Summer has to be the most romantic/horniest season. Wearing less clothes, drinking more cocktails. Doesn’t it scream, let’s have cheap fun as a new couple? Splashing in the sea, strolling through the park, a meal deal picnic. Old couples get Christmas – I still love you, here’s an expensive present. Many of us singletons have weathered the lonely lockdown storm, drinking coffee with our dogs, eagerly waiting to get back out. There’s just one problem: We have to feel comfortable dating again.
Firstly, it’s okay to feel nervous about dating
As a Stylist article says, ‘meeting new people’ is likely ‘going to be scary, nerve-wracking and a little bit exhausting’. We’ve spent the past year readjusting our lives; it’s normal to need time to figure out how to piece them back together. To help with concerns, I’ve been practising ‘anxious reappraisal’ – telling myself I’m super excited whenever I feel doubt. According to The Atlantic, this ‘cognitive trick’ can work ‘because anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions.’ As I said to a friend last week, ‘Nerves are great’. Being nervous means you care. That’s better than boredom’.
Focus on summer body positivity
While summer designs itself for love, it also lays a map for body insecurities. For years, we’ve listened to the media tell us how to get ‘summer ready’. I remember religiously buying magazines and copying their food and exercise diaries. Hoping my mind would magically decide chocolate is bad and chicken with veg is good. I’d lather my skin in olive oil and fry it outside in the sun. Desperate for a tan to hide what I called flaws.
Many years ago, I lost a lot of weight. I began posting my fitness selfies and aesthetically pleasing salads on Instagram. And yes, I felt better. New confidence and a sexier body image. But really, these benefits weren’t lasting. The minute I saw someone with better abs or a bigger butt, I found reason to criticise once more.
I soon enough figured, I had to mentally work on erasing my negativity in addition to exercising and eating well. I had to view nourishment as a balance and see exercise as a self-care move and not one that will disguise my food shame. Nutrition can increase energy and wellbeing; it cannot make us love ourselves. We have to find that right now; we have to embrace who we are and be comfortable dating again with our bodies as they are. A summer body is one in a bathing suit heading towards a beach, if you ask me.
Don’t hide due to weight gain
A beautiful friend of mine did what many of us did – she gained weight while stuck indoors. I listened to her on the phone, naming herself ‘lazy’ and ‘greedy’. Comparing herself to other women online. She completely ignored the hours she dedicated to building her new business, working on her social media. Not to mention, the time spent acting as my supportive ‘bestie’. She even forgot how well she handled the pandemic and stayed strong through grief.
Why does weight control our self-appreciation? It’s an ever-changing thing. It can come and go at any period. What can’t fluctuate so well: Kindness, passion, creativity. It makes sense to eat more during a stressful time. What doesn’t make sense: Putting your life on hold due to a different number on the scales.
How to feel comfortable dating again: Step out your comfort zone
On a blog post of mine: How to Love Your Personality, I note you should take more risks. This summer, why not get over your dating worries by facing up to them? Sign up to dating sites, attend dating events, say yes to party invitations (providing they stick to country rules on guest numbers). They’re so many apps, sites and organised opportunities catering to everyone, from single disabled dating to going on a Jenga date. Get comfortable dating again by getting use to dating again. Sometimes, you just have to face up and do something. You can take smaller steps however by setting yourself weekly goals. For instance:
- Message 3 new people.
- Sign up to a second dating app.
- Ask one person out for coffee…
Embrace your passions
Last year, I self-published a poetry book, made adjustments to my blog and started dance workouts. Yet, I still felt boring. My weekends consisted of baking cookies and watching Netflix with my sister. I had no new activities or days out to discuss. And that’s something most of us worry about: Not sounding interesting.
Consider 2021 the summer of love and self-love. Celebrate your quirks and who you are by pursuing your interests. Skip your online book order and visit your local independent book shop. Before buying a bottle of wine, arrange to experience a tasting day. The more you actively do what you enjoy, the more confident you’ll feel about yourself. And that can only lead to feeling comfortable dating again.