I just had one of the best conversations of my whole year on the Date/able Podcast, a nationally broadcasted San Francisco-based show about relationships, where we broke down how body image plays a role in dating. The main takeaway? Confidence is still the sexiest thing you can wear.
Here are my dating tips to incorporate body acceptance into your love life for more fulfilling relationships with yourself and others:
1) Avoid body comments
I encourage you to refrain from making comments about your own body or the body of the person you are dating, at least until you get to know and understand their boundaries a little bit better. Making comments about someone’s height, weight, shape of specific body parts, or the size of genitalia can all be damaging either immediately or indirectly. Instead of saying things like “I’m an ass man, that’s why I like you”, try “I think you’re really beautiful”. Or instead of “I usually only date taller guys”, try “I love that you made the effort to plan such a romantic date”. Your comments about someone’s body, while well-intentioned, can have a lasting effect on how they think about themselves. Better to avoid it and give yourself a chance to focus on getting to really know who that person is.
2) Don’t talk negatively about your body
The fastest way to turn off people around you is to bad mouth yourself. People don’t like spending time with someone who doesn’t even value themselves. So if there’s something you don’t love about your own body, zip it for the time being. Our brain is very impressionable, and when we put ourselves down, our brain starts to believe what we’re telling it. Don’t complain about things that are wrong with your body, because that solves literally zero problems.
3) Vulnerability and Confidence are BOTH sexy
Wait, what? How can they BOTH be sexy? Navigating these two things takes some emotional intelligence, but mostly just honesty and compassion. If there is something about your body that you are genuinely very self conscious about, that has restricted you in past relationships, it’s okay to share that with your partner. This isn’t a situation where you’re putting yourself down. For example, I have a client with a large scar from her childhood. For years she was very protective of it, but when she finally found a partner she could trust, being vulnerable to him about it was a formative moment in their relationship.
But what about confidence being the sexiest thing you can wear? Being vulnerable doesn’t mean not being confident. I actually think they are closely related. I believe that being vulnerable to another human actually shows a great deal of confidence. And self assurance on its own is extremely attractive. Knowing you are valuable and have something to offer is super sexy. Again, true confidence and vulnerability take practice, compassion, and a lot of honesty.
4) Stop dating your “type”
You like to date the same kind of person, but how’s that working out for you? Diversify the range of people you open your heart to. If you think you have a type, and continuously date people based on what you’ve been attracted to in the past, it’s time to branch out. Date people who look different in race, size, shape, who come from different income, educational, and religious backgrounds, and see what happens. Date people who push your boundaries a little bit.
Why do this? The “type” that you’ve been dating might not actually appreciate all that you are. If you keep winding up without a relationship, it may be because you’re not giving genuine consideration to a lot of wonderful people that are out there. Open your mind and heart to dating people who are different, and you’ll be more likely to find someone who loves the real you. And if you give people a chance to show you who they really are, you may be surprised to find yourself attracted to qualities you had never considered before.
Check out the Date/able podcast episode below to listen to more tips and one of the best conversations I’ve had all year.