Whether trying to meet someone organically or off a dating app, dating is hard. Many of us do not put ourselves out there. People can be jerks, especially when meeting for the first time off of a dating app. And if they aren’t jerks, then they can be outright weirdos. Ever been racially discriminated against or fetishized by someone from a dating app? It can leave you feeling all sorts of mixed emotions. I’ve had people blatantly tell me they want to get to know me because I’m a minority. It’s so weird and off-putting. How about you get to know me because I’m cool and funny, and not because both my parents are immigrants?
Protecting your mental health while dating is as important as putting yourself out there. You have to protect your peace.
Constant rejection and insecurities are demoralizing, especially over an extended period. If all you have dealt with is rejection or people’s weird passive-aggressive “you’re not what I thought you’d be” while eyeing you up and down, you might find yourself lost and hopeless in the dating hellscape. One thing to keep in mind is that all of those mean comments and rejections are on the other person and not you. Granted, keeping that perspective in the front of your mind is easier said than done. A great way to overcome a negative self-image is to do daily affirmations. Looking in the mirror and saying all the great things about yourself out loud feels SO AWKWARD at first. Over time it feels less weird to be nice to yourself, and you start to believe the words. Don’t let someone ruin your self-esteem.
And on the hard days, write yourself a little note of affirmations. Write a love letter to yourself about everything you love about yourself. If you can find self-value on your own, then it can spark a bit of confidence even in your lowest moments. And remember not to personalize rejection, and don’t let yourself mentally spiral.
Dealing With Fetishization
I have seen some of my closest friends deal with being fetishized on more than one occasion. I grew up in South Florida, so many of my friends are tan or darker-skinned individuals with varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, but there is always some weird creepy guy who makes the things that make my friends hot feel icky. For example, you shouldn’t touch a black woman’s hair because you have straight blonde hair and are “so curious” about what it feels like or comment on my friend’s “really big ethnic butt.” (Yes, that is an actual phrase someone said to a friend in front of ten of us.) Some individuals stopped seeing people as people only view them and their characteristics in some weird sexual dream on their bingo card.
Fetishization isn’t necessarily strictly sexual and can come across when someone calls you “exotic” or says they are “really into brown people.” It’s heavily based on some sort of racial stereotype and is completely up to you if you want to interact with the person saying those things. Although, it doesn’t feel great to be systematically judged because you’re brown. When it comes down to figuring out if this person is worth dealing with, you must find your level of comfort with it all. Are you okay with being fetishized, and to what degree? There’s no wrong answer; it’s different for every person.
Dating Again After Getting Burned
Most of us have been burned by an ex. Getting over bad experiences in dating and relationships is scary. And the even scarier thing is that it’s entirely possible to get burned again. When starting to date again, remember to ask yourself if you’re resilient enough to handle rejection or a bad experience. It might not happen. If you do get burned and you’re not ready for it, you are putting yourself in a position where you will get hurt. The best thing you can do is set boundaries. Identify your specific anxiety triggers to see the signs before anything catastrophic happens. Setting boundaries will protect you. Knowing how to read the red flags lets you see the trainwreck before it happens.
And don’t forget, despite all the weirdos and walking red flags, dating is fun, or it should be, so remember to have fun and have a good time.