Fall is here, Halloween is upon us. What better time to take a look at the dating demons that may be holding you back from finding your perfect partner?
We humans are made up of all of the experiences we have encountered, good or bad. Many times the bad experiences have a greater impact on our outlook on life, especially if there have been a few bad ones. These experiences can be unseen or unconscious drivers of our behavior, wreaking havoc in our relationships without our understanding of what is really happening. Do you recognize any of these?
Pigeonholing. How often when you meet someone new do you automatically begin comparing characteristics, habits, etc.—anything you can find that allows you to mentally size up the person and place him in a compartment? "Oh, I see, he has the same trait as Tim did; he will always want to go out with his friends rather than me," or "This guy is as bad as John, always making jokes, can't take anything seriously. Totally irresponsible."
Be aware, what appears to be the same characteristic can have completely different drivers or outcomes. Where one person may use humor to avoid unpleasant or serious subjects, another may simply use it to take the edge off and allow the subject to be discussed without too much tension attached. Possibly the new person does have a close group of friends; however, that doesn't mean that you would not be included.
When we pigeonhole people, we don't give them and/or situations a chance to play out naturally. We immediately begin to exert our own presumptions about how it will turn out. So when you hear about the new guy's friends, you are not open to meeting them or going out as a group because you are anticipating being shut out like you were in a previous relationship. New guy picks up on that and acts accordingly; maybe having you meet his friends isn't such a great idea after all. What would happen if you didn't make a judgment about this person based on your past experience? Things could unfold in new ways allowing you both to experience something that could be wonderful.
Controlling. Okay, so maybe you let Sean plan the ski trip and the place was a dump. Worse, you tripped on a damaged stair and broke your ankle. This is no reason to attempt to control every aspect of your new relationship. The reality of life is we are really not in control of anything outside of our own reactions. We are not even in control of those unless we tune in to what is causing those reactions, and then we are enabled to make a more empowering choice (get my free report on this). The need to control is rooted in fear, and fear is a real relationship killer.
The biggest impact of fear and controlling may be the missed opportunities. Maybe it's a prospective partner that you would not give a chance to, or maybe the chance to explore a new adventure with your current partner. When you push away things that you cannot control it affects not only you. Your new sweetie, who is real excited to have you share this experience with him, also feels the punch. The results can be missed opportunities, stifled growth—both individual and as a couple, and trust issues just to name a few. When a chance to do something new and different is presented ask yoursel, what is the best that can happen? Imagine yourself taking a chance. Then go for it!
Unrealistic Expectations. This is a big one. It is natural for most of our relationship expectations to be formed from the relationships we witnessed and/or were part of in our early years. Our own first romantic relationships have a great impact as well. Were your parents deeply in love with each other? Chances are you witnessed a loving, caring, supportive relationship. Good for you! But this is often not the case. Many of us experience fractured relationships through divorce, or dysfunctional relationships where the partners may stay together but it's clear that the relationship is one-sided or disrespectful. Even good relationships can imprint not so good messages on a young psyche depending, for example, on how conflicts were resolved or how finances were handled. All of these things can cause our list of relationship expectations to be out of whack.
What Is Your List?
Do you have a "list?" You know the one where you have written down all of the things you want or expect in a partner? Many women do. I am not saying that's a bad thing—I had my own list, too. However, let's examine the list for a moment. What kind of things are on it? Have you defined your perfect partner down to his shoe size? Do you know what industry you want him to work in and how much money he should make? What about his physical characteristics? If this describes you and your list, I'd like to suggest that you throw it out and start over.
The most important things to have on your list are the values that you want your new partner to have. These should be values you share. You want to enjoy similar types of adventures/activities. Which doesn't mean either of you have to be doing them now, just that you are open to it. If finances are important to you, try a simple statement that he can pull his own weight in that department. What about physical characteristics? He should be attractive to you and he should think you are gorgeous. There should be excellent sexual chemistry. The key is to keep it simple, yet get right to the core of what you want.
Let's talk about the "don't list". This list many people don't even realize they have. This list often goes hand in hand with pigeonholing. It's the list of characteristics or actions that immediately have you saying mentally "Oh no, not doing this again". Like they say in the financial world, "Past performance is not a guarantee of future results." This is especially true when you are comparing two different people! The best thing you can do for yourself is to throw this list out completely. If you take nothing else from this article, learn to let go of judging situations and people based on past experiences.
Self-esteem. Another big one. If you have had failed relationships, especially if there have been more than one, your self-esteem may have taken a beating. You may have a little voice in your head, or worse, a person telling you that it's all your fault or there's something wrong with you.
There isn't, period. You are a delightful and unique creation. The thing is, many of those early relationships and experiences we have been talking about have an impact on how we view ourselves. They can create cracks in our self-esteem that allows other people and experiences to wear it down.
More dating advice from YourTango:
- 10 Dating Tips I Wish I'd Followed While I Was Single
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- 8 Modern Dating Rules Every Single Should Know