I’m a big online dater. It’s easy, I’m able to filter out guys I know I wouldn’t mesh with (dead fish pics are a hard pass for me), and I get a boost of confidence every time I get a match. However, all the swiping has made me forget how to actually go about meeting people in real life. Is it normal to feel so nervous? If I like him, what am I supposed to do about it? I’ve almost forgotten the ins and outs of meeting someone face-to-face from the get-go.
After what I thought was a really awesome first Bumble date ghosted me, I decided I was done with dating. “It’s just not my time,” I kept telling myself. I deleted all my apps and made at least three “single ladies” playlists on Spotify. Dating was a thing of the past for me.
Well, like most things in my life go, that didn’t last long.
I met someone. IN REAL LIFE. This guy was nice and funny. He listened to me. He asked me about what I liked, my family, and my career. I basically waltzed home, wondering when I’d see him again and what we’d name our kids. (I already have the first names chosen, but middle names can be a discussion.)
Then, I started to question everything. Did he really listen to me, or was he just being nice? Did he actually want to get to know me, or was he doing that with everyone? He laughed at my jokes! No one ever does that! Oh, he probably just felt sorry for me.
Ultimately, I told myself there was no way he could ever like me. There are 100,000 other girls in this city who are prettier, smarter, funnier, skinnier, better than me. I was naive to think that someone like that would want someone like me. He is so far out of my league. Why did I let myself get excited about nothing?
This went on for hours. By the end, I had convinced myself I had been rejected before I even spoke to him again. (I even told myself that I never could speak to him again because I embarrassed myself making eyes and pretending we had anything more than a typical conversation.)
Honestly, the guy isn’t the point. (However, if he somehow ever sees this, hello, I like you a lot.) I’ve caught myself playing this game over and over again the last few years — I meet someone, I like him, and then I get stuck in a mindset that I’ll never be good enough for him. I never get his number, and I certainly don’t ever ask him out. I’ve reached this dating plateau where everything seems so far out of reach, yet I’m not taking any steps to make things happen myself.
Insecurity is a complex feeling most of us experience. When it’s coupled with many of the other fears we experience while dating (rejection, commitment, heartbreak), there’s bound to be some negativity. After going through the motions this last time, I dove into what exactly puts me in this mindset and how I (and you!) can finally bring it to an end.
When I get in this mindset of inadequacy, I have to take a step back and reflect on what actually is the problem. Odds are, there’s more to the story than a guy I thought was cute at a bar.
Why do I feel so insecure all of a sudden? What about this situation is making me feel this way? Often, I find that dating makes me anxious. No matter how extroverted I am, I get nervous meeting potential new partners because I worry that I am setting myself up to fail.
I have quite a strong fear of rejection, and this absolutely clouds my view when it comes to relationships. For so long, I preferred to get back with my toxic ex because I was terrified that if I put myself out there again, I’d be rejected and alone. I can’t say that I’ve totally overcome this fear, but at the very least recognizing it (and typing it out for the entire internet to now read) has helped me understand where these fears are coming from.
Take a step back and think about what is making you feel so self-conscious. Those words you say to yourself are not based in fact. Beauty, intelligence, humor, likeability, and attraction are all subjective. Write down the facts of the situation (we talked at the bar, I felt comfortable with him, he asked for my number, etc.), and focus your mind on what has actually happened rather than what you’ve made up.
Ask for what you need
It’s easy to feel insecure and talk to no one about it. For the longest time, I felt like I had to hide it all in. I’m the body-positive, confident one! What does it mean for me to be insecure? I feel like I’m letting everyone down when I give into the negative self-talk.
Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. You could sit in your room and go through the motions of “he doesn’t like me, he thinks I’m ugly, he would be better with someone else” (like I did) or you can call or text a friend for guidance. Whether you and your friend even decide to talk about dating (sometimes, you just have to get your mind off the whole topic), they are here to help you. However, they won’t know something is going on with you unless you reach out.
If you feel like you need a professional opinion, consider therapy. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a therapist about what might be going on in your dating life. It’s likely these feelings of inadequacy affect other areas of your life, too, and a therapist might be able to help you find the cause and discover new coping methods.
Ask for clarification
I know, you’re going to think I’m crazy, but it’s OK to reach out to this potential new partner and ask where things stand. If you thought everything was going well until the negative self-talk crept in, there’s a good chance he or she did as well.
This is difficult, so here’s an example: “Hey Mike! This is Betty from Bar X last Friday night! I thought we had a really great time together, and I was just wondering if you felt the same? I’d love to do something again. Maybe next weekend?”
I’ll be honest, I’m currently trying to muster up the courage to send this exact message to my mystery man from above, but this is a great way to start.
Take your own advice
While this really applies to me as someone who is constantly encouraging those around me to begin their self-love journey, this is something most of us can relate to. If your best friend, your mom, or your sister were having these same issues, what would you tell her? I’m sure you wouldn’t say, “yeah, you’re right, no one will ever love you.” Treat yourself in the same manner you interact with the people you love. Not only will you feel a lot more confident going into a first-date, but your self-love and acceptance will improve.