Sometimes it can feel like learning how to date when you have low self-esteem is impossible. Hearing everyone say you must love yourself before loving someone else can put even more pressure on you.
And the thing is that learning to love yourself and know your self worth is not an overnight transformation. It can take years to work on self-love and you shouldn’t have to put off finding a life partner because of that.
Why people say you shouldn’t date when you have low self-esteem
It is true that when you get into a relationship while suffering from low self-esteem, it can put unfair amounts of pressure on your partner. It can even lead the relationship to a premature end.
Dating when you have low self-esteem often causes us to measure our self-worth up to the success of our relationship or the love and attention we get from our partner. That is why many people advise against it.
[Read: Why you should learn to fall in love with yourself]
Low self-esteem can eat into every aspect of your life, but dating, being so personal, is probably the riskiest. When you choose to date while struggling with your confidence, you risk lowering your standards, accepting disrespect, and being treated poorly.
Not to mention dating while dealing with low self-esteem can result in you losing yourself to that relationship, letting a breakup define you, and ultimately caring more about what your partner thinks of you than what you think of yourself.
I know this all sounds bad, and it can be. But, you can learn how to date when you have low self-esteem and not suffer with all these issues.
How to date when you have low self-esteem
The reason why so many people with low self-esteem turn to dating is because it can feel easier to receive outside encouragement and love than to give it to yourself. [Read: How your self-respect affects your relationship with others]
Loving yourself can be one of the hardest things we do in life. This can be due to our childhoods, past relationships, and so much more. But it can be successfully battled with self-love, positivity, and a partner that understands your struggles.
If you remind yourself of this guide on how to date when you have low self-esteem, you can find love in a relationship and happiness within yourself.
#1 You don’t need a partner. You want one. This is something I cannot stress enough. So many people believe they need to be dating or in a relationship, but no matter what your parents, society, or the voice inside your head says, you don’t.
You don’t need someone to complete you, but you want someone to enrich you. You want someone that adds to your life, not someone who occupies it. [Read: Learn the characteristics of a healthy relationship so you can end the shitty ones]
#2 You deserve someone that wants to be with you. I cannot tell you how long I stayed in a dysfunctional relationship with someone I practically had to beg to stay with me. It was so hard on my self-confidence. Begging someone to stay with you is not what you want or need.
Often, people with low self-esteem will seek out relationships with those that play hard to get or really are hard to get because if we get them then we prove we deserve it. But what we need is someone that makes us feel like they want to be with us without begging, but just being us. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]
#3 You are your first priority. You should always focus on yourself first and foremost. It may sound selfish, but it isn’t. Putting in time, attention, and appreciation for you is the most important thing you can do for your self-esteem.
Do not cancel plans with friends or even your night alone watching The Bachelor to be with your partner. Take time to pamper yourself. Do what you need before taking care of others. If you prioritize the person you’re dating, you will wear yourself out and only lower your self-esteem.
If all your energy is going to someone other than yourself then you will intrinsically define your success on that effort, not the effort you put into yourself. [Read: What you need to know before making someone a priority in your life]
#4 You are enough. Constantly remind yourself you are enough. You do not need to be prettier or smarter or richer. You do not need to change to be worthy of love. We can all be better for ourselves, but you do not need to change for anyone else.
With or without dating, you are enough. Surrounding yourself with friends that are supportive of your choices is a great way to get that encouragement.
#5 You need to give and receive honesty. Honesty is so vital to all relationships, but especially ones where low self-esteem is involved. A lack of trust can so quickly turn into doubts about the other person and yourself. If you aren’t honest with your partner, you will think they are not honest with you.
This will eat away at someone with low self-esteem. I know, I’ve been there. I always second-guessed myself and my ex. And I wouldn’t share my fears because I didn’t want to seem needy. But I was needy. That feeling led to my constant stress about him cheating and lying.
This doesn’t just get you angry at your partner, it tells you that you don’t deserve someone better. I convinced myself that my partner cheated because I wasn’t enough. So I let it be and stayed in an unhealthy relationship. Requiring honesty at all times lets you breathe. [Read: How to spot and fix the signs of resentment in your relationship]
#6 You define who you are. You are not defined by your relationship status. You are not defined by how hot or successful your partner is. Certainly, you are not defined by forcing yourself to stay in an unhealthy relationship. You define who you are. Just you.
#7 Make a list of what you love about yourself. When I was younger, a teacher had every student in class write something nice about everyone else. Then each child would have a full jar of compliments about themselves to read whenever they felt down.
Doing this, but with your own compliments, is a greater reminder of all you have to offer the world. Think about what you love about yourself. It can be anything from being a good driver to caring about your friends and family or your love for animals. Write at least 20, fold them up, and put them in a jar. [Read: 15 ways to discover self-love and inner happiness in no time]
Whenever you are questioning your self-worth, pull out a compliment from you to you to remind yourself that you are amazing. Anytime you think of one add another to the jar.
#8 Being single is not a bad thing. You have value all on your own. Loneliness does not have to be a curse but a blessing. If you are afraid of being single, dating will not benefit you.
A lot of those who are struggling with low self-esteem will seek out any relationship because they feel it is better than being stuck alone with your own tormenting thoughts of self-doubt. But if you can work on your confidence and learn to love yourself without a partner, you may not even feel the need to date at all. That is when you know you are ready. [Read: The things about being single people fear more than anything else]
#9 Never stop growing. Always keep pushing to love yourself more. Self-love is a life long journey. There are men and women in their sixties still coming to terms with loving their bodies and minds. We can always work harder and grow to be more independent and proud of all we have done.
Congratulate yourself for the progress you have made and that you know you will keep making. [Read: Is negative thinking ruining your life?]
#10 You will be great. No matter what, you are awesome. Whether you are single, dating casually, in a relationship, or going through a breakup, you are worthy of greatness. You are funny and smart and deserving of people that care for you and make that known.
You will survive any breakups, hurdles, or falls. You will get back up, dust yourself off, and carry on your climb for unbreakable self-love.
[Read: How to build self-esteem and learn to love your life]
Learning how to date when you have low self-esteem is not a walk in the park, but it is possible and it can work for you. Just take it one step at a time, and you’ll become who you’ve always wanted to be.
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