Dating pitfalls are these little landmines that we plant in the early stages of a relationship.
Then, we forget about them... until one day in the future when they suddenly explode beneath our hearts.
The choices that you make early in a relationship create patterns that impact how the relationship develops. Of course, no one is suggesting that you have to follow outdated dating rules. In fact, those “rules” are often anti-feminist, hetero-centric, and irrelevant to modern-day dating.
Playing by their rules might not fit you. Therefore, they won’t help you win some game called "love."
On the other hand, we humans recreate patterns in our relationships. So, if we can avoid some of the most common dating pitfalls, then we can succeed in forming the authentic, lasting relationships that we truly desire.
Dating Pitfalls #1: Seeking Sparks
If you don’t immediately feel lust for a person, then do you stop seeing them after the first date? Or do you follow the rule that if you haven’t felt that connection by date three or five then you have to move on?
Instant chemistry is nice, and physical attraction is important. However, a true relationship is built on a foundation of greater character. The more you get to know and appreciate someone, the more attraction will develop.
Dating Pitfalls #2: Staying in a Haze of Booze
Many people enjoy cocktails during a first date. Unless you have a substance misuse issue, there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, it can be a mistake if all of a relationship’s early dates involve alcohol or other substances. You may feel like your most sparkling self with a few drinks in you, but ultimately you want a partner who appreciates you even before you’ve had your coffee, let alone your booze.
Dating Pitfalls #3: Instant Inseparability
Of course, it feels good to spend a whole weekend in bed together early in the relationship. However, spending too much time together early on can create a sense of false intimacy.
Instead, set clear boundaries so that you and anyone you're dating can take baby steps into authentic intimacy. Don’t worry! Those long weekends in bed together will feel even better when you’ve reached them naturally.
Dating Pitfalls #4: Constant Communication
We live in a world where it’s easy (and sometimes even feels necessary) to stay in constant contact. Even before you meet in real life, you might spend hours each day texting, sending Snaps, commenting on each other’s social media, and flirting with emojis. But this, too, can create false intimacy.
Yes, some level of contact during the day is appropriate and fun. However, limit that contact to banker’s hours. Remember to use the rest of your time to focus on things that excite you, other than this new relationship.
Dating Pitfalls #5: Hiding Your Strengths
Don’t dumb yourself down in order to impress a date. Many people make this mistake, although it seems to be particularly problematic for smart single women who primarily date men.
Even if you’ve broken out of gender stereotypes in other areas of your life, you may find yourself returning to them in dating. If you can’t be your authentic self with someone, then you probably don’t want the relationship you’ll have together.
Dating Pitfalls #6: Downloading Every Detail with Friends
Yes, our friends are there to help us hash through our emotions. Those who know us well can provide sound advice about our emerging relationships. However, it’s a mistake to go over every single detail of every date with a friend.
First of all, you need to trust your own gut. Therefore, it’s important that you spend time mulling over your feelings yourself before getting a second opinion. Second, if you constantly need that second opinion, then you might really need to work through your relationship concerns with a professional, not just a friend. And finally, you might discover that it’s nice to savor some of those early relationship experiences, keeping them just between you and your potential partner.
Dating Pitfalls #7: Not Knowing What You Want
How are you supposed to find the person you want to date if you don’t know what you’re looking for? Of course, you don’t want to be so picky that you rule out everyone. However, you do need to have a good idea of your expectations.
If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, do you have a sense of what you want when it comes to money, household responsibilities, children, work, and other life goals? No one expects you to have all of the answers, but if you don’t have at least a few of them, then you may end up following your partner on a journey you never wanted.
Dating Pitfalls #8: Dating Before You Are Ready
Maybe you just got out of a divorce and are on the rebound. Or perhaps you haven’t yet disclosed your sexual orientation and are dating on the down-low. There are many reasons that people choose to date before they are emotionally and psychologically ready to get into a relationship.
Short flings might satisfy needs in the moment. However, if you want dating success, then you should take the time to do your own emotional work even if it runs parallel to your exploration of the dating scene.
Dating Pitfalls #9: Repeating Old Patterns
Most of us have attachment wounds. Moreover, we let those wounds dictate who we are attracted to. If you find yourself going on dates with people who remind you of your ex, then it’s time to pause. The same goes for if you’re on a date and think, “Huh, this person reminds me of my parent.” It’s time to take a breath.
These people aren’t necessarily wrong for you. But if those types of relationships didn’t work in the past, then you might want to look at what’s making you attracted to them now.
Dating Pitfalls #10: Ignoring Red Flags
We all see them. We all ignore them. It’s always a mistake!
Dating and relationships are challenging aspects of life. That's why professional support can be invaluable. Learn about how therapy can help here.