Dating is a fickle beast-is it not? You have nearly as many how to books as you do bibles in just as many languages. Yet it seems that the landscape of dating has only gotten more convoluted and difficult! Do you Tinder or go for Match. Com? Do you lay your cards out on the table right away or do you hold them close to your chest. Who should text who and after how long from last speaking?
The thing that I have found both in my years of dating, though admittedly it was back in the stone age before Facebook, Twitter and the entire texting bit, but also professional experience is that there is no one size fits all guide on drawing them in or catching that fish. Everyone is unique and has different angles they are operating with. There are, however, a few things that I feel have earned the right to be called out as the things NOT to do.
These are a selection of things taken straight from the annals of my many moons coaching clients who are searching for love. While I tailored these towards dating the truth is they all tend to be deal breakers whether you are dating or in a committed relationship. While there is no surefire way to reel them in there certainly are things that will send them running for the hills.
1. Game Playing.
Oh yes! This is an important one I think for many of you! A client of mine recently explained that she could not let her guard down and show even a modicum of interest with her recent paramour because then there would be “no mystery”. Yet she was curious why he was slowly starting to distance himself from her. Well if you fail to show them you are interested at all they will eventually begin to think you aren’t and will find someone else who is more interested in them than they are games! Games seem to be this generation’s easy button for relationships. While games are fun in the short term take them too far and they will destroy any chance you have at developing an actual relationship with the person you are dating.
2. Playing your best Speedy Gonzales.
Just like a fine wine needs time to age so too does a good relationship. Trying to go from dating to exclusivity to ruminating on what you think your kids will look like is like tying a noose around the neck of whatever potential might exist between you two. I say might because the first several months to even a year or two of a relationship are really getting to know one another beyond just the potential you see between you two. No one is the truest self when they first begin dating; chances are we wouldn’t get a second date if we talked about our penchant for peeing with the door open or how we walk around our house singing aloud whatever we are doing in that very moment. We always put our best foot forward when we are “courting” and that is fine. But it does mean that we need to allow things time to evolve so that they begin to see us when we are not entirely coifed to perfection. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen made is getting so caught up in the destination that they destroy the journey.
3. Too much expectation.
We all want a man or woman who treats us well, respects us and makes us laugh, right? We want someone who makes us feel good and doesn’t leave us feeling deflated or otherwise defeated. The issue is not having standards but having expectations that make it nearly impossible for anyone to meet and satisfy them. If you are continually running into walls and finding that your dates fail to evolve into more meaningful connections ask yourself where your expectations are. Are you expecting him to fill a void that you should be tending to yourself? Are you looking for love from a healed or wounded place? Are you getting turned off because he has a single hair out of place or fails to text you 50 times in an hour or respond to your texts within minutes because dare I say it he has a life of his own beyond you? Be sure that you are fair to him. The more fairness you show to others the more they will treat you in kind.
4. Ignoring red flags.
While we all try to show our best side when we first begin dating someone it’s important that we not view everything from rose colored glasses. If they say one thing yet do another chances are there is something amiss. If they are checking their phone when they should be interacting with you this is not a favorable sign. If they keep you a secret or treat you as though you are just a friend in front of people you run into yet you have shared a bed—pay attention. Do they start off with just one beer but then quickly devolve into a drunken mess leaving you to take care of them? Do they speak negatively about their ex or treat the waitress like garbage? These are all red flags that you should pay attention to. Do not mistake them as just idle banter or assume that their treatment of a waitress or clerk has no bearing on how they will treat you.
5. Not being honest about your needs.
I'm not suggesting that on the first date you explain how you are looking to get married this year and have your first child before the ending of the next-that would just be relationship suicide! I am however, asking you to honor your needs. If you are indeed looking for marriage and children and these are nonnegotiable but they go on and on about how those things are nowhere in their 5, 10 or even 20 year plan then it’s time for you to hit the pavement. Sometimes you meet someone and your love for them outweighs the desire for certain things and in that case that is fine. It is essential that you are certain of this because all too often when we let go of things that are important to us just because we would rather be with them than be alone we create a breeding ground for resentment. Furthermore do not think that just because they say they don’t want these things now that they will change their mind. Chances are you are not the exception to the rule. The important thing to do is communicate your needs and ask how certain they are of their stance. If they say they are certain, believe them.
6. Getting attached to potential.
I hinted at this one in an earlier point but it is important enough to warrant its own space. When we first meet someone who has captured our attention there is a wealth of potential that we begin to attach. We have a surge of all of these feel good hormones and suddenly the sky is the limit; there is nothing you two cannot do. And while this all may be true the fact is everything seems gorgeous from far away. It’s not until you get up close that you begin to see the cracks. Every connection needs time to evolve and reveal itself to each of you. If I had a dollar for every person who came to me because someone they swore was their soul mate no longer was interested in them I could retire today. The fact is if you have not spent at least a year together you have only a glimmer of an understanding of what is truly possible together. The qualities that make a lasting and stable relationship take time to cultivate and form. Before that time has been given the rule of thumb is to stay open and receptive but not attach yourself to what you think is possible.
7. You stop having fun.
I once worked with a woman who handled her relationships like they were business meetings. Everything was micromanaged and brought down to its barest element. Everything was dissected and controlled and there was little room for spontaneity or levity. I have worked with women who were so caught up in the fact that they were such and such years old and still not married with children that they didn’t realize they were approaching love with a stench of desperation so thick it choked people out. When you approach love and dating from the perspective of having fun, learning about yourself, others and just getting a chance to explore what is out there you are guaranteed to have a good time no matter whether it develops into a relationship or not.
Dating is supposed to be fun. Relationships, believe it or not, are supposed to be fun. They are meant to make you feel good. Even in the challenges, even when something hits a rough spot sometimes it just takes an instance of making the other laugh that can turn everything around. We have a tendency to make dating and relationships so much harder when we make dating about a destination. When we are approaching love from the wounded place of filling a void, fulfilling a desire, filling the other side of the bed we end up causing ourselves distress. We end up making poor decisions about who is allowed in our hearts and beds. We end up losing ourselves because we are so caught up in the work of dating and forgetting that half the fun is in everything that happens before the destination.
You can fret that things are hard, that the clock is ticking or that nothing seems to go right but your reality will always reflect your inner state. Who would you rather be with? Someone who is fun, lively and radiates a sense of contentment within themselves or someone who is constantly trying to rush matters fit a square peg in a round hole and otherwise forces something?
The more that you become the qualities you want to see in a person the more you will attract them in others.