Why you should stop selling yourself short in dating

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I remember the first time that someone implied that my intellect was undesirable – I was in high school, discussing drama with my classmates. I had some pretty strong opinions on the play that we were presenting and I wasn’t shy about vocalising them. The boy I liked was seated next to me and after I’d finished voicing my opinion, he looked at me and said “No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend”.

In my teenage brain, it made sense. Was I too “brainy” to date? I so desperately wanted him to like me and so the more time I spent with him, the more I suppressed my opinions, thoughts and knowledge. I purposefully pretended not to know things so that I could “learn” them from him. He began to warm to me – it seemed that I was far more likeable when I dumbed myself down.

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I kept up this pattern across several relationships. I pretended to be ditzy, bubbly, airy and vacant, as so many women’s magazines had been telling me to do. “Don’t talk about your ambitions”,  “Never correct your guy when he’s wrong,” and “Always let him be your intellectual superior” were the key takeaways. The feminist in me wanted to scream, but the hopeless romantic in me wanted to do whatever it took to get the guy, and as far as I could tell, dumbing myself down was just what I had to do.

“Guys always want the bimbo,” my girlfriends and I would lament.

And be the bimbo is exactly what I did for far too long. I let boyfriends who were far from my intellectual equals believe that they were infinitely superior; I built up the mental prowess of every guy who gave me the time of day at the expense of my own intellectual worth. I worried that their egos wouldn’t be able to handle the fact that they were dating an intelligent woman. After all, they didn’t start dating me for being smart and ambitious and driven – they started dating me because I made them feel smart and looked good on their arm.

All that ever achieved was ensuring that I dated people that were completely wrong for me.

There were times in these relationships where I let parts of the real me slip; corrected partners on misinformation or voiced my fairly strong opinions. Experience taught me that this didn’t work in my favour – at the time, I assumed that this was because a strong and smart woman was undesirable.

But it wasn’t me that was the problem – it was who I was pretending to be. Hindsight is a powerful thing.

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I never felt intellectually satisfied in any of these relationships, and bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t seem to find a guy who respected me for more than just my appearance. Then it hit me – I’d never tried putting myself out there including my intellect. I’d taught myself to keep it hidden away like a shoebox of forbidden memories in the back of a closet.

I didn’t want to date someone who couldn’t handle the real me. I didn’t want to just be arm candy. I didn’t want my purpose as a partner to be making my partner feel like they’re superior to me. I wanted someone who wanted all of me; confidence, intelligence, weird hobbies and useless trivia included.

Fed up with my woeful romantic endeavours, I stopped dumbing myself down. When I joined eharmony in 2010 and filled out my profile, it was the first time that I’d really put all of myself out there. I’m not going to lie – it was a little scary. I caught myself out multiple times backspacing over my hobbies, interests and qualifications, telling myself that I might scare people off.

If I’m honest, I probably did scare some people off – I was no longer concerned with appealing to every guy, so there were bound to be some people that weren’t wholly on board with everything that I was. And for the first time, I was okay with that.

To finally stop selling myself short was liberating and to my delight, the people I was matched with all shared similar interests and life goals.

The man that wasn’t scared off? He was my number 1 match. He respected me for my opinions and knowledge and accepted even the strangest and most flawed parts of me. After 4 wonderful years together, we’re now happily engaged and planning the rest of our lives together.

At the end of the day, you’ll attract the type of person that you try to attract. If you pretend to be something that you’re not, the person that you’re dating will ultimately expect you to be that fake person for the entire relationship, and is likely to be disappointed when the “real” you happens to emerge. The major flaw in the plan is that you’re diminishing your own needs in the relationship.

Don’t focus on what they want; focus on what you want. Acknowledge what makes you a great catch and don’t be ashamed of your selling points.

Sure, it might scare some people off, but it will also be what attracts the right person.

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Have you sold yourself short before? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.


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