Don’t Be Fooled Into Thinking That You’re Not ‘Good Enough’ to Date

Dont Be Fooled Into Thinking That Youre Not ‘Good Enough to Date
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The other day, I was tapping in my code for the gym when a guy introduced himself on his way out. I thought he must be asking me for directions or something because I looked like shit. I was wearing this puffer coat my ex stole from a club that has white paint splattered all over it. I did have a cute green gym set on, but he couldn’t see that. My face was puffy from a bad night’s sleep. I was still wearing my bike helmet. He wasn’t asking for directions, though; he was chatting me up.

“I’ve seen you around,” he said. “I wanted to say hi, but I didn’t want to put you off your workout.”

I gave him my number and then turned to walk through the doors—or tried to. We’d been speaking for long enough that they closed on me and I had to yank myself back out. 

“Sorry,” he said, “that’s my fault.”

I was bright red.

Part of me loved what had just happened. I walked around the gym like that meme of Kylie Jenner where she’s strutting off a private jet, tucking her hair behind her ear. Another part of me felt exposed, like I’d been caught at the wrong time. I wanted to tell him, “Wait, I can do better—I’m not ready yet!”

This is how I’ve felt about a lot of encounters with men recently. I ignore their messages. Dumb ones, like when a friend sent me a video of a guy holding up a sign that says: “Send this to someone you want to sit on your face.” And normal ones, like when a guy I got with after a night out texted me asking if I got home safely. Hinge stays deleted. I keep setting myself these deadlines—promising I’ll put myself out there again when my skin clears, when I’ve gotten back into a gym routine, when I’ve gotten rid of the peach fuzz on my face, whitened my teeth, written more words, when I’ve gotten better at communication, when I’m not so tired, when I’ve reached the bottom of my to-do list. 

I recognized the flaw in this thinking after speaking to that guy. I’m treating attraction as if it were something logical, as if the better you are, the more likely you are to meet people you’re into, which I guess should be true, but isn’t always. I can’t be the only one who’s looked at old pictures of themselves and wondered how the hell anyone fancied my younger self. I have all this glittery eye make-up, my hair is thin from bleaching, my lips are dry, my eyebrows are too dark, and yet I was meeting loads of people. How hot or interesting you are has much less correlation with how well your romantic life goes than we think it does. In fact, believing that it does can hem us in, close us off, turn us away from good things as they land in our laps.

This is frustrating to admit, because it reveals that so much of what we do to better ourselves is pointless. No one will ever really care how often you go to the gym, how good your skin looks after a course of microneedling. That can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

The thing is, we don’t find people sexy just because they’re good at everything. We find all the things that are wrong with them hot, too: the creases around their eyes, how grumpy they get when they don’t get their own way, the redness around their nails where they’ve bitten off all the skin. I grimaced when the gym door closed on me after that guy asked me out, but maybe it was cute—maybe it was like something that would happen to Jennifer Aniston in a rom-com. 

A couple of weeks ago, at an event for the Stack World, Mahima Razdan walked us through a guided meditation that really resonated with me. She told us that we are absolutely worthy and loveable, and that we come into the world knowing this. That’s why, when we’re babies, we cry to let our parents know what our needs are—fully expecting them to be met. Over the course of our lives, we lose touch with this inner knowledge, but there are ways to connect with it again so that we can feel with absolute certainty that we are enough and have always been enough. I came out of the meditation feeling lighter, more centered. My shoulders rolled back into their sockets. I looked people right in the eye.

I wanted to wait until I was “good enough” before I went on a date again because I thought that meant it would be more likely to go well, but “good enough” is not a static place. Once you reach the bottom of your self-improvement list, new things appear on it. Knowing more about politics, needing to boost the collagen in my skin. There’s no finish line; there’s always more to be done if you’re looking for something to “fix” about yourself, and what you consider to be good will change over time, too. I’ll start to hate the Pamela Anderson-ish baby bangs I cut into my hair. I’ll shave the ends of my eyebrows off, then miss when they had more of a shape. There’s no confirmation email, no moment of ascension, where I will spin out of myself, sparkling and waxed and ready for love. The goodness inside of us grows, it bends and flips, it might get bigger, but it was there all along. It just looked different.