By the time a man sees you naked, he already desires you and is more focused on enjoyment than criticizing you. Many women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are judgmental (which I surmise is often just a projection), where, of course, men are just likely to be grateful.

How can you expect anyone else to love you if you don’t love yourself? Building confidence and self-worth may be the hardest and most complicated part of attitude adjustment, but it’s also the most rewarding. If you can do it for yourself, that won’t be a draining job left to your mate. You want him to focus on simply loving you, not struggling to love you enough to make up for the fact that you don’t love yourself enough and are uncomfortable in your own skin. Try the five changes below to strengthen your self-image:

1. Get Moving

Setting and reaching even small goals, like running for ten minutes without stopping, can help you gain confidence. This step can also help you increase positive feelings about your body – even if no change has occurred. Need more proof of why this step works? Here you go:

  • Working out releases endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals.
    • Joining a running club, hiking group, or recreational sports league is a great way to meet new people (including potential dates and date-hunting buddies).
  • Numerous studies have shown that exercise increases sex drive – some say up to 100 percent. You may not want to – or be able to – use that info now, but hopefully you will soon.
  • Just do it. You don’t need to sign up for a marathon tomorrow, or even a half marathon. But small changes in your activity level can mean big changes in mood and attitude. An evening walk three times a week, parking at the furthest corner of a parking lot, or signing up for a group fitness class – any motion beats being sedentary. If you’re worried you won’t stick with it, pick something you really like and do it with people you enjoy. Put this on your calendar: Get up, get out and do something – anything.

2. Bottoms Up

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is good for more than just your health. Dehydration makes you cranky, is bad for your complexion, and can make you overly hungry. Everybody feels better when they’re hydrated, and it’s great for your skin, hair, and plumbing. If that’s not reason enough: dehydration can cause bad breath and that’s the last thing you need while dating or being in a relationship – don’t blow him away.

3. Watch What You Eat

Whether or not you are what you eat, you will look like it. So eat mostly fresh, healthy foods that satisfy you, and only eat when you are hungry. What you do and don’t put into your body can have a huge impact on your mood. While foods like chocolate and pasta can give you immediate and short-lived feelings of satisfaction, too many simple carbohydrates can make you feel groggy and grumpy in the long run.

Protein, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables and fewer simple carbohydrates will give you more energy. And if you don’t already, take a multivitamin that’s appropriate for your age and medical conditions.

4. Work on Your Self-Image

People with a fear of abandonment have to fight a lot harder to truly believe they’re a prize and worth unconditional love. If you have a lot of fear, you might need to spend extra time working on building your confidence and self-worth. And that’s okay.

Make a concerted effort to stray out of your comfort zone, or even go for a calculated risk. Wear something daring, flirt as though you were the best-looking woman in the room, and assume that exactly how you are right now is the greatest. Fake it ‘til you make it and some of your fear will slowly but surely melt away. Be bold: beauty may only be skin deep, but fabulous is forever.

5. Forgive Your Mistakes & Learn from Them

Everyone makes mistakes. And I do mean everyone. Luckily, character is not measured by mistakes made, but how you handle them. If you can accept that you will be making mistakes, learn from them, and move on – you’ll be much better off not only in your love life, but in all areas of your life.

So you went on a few too many dates with the wrong person? Learn how to spot a keeper faster the next time. You wore an unflattering dress on a first date and worried about him not liking your body? Pick one winning outfit to wear on every first date and another great one for second dates. Then you can forget about the impression you are making and instead concentrate on having a good time. You got into a relationship too quickly and stayed with him months or even years too long? Turn it into something positive: it made you absolutely sure of what you don’t want out of your next match. And guess what? You served your time. Letting someone overstay their welcome can be a common mistake that you won’t keep repeating.

Jenny’s Story

Jenny, a lovely and lively woman with a few extra pounds and average looks, was talking to a nice guy, Dwayne, at a singles mixer, when her friend Alicia walked by. Dwayne followed the tall bombshell, Alicia, with his eyes briefly, and then returned his full attention to Jenny. But instead of focusing on the fact that she again had Dwayne’s attention, she decided she could never compete with Alicia and withdrew from the competition by curtailing their conversation. Jenny played it safe and chatted with the friends she had brought for the rest of the evening. Dwayne never approached Alicia and he assumed Jenny was not interested. Jenny had let her negative thoughts rule her actions and ruin her chances for what might have been a potential future with Dwayne.

Note to self: Just because you believe you are less attractive doesn’t mean it’s true. And yes, it’s rude when a man stares at a good-looking woman while standing with you. We can all agree that well-disguised peripheral vision in a man is always preferred, but a look doesn’t have to throw you. A look is not a buy!

Start practicing all of the above steps now to make yourself the best version of you possible, but in the meantime, life is worth living. Don’t waste time on self-recrimination. Focus on how great you are right now, as is. A lot of wonderful opportunities can happen when you aren’t sitting around waiting to be perfect.

Click here for a complete list of all Dr. Janet Blair Page’s articles.
Dr. Janet Page is a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years in NYC and Atlanta, and taught for 22 years at Emory University. As the author of “Get Married This Year,” she speaks to audiences around the country about keeping love alive and finding your mate. Click here for more information on her practice, seminars, and events.
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