quickly. A disastrous date can cause somebody to be afraid to try again, and many of us tend to blame ourselves for the actions of our dates (especially women, who are socialized to do a lot of the "heavy lifting" in relationships). Low self esteem can also cause people to accept a substandard, or even abusive, relationship. Abusers, in fact, will often try to intentionally lower their partner's self esteem to keep them from leaving.
So, how can you avoid this?
1. Avoid dating apps, especially if you are a guy. If a dating app is your only option, spend more time thinking before you swipe or click on a prospect. If you are more selective with your swipes, you are less likely to be rejected. When looking at a prospect, try to look past the picture and get a read on their personality - for both their sake and yours.
2. When you do go on a date do your best to act in ways that support the other person's self esteem. No, you don't owe anybody a date, but unless you find yourself fleeing the restaurant in fear, you do owe them a gentle let-down - and one which avoids cliches like "It's not you, it's me."
3. Recognize the signs of low self esteem in yourself and others. Never talk yourself into accepting anyone who will take you - that attitude makes you extremely vulnerable to abuse.
4. If somebody is intentionally pulling down your self esteem, dump them. Don't stay in a relationship with somebody who criticizes your body, calls you fat or, a huge warning sign, tells you you should be grateful to date them. In that case it is not you, it is most definitely them.
5. Boost your overall self esteem by asking your most trusted friends for honest opinions - because a real friend will give you both positive and negative. Spend time with people who buoy you up. And if you happen to go on a date with somebody who buoys you up - you have found a keeper.
Dating, especially using apps, can be a major self esteem hit, but it doesn't have to be.