There‘s a good chance you are familiar with the saying, “Before you can truly love someone else, you must first love yourself.” Whether you heard it in a movie, read it in a self-help book, from your therapist, or your mom doesn’t matter; although it’s cliche and maybe a tad overused, it doesn’t make it any less true!
And nowhere does this old saying apply more than in the dating scene–at this very moment, millions of people are swiping, liking, and DMing potential partners on dating apps. While the digital age has offered up countless opportunities to meet new people that were not possible 20 years ago, there is a dark side–and that side has been known to create a vortex of self-doubt in said singles.
So how exactly does self-worth tie into today’s dating scene? Let’s explore how it plays a big part in your overall well-being and in your love life.
The Mirror of Self-Reflection
Before we get into how self-worth and the dating scene are entangled and why, we need to understand the basic definition of self-worth, which can sometimes be confused with an inflated ego or arrogance. While there are indeed people with over-inflated self-worth, those aren’t who we’re talking about.
Self-worth is mistaken for arrogance at times because we weren’t really taught to acknowledge it, as it could be taken as bragging. But times are changing, and it is OK to know and proclaim, out loud, that you know your worth! And to act like it in everyday situations and on the dating scene.
When your sense of your worth is solid, you’re way less likely to put up with or even entertain any shenanigans, toxic behavior, abuse, or any other petty BS that goes on when you get to know someone or while in a romantic relationship.
People who value themselves and are aware of their self-worth tend to be drawn to (and to attract) partners who treat them the way you should treat a romantic partner–like the sun rises and sets with them (ok, that’s a little dramatic, but you get what we mean).
The Digital Dating Scene: A Double-edged Sword
The dating scene forever changed with the advent of dating apps, and there is no going back, only forward. They literally transformed how we meet people–you don’t have to leave your home like you once did to find a potential partner–you can do that while soaking in the bathtub if you want!
The Importance of Self-Worth in Digital Dating
Amid the perks and mehs of dating apps, having a strong sense of self-worth acts as a sort of dating compass, helping you navigate the sometimes pothole-ridden path to love. Here’s how:
Cultivating Self-Worth: Where to Start
A lot of us struggle with feelings of being “less than” and have a skewed or non-existent sense of self-worth, particularly in the dating world. And while there is no easy fix or magic pill, there are some ways to start to improve how you see yourself:
Real-Life Success Story
Maya, a 30-year-old marketing executive, once relied on dating apps for validation. After a string of short-lived and unfulfilling relationships, she took a hiatus from the apps and focused on herself. Yoga, therapy, and travel became her priorities.
When she returned to Hinge a year later, her approach had shifted. She sought connections that mirrored her newfound respect for herself. It wasn’t long before she met Aiden, who appreciated her hobbies and respected her boundaries.
Self-Worth and Relationships
Research has consistently found that individuals with higher self-esteem–closely linked to self-worth–report greater relationship satisfaction. A study published in the American Psychological Association found that individuals with higher self-esteem perceived their partners more positively, contributing to a healthier and happier relationship dynamic.
Digital Dating and Self-esteem
- A study presented at the American Psychological Association annual convention in 2016 found that Tinder users had lower levels of self-worth and more body dissatisfaction than people who had never used the swiping app.
- Another study in the National Library of Medicine found that body dissatisfaction was linked to an increased usage of dating apps, suggesting a feedback loop where users turn to the apps for validation and that frequent use can make any existing body image issues worse.
Digital Dating and Mental Health
- A 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that the compulsive use of dating apps could be directly linked with feelings of loneliness and social anxiety.
- The “paradox of choice” is another topic explored in the context of dating apps–having an overabundance of options (as is often the case with dating apps) can sometimes lead to feelings of dissatisfaction or anxiety over making the “wrong” choice, as stated by psychologist Barry Schwartz.
Self-Worth as a Protective Factor
While certainly not limited to the area of dating, lots of studies highlight the protective effects of self-worth against a bevy of mental health challenges.
For example, a study in the National Library of Medicine found that having a strong sense of self-worth was an effective weapon to have in one’s arsenal to battle depression and anxiety.
Psychology and social sciences research can (and do) get super complicated, and a lot of it is pretty hard to understand if you don’t possess a Ph.D. But when we look at research and study findings, we need to factor in a bunch of different things like cultural context, individual differences, and how the study was done.
In layman’s terms, who participated in the study, where it was conducted, and what they were trying to find out from the actual study.
Even though dating apps have forever altered and basically reshaped the romantic landscape, the basic truth remains–the journey to finding true love starts within.
By watering, caring, and growing your self-worth, you don’t just improve your dating experiences; you also enhance your own life in non-romantic areas! Remember, in the big and sometimes scary dating world, your most important match is the one you make with yourself.