Three common dating mistakes – and how to avoid them

There are loads of reasons a relationship might not work out.

Perhaps you’re just plain old incompatible, or you meet someone else with whom you have an undeniable spark.

These are things that can’t really be avoided, but there are certain dating traps and patterns that we can tackle.

Relationship psychotherapist Heather Garbutt claims that there are three common pitfalls that often cause relationships to fail.

Ahead, she breaks down each one – plus shares how to avoid falling foul of these oh-so-frequent behaviours.

Idealising the other person

Do you actually like them, or are you projecting some dreamed-up version of a perfect match?

‘We can quite often fall in love with who we think somebody is,’ Heather tells Metro.co.uk. ‘We rush and idealise.

‘We don’t do our due diligence and risk playing relationship roulette with our most valued possessions – our heart, our peace of mind and our body.’

Putting someone on a pedestal is setting them up for failure. No one can live up to an imagined list of perfect attributes, and when reality comes crashing in and you see who this person really is, you can only be disappointed when they don’t measure up.

Go slow and make sure you’re seeing your date for who they really are, not who you want them to be. Check in with yourself – are you really falling for someone new, or are you just scared to be single?

Following your hormones, not your heart

This pitfall can also be described as: getting physical too fast.

We get it – it’s been a long year of lockdown and you’re feeling frisky. But Heather warns against diving into intimacy too quickly.

‘We may allow ourselves to get too close too quickly and let loose the physical attraction with all its hormonal aspects and forces of attachment,’ she explains. ‘By the time we find out who the person really is, we are already in hook, line and sinker.

‘The hormones and the attachment patterns have us deeply involved whether this really is a suitable person, whether they are truly available and whether they want the same things from life.

‘Beware of too much physical contact early on. If you want to hook up, that’s fine, but beware that our hormones can be activated really easily. For women in particular, the oxytocin can create a feeling of attachment almost instantly. This is a biological trip up and needs to be handled with care.

‘Keep your distance until you’ve really seen if this is somebody you want to be close with and can trust with yourself and your feelings.’

Failing to see their flaws

This neatly ties in with the first two pitfalls. If you’re idealising someone new and getting romantic super quickly, it’s likely you’re not keeping your eyes wide open to all their potential issues.

Ask yourself: are you seeing this person and your relationship through rose-tinted, loved-up glasses? Are you ignoring a bunch of red flags? Are you so keen to be with someone that you’re overlooking stuff that would normally give you the ick?

‘It’s really important to take things slowly. Have in mind the qualities that you want in the other person and take your time to check that then have them,’ says Heather.

‘Watch how they behave with others. Do they treat them with respect, speak well of people, show kindness, display emotional intelligence and consideration?

‘Are they capable in the world or looking to be taken care of?

‘Do they appear too good to be true? If they do, they probably are. Watch out for love bombing! If someone makes you the centre of their life really quickly, they may well demand your total care and attention later at your expense.’

We know it’s tempting to get swept up in a new connection, but try to keep your eyes open.

And again, taking things slow and checking in with yourself at every point will always be a good way forward.

Heather notes: ‘It’s all too easy to fail to check out if the person is who they say they are and what they want.

‘Only time will tell whether they are reliable, whether they keep their word, whether they consistently treat people with kindness and respect.

‘Really take your time. This is the message from this whole article. Do not let yourself fall for someone until you know that they are willing, able and reliable to catch you and you them.’

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