We're so excited to have holistic sexologist Lisa Hochberger sitting in as our Guest Wellness Editor for August. She's sharing her insights on sex and dating in our modern world, all month long.
“What’s wrong with me?” That's a question I hear all too often from single women of all ages. As a sexologist and researcher of modern romance, I regularly come across women suffering from shame and insecurity, with their egos repeatedly deflated from one failed relationship after another.
The worry can increase as midlife nears, thanks to our culture's negative messaging associated with getting older. Compared to men, who are conventionally portrayed as becoming more "attractive" over time, women tend to have more difficulty keeping up with youth-focused beauty standards.
However, these harmful stereotypes are hugely oversimplified. What is attractiveness anyway? How can it really be defined? If you ask researchers at dating websites like OK Cupid how they measure attractiveness, they explain that it includes a variety of information that people put on their dating profiles, not just physical looks.
The truth is, for both men and women, traits like honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence and kindness are scientifically shown to be more desirable than beauty alone. At any age, it really is what's inside that counts. This knowledge can be an empowering reminder, especially when that afore-mentioned doubt does emerge: nothing's "wrong" with us or really standing in the way of our romantic "success." It just takes a bit of extra courage, sometimes, to get back in the dating game.
I've found that certain mental strategies can help women regain confidence to continue dating in today's world. Here are five favorites.
1. Gain control of your emotional reactions.
You can't control the cards you're dealt, but you can control how you play the game—or, in this case, how you play the field. In general, people with high-perceived controllability of their emotions and experiences are more motivated to overcome roadblocks, trusting that they have the power to bring about the shifts they want. Consider the ways you might be able to consciously lead your dating life in a better direction, whether that means boldly asking someone out or choosing to embrace dating as fun and exciting.
2. Compartmentalize the past.
You're human—we all are. The chances are high that someone, at some point, has made you feel rejected or just "not good enough." The problem is, if you hold onto the past instead of focusing on the present, you can get stuck seeing the defeats as permanent truths. When you catch yourself resenting the end of an old relationship, recognize that you have the option to dismiss the stale memory in pursuit of new joy, and you'll enable yourself to more authentically pursue the love you crave.
3. Improve your self-perceived attractiveness.
Research indicates that self-perceived attractiveness predicts success in romantic relationships. That's because the better you feel, the happier you are, and people are attracted to that positive energy. There are many simple ways to make yourself feel beautiful: you might try changing your outfit or refreshing your makeup, or you might prefer going to the gym, getting a message, or take a walk. Find what works for you to make you feel appreciative of your beauty, both inside and out.
4. Develop dating confidence.
A woman with what I call "dating confidence" is a poised individual who perceives herself as a worthy partner. She's sure that she possesses the qualities that others seek. She identifies as being beautiful on the inside and out, and she exudes a sense of self-assurance to others. Whether you repeat a positive mantra in front of the mirror each morning or practice visualizations before bed, find a way to install these empowering beliefs, so you can approach every date with conviction.
p.s. Did you catch Lisa's tips for bringing self-assured authenticity into the bedroom, too?