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If you’re like most people, chances are that after going through a traumatic breakup such as a divorce, you want to get to the good stuff – i.e., having a romantic partner – right away. Kinda like there’s a huge hole in your heart and the only thing that can fill it is the loving attention from someone special – or at least that’s a common train of thought. And chances are you don’t really want to hear things like “you need to love yourself before you can love another”. Etc. etc.
If you’re like most people, you probably might believe something like “I don’t need all that personal development stuff – I’m lonely and I just want to meet the love of my life.”
The thing is, if you find yourself scoffing at the “Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready” phase of being single, it may come back to haunt you. If you intentionally (or unintentionally) choose to remain in the dark about who you are and how you show up in relationships, there’s a good possibility that if or when you FINALLY meet that special someone, you may fall into the 14 dating traps (see more HERE). Or you may be susceptible to making five whopping dating mistakes that will cause you to remain stuck and frustrated.
Here’s what I’m talking about … try to determine if you find yourself frequently making these mistakes.
Dating Whopper #1: You move too fast!
So let’s just say that you found someone that you are interested in romantically. Finding strong chemistry with someone is so exciting! I totally get that. That feeling is such a high and it often sends us sprinting into the Romantic Love stage of our Relationship Journey. We feel we’ve struck gold, and often start behaving as if this were the person with whom we will spend the rest of our lives.
We start making decisions that have us on the fast track to “forever.” But when the Romantic Love stage ends, the high wears off, we see what is actually real about the relationship, and often we’re shocked. Sometimes we’ve moved so fast and gone so far that it’s hugely painful to realize we’ve made a mistake and this isn’t quite the ideal relationship we thought it was.
What happens next is that you or your partner begin to become resentful and if you aren’t careful, you may start acting snarky or even worse, cruelly.
Dating Whopper #2: You edit or change yourself to “fit” with your new love interest.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the euphoria of new infatuation. When you’re in the grips of these overwhelming feelings, it’s tempting to convince yourself that you’ll do anything to “win over” the object of your affection. But the truth is that you can’t win someone over under false pretenses.
When you’re not being authentic, you’re simply immersing yourself in a role or a character and your true self is being eclipsed. The danger here reaches far beyond the fact that your potential partner is attracted to a person that doesn’t exist. It even reaches beyond the inevitability that your true colors will eventually bleed through. The real danger is that you are losing yourself in an attempt to snag a partner.
Dating Whopper #3: You get overly emotionally invested when you’re not ready.
Dating when you are not ready or available stops you from getting to know yourself and your dreams. If you aren’t clear of your own vision and purpose, you’ll be swept up into someone else’s and will eventually grow resentful or angry. You’ll wind up attracting people who don’t serve your greatest good or who are not right for you. The outlook for relationships whose partners don’t share the same vision, values and life goals is pretty dim and you’ll wind up back out in the dating pool once more, making the same mistakes. Is this really what you want to do with your life?
Dating Whopper #4: You haven’t recuperated or moved on from your previous relationships.
I remember a client of mine expressing excitement about an upcoming date she was looking forward to. She had met a wonderful guy who seemed to be just what she was looking for, and based on what she knew, he met much of her relationship criteria. Her excitement quickly turned to dismay when he spent the entire evening talking about his former wife. It was obvious to her he had a need, for some reason, to fill her in on every detail – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Needless to say, there was no second date.
If you find yourself frequently wanting (needing) to talk about a prior relationship there’s a good chance it’s not over yet – that you have not moved on and aren’t ready to begin anew with someone else. Chances are, you have unresolved feelings or have not put the relationship behind you. One key thing you can do is to ask yourself whether you compare your former relationships with your current one. Are you expecting someone new to live up to a standard set by a former spouse or mate? If so, this will sabotage any attempts to engage in a healthy relationship with someone else.
It’s important that prior relationships, as well as other matters, are well behind you. Be sure you’re “going to” something new rather than “getting away from” the old. To further explore this, ask me for a Relationship Readiness assessment by emailing me HERE. This will give you a clear understanding of areas, if any, in need of resolution.
Dating Whopper #5: You Choose to Ignore Red Flags
There are times when I wish Red flags were like the STOP signal at a traffic light – the light visibly turns and you come to a stop. There’s no guess work. In the realm of the heart, however, red flags act like the amber light so that make you question yourself – should I or shouldn’t I? The thing is with red flags is that if you’re not crystal clear about what works for you and doesn’t work for you in a relationship, there’s a chance for you to blow past them and then get into trouble.
There are three truths about red flags: You won’t suddenly become immune to them. If they show up at the beginning, when people are at their best, they won’t stop later on. And relationships simply don’t work when one person feels bad. (And a corollary: You only have to know HOW you feel, not why.)
Have you ever left a relationship over something intolerable, and then realized you could have seen it coming from the start? We all have. One woman I know cringed at a date’s demeaning joke but told herself it wasn’t THAT bad or important. After months of public embarrassment and insults, all attraction and some of her self respect were gone. Another was criticized for her dress on a first date. It later became serious verbal abuse. Both were red flags.
Should you bolt the minute you don’t like something a date does? No, but do open your eyes. Give the benefit of the doubt. If other things are right, try respectfully requesting a change. If you see a sincere effort, great! You can be patient.
If you see defensiveness, dismissiveness, or self-justification, watch out. Your next move – no matter what else you may like about the person – needs to be a graceful but firm good-bye. Then you will be free to find the one who makes you feel terrific!