Many singles complain that the people they desire as dating partners do not necessarily desire them. The most enlightened singles acknowledge that they have imperfections and limitations, but still want to be accepted despite them.
Unfortunately, many singles will make their lists of personal preferences their only criteria for selecting a life partner. As I frequently point out, psychological literature indicates that people usually say what they mean, and that the best way to predict someone’s behavior is by listening to what they say (and, by extension, what they write in their online dating profiles). In light of this reality, I make sure to tell singles that they have to accept people at face value.
Even though you may disagree with a 60 year old man wanting a wife in her 20’s, or the 5’1″ woman wanting only to date men 5’8″ and over, you have to accept the reality that neither will change. Even if you believe that you could be their perfect match, you ultimately have to take them at face value (believe that they said what they meant) and move on.
Looking at the bigger picture, however, I believe that today’s singles have the particulate challenge of constantly comparing their dates, and themselves, with the media-created stereotypes of who is deemed desirable and acceptable, and who is not.
So singles will ask, “Why am I so short? Why am I not younger? Why am I not wealthier? THEN, I would be sure to find a wife/husband!” Those asking these questions have unfortunately succumbed to the dictates of today’s society as to what is considered a desirable partner. Since they acknowledge that they don’t fit into this media-created image, they’ve essentially labeled themselves as “disabled.” And since they view themselves as having a disability, they conclude that they are thus “dating challenged.”
What it really comes down to though, is an inability to accept oneself as a complete, whole, unique, divinely-created human being with various strengths and limitations. But instead, many singles still try to make themselves desirable to someone who has made it clear that you would never be acceptable, and then blame them for being so rigid and stubborn in their criteria.
Lack of self-acceptance will help to explain why, for example, some singles will lie on their online dating profiles: since they don’t accept themselves for who they are, and view themselves as having
a dating disability, and refuse to believe that not everyone in the world is going to like them, they compensate by working harder to make themselves fit into what they think is acceptable and desirable. So they shave off a few (or many) pounds, or add a few inches of height, or embellish their occupational status.
What I’m talking about can be very challenging for relationship-oriented singles. Some have become so distressed by their perceived disabilities that they give up dating. Unfortunately, life does not come with a guarantee that everyone is going to like you. If that is your expectation, then I’d say that you are creating your own dating challenge. But the bottom line is this — if you are aware that someone doesn’t like you or want you, you shouldn’t blame them for it. The onus is on you to still accept yourself for who you are, regardless.
I have a saying I use a lot: “Perseverance does pay off. You just don’t know how long you’ll have to persevere.” I realize that when you are rejected for something that you really can’t help — e.g., your hairline, your calendar age, your height — you may feel defective or disabled and want to give up. But because I so strongly believe in the power of human persistence, that if you can unambivalently say, “this is important to me,” and persevere, then you give yourself more opportunities to succeed.
Coupled with the knowledge that your goal is worth your efforts, the journey starts with self-acceptance. Without it, you will otherwise be, sadly, “dating challenged.”
© Copyright 2006 Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D.