By Ashley Edwards Walker
Wellness trends and self-improvement advice don’t seem to be going anywhere, but the idea that we should constantly be seeking to better ourselves can be damaging to our dating lives.
And it seems as though single people have had enough. According to Bumble’s dating trends for 2024, single folks are rebelling against the notion that they’re not enough just the way they are. Self-acceptance is on the up, with 68 percent of women surveyed saying they’re taking active steps to be happier with who they are now. These same respondents said they’re prioritizing self-acceptance in their dating lives in particular, with 40 percent of women surveyed proclaiming they’d only date people who won’t try to change them.
So, why is self-acceptance so important to practice while you’re dating? For one thing, “it’s an important pillar of a healthy relationship,” says therapist and founder of Millennial Life Counseling, Liz Higgins. If you lack self-acceptance when you start dating someone, you may find yourself seeking external validation from that person. This can make it more likely you’ll tolerate things in a relationship that don’t align with what you need or want in the long-term. “I look at self-acceptance along the same lines of what I perceive to be healthy self-esteem,” says Higgins. “That means being able to hold yourself in a warm regard, in spite of—and with awareness—of your imperfections.”
Of course, practicing self-acceptance has always been easier said than done, especially while dating and navigating rejection. Below, we’ve talked to the experts for their advice on how to stay true (and kind) to yourself while swiping on Bumble.
Don’t try and be someone you’re not
Dating allows you to meet different kinds of people and try new things, but this can lead to the temptation to exaggerate your expertise or interests to impress the other person. Higgins believes practicing self-acceptance in these instances can lead to more meaningful connections, and help you stay authentic to yourself. When you know who you are and what your boundaries are, “it can give you the flexibility and willingness to hear someone else’s perspective—without it feeling like a threat to your own belief system,” she says. Maybe a Bumble match suggests meeting at a local gallery, but you don’t know much about art. Practicing self-acceptance means you can say yes to the date without feeling like you have to feign knowledge you don’t have. Show up relaxed, and enjoy doing something new!
Keep a growth mindset
Rejection is a part of dating, but it can be tricky to navigate without feeling self-critical or as though you need to improve yourself in some way. The key to avoiding these negative thoughts is to approach every ending with a growth mindset: “Not every relationship is meant to stick,” says Higgins. “Be kind to yourself and look at rejection as an opportunity for growth: ‘What did I learn about myself in this experience?’” By approaching the situation with curiosity rather than criticism, you put the focus on your own development and desires, which will help with future Bumble connections.
Combat negative experiences with positive ones
Sometimes negative experiences while dating can cause you to question your own self-worth. When this happens, try to combat these negative feelings with something positive. “If you experience a rejection that shakes your confidence, plan an activity that will help to build your self-acceptance,” says Krista Kircanski, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia. This could be making dinner plans with a friend who appreciates you, or taking a class in something you enjoy or have always wanted to try. By reminding yourself of your value and talent, you can buoy yourself up for a new Bumble connection.
Lean on internal validation
It can feel great when a new connection compliments you, but practicing self-acceptance means letting your own opinion matter most. “Maintaining self-acceptance is about separating yourself and your sense of self-worth from what other people think,” says Kircanski. While dating, that means resisting the urge to win someone else’s approval by catering to their perceived preferences. Elizabeth Marks, an associate therapist at Manhattan Wellness, says a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you felt after leaving a date, rather than wondering what the other person took away from the experience and what they thought about you. “When you’re in a space of self-acceptance you’ll think, ‘I was really interested in this person,’ or, ‘I had a really good time,’” says Marks.
Practicing self-acceptance while dating isn’t always easy, but with these tips you can hopefully be well on your way to making it a habit as you get to know new connections on Bumble. Staying true to yourself and your values can help increase your dating confidence and ultimately lead to the connections that are right for you.
*Research was conducted by Bumble using internal polling between September 21st–26th 2023 with a sample of 26,849 Bumble members in 20+ countries around the world.