looking-in-mirror1There is no secret to dating success.There is no incantation to whisper over a pile of personal effects under the light of a new moon, no candles to burn, no rituals performed under a veil of Spanish moss in bare feet. Dating is one of the least magical and miraculous things that occurs in our short time on this earth. It requires the same rote, dedicated work you need to do to lose weight, quit smoking or do anything that is difficult, that takes time, that is slightly unpleasant, but necessary. Like most things in our adult lives, to date successfully is a task best done alone. Here’s the rub, friends: when we deal with the tricky unpleasantries of life that require determination, willpower and confidence alone, with nothing but our interior monologues to shut us down, that’s where the trouble starts. Sometimes, blaming your lack of success on everything else around you is the easiest way out. Perhaps we should consider an irrefutable fact: you are your own worst enemy.

The hardest dragon to slay when it comes to success in love is the gnarled gremlin of self-doubt that lives inside your head, feasting on scraps of your self-esteem. It’s time to wrestle control from this thing and take charge. When it comes to dating, we get trapped in negative feedback loops every day, held captive by our own minds. It is impossible to move forward without breaking free from this cycle. Here are a few thoughts that keep us paralyzed, and how to be victorious over them:

1. I’m not good enough to date _____. Here’s the thing to know about human beings. Nobody is born being “good” at anything. We all come out with the same basic set of skills for the most part and we grow and learn and become our own unique snowflakes. If you don’t think you’re good enough to date someone, or you still subscribe to the antiquated notion of someone or some thing being out of your league, then naturally, you will run into a variety of dateable people that you automatically shut down because they don’t fit into the idea rattling around in your head about what you deserve. Listen here: you are good enough because you are a person who’s ready and willing to accept the challenge of dating with a happy heart and a ready smile. That qualification is enough to make you “good enough” for anybody.

2. Online dating/meeting new people in a romantic context scares me to my very core. Let’s be real: online dating is shitty and kind of terrifying. Meeting new people in person in social settings is less shitty, but more terrifying and definitely harder to do once you’re out of college and fully entrenched in the workplace, moving through your daily routine as best you know how.  Meeting new people gets harder the older you get and the idea of putting yourself out there becomes extremely intimidating with each passing year. If you’re serious about wanting to date an wanting to meet someone, the only person standing between you and OkCupid is yourself. Real talk: online dating is designed to be equal parts exhilarating and terrifying, but so is almost everything in life,from trying a new coffee place in the morning to quitting your job without a backup. If you don’t take these risks, you will never know what could be. We have to take that step off the side of the cliff to figure out if we’ll land on our feet. If you find yourself with a blank dating profile, unable to type the words into those beckoning white spaces, do yourself a favor: put your internal naysayer to bed and fill in the blanks. The only thing that’s holding you hostage in this situation is yourself.

3. I am deeply flawed in some way that renders me unloveable, so I must wallow in this stone, cold fact and let no one in: Here is another fact: you, sitting there, looking at your split ends and refreshing Facebook at your desk, are beautiful. You are not flawed in any deep and punishing way that makes you undeserving of human contact, because you have a job, or you have friends, or you have family that love and support you. You make it to and from the places you need to be every single day. You are a high-functioning, capable and decent human being with many sparkling and wonderful qualities about you and any person would be lucky to have you in their lives. I believe in you, even though I haven’t met you, because I try to believe in the inherent goodness in others. You are a smart, capable person deserving of love. If you can’t shake this feeling that your flaws (imagined or real) mean that you do not deserve love, you must do things that are cheesy and lame, but at this juncture absolutely necessary. Tape a daily affirmation to your mirror and look at it every morning. Make a list of things about yourself that you like every day and read it back to yourself in the mirror while you put on mascara. Practice making a fishtail braid while recounting out loud 10 things that you are truly, really good at. Repetition here is key. Fake it ’til you make it.

If you want to be successful at anything, the key to that success lies within you. Once you get rid of the negativity that drags you down, you’ll surprise yourself at what you can do.


The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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