You’ve download the dating apps. You work up the courage to ask so-and-so out. You’re becoming the best version of yourself and you’re ready to share that with someone else. You’re trying. You’re putting yourself out there, and that’s something to be proud of. At least you’re not playing scared.
Maybe you’ve been on countless first dates, and can’t get to a second, and you’re wondering what gives? Perhaps your dating experience is miserable, and you’re asking yourself, wait, people do this for fun?
Dating can be tough. It takes up a lot of energy and effort, and no one likes to be rejected, ghosted, or waste time. Wanting to love someone is part of our biology. This is how we’ve evolved, and how we’re conditioned. It’s normal.
Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s them, maybe it’s just bad timing. It’s always wise to take personal accountability and take an honest look at how you are showing up when it comes to love.
Sometimes, in fact, it’s best to take a step back and consult the experts. If you’re looking for lasting love, make sure you’re not making one of these six dating mistakes:
1. Getting Too Excited Too Soon
It is never in my interest to rain on someones parade. In fact, I’ll throw candy, paint faces, and and “woohoo” with the best of them. Being excited and enjoying the fluttery feelings of a new crush IS exciting and it’s perfectly ok to enjoy that! However, if you find yourself imaging marriage and babies with someone you went on two dates with, slow your roll. Think about all the other people you thought you’d end up with and well, look how that turned out. No offense, and hey, same.
As sex therapist and author of Love Worth Making, Dr. Stephan Snyder says don’t “assume that the sudden, shocking thrill of new intimacy means you’re meant to be together for life…In order to know that, you’ll need to see how good the two of you are at managing disappointments,”
It takes a long time to really know someone, so don’t go marrying them in your head after a month of dating. Let things unfold slowly. Get to know your date. Wait and see if who they are with you is consistent with who they are with their family, friends, servers, clerks, or when some shit hits the fan. Wait and discover who they are when it’s time to have a difficult conversation or set a boundary. Take your time because it takes time. You can’t rush real intimacy or trust, whether that’s with friends or lovers.
Your date doesn’t need to know your sisters struggles with crack addiction, that your brother was in a gang, or about any of your childhood traumas on the first date. Perhaps, eventually, these things will come up, but there is no reason to spill your tell-all memoir on a first, second, or even third date.
I’m not suggesting you hide parts of yourself, and obviously, every relationship will be different, but when we share too much too soon, we create a false sense of intimacy and rush past the time, consistency, and trust that it takes to build real, lasting intimacy.
Oversharing is sometimes an attempt to rush a relationship, but rushing usually creates sloppy results.
Ask yourself why you feel the need to divulge so much about yourself so soon. Understand and accept that most of us have trauma and troubling aspects from our past. You don’t have to write them in on your “Hello, My Name is” name tag. Again, allow yourself to open up slowly as you learn to trust people.
As shame and vulnerability expert Dr. Brené Brown suggests, before you share vulnerable information with someone, ask yourself what has this person done to earn it, and are they even ready for it?
Maybe you feel like your past is a deal breaker and you want to “get it out of the way.” Understand this can be a lot for a new person to take on, and can feel like a bit of an ambush for the receiving party. Work your way up to heavier topics, and learn to read the room. It’s always wise to ask permission before sharing personal information.
3. Trying to Impress the Other Person
Obviously, we want to put our best foot forward in love, and that’s great. I recommend it.
Ask yourself, though, if you rattle off all of your proudest accomplishments and most impressive skills on a first date? Do you have heroic stories up your sleeve designed to impress your date? You may benefit from holding back. It’s lovely to be proud of who you are. Ask yourself if you can strike a balance.
Excessive bragging is often a turn off and red flag for others, especially in a day and age where people are on the lookout for narcissism. In one study, participants rated the profiles of people with more “self selective” information, (AKA more boastful) were seen as less attractive and less trustworthy.
So now you know- humility is hot. Let your actions do the impressing. It’s better and MORE impressive in the long run to save some of your shining qualities for later, when the rose colored glasses come off. Restraint is sexy, allow yourself to slowly reveal your many redeeming (and less-than-redeeming) qualities.
Let someone be surprised and delighted as they get to know the many facets of your personality. Save some for later.
4. Expecting Love to Solve Your Problems
It’s never fair to put that much pressure on someone or something. Don’t enter the dating world convinced that love is going to solve all your problems. Love is a wonderful thing, indeed, but life will continue to knock you around with or without it, so don’t lose sight of that.
Don’t go searching for someone to fill you up. You need to learn to fill yourself up first to have a happy life.
Be honest with yourself about the last time you found love. You still had to deal with bills, difficult people, disagreements, chores, pandemics, and everything else life has up her sleeve.
Whether they admit it to you or not, your taken friends are sometimes envious of your single life, your freedom to watch and eat whatever you like, and having a whole closet to yourself, just as you are sometimes envious of their partnerships, and having someone to cuddle up with at night.
Esther Perel, psychotherapist, and author explains, “we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition, I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot… So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide.”
We’ve become conditioned to expect one person to fulfill all of our needs that should really be met by ourselves and a rainbow of other people and outlets. We have to remember that our partners are one piece of our lives, not the whole pie.
Enjoy your single life while it lasts, because it usually doesn’t and one day, you might miss it.
5. Changing Who You Are or Lowering Your Standards
You might think it’s a good idea to shape shift and pretend to like all the things your date likes to “trick” them into liking you, but here’s the kicker… that’s not them liking you! That’s them liking a performance you’re putting on. The performance is going to tire you out, and it won’t last forever, so stop wasting both of your time and show up as the real you from the start.
Some standards, like: over 6′ tall, Instagram model, multiple six figure income, green eyes, can be tossed out, but don’t budge on things like ambition, integrity, consistency, and shared values.
People can change, sure, but only if they want to. A big part of dating and relationships in general is accepting people for exactly who they are, and not who they could be. Fall in love with people, not potential. When you show up authentically from the get-go, you both know what you’re signing up for.
Research shows that while people whose standards are met in relationships are happier and more satisfied, people are sometimes willing to overlook their deal breakers to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Don’t change who you are, or lower your standards to avoid hurting someones feelings. The truth, or dissatisfaction, will come out eventually. Hold out for the relationship where both of your standards are met for more satisfaction in the long run.
Of course, it’s tough to walk away from someone when you’re attracted to each other, because that doesn’t happen every day, but attraction alone does not make for long term, satisfying relationships.
The people who belong in your life are people who love and accept and “get” the real you, and people with whom you have shared values. If you have to dumb yourself down, hide your interests, look away from red flags or deal breakers, and constantly bite your tongue, take it as a sign the other person is simply not your match, and that’s ok. Most people won’t be your match. You will be able to be your full, unabashed self with your real matches.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve made some of these mistakes. You are human, these are very human things to do, and we’ve all been there. Understand that real, lasting love requires trust, intimacy, and shared values, and those things take time to build and discover.
Take your power back, understand you have a lot to offer the right person, and trust that wherever you are in your love life, you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.