Top tips to stay badass while online dating
There’s been lots in the press lately about how excessive social media use is starting to take its toll on our mental health and general wellbeing. We’re spending an average of two hours every day* sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on our social media apps – arghhh that’s more than many people spend exercising, socialising or doing hobbies. As it’s such a big part of our lives, we need to take its potential impact on us seriously. And guess what? While not strictly ‘social media’, in many ways dating apps are the same thing – they require us to look at a screen, they are potentially addictive and they can lower our mood when things don’t work out. Lets face it, we don’t need another thing to bring us down when we’re online dating so here are our tops tips for taking charge of your wellbeing when dating.
Photo credit: Nicole for Hey Saturday, London
Don’t compare yourself to others
One of the most negative things about social media is the tendency to compare yourself to others. Everyone else appears to be having a great social life, going on great dates, or is happily coupled up with a perfect relationship. You need to remember that you are only seeing a snapshot of these people’s lives, and it’s only the good bits that they want you to see. For every selfie on Facebook you see of your friend out drinking cocktails with someone hot, remember that they haven’t told you about the 6 rubbish dates they had before that, or the recent Saturday night they spent at home on their own with a ready meal for one. Your dating journey is unique and the way you are doing it is just fine. Resist that temptation to compare!
Limit the time you spend on online dating apps
You need to treat your dating apps in the same way you treat your other social media apps and find a balance so that your dating doesn’t start to interfere with your life and your health. For example, looking at the bright screens on our phones before bed can prevent good sleep or cause insomnia. Plus if your mind is buzzing or racing because you’ve spent the whole evening messaging someone, you will not be able to wind down ready for the quality sleep we all need to maintain good mental and physical health. If you’re serious about looking after yourself, then limit your online dating to a certain time period in the day or evening when you will check your apps and respond to messages (and finish well before bedtime). Turn off your notifications so you don’t get tempted outside of these times. Be strict with yourself!
Photo credit: Nicole for Hey Saturday, London
There’s no getting away from the fact that online dating involves looking at a screen for extended periods. When you’re browsing through your apps and responding to messages what this means is that you are not living in the present moment. Think about it – when you’re really absorbed in messaging someone, are you aware of sights and sounds around you? Did you really notice the taste of that snack bar you just ate and could you remember the face of the person who just sat down opposite you on the train? Or were you so busy thinking of a cool reply to the hot guy online that you didn’t notice? Being mindful stops you from living constantly in your head and your thoughts. It brings you back into the present moment and it’s proven to reduce anxiety and improve mental health. Check out headspace if you want a simple way to try mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
Don’t over analyse
When you’ve had a bad date or when you’ve been ghosted, it’s tempting to analyse the situation in great detail. Was it something about you that made this happen? Could you have done something differently? Have they gone back to their ex? What exactly did they mean by that last message they sent? Well, for the sake of your mental health, DO NOT do this. Just accept the situation and move on. OK – that’s easy for us to say but we all do it; it’s a human trait to ruminate on things. So how exactly can you avoid it? Well – mindfulness will be a big help. With practice, in time you will be able to notice when you are having negative thoughts or beating yourself up over something that was out of your control. Then you can focus on looking after yourself, doing things that make you happy and finding someone new (and better!).
Simple fact – some people we come across in online dating are bad for our mental health. Remember that not everyone you chat to online will be as as kind, understanding and compassionate as you are; that’s just the world we live in. And remember that these are often total strangers we are chatting to after all; we can’t assume we can trust them to make us feel good right from the off. So if someone you’re chatting to or dating makes you feel any of the following, delete them and move on:
- silly or stupid
Perhaps you’ve feeling this way without even realising it. So check in and ask yourself “how does this person actually make me feel?” Your mental health is precious and you’re not about to let some random guy or girl play havoc with it just because they’ve got issues of their own.
Photo credit: Polly for Hey Saturday, London
Celebrate the good stuff
For anything that goes well in online dating, you need to give yourself a high five. So whether it’s a good date, good chat, good sex – whatever it might be, it deserves a mini celebration. A great idea of how to celebrate is to have a ‘good dating’ jar. Anytime something cool, funny, amazing or brilliant happens when dating, write it on a bit of paper and put it in the jar. Then whenever you’re feeling a bit down or the next time you get ghosted, empty your jar and read all your messages of celebration back to yourself. This is guaranteed to give you a lift and remind you that actually, you are pretty damn good at dating.
Rock that self love
When we boil it down, online dating is about asking people to like us. We’re putting ourselves out there in quite an emotionally vulnerable way – our dating photos, our profile and all the things that make us tick are documented online. We’re putting our heart on the line in order to try and find love. It’s no wonder this process can sometimes cause us anxiety and stress or that we feel upset when it doesn’t work out as we planned. If you have self love; if you really like yourself, it won’t matter as much to you if others don’t. If someone is not into you, that’s their loss. You’re completely whole as it is and are waiting for the right person! Some recent books that might help you boost your self love are Happy by Fearne Cotton, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Help by Simon Amstell.
If online dating has really got you down and you need someone to talk to, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.
*Figure taken from this BBC article
Awesome words by Lauren, cool photos by Polly and Nicole.