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  • Body Image Issues and Online Dating

    In the past, couples met in real life. Romances kicked off with a simple conversation, a wink, or through friends of friends. People made snap decisions on who to date after making quick observations of the energy of the whole person. If they liked what they experienced in their company, they went for it. 

    But today’s online dating environment is different. Romances don’t emerge organically. Instead, daters have shopping lists of attributes their ideal partner must have. If they don’t fit the bill, it’s time to swipe left (reject them). 

    Because of this, body image issues are coming to the fore. People are concerned about not being accepted because of the way they look. Women are conscious of their weight, while men worry about their height. If they don’t meet certain physical attributes, they feel priced out of the market. 

    If you’re struggling with body image issues related to online dating (which is most of us) this post is here to help. Here’s what to do: 

    Build your confidence and self-esteem

    The first step is to build your confidence and self-esteem. This part involves radical acceptance of the person you are. Ultimately, your shape and size don’t matter. What counts is what you have to offer in a relationship.

    To build self-worth, try creating a list of all the positive traits that you can bring to a relationship. Here’s a list of examples to get you started: 

    • I am a good listener

    • I can provide for my partner financially

    • I am funny

    • I have some special moves in the bedroom

    • I’m always loyal and faithful to my partner

    • I have a lot of creative ideas my partner will appreciate

    • I am always willing to learn

    • I have a lot to teach

    • I’m gentle but honest with my partner

    • I am good at living harmoniously with others

    Remember, if physical attributes are all that matter to someone, it could suggest an underlying problem. They may not be capable of having an emotionally intimate relationship with you, or they might not want one. They may also find it challenging to bond with you if all they see is your outer shell, not your inner qualities. 

    Create a profile that YOU feel happy about

    The next step is to create a profile that you feel good about – one that will attract the right type of date into your life. 

    Start simple. Get friends or family to take photos of you or even consider hiring a professional. 

    Play around and have fun. Show off your cheeky side. Remember most daters are looking for real people, not statues who do nothing but look good.

    Look for a photographer who understands where you’re coming from and can show you how to pose in the most inviting way. Generally, people are drawn to confidence and happiness, something that you should consider in your profile. 

    To look more confident in your profile pictures: 

    • Take up more space

    • Avoid looking “wide-eyed”

    • Take pictures at a slight upward angle relative to your face so that your jaw looks bigger, particularly if you are a man seeking women

    • Make sure that your facial expression is natural, not forced

    • Wear something slightly unusual or professional

    • Smile naturally by thinking of something funny or positive during shoots

    Block and or unmatch people who body shame you

    You may sometimes encounter people who body shame you while online dating. According to statistics, around 71 percent of women report being fat-shamed on dating websites while men under 5 foot 4 inches are 77 percent less likely to be contacted than those over six feet. 

    If someone does body-shame you, block or unmatch them. In online dating, it’s entirely up to you who you let into your life and the standards you have. 

    If you feel hurt by something that another user says about your body, be gentle with yourself. Use mindfulness to let go of unwanted emotions. Try to avoid wallowing, a part of the victim mentality, which prevents healing. 

    Stop using apps if you feel drained

    Online dating can be rough. One minute you think you’ve found someone, the next they’re ignoring you or telling you bluntly that they don’t find you attractive. 

    It’s not easy. In fact, it can be exhausting at times. But know this: if you feel like throwing in the towel, you’re not alone. Online dating and burnout go hand-in-hand. According to Pew Research, only 29 percent of online dating users say dating sites and apps had a mostly positive effect on their dating and relationships.

    If you feel like the apps are draining you, take a break. There’s no rush to find a partner. Signs that online dating is starting to affect you negatively include: 

    • Feeling cynical about dating in general

    • Feeling nervous or anxious about contacting new people

    • Believing that everyone out there is “bad” or “mean”

    • Feeling hopeless or believing that you’ll never find a partner

    • Experience body confidence or self-esteem issues

    • Ruminating about your online experiences

    • Feeling depressed or having a low mood after using dating apps

    If you’re keen to attract a special someone, try striking up a conversation with someone in real life. Traditional dating leads to more natural relationships and, often a deeper connection. 

    Maintain a positive attitude

    Don’t let one bad date or rejection get you down. Failure in life is a feature, not a bug.

    Try writing a list of non-negotiable qualities you want in someone you would date. Then, when you strike up a conversation with a match, make sure that you ask plenty of pre-qualifying questions to make sure that they fit the bill. This way, you can protect yourself from bad experiences.  

    Wrapping Up

    Ultimately, whether you experience body image issues when online dating is a personal decision. You can either hold onto self-image pain or you can let it go and embrace opportunities for love. Sure, there will be superficial people out there who make decisions about who their romantic partner will be based on looks alone. But those probably aren’t the individuals you want to date anyway.