Looking back on my single days, there are so many things I would have done differently if I knew then what I know now. So many of these things we learn only from experience; from learning about life and love the hard way. But the reality is, when we’re in it, when we’re dating, when we think we’ve found someone who might be the one, when we’re feeling that incredible chemistry, when we’re so lonely we don’t know if we can be alone another minute, when he finally notices us and asks us out, when we feel like we can’t breathe if we don’t hear from him, when we’re so scared to lose him, when we feel like without him we have nothing, when we’re sure he must be lying dead in the gutter somewhere because that's the only reason he would've disappeared like that, we can’t see that we’re about to make a huge mistake.
When we’re in over our heads emotionally and can’t think clearly we’re not able to be objective about what we’re doing. And that’s why we do all of those crazy, unloving, disrespectful things we do to ourselves in the name of love (or at least, what we believe love to be). And while I'm a firm believer that our mistakes are actually rich learning experiences if we allow them to be and we choose to learn from them, there’s no denying that there are things we’d rather do differently if we had them to do all over again. Because I had no idea how much heartbreak and misery I could have saved myself if someone had only told me what huge mistakes I was making by doing some of the these things, I'm going to tell you about the huge mistakes you are making (and we all make).
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So here’s my list for you of what I consider to be the top five biggest dating mistakes.
1. Being exclusive right away.
I didn’t figure this one out until years later. At the time, I would have thought that dating more than one person at the same time was just downright slutty. But I’m talking about dating here, not sleeping with anyone. Just dating more than one person at the same time. Because the thing is that if you’re not dating exclusively, if the guy you’d really like to be exclusive with knows that he’s in the running but there’s others that you’re still considering too, that puts him in the best position possible – one where he has to prove to you that he’s worth going exclusive for. And that also keeps you in a place of high self-esteem and confidence knowing that if he really has that much potential you’ll know before giving too much of your self to someone too early, before you really know them well enough to make that kind of commitment.
Believe me, he will not be turned off by you dating more men than just him. What he will be is competitive enough to know that he wants to show you why you should drop the others and become exclusive to him. A decision that you’ll be much more in a position to make if you’ve got a couple of others you’re dating along with him, even if he’s really the only one you’re truly interested in.
And no, you’re not using the others, because you never know when the guy you’re not all that into throws you for a loop and surprises you with all he has to offer you. After dating several guys for a while you might just find that the guy you originally thought was number two or three surprises you and takes on the number one position.
2. Getting intimate too soon.
There are so many different views on when it’s ok and not ok to be intimate with someone. While we all know the thrill of that intense chemistry when you feel like you just can’t stop yourself from going there with him, the reality is that this kind of chemistry tends to fizzle out all too soon leaving in its wake your broken heart and regret that you got intimately involved far too soon.
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I have found that the best rule to follow here is not the amazing chemistry barometer when you’re in the heat of the moment (which is not going to be very objective) but instead the rule of waiting until you have a firm commitment from him and you’re both exclusively committed to each other. Another good rule is that if you’re not comfortable talking about birth control and STD protection with him, you’re definitely not ready to be giving yourself to someone on the kind of sexual level we’re talking about here. As uncomfortable as those conversations can be, they are necessary conversations to have with someone you’re about to become intimate with.
Ultimately, if you’re not sure, or have any doubt that it might be too soon, trust your gut. It is.