Updated: Dec 18, 2022
In a world of swipe right or swipe left the most important part of a dating profile is the photo. The first photo either captures attention or you’re dismissed to the left swipe. Does the bio even really matter?
Research shows that the decision to like or dislike a profile is mainly based on the impression of the first profile picture. But how do you choose a picture that you feel confident in while also displaying your personality? I remember feeling super anxious the first time I made a dating profile. It felt as though all my insecurities were exposed and ready to be judged. How do you choose a perfect photo when you can find a flaw in each of them? Of course, the photos I was mildly comfortable with had a filter on them
and didn’t show my body. But would using those photos mean I was catfishing? I finally finalized my profile with all my insecurities out there for the world to see. I get my first match and attempt to engage in a flirty conversation hoping they haven’t noticed the filter on my face, or that I’m not actually that adventurous. I became intrigued by the thrill of it all. The more matches I got, the more confident I felt. However, when there were no matches or no responses, the self-doubt and negative self-talk were in full force! Research suggests that online dating can result in negative psychological impacts such as insecurity, anxiety, and feelings of judgement which predominantly impact women. My experience was proof of this. My worth quickly became dependent on the number of matches I got, even if those matches didn’t lead to dates. Was I really “dating” to find a partner or was it just to boost my ego and self-esteem?
My happiness and self-worth were left in the hands of complete strangers who were judging a few of my “best” photos. I recognized how distorted this was and judged myself for placing so much value on these matches, but I couldn’t move past how validating the “you’ve got a match!” was at that moment. My judgements of myself, along with any self-doubt went out the window. It didn’t even matter if the conversations went nowhere, the match itself was all the validation I needed. Until it wasn’t…
Unfortunately, the self-doubt and judgements came creeping back in when it was time for a first date (if it even got to that point). The lingering voice in my head during the date was “do I look like my photos?”. I even asked this a few times, as if the person would actually admit that I didn’t. I placed so much value on my physical appearance and size and wanted to be physically desired that I completely forgot about who I was and what made me me! I was searching for happiness in these potential partners but forgetting to show them who I really was. And to be honest, at that point I think I lost sight of who that person was too.
At some point, the high that came with “You’ve got a match!” lost all value and meaning. Did it provide me with instant gratification…absolutely! But instant gratification was all it was. These matches didn’t lead to any genuine connections because I was so concerned with my insecurities, my photos being judged, and whether I was attractive enough to get a date. It became exhausting and quite depleting. I decided to put dating on hold. I realized that my insecurities and value on physical appearance were harming my relationship with myself. I needed to date myself for a bit! I discovered hobbies and interests and things that made me genuinely happy outside of the search for a partner. I fell in love with me!
Was this process easy, heck no! But the moment it became a bit easier was when I started to notice these patterns within myself through a non-judgmental and nonreactive lens. Research suggests that higher levels of mindfulness make an individual less absorbed by negative feelings and thoughts that lead to low self-esteem. The practice of mindfulness allowed me to be in the present moment without judging myself, both physically and emotionally. I began embracing things I was grateful for that my body did for me, rather than only emphasizing my body size and appearance. I stopped judging the limitations of my body and instead accepted them as a part of my uniqueness. I acknowledged the
loneliness that came with being single but no longer judged my journey’s differences from others and instead honoured the emotions that came up from it, which let’s be honest were sometimes sadness and jealousy!
It’s okay to feel sad! It’s okay to want to find a partner! But what is more important is loving yourself first!
Here are some tips for improving your self esteem 1. Each day, tell yourself each day 3 that you love about yourself.
2. Challenge yourself to look in the mirror in your birthday suit and tell yourself how much you love you!
3. Take time each day to do something that feeds your soul, whether it be walking, meditating, reading, being in nature, or watching mindless tv!
4. Honour your thoughts and feelings for what they are while recognizing when your worth is placed in someone else’s hands and take that power back!
That one profile photo doesn’t define you. You define you!