The dating game can be tough and unpredictable. It’s not only about getting to know another person and finding long-lasting happiness, it’s also about getting to know yourself, your likes and dislikes when it comes to dating someone.
But since there’s no playbook on dating someone, how are you supposed to know that what you’re doing is good or bad? To help you out with that, we compiled a list with the most common dating mistakes that relationships and dating experts claim most people make when dating someone new. Read on to find out if you’re making (or if you’ve made) any of them when playing the dating game.
You don’t have any goals in mind
Not having any goals when it comes to dating is like “auditioning for the position of a soulmate” without having a clear picture of the said soulmate, says relationship coach Kari Tumminia, MA, author of No Bad Dates. This means you simply react to what someone says or does and show an interest only if that person shows any interest. Instead of wasting your time with people you are not compatible with, take some time to think about what you want from your future partner and relationship.
“Dating with goals and a purpose in mind removes stress around figuring out which potential partners we should give more time and more energy and helps us create clarity around why we’re dating,” Tumminia says. “Knowing why we’re dating removes confusion, keeps us from staying too long with people who aren’t right for us, and moves us in the direction of finding good partners, faster.”
You’re focused on dating only one person at a time
This doesn’t mean you should cheat on your partner. But if you’re not in an exclusive relationship, you should not close all your doors and focus on someone who might not be that interested in you. “Dating and being in a relationship aren’t the same thing,” reminds Tumminia. Going out with other people is a good opportunity to “meet, experience, and ultimately vet new people in pursuit of a relationship,” she says. It gives you a chance to compare and see which person is better suited for you.
You might be dating too many people
On the other hand, going out too many people is also not a good idea. According to Eric Patterson, a professional counselor in Pennsylvania, dating multiple people can give you the impression you will never be able to feel “content with just one person.”
“One person could have been the best cook, another was incredibly handy around the house, another had an unparalleled sense of humor, and another was an amazing sexual partner,” he says. “None of these people were complete, and none of them satisfied you to the desired level, but their standout characteristics will be burned into your brain.”
You send too many text messages between dates
According to Steve Phillips-Waller, relationship expert for A Conscious Rethink, many relationships are nipped in the bud because either the male or the female, sends too many text messages in between dates.
“Over-messaging in between dates leaves you with fewer things to discuss when you actually see each other. So, keep messages casual and short—just enough to show your interest, but not so much that you kill the conversation later on,” he recommends. “Unfortunately, shy people or those with social anxiety will use messaging as a substitute for meeting in person. But it rarely builds the same level of connection as face-to-face chats.”
You rely on dating apps too much
Online dating is the most common way people meet and start dating nowadays. However, relationship expert and sex specialist Katie Dames warns that people who excessively use dating apps and platforms to meet people start having an altered perspective on dating and relationships.
“Common practices such as ghosting and receiving unsolicited nudes are the direct result of these apps. They have drastically changed the culture of dating,” she says. “I understand why they are widely used; dating apps cut right to the chase, everyone knows why they are on the app. However, the convenience of these dating apps should not be the determining factor in using them. Their negative properties greatly outweigh their positive traits.”
You’re dating because you can’t stand being alone
It’s perfectly ok to try to find a partner but if you’re only doing it because that’s what’s expected of you or because you can’t stand being alone while everyone else is in a relationship, you will only make things worse for yourself.
“The word ‘need’ will strip you of any power you have in the dating world. Anytime you look for love with a ‘need’ for a partner to fill a donut hole, you give your power away and lose yourself,” says relationship expert and therapist Audrey Hope. “Anyone who succeeds in finding true love must do so by being their authentic selves and in their own power.”
You are a “settler”
According to Dean C. Delis, in every relationship there a reacher (a person who dates someone out of their league) and a settler (a person who thinks he/she can’t do any better and settles for someone “lower” than them). The settlers also sacrifice “one or two or 20 needs” because they believe they will end up alone if they speak up, even if they sometimes don’t really like the person they’re in a relationship with. According to Nicole Arzt, MS, LMFT, board member for Family Enthusiast, this “perpetuates low self-esteem.”
You can’t get rid of the baggage from your last relationship
The time someone needs to heal and recover after a breakup varies from one individual to another. If you’re the type that does not allow enough time to heal your wounds before jumping into a new relationship, then you might be setting your future romance up for failure.
“Make sure you are healed and have dropped the baggage of your last love before you take your wounds in the new one,” says Hope. “Go to a therapist or relationship coach and work out the patterns and themes of what hurts, what still lingers in your heart, and where you are vulnerable.”
You compare everyone to your former partner
It’s not unusual to compare someone you’re currently dating with your former partner, says Viktor Sander, relationship expert at SocialPro. However, you should keep an open mind when it comes to the new people in your life, Sander suggests, and learn to “appreciate them for their qualities,” instead of “putting them into comparison with someone else.”
Ask yourself this question: “Am I happy with this person? What do I like the most about this person?” instead of, “How does this compare to what my ex did? Is it better or worse?”
You want to change someone
According to April Davis, a professional matchmaker and founder of Luma, many people think they can change others and turn them into the people they would like them to be, which is usually very destructive for a relationship.
“Realize more times than not, someone is putting their best foot forward when they initially are getting to know you in the dating world,” Davis says. “So, it is important to take them as they are and assume all their good and bad characteristics and traits are there to stay. The next choice that should be made is if those bad traits are something you can realistically deal with or if it’s a dealbreaker.”
You’re not straightforward about your feelings
Confessing your feelings can be scary, especially when you’re not sure the other person feels the same way about you. But it’s better to just be straightforward about your feelings instead of hoping that the other person will figure it out on his/her own. You might lose your chance with that person if you wait too long before speaking your mind and expressing your feelings.
Whether it’s because you feel “pride, shame, or awkwardness,” Davis warns that not being upfront with what you feel is one of the most common dating mistakes people make. If you want a healthy dating life and possibly, a successful future relationship, “start letting people know how [you] feel and not hoping they will figure it out magically.”
You only focus on what you think the other person wants
It’s normal to want everything to go right when you start a new relationship. But focusing too much on what you think the other person wants you to be is not the way to have a healthy relationship in the long term.
“We think there is something wrong with us, that we lack something that others are looking for, or we are ‘not enough.’ This causes us to want to prove to others we are worthy of their attention and that we are enough,” says certified counselor Kathryn Ely, host of the Imperfect Thriving podcast. “Instead, when dating, we should first focus on exactly what we value and what we want in a relationship. When we know this information going in, we create firm, healthy boundaries, and honest communication—which is a good foundation for any relationship.”
You only talk about yourself
Everyone wants to impress their date when going out for the first time. Just make sure you don’t monopolize every conversation and turn date night into “me” night. No one likes people that are “too self-focused” and “talk too much” about themselves.
On the other hand, throwing endless questions at your date as if they’re being questioned by the police isn’t any better. “Studies show that the best interactions are so-called ‘back-and-forth conversations,'” Sander says. “We ask something, ask a follow-up question, then share something related about us, and then go back to asking something about the other person, and so on.”
You try to force a deep connection
According to Ponaman, many people, deliberately or not, try to speed things up and force a “deeper vulnerable connection” with their dates from the very beginning. In most cases, it doesn’t work that way.
“For example, people typically will talk about their exes on a first or second date, which is a big no-no,” she says. “Mutual respect and trust have not yet been formed on a first date and this is where you should be putting your best foot forward while still remaining true to yourself. You do not want to set a foundation of a relationship based on pain and complacency, but rather on your strong suits and the qualities that truly make you who you are.”
You start planning for the future too early
“Going on a date and acting desperate for love is the fastest way to ruin a relationship before it begins,” warns relationship expert and certified wellness coach D. Ivan Young, PCC. “Dating serves one purpose and that is to explore your likes and dislikes as you interact with another person. This is not a time for you to pour your heart out, nor project your misguided assumptions on another person. The best strategy is to simply be present in the moment and enjoy meeting what could be a good friend—or a future partner.” You might wanna stop searching for a wedding dress for the moment!
You’re looking for a best friend instead of a partner
Best friend turned into lover has been highly romanticized in romantic comedies but contrary to what many people think, you should not be “looking for a best friend as a significant other,” says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. According to Trombetti, you risk missing “the sparks” that every new and passionate relationship usually has. Of course, you should be able to trust and confide in your partner as you would in a friend, but friendship should not be the starting point of your relationship.
You mistake chemistry for lust
Lust is a temporary feeling based on physical attraction and a rush of hormones. It can go away as fast as it appeared. Chemistry, on the other hand, can grow over time and strengthen a relationship. “Chemistry is a slow burn and lust is an attraction thing,” Trombetti explains. “If you never go out on a second date because you are lacking the attraction part, you might be missing out.” So, get to know someone better before deciding there’s no chemistry between the two of you.