The importance of loving yourself

red love heart with 'the one' in it

The first instalment of our Time to Shine Online Dating series deals with the importance of self-love.

red love heart with 'the one' in itIn all my years’ experience of online dating, I found that the most successful and indeed enjoyable times were when my levels of self-love were at their peak. This is what I call immense self-love.

I am talking about that level of confidence within yourself when you feel ready to take on the world no matter what. I am talking about when you feel comfortable and relaxed in your own skin and feel downright happy with who you are every minute of the day. Have you noticed just how darned attractive these people are?

Everyone is drawn to them and wants to be around them, even be them. It’s not about looks, clothes, youth, money, status or any of those things. It’s about attitude, self-belief and self-confidence.

This is great news, because it levels up the playing field; any one of you can work on your self-love and supersize it to the highest levels. I’m not saying it will be easy – it will require a little (maybe in some cases a lot of) effort and you also need to keep working at it to hang on to it. But believe me, it’s going to be your smartest asset in your search for love online.

Why is immense self-love so important?

Firstly, people who have plenty of self-love are absolutely THE most attractive people on the planet. They exude charm and confidence and attract people from all walks of life. In other words, they are just the sort of people you would love to meet on a date, aren’t they?

This is what I want for you. If you are feeling high levels of self-love you will attract people more easily and you’ll certainly be having a much better time no matter what the outcome of the dates. I want you to be channelling the best version of you before you start your online dating journey.

Secondly, it will also ensure you can handle the slightly crazy, virtual world of online dating, because, let’s not beat around the bush here, you will most likely meet some unusual characters along the way.

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It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s much harder to get the measure of people online without the usual signals you pick up in real life. I will give you some tips on how to manage this in the weeks to come. To navigate this virtual/online world, it really helps if you are happy and confident about who you are, that way you won’t let any odd or bad behaviour, criticism or rejection throw you off course.

Finally, and crucially, a healthy dose of self-love will ensure you can handle all the situations related to going on the actual dates themselves, including the four outcomes of a date, as explained below.

The four outcomes of dating

When I was online dating, I gradually came to the realisation that for each first date there were four possible outcomes and only one of these would be a truly positive one.

Once I realised this, I didn’t get nearly so upset when dates didn’t work out. And yes, the more self-love you have, the easier it is to handle the less positive outcomes with grace, humour and, indeed, sanity.

1. You like them, they like you

Whoa, this is the holy grail of first dates. This is the outcome we are all rooting for – you, your mum, your best mate and hopefully your date.

2. You like them, they don’t like you

Ouch – the outcome we all dread and probably the worst type of date.

3. You don’t like them, they don’t like you

Ok, you’re relieved, the feeling is mutual. But let’s be honest here, you may still go away feeling the rejection.

4. You don’t like them, they like you

This isn’t great either – no one likes to be the ‘dumper’, but you’ve got to do the decent thing, and the earlier the better.

How good do you feel about you right now?

Do you already have immense self-love or do you have a bit of work to do? I want you to take a minute and score yourself out of 10 on how much self-love you have right now.

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= you are feeling very down on yourself and are secretly thinking that you’re never going to find love again and the idea of online dating sounds like a nightmare

10 = you are absolutely firing on all cylinders, feeling on top of the world, amazing and fantastic and can’t wait to get started.

How did you do? OK, well I want you to be at 7 or above before you start dating.

Mini exercise – fabulous me

For those of you who might have forgotten how fabulous you are, I want you to take a couple of minutes to do this mini exercise, ‘fabulous me’. It should come from the gut and heart not the head, so you don’t need to spend more than a couple of minutes on each part.

a) Write down 10 qualities that you absolutely love about yourself

Don’t worry about feeling big headed or anything, just don’t think too hard and go for it. Generous, thoughtful, calm in a crisis, funny, supportive to friends…

b) Write down 10 things that you are fantastic at doing

Again just jot them down quickly. Cooking, running, blogging, creative writing, project management, organising diaries…

c) Write down 10 of your best achievements

Awards from school or college, fantastic successes at work, that time you did a radio interview…

d) When someone dates me they can expect…

Note down the benefits people will get from dating you. Amazing home-cooked meals, interesting conversations, a sympathetic ear…

e) And they will be surprised and delighted by…

Note down here one or two final things that might be a hidden talent or unusual quirk. Qualified reflexologist offering outstanding foot massages, pottery extraordinaire…

How did you do? Was that easy or difficult to complete? Now that you’ve done it, reread what you have written and take time to appreciate how fabulous you are. Are you starting to feel in a positive mindset?

Please hang on to what you have written as it will come in useful when you come to writing your online dating profile, which we will come to soon.

One last crucial thing

Before I finish today, I want to share with you the one big thing I learned that gives me immense self-love. Someone once told me: ‘Saskia, learn to be your own best friend, then dream big, work hard and you will achieve everything you set out to achieve in your life.’

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That critical piece of advice, learn to be your own best friend, has done me well. If you’re trying to love yourself, love others and live your life but you are forever being ambushed by that critical inner voice (you know the one), then you might as well give up here and now in finding and maintaining a successful relationship.

Learn how to master your inner critic and turn it into your own best friend and you will be able to take on the world.


Firstly, I would like you to monitor and take note of your negative, inner critic. Then stop it in its tracks and turn what it says on its head. Befriend it and turn it into your own inner best friend. I want you to practise this all week. How good do you feel? Note it down.

Secondly, monitor the language you use about yourself. It’s not just your thoughts that can sabotage your efforts but what you say as well. This tells others exactly how much you do or don’t value yourself.

For example, when you call someone on the phone do you say ‘It’s only me’? Why ‘only’ you? It’s you in all your fabulous gloriousness. That person is lucky to be getting a call from you.

Notice what you are saying and aim to make your language positive. Remember, you are now your own best friend; you need to act like one. Avoid saying any of the following or similar:

It’s not my day today
I got it wrong again
I never get that right
I’m always late for meetings
I always say the wrong thing
Why do I always burn the dinner?
Why can’t I just meet the deadline?

See how you get on this week and I look forward to continuing the journey with you in the next part.


Back to Time to Shine Online Dating series:


Saskia Nelson

About Saskia Nelson

Saskia Nelson is London’s one and only dating photographer. She supports men and women to find love at all stages of their lives by working with them to create some gorgeous images for their online dating profile and by running a blog, which provides practical online dating guidance. She learned a lot about online dating from her own personal experiences, in her long and bumpy, but ultimately successful, online search for love. Happily, she is now settled with her long-term partner (spotted on Guardian Soulmates) and has two stepchildren (who are awesome). She is passionate about helping London’s single people to shine online.