No one enjoys being lied to, which is why singles rank “honesty” as one of the most important traits they look for in a partner. But when it comes to telling ourselves the truth, we don’t always hold to the same standard. Sometimes we fudge a little. Sometimes, in fact, we tell ourselves blatant lies.
Far from innocent and harmless, these self-deceptions can keep us from finding great relationships. Here are five of the most common lies we tell ourselves about dating:
1. “Love is for everyone except me.” Even if you don’t actually say these words to yourself, they may form the basis of a nameless, nagging fear. Either way, the feeling of being destined to forever stand on the outside of love looking in is common. Instead of telling yourself this lie, stop blurring the line between fact and fear. The lack of a significant other in your life currently may be a fact, but projecting that reality dismally into the future is all about fear. It can also become a self-fulfilling prediction, keeping you from exploring new relationships.
2. “I don’t really deserve more.” This lie can prevent you from taking the risk of exploring a new relationship or keep you stuck in a lousy one. Those who believe this lie may find themselves putting up with disrespect or even abuse. It’s counterintuitive to expect someone to love you well when you don’t expect it yourself. If you believe this about yourself, consider talking with a professional counselor about the events or relationships in your life that led you to embrace this falsehood in the first place.
3. “I know this relationship isn’t great, but it’s better than being alone.” People convince themselves there’s no downside to staying with the wrong person until the right one comes along, but the risks are actually huge. There’s the risk of becoming so comfortable with the wrong person that you stay in a mediocre dating relationship, which could lead to a mediocre marriage. There’s also the risk that, being preoccupied with a mismatch, you’ll miss out on the right match.
4. “It has to look like ‘love at first sight.’” When you take the time to evaluate what you want in a partner and identify what matters most, you’re prepared to make decisions faster. You can more quickly recognize people who have “partner potential.” You can also acknowledge when it’s best to move on. But many people don’t take the time to get to know themselves or identify the essential qualities they need in a partner. These folks often come to a first date with selection criteria based on distortions, and they make important decisions based on the delusion of “immediate chemistry.” If sparks don’t fly right away, they might pass on a great person without giving chemistry a chance to develop. Or they may pursue the relationship based on chemistry when other vital qualities are missing.
5. “If I ignore this red flag, it’ll go away or change.” Sure, and that grinding noise coming from your car will also disappear if you pretend it’s not there. Unfortunately not. If you have nagging concerns about someone you’re dating, ignoring them only delays the inevitable. Convincing yourself otherwise is a sure path to disappointment and even heartache. You might end up wasting months and even years with the wrong person, missing out on better prospects in the process.
Recognizing and rejecting lies is a critical step in wise dating. By telling yourself the truth, you’ll be equipped and empowered to find a loving relationship.