Why Being Yourself Is Your Best Option
The importance of having self-love and acceptance while dating.
Posted Aug 17, 2020
When I was in the thick of my dating “career” as you might call it, I consumed myself with dating and being the person I believed my date wanted me to be. I have this one specific memory of being on a date with someone who was friends with a guy I went to both high school and college with. Having this “mutual” person in common added this additional pressure, as I believed that he probably expected me to be the “party girl” that was typically associated with my alma mater.
At this point in my life, I had just completed graduate school and was working my first real “career” job and the bar life was not something I particularly enjoyed or ever had a strong urge to partake in. Side note, I was (and am still) most commonly known by my friends as the first one to yawn and go home on a Saturday night. I have always preferred to be in bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early in the morning to seize the day. I was not a party girl. I would occasionally venture out with one of my single girlfriends, but again, had a drink or two and was home by 11 PM.
Despite this, I tried to create this false persona of a party girl, someone who was extremely extroverted and loved to go out to the bars and flirt with guys. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. This memory, actually, comes up often for me because I remember being acutely aware at the end of the date that he was not interested. And what I was most upset by, was how I tried to mold myself into something that was far from who I actually was for this stranger.
The moral of the story: You absolutely do not need to change who you are for the sake of being seen as (what you may believe to be) more “attractive” to someone else. Period. It is so important to embrace, accept, and love yourself, flaws and all, for who you are at your core. When you try to pretend that you are someone else, you are are essentially at odds with your true self and subconsciously (and also maybe consciously) reinforcing the belief that who you are “is not good enough.” It is rejecting and invalidating your values, interests, life experiences, and identity, which are always valid.
This is exhausting and completely unsustainable. You will never be content in a relationship when you are trying to be someone your partner wants or something you think your partner wants. It is really difficult to be comfortable or secure in a relationship if you are not able to be or feel like yourself. I have learned, especially through my practice, that this is a common occurrence for singles as they date, as well as those in relationships.
This is a call to action to be your authentic self. You can only be you. There is absolutely no one else that you can be. Why fight it? Sure, it can feel nice to be desired by someone else, but at what cost? If you don’t connect well with someone or someone seems uninterested, this is not a reflection of you. It is probably not the best match or a good fit. Think about how many “nice” people you know, that you do not necessarily want to be friends with or spend a lot of time with. It doesn’t mean that they are “not good enough” for you, it may just mean that your personalities clash or you don’t have enough in common with them. This happens a lot in the workplace. And there is nothing wrong with that. As you date, remind yourself that you can be you and if there is no “spark” or mutual interest, this does not give you the “green means go” to change who you are.
Now the question might be, “how do I love and accept myself.” A lot of people struggle with this, and for good reason. There are a lot of cultural and societal norms that make it difficult to be anything that is not mainstream or “normal.” The media is constantly telling us what is sexy or attractive. Athleticism and fitness, for example, are both highly stressed. It may be tempting to broadcast that you are “active” or “love to hike” on your dating profile or during the first date with a prospective partner, even if this is not the case. But, again, this approach and false portrayal will only be a disservice in the long term.
If you hate hiking, you hate hiking. And if someone expresses judgment then that’s on him or her and it most likely wouldn’t work out anyway. I can guarantee you, that someday you will meet someone else who either also hates hiking, or doesn’t care either way if you’re into it or not. Your quirks and idiosyncrasies are what make you unique. They are qualities that your friends and family love and appreciate the most. Own who you are. Talk yourself up and tell yourself, “I am enough as I am” or “My true self is worthy of love.” Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and do the things you love to do, that bring your joy.
Stay true to your beliefs and express your feelings and thoughts with conviction. When you fully embrace yourself—your hobbies, your interests, your values—you will become more and more confident in who you are and you won’t be as hesitant to share these aspects of your identity. You will come to know that you are more than enough and can date and pursue relationships just as you are.