Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

How to Avoid The Fourteen Dating Traps


Here are all the dating mistakes singles make and solid strategies for finding the love of your life

A “dating trap” is an unconscious relationship choice that results in an unsolvable problem in a relationship. Getting out of the trap often means leaving the relationship.

When you're single, by practicing Conscious Dating you can do a lot more than you realize to avoid these traps and prepare for a lasting and successful relationship.

1. Marketing Trap

You believe that you need to make yourself more appealing to attract and ‘sell’ yourself with an attractive packaging and presentation. When you fall into the Marketing Trap, you fear that nobody wants you as you really are. By marketing’ yourself, you risk disappointment and relationship failure. So when the excitement and promise of the ‘sizzle’ conflicts with the reality of the ‘steak’, one or both of you are left feeling disappointed and angry.

Strategy:  Authenticity. You will attract compatible people when you show them who you really are: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Just be you. Don’t present a fake you.

2. Packaging Trap

You focus on outside packaging – such as someone’s body, looks, job, wealth, material possessions and overlook the reality of the person inside. The Packaging Trap is the opposite of the Marketing Trap: instead of seeking to sell yourself with attractive packaging, you focus on the packaging of others.

Strategy:  Look beyond the outside packaging to areas of real compatibility. This doesn’t mean you should forget about chemistry, but put it into perspective, understanding it is only one element of what you require in a successful relationship.

3. Scarcity Trap

You (unconsciously) believe there is a limited supply of possible partners, and therefore think that you have to take what you can get or be alone. The Scarcity Trap results in relationship failure because there is a temptation to settle for less: you believe you can’t get what you really want because there is not enough to go around. Unfortunately it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because when you expect less, you get less. As well, you will always be on the lookout for someone ‘better’- just in case.

Strategy: Define your first choice of what you really want and persevere. Trust that if you apply yourself you can get what you really want in your life. You must be able to say “No” to what you DON’T want to be available to say “Yes” to what you DO want. You have the power to choose who, what, where, when, and how, and can get what you really want if you make effective choices aligned with your Vision and Requirements.

4. Compatibility Trap

Assuming that if you have fun together and get along well, you are compatible and a committed relationship will work. This results in relationship failure when discovering the vast difference between a fun-focused, recreational dating relationship and a serious, long-term committed relationship. The process and criteria for choosing a recreational relationship needs to be very different from choosing a Life Partner.

Strategy: When you are ready for a Life Partnership, define your Requirements and use them to scout, sort, screen and test potential partners. Do not try to convert a recreational relationship into a committed one, unless 100% of your Requirements are met.

5. Fairytale Trap

Passively expecting your ideal partner to magically appear and live happily ever after without effort on your part. Believing that finding your soul mate will just “happen.” This results in disappointment when the frogs that happen to jump into your life don’t become princes.

Strategy: Take personal responsibility for your relationship choices and outcomes. Have effective scouting, sorting, and screening strategies. Initiate contact and be the “Chooser,” don’t simply react to people that choose you.

6. Date -To - Mate Trap

Becoming an ‘instant couple’ as if giving each person you date an extended test drive. Believing that if you develop an exclusive relationship with someone you are dating, a successful committed relationship will eventually happen. Other terms for this are ‘Serial Monogamy” and the ‘Mini- Marriage’. This approach is a costly use of time and emotional energy. The inertia in this trap is pressure to make the relationship work, attempt to resolve unsolvable problems, and fit a square peg in a round hole because breaking up and being single again is an undesired outcome.

Strategy: Date a variety of people and have fun without being exclusive. When you are ready for a committed relationship define your Requirements and use them as tools to scout, sort, and screen potential partners. Make a careful relationship choice and consciously use a “pre-commitment” period to determine if this is the right relationship for you.

7. Attraction Trap

Making relationship choices based on feelings of attraction. Interpreting a strong physical attraction to someone as a sign that the relationship is a good choice and ‘meant to be’.

This approach results in relationship failure when unsolvable problems surface because you ignored the red flags while infatuated. Unconscious choices usually result in repeating unproductive past patterns. Attraction is like the radar that helps you find your target. But the Attraction Trap occurs when you blindly follow this radar.

Strategy: Balance your attractions by defining your Requirements and use them to scout, sort, and screen potential partners.

“Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of your happiness or misery.”
  --H. Jackson Brown, Jr. from “Life’s Little Instruction Book”

8. Love Trap

Interpreting infatuation, attraction, need, good sex, and/or attachment as love. “If it feels good, it must be love,” “Love conquers all,” “All you need is love.” You feel so in love that you believe it must be a good relationship. After the initial infatuation is gone, you spend the rest of your time together just trying to get it back.

Strategy: Make conscious relationship choices by defining your requirements and use them to scout, sort, and screen potential partners.

9. Sex Trap

Focusing on the chemistry under the covers by interpreting sex as love; using sex as a kind of compatibility test (if the sex is good then the relationship will be good as well); or becoming emotionally attached and considering yourself in a kind of committed relationship as soon as you have sex.

Strategy: Make conscious relationship choices by defining your requirements and use them to scout, sort, and screen potential partners. Understand that a relationship needs more than great sex to thrive.

10. Rescue Trap

Hoping a relationship will solve your emotional and financial difficulties and bring you happiness and fulfillment, something like winning the lottery. You avoid taking responsibility for your life challenges, expecting to be rescued from them. Results in desperation, neediness, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.

Strategy: Define your Vision for your life and relationship and live your Vision as a successful single person. Resolve emotional, financial, and other problems prior to seeking a lasting committed relationship. Seek to be in a position of “choice” and “want” rather than "need.”

11. Co-Dependant Trap

You expect someone to love you and give you what you want by giving the other person what he/she wants. You attempt to earn love and happiness by acquiescing, giving, and helping. You really want to be in a relationship. You feel that you are not worthy as you are, and need to earn love. You pursue relationships hard because you feel incomplete when you’re not in one. You want to be the hero and therefore seek someone who wants to be helped. But you learn the hard way that although it feels good to be needed, someone who needs you is not necessarily able to give you what you need. Needing to be needed often results in unconsciously attracting and choosing a relationship with a person who needs you – but as you later discover is unable to give you what you want or need.

Strategy: Define your Vision and Requirements and choose a closely aligned partner. Learn to be assertive, identify and ask for what you want and need, identify and assert boundaries, and develop the ability to say “No.” Be the “Chooser” and cautious of people that choose you!

12. Entitlement Trap

Believing that you deserve to be happy and get what you want in your life without effort or changes on your part. Results in relationship failure as you rely on your partner to bring you happiness and fulfillment. This inevitably results in disappointment. If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the same results.

Strategy: Take personal responsibility for your life and relationship. Define your Vision and Life Purpose and live them when single.

13. Virtual Reality Trap

Believing that what you see is what you get. Making hasty long-term relationship decisions based on short-term impressions and inferences instead of actual experience and knowledge. Getting involved in a relationship focusing on potential, hoping that some things that you really need to happen will get better or change over time. Results in seeing what you want to see. Relationship failure results when later reality doesn’t match.

Strategy: Assume “you don’t know what you don’t know” and stay in a “pre-committed” stage until you have solid experience and knowledge that this is the right relationship for you. Finding a life partner is not a race – it is a journey. Don’t rush to win the booby prize!

14. Lone Ranger Trap

You live your single life focused on your goal of finding your life partner, believing that you don’t need anyone else in your life. You evaluate people you meet for their relationship potential only and do not take the opportunity to cultivate new friends. Results in isolation, perception of scarcity of potential partners and risk of settling for less than what you really want because you don’t want to be alone.

Strategy: Develop a support network/community of friends of both genders and be supportable by enrolling them to scout for you.

Intimidating list, isn't it? Recognize yourself in one or more of these traps? (Personally, I count nine traps that I've fallen into!) Here's the good news; these are all patterns of choice making that can be changed simply by being aware of them. Simple, but not always easy without support from our friends, family, therapist, coach, etc. This is the most important journey of your life- my top recommendation would be to get the support you need to avoid these dating traps so you can finally find the love of your life and live happily ever after.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.


Explore YourTango