I went on a dating hiatus beginning in January 2017, when I decided to write a book on singleness. I have done a lot of self-reflection and research about single life and relational satisfaction over the past months. It’s given me time to intentionally think about dating, relationships, and what I will do differently. I have no major regrets, but there are always lessons to learn and ways to improve!
So, why am I sharing 5 mistakes I’ve made in dating? Because I think many people can relate! I am no perfect person. But, over-all, I’m generally a normal, healthy individual. And I believe these 5 mistakes are often committed by many other normal, quality, well-intentioned people who are simply trying to find love and make their relationships work.
So, without further-a-do, here are 5 dating mistakes I’ve made (somewhere between my teens and twenties). Perhaps you will identify yourself in some of these and make some changes too…
1) Being too available
We are often WAY too eager to keep our schedules open for someone we like. But here’s the truth: People are far more likely to find us attractive when our lives are full and our schedules rich with things and people we love!
Sometimes I used to say “yes” to guys who asked me out last-minute or waited until the last hour to arrange and commit to our time together. I was trying to be gracious; I was trying to let the man lead- two values instilled in me. I eventually realized that graciousness does not mean dismissing my standards. I acknowledged that I was worth someone’s focused and intentional efforts.
I started letting my schedule fill up when men failed to arrange a plan and commit to it. Like magic, those guys made sure to plan things well in advance with me the next time! They didn’t think I was being unreasonable or demanding; they actually seemed to like me and respect me more.
Men and Women: Give yourself permission to have and maintain your standards. Remember, your time and energy are not at someone else’s mercy. You can influence how someone treats you by what you will and will not accept.
2) Putting myself down
There are two key reasons why we criticize ourselves in front of those to whom we are attracted:
- We are trying to appear relatable, non-threatening, and approachable. We fear that they might otherwise be intimidated by our strengths and successes.
- We are fishing for affirmation and re-assurance to sooth our own insecurities.
Either way, people won’t be attracted to who we are when we continuously apologize for who we are. A lack of confidence and self-assurance looks good on no one. Embrace who you are, and walk in both humility and boldness.
3) Putting on a performance
Too often, we try too hard. We want to put our best foot forward. We meet someone and immediately try to keep our quirks and flaws out of sight. But with all this surface-level perfectionism, we lack the depth needed to make a real connection. We end up appearing uneasy, unrelaxed, and unnatural. When you continuously hide your problems and weaknesses from someone, then that person will likely feel unneeded, unnecessary, and like they have no way of contributing to your life. A person cannot envision how their strengths might relieve your weaknesses if you keep them from seeing your weaknesses!
4) Giving into the hype & peer-pressure
Your friends keep telling you to date this man or that woman. They are “ready for you to be happy.” All of your loved ones seem to be fond of the idea of you two together. But are you fond of the idea?
I made this mistake before- letting a budding relationship go on for too long because I got caught up in the surrounding excitement. After all, everyone loves a good love story! My friends were thrilled about us. We were the talk of our social circle! They just knew that we would end up together at some point! Therefore, I just let the whole thing drag on for several months longer than necessary. I knew he was not quite right for me, but I didn’t want to disappoint him and everyone else…
Sometimes, you need to silence all the voices and listen to your own gut. If the two of you end up together, YOU will be the one living with them every day for the rest of your life, not your friends or relatives.
5) Therapist-Dating, Missionary-Dating, & Sympathy-Dating
Basically, you justify dating this person because of what you have to offer. Perhaps you believe that you are the key to dramatically changing the course of their lives for the better.
I absolutely believe that two people can enrich and enhance each other’s lives through the unique strengths and abilities that both parties bring to the table. Two people can inspire one another to make small, positive changes and improvements in order to become better versions of themselves.
But make no mistake- You are not God. You cannot dramatically change someone’s core, their soul. Only He can. Just because you give someone your love, does not mean that you can give them your faith, your emotional health, your mental stability, and your successful habits. Character and maturity are not simply acquired by association. You can choose to love a person, but you cannot choose their inward thoughts and outward expectations. You may give someone your heart, but that does not mean that the contents within your heart will transfer to theirs.
I hope this helps give you some clarity if you too have made some of these 5 common, easy-to-make dating errors. These mistakes typically stem from good intentions, and they are often committed by quality individuals who are simply trying to move forward and make progress in their relationships.
Until Next Time,