13 Dating Mistakes Every One Makes And How To Avoid Them
The search for love is one of the most important activities we, as humans, engage in. Nothing expresses our humanity more than the need for deep connection and very few needs are quite as parallel from one human being to another. Very few things matter more to our health and happiness than our choice of a life partner.
Yet all too often, the search itself ends up being a bruising experience. What we anticipate to be a ‘trial-and-error’ process in which we learn as much about ourselves as we do about another person, becomes an ordeal. Why is that?
Nearly everything we have learned about dating is wrong. Dating is an inner game, but instead of searching from the inside out, we have been taught to approach it from the outside in, to accommodate ourselves to the mating market by making ourselves into something we’re not. It should be of no wonder why so many people are yearning for “authenticity” in their search.
The dating world can be a scary and confusing one to navigate. Here are a few mistakes most of us are guilty of that makes it even harder than it has to be:
1. We go into the date with the expectation it will turn into a relationship.
Rather than immediately looking at your date as a potential life partner, try looking at them as someone you might want to see again. Ask yourself: Do I enjoy hanging out with this person? Do I feel connected to him or her? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes,’ then remain hopeful for another date, not a wedding.
2. We are constantly waiting for the “until”
We often make the mistake of thinking those last 10 pounds we ought to lose, the degree we ought to get, the confidence we are working to obtain, the job we are hoping to land, or completion of the ‘getting over’ process from a previous relationship is necessary before we enter into the dating world. It’s okay to embrace your imperfections and in fact, this can be an integral part of achieving true confidence. There will always be another 10 pounds, a partially-healed heart, or an unfulfilled goal standing in your way. Rather than maintaining a ‘waiting until’ mindset, why not now? If you choose to put off the pursuit of a relationship ‘until all is right,’ you might find yourself waiting forever.
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3. We date for the outcome, not the process.
Rather than seeing dates that don’t turn into relationships as failures, try to view them each as unique experiences. Think of each as nothing more than an “exhibition date” for future dates or prep for a job interview. Be intentional about taking something away from the process of the date itself, and less the outcome.
4. We only use one avenue — we think online OR in-person
A lot of people think there has to be a choice between the two methods of dating — or that there are just two for that matter. Many act as if by going online will shut themselves off from the in-person dating world. By exploring both options, you are inevitably increasing your odds of finding a lasting connection. Accommodate both avenues by going to a party on Friday night and then spend your rainy Saturday afternoon drinking hot cocoa and checking your matches.
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5. We think people want us to talk about ourselves and entertain
You shouldn’t feel like you have to do a stand-up routine on your date, because let’s be honest, that can be incredibly stressful. It’s much easier to instead, ask your date questions like, “Wow, what was ____ like?” or “Can you tell me more about _____?” Express your interest and then allow them the floor to respond. Then, when it’s your time to share, you will feel a bit more open to letting your guard down and easing into the conversation now that both of you have now warmed up to each other’s company.
6. We let attachment issues determine to whom we are attracted
Society often inundates us with confusing messaging. We’re told to listen to our heart — but only if our heart isn’t directing us towards the wrong person. Allow your heart to be your guide, but don’t silence your mind. If you tend to be attracted to people who leave you feeling subordinated, judged, hurt, or invalidated, then there are likely attachment issues at play. The good news: you can work through it, but you might want to recruit the support of a counselor.
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7. We look for someone perfect on paper
We seek out the 6 foot tall, Ivy League-educated business owner, and then get disappointed when we realize they’re a psychopath. Instead of focusing on the boxes a date checks off, focus on how they make you feel. Sure, it’s important to know the things you want and the things you refuse to settle for, but if the other person is someone you should be with, the rest begin to line up over time.
8. We interpret rejection as a sign we’re undateable.
Dating can be thought of a lot like applying for jobs. Sometimes, the job is right for you, while others are the complete opposite. If we were to make the assumption that we are no longer hirable simply because we didn’t get the first job we applied for, we would likely never apply for a job again. This is an unfortunate philosophy many adopt when it comes to their dating life. Unfortunately, some people experience a single dating rejection and end up starving for intimacy and connection several years thereafter. Do not forget to remind yourself that even if you get rejected, it does not mean you are a reject. There are tons of people out there waiting to get to know you.
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9. Our vision of a date is dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Dating doesn’t have to look a certain way and it doesn’t have to be intimidating. A date can be as simple as grabbing a drink or a cup of coffee — perhaps even meeting them on your lunch break. Feeling outdoorsy? Try going for a walk, hike, or bike ride.
10. We assume coming across as perfect is to our benefit
But if I seem flawed, they won’t like me, right?! Wrong! In fact, by trying to seem perfect, you’re being inauthentic, which is never attractive. Not to mention, if your date is someone who likes this forced version of you, you will now have to keep up that same façade for the rest of your life. In other words, it’s better to just be yourself and admit you’re between jobs/fumbling through the dating scene/don’t eat gluten/sometimes skip your workout right off the bat.
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11. We wait for someone to come to us.
We believe that the person of our dreams is going to move in next door or sit next to us on a ski lift or airplane. Sure, it happens, but it has a better chance of happening if you’re not totally passive about the dating process. Let’s face it: you can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket first. So, that being said, the more tickets you buy, the better chance you have. And the even better news is that finding the person of your dreams is a whole lot more plausible than winning the lottery!
12. We don’t date multiple people
Though I might ruffle some feathers with this one, hear me out. Even if you’re into a person after a date or two, it should still be encouraged that you be open to other options while things are light. Why? Well, not only will this prevent you from attaching to the idea of being with that person before you’re both on the same page, but it will also make you more attractive to the person you’re going out with.
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13. We drop hobbies and other relationships for a person
Many of us are guilty in getting caught up in the excitement of a budding new relationship where we want to make ourselves available every night of the week. However, this can cause us to let other areas of fulfillment and meaning slide from our lives and can quell the interests, passions, and independence that likely drew the date to us in the first place. An easy way to avoid this from happening is to remain steadfast in the things that matter to you no matter the dates you attend and the people you meet. Rearrange priorities, but do not shift those most important to you so far down on the list that they are no longer given the time.
You are more than capable of establishing a healthy and sustainable romantic relationship, but there are necessary steps to take beforehand and a non-negotiable headspace to be in. Though these are relatable for most, there are always unique ways we get in our own way of happiness. Do not mediate your own opportunity to find true love.