Dating is rarely “easy,” but sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. Here are 13 mistakes people make when looking for love:
1. We go into a date expecting it to turn into a relationship
Instead of looking at your date as a potential life partner right off the bat, try to look at them as someone you might want to see again. Do I enjoy hanging out with this person? Do I feel connected? If the answer is yes, hope to have another date, not a wedding.
2. We wait “until,” before dating
We mistakenly think we ought to lose 10 pounds, finish school, become more confident, get a job, or get over a past relationship before we enter the dating world. But being OK with your imperfection is true confidence. There will probably always be another 10 pounds, a partially-healed heart, or an unfulfilled goal standing in your way. So if you keep “waiting until,” you may be waiting forever.
3. We date for the outcome, not the process
Instead of looking at dates that don’t turn into relationships as failures, try to view them as experiences. An “exhibition date” for future dates. Prep for a job interview. A great meal. A funny story. A lesson on uranium (true story). Try to take away something from the process of the date, not the outcome.
4. We only use one avenue — we think online OR in-person
A lot of my clients have told me, “Oh, I’d rather meet someone in person,” as if by going online they shut themselves off from the in-person dating world. Explore both options — you’ll only be increasing your odds of finding a lasting connection. You can go to a party on Friday night and spend your rainy Saturday afternoon drinking hot cocoa and checking your matches.
5. We look for someone perfect on paper
We seek out the 6+ foot, Ivy League-educated business owner, and 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.
6. We interpret rejection as a sign we’re undateable
Dating is a lot like applying for jobs. Sometimes, the job’s not right for you and sometimes you’re not right for it. If we were to assume that we’re not hirable because we didn’t get the first job we applied for, we’d never apply for a job again. Unfortunately, some people experience one dating rejection and end up starved for intimacy and connection for many years thereafter. Remind yourself that if you get rejected, it doesn’t mean you’re a reject. There are tons of other people out there just waiting to get to know you.
7. We envision a date as dinner at a fancy restaurant
Dating doesn’t have to look a certain way and it doesn’t have to be intimidating: Grab a drink or some coffee. Meet them on your lunch break. Go for a walk, hike or bike ride.
8. We assume coming across as perfect is to our benefit
But if I seem flawed, they won’t like me, right?! Wrong. By trying to seem perfect, you’re not being authentic, which isn’t attractive. Not to mention, If your date likes this forced version of you, you basically have to keep up a façade for the rest of your life. Better to just be yourself and admit you’re between jobs/fumbling through the dating scene/don’t eat gluten right off the bat.
9. We think people want us to talk about ourselves and entertain
If you feel like you have to do a stand-up routine on your date, that’s super stressful. It’s much easier to ask your date questions, and following them up with more questions, like “Wow, what was like like?” or, “Can you tell me more about it?”
10. We let attachment issues determine to whom you’re attracted
Society often inundates us with confusing messaging. We’re told to listen to our heart, unless our heart is directing us towards the wrong person. Let your heart be your guide, but let your mind have a say as well. If you tend to be attracted to people who leave you feeling subordinated, judged, hurt, or invalidated, there’s probably an attachment issue at play. The good news is that you can work through it, but you might want to recruit the support of a counselor.
11. We drop life/hobbies/other relationships for a person
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a budding new relationship and make yourself available every night of the week. Yet this causes us to let other areas of fulfillment and meaning slide from our lives and can quell our interest, passion, and independence that likely drew the date to us in the first place.
12. We don’t date multiple people
I might ruffle some feathers with this one, but hear me out. Even if you’re into a person after a date or two, I still encourage you to be open to other options while things are light. Not only will this prevent you from attaching to the idea of being with that person before you’re both on the same page, it will make you more attractive to the person you’re going out with.
13. 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. Hey, it happens, but it has a better chance of happening if you’re not totally passive about the dating process. You can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket first. The more tickets you buy, the better chance you have. And the great news? Finding the person of your dreams is a heck of a lot more plausible than winning the lottery!
For more tips on how to navigate the dating world to find the partner you’ve been looking for, check out my new course, How To Find True Love In A World Of Tinder & Texting.