During a recent discussion a reader requested a post on stupid ideas about love that prevent people from finding it. I can’t think of a better way to start 2023 than to get your dating house in order by ditching bad dating habits. Here goes, off the top of my head:
1. Stop thinking you can do better.
Jeffrey Arnett, a Clark University psychologist who studies emerging adults says that you’ve reached adulthood when you stop chasing perfection in a mate.
“Part of what it means to be an adult is you make your choices,” and you stop constantly hoping for something better, Arnett told me. “You realize that the range of possibilities that is open to you is not unlimited.
In other words, you may never find the ideal mate that you always dreamed of, but you’ll find someone great. At some point you’ll realize you could be happy starting a life with this person, in spite of her apparent flaws.”
It’s important to recognize when what you’ve got is more than good enough.
2. Stop demanding mates who have more to offer than you do.
Better looking, more intelligent, higher status. If you hit the jackpot, great! But whether you feel lucky or not has more to do with your attitude than anything else. Imagine a housing market where everyone insists on getting a vast estate regardless of how much they can afford. Better yet, imagine a game of musical chairs with 100 people and 10 chairs.
3. Stop expecting your date to pay your way now and throughout life.
Among Millennials, 71% of men and 77% of women believe it is vital for both parties to have successful careers. Furthermore, 42% of Millennial women have upper middle to high income – and 63% say they don’t care who the primary breadwinner is in the family.
Get into that majority, and you may find that the love of your life is a writer, therapist, teacher, social worker or small business owner. Just imagine how much you can increase your dating pool by committing to pulling your own weight financially.
4. Lose the checklist of silly requirements.
The longer your checklist, the fewer people will get through your filter. That’s good if your checklist is filled with important qualifiers, like “would make a good father.”
What kinds of things don’t belong on a checklist? Here are real life examples I’ve heard:
Wore pleated pants.
Has a cowlick.
Didn’t go to big name school.
Isn’t an avid reader.
5. Stop rewarding bad behavior.
He said he’d call at 9 to make a plan. He called at 11:30.
He cheated but insists it didn’t mean anything and promises never to do it again.
He pressures you to text him a nude pic.
He’s only commitment-oriented when he’s drunk.
Throw that one back and wait for a bigger, better fish.
6. Stop demanding that your friends help you rationalize your poor choices.
One of the best ways to judge a man’s character is to solicit the opinion of your friends and family.
A good friend will tell you the truth unless you browbeat her into listening to your justifications and rationalizations for hours on end and then punish her for expressing her real opinion.
Ask your friends what they really think, and never, ever try to convince them otherwise.
7. Stop pretending you are not invested.
Once you’ve fallen for a good man and it’s a good match, don’t pretend to be cool with taking it slow or “seeing what happens.” Let him know you want this to work.
“I really enjoy spending time with you.”
“I don’t want you to hook up with other girls.”
“I thought of you today – how did the interview go?”
“How do you feel about relationships?”
“I deleted my Tinder profile today – I really want this to work.”
8. Stop having sex when you’re not 100% psyched about it.
There will be plenty of time for that later, after you’re married. ????
When I was raising my kids, sometimes they would agree to help or participate in an activity and then sulk or act grumpy about it. At these times I would admonish them to “Do it cheerfully, or not at all.”
Any guy who pressures you to have sex is like a used car salesman trying to get you to buy a clunker. A quality man knows that women have more at stake in sex, and he will offer what you need to be comfortable moving forward.
Men display, women choose. Choose wisely.
9. Stop ignoring what your gut is telling you.
If something feels off, it is. Always, always trust your gut before you let your brain mess with your reasoning. In my entire life my gut has never steered me wrong.
The worst example of this is walking down the aisle with doubts, but the same people who do that have had to consistently ignore their gut instinct many times to get to that point.
Trust your gut and you won’t take a wrong turn.
10. Stop being afraid to act goofy.
Let your freak flag fly. You’re looking for someone who shares your particular brand of humor, including the wacky stuff. When you take the risk to act silly, you’re inviting intimacy. You’re saying “I trust you enough to like me when I am my silly self, because I don’t want to feel self-conscious around you.” That’s powerful stuff.
And research shows that couples who giggle together are much happier.
“In general, couples who laugh more together tend to have higher-quality relationships,” she says. “We can refer to shared laughter as an indicator of greater relationship quality.
…There’s also evidence that laughing together is a supportive activity. “Participants who laughed more with their partners during a recorded conversation in the lab tended to also report feeling closer to and more supported by their partners.”
It’s also a really important filter – if your silliness is met with a puzzled, serious expression devoid of humor, you’ve probably just learned this is not a match. You can’t spend 50 years hiding your impulses.
To be honest, I could probably generate a lot more suggestions, but there’s only so much we can do in a year. Most of us have weaknesses here and there, so pick one or two things where you recognize yourself and work on that.
To paraphrase Gandhi, be all the things you want in a partner.