In dating – as in life – its the mistakes you don’t know you’re making that matter the most.
You may be a good (or bad) date, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. And some ‘mistakes’ aren’t always obvious – to you or your date.
Here’s 6 avoidable dating mistakes, and what to do instead:
- Beware the “Dating System”: with the advent of dating apps & online dating, its easy to start thinking of your dating life as a ‘system’ – simply enter in the criteria you’re seeking and ‘Voila!’, your perfect match appears. If you’ve been online dating for a while, you probably know this isn’t true. Try some new dating methods – prioritize the ‘unsystematic’ – and you’ll find better results.
- Search fatigue: unlike other aspects of your life (like your career & health), more time spent searching for your match won’t necessarily lead you to dating success. Try spending less time searching, and more time doing (activities, socializing, enjoying yourself!).
- Be present: its easy to be distracted when you’re meeting someone new, particularly if you’re not immediately blown away by their physical appearance. But before you start thinking about your exit, or your job, or your next date – focus in on your date and the moment – it may not lead to a happy ending, but it’ll make the experience worthwhile – for both of you.
- More trees, less forest: in your quest for a relationship, you sometimes ignore the networking options right in front of you. Yes, meeting new people is important – but don’t forget about your built-in fan base (your friends, work colleagues & family) – let them know you’re single & interested in meeting someone new, and put their ‘word-of-mouth’ to work for you.
- Gimme a break: one of the most common dating mistakes you can make is not taking a break from dating from time to time. You may be keen on meeting your special someone ASAP – but being in the right mind space is important when you actually find them. And you’d be surprised how often you meet new & interesting people when you’re not thinking about doing so all the time.
- You’re not in this alone: dating can be hard with a busy schedule, especially if you’re not meeting the right type of people. Break out of your comfort zone, put down your smartphone and try some new dating methods – do your weekly shopping in a new neighborhood, hit a summer music fest with some friends, hire a professional matchmaker – feeling that you’re being proactive will make you feel better about yourself, a very attractive quality indeed.
How do you know if you’re in a successful relationship?
There’s no one simple way – and part of a good relationship is some twists & turns (and bumps!) along the way – but there are certain things about your partner & your relationship in general that you should know early on.
Here’s 7 (tough) questions you should be able to answer about your relationship (Source: S. Lebowitz):
1. What are your partner’s biggest emotional triggers?: knowing the answer to this question is important because it can defuse conflict and increase empathy within the relationship.
2. Does your partner have debt?: we know that money issues are a big cause of relationships breaking up; so it’s essential for both parties to communicate their status and plans so resentments or secrecy doesn’t build up.
3. What are your partner’s deal-breakers? What are yours?: successful partners know who they are, who they aren’t, what their struggles and blind spots are, and perhaps most importantly — they know their absolute bottom line deal-breakers.
4. What’s your partner’s feeling about a general timeline to start your family?: while we can’t always plan for this, it’s essential for couples to both want to have a child(ren) before going down this path. This is literally one of the biggest decisions of your life and relationship and you can’t have only one ‘yes.’
5. Are you both committed first and foremost to your relationship and to one another?: partners who are present to one another are committed to their relationship. For them the relationship comes first, even with the distractions that go with career success. Everyone else should come second.
6. How can you support your partner when they are at their lowest?: if you know how your partner prefers to communicate in times of hardship, you can demonstrate your emotional compassion in a way that puts them more at ease.
7. Do you regularly point out things to your partner that you appreciate about them?: successful partners need to show appreciation for one another. This helps partners cultivate a habit of mind of scanning for the positive in their relationship rather than the negative, which breeds contempt, the strongest predictor of divorce.
You’re excited about your date & already thinking about asking them out again. But then, suddenly, the date ends & you never hear from them again.
What happened? It’s likely your date was sending you warning signs of a date gone bad, but you just weren’t paying attention.
Here’s 5 dating danger signs & how you can turn things around, and fast!
- Self-awareness: before you can turn a bad date into a good date you need to recognize early that things are going sideways. Yes, focus on being a good date but also pay attention to your date’s body language and mood before its too late.
- Bored: there’s almost nothing worse than a boring date – even if there’s little or no initial chemistry, everyone wants to feel stimulated in some way. Come prepared with some interesting topics – movies, music, fun trips you’ve been on – keep trying until you find one that turns your dates yawns into smiles.
- Disengaged: if you find yourself doing all the talking, it’s likely your dates just not that into you (yet). Stop talking about yourself and ask your date an engagement question that requires an easy & fun response, like: ‘What’s your favorite band/movie/restaurant? Why do you like it so much?’; or ‘What’s the favorite country you’ve visited? Why?’
- Why so serious?: although dating is an important part of finding your relationship, it works best when you’re having fun – particularly on a first or second date. If you find yourselves only talking about very weighty subjects (politics, the environment, relationships, etc.), switch it up. Telling a fun travel story, or describing a spectacular hiking adventure you took will still send the message that you care about the world – but it will do that in a positive way that can lead to a second or third date or beyond.
- Know when to fold them: everyone wants their dates to end happily, but that’s not always possible. If you’ve tried some or all of the above tips and the date is still a dud, it’s sometimes better to just call it a night. Not every date can or should be a home run and – who knows – maybe your dates just had a long & tiring day and might be better company on your next date. Unless you see zero chance of a future connection, ask to see them again – even if they decline, it’ll make them feel good and that’s not a bad dating outcome at all.
Meeting the ‘right person’ is an important element in establishing a successful relationship. Equally important, however, is your own ‘readiness’ to meet that someone special.
Here are 7 classic signs of relationship readiness:
- Dating burnout: does dating begin to feel like ‘groundhog day’, repeating the same old stories about yourself over and over to someone new that you have just met?
- Quest for meaningfulness: do you feel an increasing desire to share meaningful moments with someone special?
- Future planning: do you start thinking about sharing the future (home, family, summer holiday plans, etc.) with someone special?
- Tired of the bar scene and online dating: do you start to think more about quality vs. quantity; ie. dating less but dating more compatible matches?
- More than just looks: do you desire a romantic partner that not only physically attracts you, but who also has other qualities that draw you together (shared family values, intellectual curiosity, education, etc.)?
- In your thoughts: do you find yourself thinking about someone frequently, and consciously making plans which involve them?
- Mutual admiration: do you admire someone and truly value their opinions on important matters in your life?
If you’ve answered yes to some or all of these questions, you are relationship ready!
So you’ve met someone new, and things are going well – great! Now comes the tricky part: how to know if you’re with the right person for the long term?
You may think you know right away – particularly if you’ve got great chemistry together. But the truth is chemistry alone isn’t enough, and can even fade over time if you’re not connected in other, more important ways.
So whether you’re entering a new relationship, or hitting a significant milestone – look for these 4 signs of a relationship built to last (Source: E. Schoenfeld, Ph.D):
- They’re attentive: small, daily gestures of romance are an important part of a supportive relationship, especially when they align with your personal needs. If you’re feeling under the weather, for example, you’ll appreciate your partner more if he or she makes you soup rather than brings home concert tickets.
- They’re affectionate: whether it’s hugging, kissing, or cuddling before bed, regularly engaging in some form of physical affection is key to feeling connected to your partner. We all tend to feel more cared for and understood when their partners show physical affection – and being affectionate is good for our personal and mental health, too.
- They respond well to conflict: how you communicate in the heat of an argument can be a telltale sign of the status of your relationship. In fact, the amount of conflict you engage in with your partner doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the argument is handled. In healthy relationships, each partner responds to conflict in a caring and supportive manner & truly listens to and respects the other person.
- They share your values and goals: differences can be great for balancing out a couple and making things more interesting socially, but it’s important to be similar in your values and goals for the future. Prioritize similarities that have long-term implications, such as a shared desire (or lack of desire) for marriage or children.