Have you ever put thought into what it means to like yourself? What if I told you that how much you like yourself is the key to finding the guy or girl of your dreams…or ending up with a douche bag?
Self-Enhancement vs. Self-Consistency
According to Ali Binazir, author of The Tao of Dating, one big reason why women get into and stay in bad relationships is because of their self-concept (beliefs and judgements) and self-esteem. When we’re in a relationship, our self-concept will do two things. It will first try to seek feedback from others that enhance the self-concept, then it will try to find outside feedback that is consistent with the self-concept.
Enhancing our self-concept is easy to understand. Most people love to get compliments and positive feedback that make us feel good about ourselves. Consistency is where it gets complicated. We all have a strong need to make the world we live in fit with our beliefs. It helps make life predictable and without it, can make life confusing and chaotic.
If you like yourself, then the positive feedback and compliments from others make you feel good and will match your self-concept. If people are telling you that you’re awesome and you actually believe you’re awesome, then everything in the world is going just fine.
The problem is if you don’t like yourself very much. When this happens, you’ll still enjoy receiving compliments and praises from others at first. However, once given the opportunity to think about it, people who don’t like themselves very much will come to mistrust the positive feedback from others and feel the praises are inauthentic.
For long-term committed relationships to succeed, self-consistency becomes more important than self-enhancement. If a person has good self-esteem, she will gravitate toward others who value her and will be more likely to stay with those people.
But if a woman holds a negative self-concept, she will initially appreciate the positive feedback she receives but eventually her low self-esteem will be so strong that she will begin to feel mistrustful of the positive feedback. “He can’t really think I’m awesome so what’s wrong with him?”
This is part of the reason why women end up in long-term relationships with men who treat them poorly. It’s not because they’re not thinking straight, they just ended up with men who matched their negative self-concept.
Investment vs. Sunk Costs
Another major reason why women stay in bad relationships has to do with their misunderstanding of investment. It’s similar to why casinos make so much money from slot machines. People think that because they have kept putting money into a slot machine, it is an investment that will increase their chances of a big pay out. The truth is that whether you put in 1 coin or 1,000 coins the most likely result is still nothing.
This phenomenon is called sunk costs and the human mind has a hard time understanding it. The first several coins that were dropped into the machine are gone forever and play no role on your future outcome. Unfortunately, people commonly mistake these sunk costs as investments which has the expectation of a future reward that matches what has already been put in. Sunk costs, however, are just lost for good.
In the context of relationships, this plays out when the partner offended in a bad relationship thinks that she has invested years of her life into dating a douche bag so she just can’t throw that investment away. And maybe with all her efforts, he’ll change and therefore reward her with the jackpot she’s been working so hard for all this time.
The sad news is that the time put into a bad relationship is gone forever. No one will be able to give her back the years that she lost to a jerk. Just like with gambling, her best bet when she realizes she’s in a sunk cost situation is to cut her losses by getting up and walking away. The sooner a woman leaves a jerk, the sooner she can open up her life to someone new who can help give her the fulfillment she seeks.
First and foremost, you need to like yourself. It is the key to finding a partner who is most likely to give you a satisfying long-term commitment. If you don’t like yourself, you’re at high risk of a pattern of dating jerks who fulfill your negative opinions of yourself and you won’t find the happiness you’re looking for.
For more information on this topic, check out Ali Binazir’s book, The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible