Welcome to our new series, The Confidence Collection! There’s not a single person on the planet who hasn’t suffered a crisis of confidence at one point or another (TRUST us!). SO, we present The Confidence Collection brought to you by our pals at CapsuleNZ. We’ll be covering all areas of self-belief in all areas of life – dating, work, relationships, beauty and personal growth – with practical advice, words of wisdom from women who have seen it, lived it and conquered it, and everything in between. In our fourth edition, we’re looking at confidence while dating: why confidence can be the key to attracting the right person for you, how you can start a daily ritual and how to protect your mental health while using dating apps!
When it comes to the dating world in 2022, having confidence and resilience is key. There’s never been a greater time to be single, with a new love just a click or swipe away – but it’s also never been quite such a minefield out there.
So how do we keep our confidence up, when the dating world can be such a rollercoaster?
Angela Rennie is an experienced counsellor (with a Masters of Arts (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters of Health Science (Hons) in Psychology to boot) and sees many women and men who are searching for love. Through this work at her practise, Intimacy Counselling, she knows just how tough it can be out there – but also, how many opportunities there are for real connections.
What it all boils down to, she says, is knowing yourself, being happy in your own company and having confidence in yourself – whether you have a partner or not!
“When I see clients, I teach them they need the confidence and the resilience not to personalise all the pitfalls of dating,” she tells. “It really is a horrible dating culture out there, but amongst that is a lot of genuine people looking for love.”
Here, Angela shares six key things you need to know about having confidence while dating.
You’re not alone (and be patient – sometimes it takes a while for other people’s confidence to shine)!
Angela says a lot of people come to her practise because they have become very disillusioned and disappointed from having negative dating experiences.
“They then start to become very down and have a feeling a hopeless around it,” she tells. “Our brains think in comparisons, so we imagine everyone else is having these wonderful dating experiences and relationships. This isn’t the case. Dating is a minefield for most of the people doing it and a lot of people settle in very unhappy relationships for the sake of being with someone.”
Angela also sees a lot of clients who tend to stick to ‘a type’, and keep finding themselves single again and wondering why their relationships don’t seem to be working.
“Often these are the emotionally unavailable types,” she tells. “That heightened desire you feel at the start can be based on your nervous system signalling danger (our physiological response to desire is very similar to our one to danger), and heightened desire lasts two years, tops! After that you need to work at desire and intimacy.”
That means, the right person for you might not necessarily be the person who jumps out to you as being Mr or Mrs Right straight away.
“Start noticing the possibly shy people that may not have the confidence to ask you out as they often make kind and thoughtful partners. Don’t rule someone out so quickly at the start! Sometimes people are anxious and it takes them a while to relax and show themselves and/or build confidence in the intimacy space.”
Start a daily confidence ritual
While some women – and men – can appear to have no trouble picking themselves up after a relationship ends, soldiering on with a bulletproof sense of confidence, the truth is that everything isn’t quite what it seems on the surface. Angela says that in order to attract the right partner, confidence is actually something that every single person needs to work on.
The key is to ensure that your confidence comes from within, she tells, not from how many people have swiped left on your profile.
“Don’t rely on anything or anyone else, other than yourself, for validation,” tells Angela. “Otherwise you will likely be attracted to people who it isn’t actually possible to have a healthy relationship with and/or personalise the bad dating experiences.”
She suggests starting a daily practice to boost your confidence – and it might not be quite what you imagine. For a start, you need to put down your phone for this one, and close those dating apps – that dopamine hit from getting a match, isn’t what we’re talking about.
“I suggest everyone writes down something they like, or that they are proud of themselves for, every day,” she says. “If you lack body confidence, you might want to add something about your body. If you lack confidence in relationships, then add why you are a great partner.”
Practice makes perfect, and when you value those things in yourself, so will a new – or current – partner.
When you’re single – especially once you’re out of your twenties – it seems like everyone in a relationship (or every aunt around the Christmas dinner table) seems to what to know the answer to a one-word question: Why?
If you’re super lucky, they’ll often follow this up with an equally aggravating question and ask if it’s perhaps because you’re being too picky.
Being “too picky” is far from being the reason most people are single – and in fact, it’s more likely that deep down we don’t know exactly what it is we want and need from a partner, so aren’t choosing the right people to date.
Angela gets her clients to perform a little exercise where they write an ‘ideal partner’ list.
“Of course no one is going to be perfect,” she says. “But, it at least makes you clearer on what you do and don’t want. Think about values, personality traits, if you want children, what your wants and needs are, etc.”
“Some things you’ll find you can compromise on. Some things you know you can’t. Don’t waste time on people that don’t have these things. Too often we let partners pick us, instead of us picking them.”
Some people’s baggage you may be able to accommodate, but other’s may be on your firm ‘no way’ list – in which case it is okay to move on. But know, that there will be something to contend with!
“As a qualified professional I can tell you that we all come with baggage,” tells Angela. She says it’s also important to look at what baggage you’re bringing with you and if there’s anything you can work on to reduce your load. “You want to have had a certain amount of healing and processing to reduce the amount you bring into new situation.”
Dating apps can be hard – be kind to yourself!
Angela cites a recent study that found that more than 40% of people on dating apps are actually in relationships. WHAT?!?
“Yip,” she says. “That’s a lot of people just there to stroke their egos and ghost others.”
Angela says it’s something she definitely warns her clients about – because with those kinds of numbers you should expect to be ghosted, and likely more than once or twice. It’s not about being pessimistic, but about being kind to yourself when it does inevitably happen to you.
“Remind yourself that this is just a common fact of dating in today’s society, instead of personalising it,” she suggests.
She also has a lot of clients complain to her about people using old or doctored photos, or lying about crucial aspects of their lives – like their age, interests, whether they have children or – gulp – their marital status.
“Unfortunately so many people present as someone they are not at the start, which is why you never rush in,” she urges.
She also suggests you fight the urge to tell a little white lie or two about yourself too.
“If someone can’t accept you for exactly who you are, why would you want to be with them? I feel you are wasting everyone’s time by doing this, including your own,” she says. “Whatever you do just be your authentic self. Try and give someone a sense of who you are, what you are looking for and what stage of life you are at.”
You just have to watch a few good cheesy American rom-coms – or The Bachelor – to realise that dating in NZ is quite different to what it is in the States.
There, it’s pretty common to be going on dates with multiple people, without it being a big deal – in fact, it’s mostly expected that you’re dating other people until you have ‘the talk’ and commit to only seeing each other.
But here, the idea of dating more than one person at a time is a little more foreign – which Angela says is only holding us back!
“In New Zealand we tend to like someone and invest too quickly,” she says. “We stop dating others out of mistaken loyalty, when there has been no conversations around expectations yet with that person. Equity theory means that once we invest more in someone we are way more likely to overlook the red flags. It’s also often good to have casual partners while looking for a potential serious partner. It definitely helps many of my clients!”
Cherish being single!
Being in a relationship isn’t the be and end all, says Angela.
“Relationships take constant work and compromise,” she tells. “They are one of the hardest things we do, and why couples counselling is so important.”
“Some of my happiest times in my life was when I was single. I am not a believer that people need to be in a relationship to be successful or happy in life. They myth of this prevents a lot of people from exploring single life as an option. Single does not mean without company, it does not mean lonely, it doesn’t mean lacking sexual intimacy, and it doesn’t have to mean childless. Your life can be incredibly rich and full being single.”