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Reckoning with my self and taking responsibility for my poor dating record.


Carnatic
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Hi

I'm trying to be more self-aware and more proactive when it comes to dating. (I posted this in Personal Growth rather than in a dating related forum because it's more about can I improve myself and goes into the field of mental health than it is 'hey there's a girl I like, what should I do?'.) I'm not doing this alone, I have one or two online friends who talk to me about this kind of thing but it helps too to find other outlets where I can write my thoughts, let people read them etc etc.

I've been looking into attachment types, and the Fearful Avoidant attachment type at the recommendation of a friend. She's someone I trust for her rationality and that she will only recommend things that are helpful and not go all the way down the rabbit-hole of pop psychology.

Anyway, I need to address how the things I do and how I behave is the cause of me not getting anywhere when it comes to relationships and tear off the weird sense of comfort that comes from believing that I'm simply not good enough. I have always had this strong belief that when it comes to dating I just don't measure up; that it would be ridiculous bordering on breathtaking arrogance to even believe that any woman has ever been interested in me. Whenever I've been interested in anyone, I've always believed that regardless of what she is looking for in a potential partner: physical attraction, sexual chemistry, excitement, intellectual stimulation, emotional stability, creativity etc, there's nothing about me that would even warrant a first look let alone a second.

I'm trying to cast off these notions. I always knew they were a bit ridiculous, as most of my friends (even if they aren't always positive or stable) get into relationships from time to time, for me to be as undateable as I believe myself to be would be pretty remarkable. It's difficult though, even though I would love to think that one of my straight female friends (or indeed anyone I'm yet to meet) might be interested in me, I also find it scary to think that and yet be doing nothing about it.

It raises the questions of what I might be doing to ensure that despite interest in me, I see none of it, and how to stop doing those things.

I guess I'm a bit sexually ambiguous in a way, so it's possible that I don't come across as available for dating. I resist the traditions of masculinity but I wouldn't say I was anything other than a standard cishet male. I worry I may be accused of putting on an act, or of being fake. I feel like I'm just being myself and that I like the way I look etc comfortable but also self-conscious of how I can't always help but stand out, and also worried that maybe I am cultivating an appearance and set of mannerisms etc almost designed to turn straight women away and not being 'just myself' at all. That's a whole rabbit hole though and just a thought. No matter how I've looked throughout my life, I've always had the same issues of believing myself to be not worth a first look.

Sigh... this was all pretty hard to write and I fear the harsh words that I may be about to bring upon myself.

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9 minutes ago, Carnatic said:

I need to address how the things I do and how I behave is the cause of me not getting anywhere when it comes to relationships

What are you doing besides talking to friends to address this?

It's not possible to just insert a sense of self worth. It has to be the result of a process where you come to truly believe (not just act or pretend) that you are a person worthy of love and relationships just like anyone else. Some people will say you should "fake it til you make it" but that's not always possible or effective.

For me it was more of a realization that despite what my schoolmates had been telling me for years, I am not exceedingly ugly. I'm no beauty queen but I'm not the hideous troll everyone told me I was. And that was the result of actually paying attention to people outside of my small school circle who treated me like I was nice and attractive instead of hideously ugly. I had to remove the lens I'd been looking through to see the truth.

So, what are you proactively doing to help change your mindset? What behaviors do you want to change and how will you go about accomplishing that?

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32 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

What are you doing besides talking to friends to address this?

It's not possible to just insert a sense of self worth. It has to be the result of a process where you come to truly believe (not just act or pretend) that you are a person worthy of love and relationships just like anyone else. Some people will say you should "fake it til you make it" but that's not always possible or effective.

For me it was more of a realization that despite what my schoolmates had been telling me for years, I am not exceedingly ugly. I'm no beauty queen but I'm not the hideous troll everyone told me I was. And that was the result of actually paying attention to people outside of my small school circle who treated me like I was nice and attractive instead of hideously ugly. I had to remove the lens I'd been looking through to see the truth.

So, what are you proactively doing to help change your mindset? What behaviors do you want to change and how will you go about accomplishing that?

I'm still at the stage of trying to identify these behaviours... that's proving difficult.

Yours is a realisation that could come to me too maybe. I know what it's like to have people call you ugly. Usually just throwaway comments that they presume I won't take personally, the old 'oh you're only XX years old, you must have had a tough paper round' type of comments, or people reacting with astonishment if they think I look relatively attractive in an old photo of me they saw on Facebook.

But yeah, like I'm getting to accept that there are ways in which I sabotage my own chances... I haven't found them yet.

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I used fake it till you make it in this way. I got a little jittery before certain first dates or first meets. So as I walked into the restaurant or toward my date I had the mantra in my head “you are beautiful and glamorous “ even though I wasn’t. It helped calm and center me so I could be my best self and make a good impression. 
I’m a fan of less reading and thinking and more doing. Building self esteem by doing productive things. Whether productive for yourself or for others you respect and/or want to contribute to like with volunteer work or by crossing off to do list items you’ve been procrastinating.

show yourself you matter and are worthy through actions. I was stressed and upset this morning but made myself do my daily treadmill and put my all into it. Made myself not turn to a sweet treat for comfort as I’d re-committed last month to not doing so. The more you do that reflects you matter and deserve care and respect the more you’ll give the impression to others. Confidence is a turn on. Not arrogance. 
do you mean you’re bisexual ?  What do you mean by ambiguous?  For me a person with effeminate mannerisms or voice was a huge turn off but other friends were neutral about it. I never heard any of my female friends see it as a plus. It’s fine if that is you - don’t change you - but if it’s an affect you put on for some reason I’d wonder why. 
I’m glad you have a support system. For most this is an individual process and one of trial and error. Thanks for sharing !

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1 hour ago, Batya33 said:

Also are you a healthy weight ? Do you have good posture ? Are you well groomed ? Do you wear clean well fitting clothes ?

Well, I've made an interesting discovery in the last few weeks... Bread isn't all that good for you.

I'm not gluten intolerant, but like a lot of people, I'd been treating bread and other gluten containing foods like pasta as a staple. Most of my lunches being a sandwich of some sort, and often having something for tea that might involve gluten, pasta or something.

Weight has always been an issue. I find it very difficult to lose and very easy to gain. For a while in my 20s I was exercising intensively and eating a calorie controlled diet and while I lost some weight, after a year of this I would still be classed as morbidly obese.

I've started to have salads for lunch, and pasta much more rarely and made no other changes to my diet or lifestyle and I've lost about a stone and a half (21 lbs for Americans among us, but I don't know what it would be in kg) in a few weeks. I've still got a long way to go but I'm as light as I've been in years and once the weight starts to drop off the momentum builds and it gets easier.

Clothing is related to weight, in that I have certain styles I like to wear but which are almost impossible when you're very obese. For most of my life I've just felt I've had to make do with wearing generic 'jacamo' clothes, because they were the only ones I could buy that fit...I'm starting to try on some of my old clothes again, that I still have from back when I used to wear nice clothes.

Whether anyone would call me well groomed or well dressed I don't know. One person's well groomed could be another person's scruffy and careless, but another person's stuffy and conservative. I have long curly blonde hair so I think most people might not like that but I'm just interested in women that do.

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OK so I understand.  The woman would have to be comfortable with a guy with long hair, and comfortable with you being overweight.  Certainly there are women out there who are comfortable with that especially if you are healthy despite being overweight.  Understand with your hair preference you are entitled and you are accepting and ok with limiting your dating pool - certain women might like your hair but be building a professional career in a field where it's just not going to be ok to go to business dinners/professional events with a partner with long hair.  And that's their preference, too. It sounds like how you wear your hair goes beyond just a style choice, at least the way you described it.

I limited my dating pool too in ways others raised eyebrows at.  I did not care.  Those items were essential to me.  

(I also cut back on certain carbs in the last couple of weeks (I am thin but had gained about 3 pounds and am very petite) and I discovered I really felt better even though I wasn't overeating at all.  I only do "open face" sandwiches -one piece of thin bread or half a pita or sometimes I'll use a rice cake for the "sandwich" -I like the crunch and/or texture of bread and am not giving it up entirely.)

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17 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

OK so I understand.  The woman would have to be comfortable with a guy with long hair, and comfortable with you being overweight.  Certainly there are women out there who are comfortable with that especially if you are healthy despite being overweight.  Understand with your hair preference you are entitled and you are accepting and ok with limiting your dating pool - certain women might like your hair but be building a professional career in a field where it's just not going to be ok to go to business dinners/professional events with a partner with long hair.  And that's their preference, too. It sounds like how you wear your hair goes beyond just a style choice, at least the way you described it.

I limited my dating pool too in ways others raised eyebrows at.  I did not care.  Those items were essential to me.  

(I also cut back on certain carbs in the last couple of weeks (I am thin but had gained about 3 pounds and am very petite) and I discovered I really felt better even though I wasn't overeating at all.  I only do "open face" sandwiches -one piece of thin bread or half a pita or sometimes I'll use a rice cake for the "sandwich" -I like the crunch and/or texture of bread and am not giving it up entirely.)

No you don't understand at all and you're twisting my words around. Surely I'm entitled to want a relationship where I'm not expected to change who I am in order to meet expectations. But it goes deeper than that, a woman who expects men to have one of the five generic male haircuts in order to meet her expectations of masculinity, well more power to her, I'm not saying people have to like me, but if she doesn't like me how I am, well we probably won't have much in common anyway.

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18 minutes ago, Carnatic said:

No you don't understand at all and you're twisting my words around. Surely I'm entitled to want a relationship where I'm not expected to change who I am in order to meet expectations. But it goes deeper than that, a woman who expects men to have one of the five generic male haircuts in order to meet her expectations of masculinity, well more power to her, I'm not saying people have to like me, but if she doesn't like me how I am, well we probably won't have much in common anyway.

Ok. I'm sorry if I snapped, but can you see what I mean. I'm not at all saying I'm entitled for any woman to like me exactly how I am, but I also am how I am and as minor a detail as hairstyle might be, I'm not interested in a relationship that starts with me being told how such minor details should be, because if you let someone else control the minor details of your life then they'll soon be controlling the major details too.

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Long hair wouldn't bother me. Neither would baldness. 

Everyone has their preferences. A friend of mine loves long hair on men. A coworker will only date bald men (she's in her early 20s). Lots of women like big men because it makes them feel safe. 

I am attracted to tall, lanky men with blond or sandy hair, light eyes (blue, green or hazel) and long limbs. However, my most recent relationship was with a man who's only 5'8" and has lost most of his hair (what's left is sandy though 😆). I also dated a man who's only 5'9" and has longish dark brown hair and brown eyes. So while I am initially attracted to a certain physical type it certainly isn't carved in stone.

And of course I might see a man who has the physical characteristics I like but he turns out to have an unpleasant personality, isn't intellectually curious or doesn't like new experiences. Or he doesn't like sports! Liking sports is a must for me, no matter what he looks like.

But first off, it's important to find out what it is YOU want to change about yourself and be proactive in making those changes happen. 

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Just now, boltnrun said:

😆L

 

But first off, it's important to find out what it is YOU want to change about yourself and be proactive in making those changes happen. 

Of course, and yeah making changes, particularly physical, to improve your chances in dating is a thing, especially in terms of weight and hairstyle.

It's not what I meant when I said about things to address about myself though. I mean I have to change the mentality of thinking that it is impossible for any women to ever be interested in me. Maybe I'm not as fundamentally unlikeable as I think I am... Maybe there have been women take an interest in me, and I've pushed them away.

I'll give an example... Just thought of one since starting this thread. Recently with a group of friends, we were talking about relationships and someone mentioned, about me and one of the women present. 'we'll you're both single, maybe you should get together'. My reaction was, one, to feel self conscious, and two to laugh it off as a joke, of course the idea that any woman might be interested in me could only have been meant as a joke, and I'd best show that I too find it funny and not have people think I may be taking it seriously.

But it's not inconceivable that she might have actually been interested and saw me laughing it off as actually a sign that I wasn't interested. I'm not saying it's all that likely but my automatic reaction to not take it seriously, when I do stuff like that all the time might have led to women who we interested being put off me.

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Yes, that would put a woman off. She might have thought you were laughing at her. As in, it's laughable that you would be interested in someone like her. I'm sure that's not what you meant, but maybe she took it that way.

What are you actively doing to address this negative self image? Knowing it is a good first step. But the next step is a game plan for how to change that mindset. 

In my case I decided to actually pay attention when men (well, really boys as I was about 18 years old at the time. But I'd been told I was ugly since grade school) spoke to me. The real lightbulb moment was when one of the young men at work who was extremely good looking sat down with me while I was waiting for a ride home. He made it obvious he wanted to talk to me and that he was enjoying it. I was puzzled...why would this great looking guy want to even be seen talking to me? And then I realized, maybe he doesn't think I'm ugly! He happened to know my cousin and mentioned to him that he'd talked to me and he thought was sweet and nice and cute. Big time wow.

So a game plan for how to deal with your negative thoughts is key. What can you come up with?

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10 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

What are you actively doing to address this negative self image? Knowing it is a good first step. But the next step is a game plan for how to change that mindset.

Well I've only just really realised I have it, so I haven't given too much thought to how I change it yet.

I'm between trying to think back to why I have it in the first place (I have only negative experiences of actually being in a relationship or being seen as desirable) and thinking what positive thoughts about myself I might be and to start with.

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4 hours ago, Carnatic said:

I'm trying to cast off these notions. I always knew they were a bit ridiculous, as most of my friends (even if they aren't always positive or stable) get into relationships from time to time, for me to be as undateable as I believe myself to be would be pretty remarkable.

This reminds me about a form of work-related anxiety that I read about. But I don't remember the specifics... I will get back to you. I wrote it down on a post-it at work. I hope I didn't lose that note because I wanted to read about it more!

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2 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

This reminds me about a form of work-related anxiety that I read about. But I don't remember the specifics... I will get back to you. I wrote it down on a post-it at work. I hope I didn't lose that note because I wanted to read about it more!

Like impostor syndrome?

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1 hour ago, Carnatic said:

No you don't understand at all and you're twisting my words around. Surely I'm entitled to want a relationship where I'm not expected to change who I am in order to meet expectations. But it goes deeper than that, a woman who expects men to have one of the five generic male haircuts in order to meet her expectations of masculinity, well more power to her, I'm not saying people have to like me, but if she doesn't like me how I am, well we probably won't have much in common anyway.

I never ever would have dated a man who wore his hair long because of my professional career back then.  I wouldn't have expected him to change. I simply wouldn't have dated him.  Nothing to do with masculinity. I think long hair and short hair look "masculine" and attractive depending.

If he was that insistent on wearing his hair long (if he told me that -I would not have asked or suggested he change his hair) then you are right we likely would not have had enough in common if his desire to have his hair long was part of some deeper attitudes and values.  I have friends and  family who are guys and wear their hair long -no issue in the least.  But yes I wanted a man who presented as clean cut with his hair short and neat - yes I was attracted to certain men who had long hair - but I wouldn't have dated that person if that was his preference (as opposed to a temporary situation).  

Of course you should not change! I didn't change my list either of what was important to me!

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I always prefer a man with long hair. It’s a signifier that they’re probably going to share some values with me (or maybe not, but at the very least we both refuse to conform to how society says we’re meant to look!)

Don’t know how to fix the attachment traumas. (Although I watched a 30 minute video by Alan Robarge about having an activated anxious attachment trauma that stared right into my soul. Maybe have a nose around his channel, he might do vids on avoidant as well. ) But I am stopping by to offer a giant *fist bump* for working on it. I hope we’re both victorious!

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24 minutes ago, 1a1a said:

I always prefer a man with long hair. It’s a signifier that they’re probably going to share some values with me (or maybe not, but at the very least we both refuse to conform to how society says we’re meant to look!)

I wouldn't assume that someone who has long hair is "refusing to conform" or feels that "society" dictates "how we're meant to look".  That's such a generalization.  Some people have long hair because they feel like it.  The end.  Or they don't feel like cutting it/getting it cut.  I let my hair get much longer than I prefer because of covid but I chose to prioritize my safety over getting it cut.  Other friends chose differently. 

I've met a number of people who pretend to "rebel" or not conform by dressing a certain way, getting tattoos or wearing their hair a certain way but it soon becomes obvious that it's really all for show.  So there's that too.

What I did assume back then when I was dating was that bringing a partner with long hair to professional functions could give a wrong impression to my colleagues/employer and I was very focused on building my career back then. I didn't want to stand out or have to "explain" my choices.  I also didn't date smokers or people who used illegal drugs or drank excessively. 

I also didn't want someone who thought that somehow it was "society" causing people to act like sheep and "conform" by having their hair a certain way.  That would have been incompatible with my values and opinions about peoples' choices.  I loved how I dressed and wore my hair back then -my choice -and I was totally fine with abiding by my employer's rules (when I started women were just getting to a point of being permitted to wear pantsuits as opposed to suits with skirts to work) - because no one forced me to work for a large corporation.  Sometimes it was restricting and uncomfortable to wear suits and heels and stockings and sometimes it was restricting to get dressed up for a date.  I chose it and accepted the rules.  

When it comes to dating we all make assumptions and then when we get to know the person we soon figure out which of them -if any -were correct or partially correct.  We all have to do some visual sizing up.  

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2 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

OP -I know you were referring to making internal changes- and I think your weight issue is a reflection maybe of your lack of care for yourself -an outward reflection of the low self esteem maybe? 

It's also a safety net.  I can't date because I'm overweight and no one would want me.  It's like that old Yes song..."owner of a lonely heart is much better than an owner of a broken heart."

Love means taking risks!

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2 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

It's also a safety net.  I can't date because I'm overweight and no one would want me.  It's like that old Yes song..."owner of a lonely heart is much better than an owner of a broken heart."

Love means taking risks!

Oh wow.  I love Yes.  Grew up with Yes.  I don't want to generalize because there are overweight people who are healthy, slim people who are not, people who are very happy with their body image despite being overweight, etc.  I was just wondering in particular with the OP.  

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3 hours ago, Carnatic said:

Recently with a group of friends, we were talking about relationships and someone mentioned, about me and one of the women present. 'we'll you're both single, maybe you should get together'. My reaction was, one, to feel self conscious, and two to laugh it off as a joke, of course the idea that any woman might be interested in me could only have been meant as a joke, and I'd best show that I too find it funny and not have people think I may be taking it seriously.

Okay, so it's your mindset. Sense of self.

Avoidant, yah, possibly.  So you need to work on your insecurities.

You do see yourself of nothing 'worthy'?  Nothing special?

Many have been there. Even some really nice looking people! ( that or they're just looking for 'more attention'?). 

I've had years of insecurity and thinking down about myself.  Yet, have had people tell me I do look pretty or guys saying I was cute. ( Do I see all of that? No).

So, yes, it can be quite a battle.  But, I still kinda dress nicely when going out. And I dress as sloppy as I want around home 🙂 - I don't care that much.  I am me.

I do not wear tons of make up ( just a little something to highlight my eyes, etc).  I don't go out wearing high heels or wanting to get all of this attention- thats not me.

I think for many, we're trying to get it into our minds we ARE okay. We ARE pretty, etc.  So, I often will say it out loud... 'yes, that's good enough'.. ' I am good enough'.  It's like mind over matter?   * I need to hear it to believe it*. Same with going out there in this great big world and deal with others.. My anxiety was awful.. nowadays, before I get out of the car, I will say ' I can do this'- out loud.  Give me a cpl more minutes and I will do it.

So maybe try to work on that 'mind set'. Get yourself to believing it by actually saying it to yourself. And keep doing that. Also, when I was in therapy, to work on our 'reminders & insecuritited', we'd have to list about 5 things we do like about ourselves.  Again,  way to get it out and 'see it', sort of thing.

And, remember, no one's perfect. We don't see ourselves as that, we're all in the same boat- issue's with something 😉 .  You're not alone.

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3 hours ago, Batya33 said:

Oh wow.  I love Yes.  Grew up with Yes.  I don't want to generalize because there are overweight people who are healthy, slim people who are not, people who are very happy with their body image despite being overweight, etc.  I was just wondering in particular with the OP.  

Maybe. Since losing weight I have felt my ptsd more triggered, as if being potentially more attractive makes me feel vulnerable and I had been avoiding that by not losing weight.

But there are also more obvious reasons behind it. Starting with anxiety and depression being factors behind overeating and underexercising. I've gained and lost weight several times in my life and I don't know if its like this for everyone but it takes a long time after you start eating healthy and exercising before you see the first weight loss, months sometimes. That can be demoralising as you wonder when you're going to start actually losing weight, fearful that maybe this time that's it, no amount of diet and exercise will shift it, it's with you for life. If you were optimistic at the start then several months later you may feel yourself spiralling into another deep depression.

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1 hour ago, Carnatic said:

Starting with anxiety and depression being factors behind overeating and underexercising.

And this is why working with a professional can be immensely helpful. If you don't treat the PTSD, anxiety and depression you won't be able to get out of the unhealthy loop. And you must be both physically and mentally healthy to be truly well. Not necessarily thin or slim, but healthy.

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