Dating is complicated enough without encountering an unexpected complication: You! On the road to love, some people put obstacles in their own way, usually without knowing it.
Psychologists define self-sabotaging behavior as anything that creates problems or interferes with long-standing goals. These actions or attitudes may seem helpful in the moment, but ultimately undermine you, especially when you engage in them repeatedly. Of course you long to be in a healthy relationship, but you might also be doing things to hinder your chances of success.
Here are some reminders to make sure you are not sabotaging your efforts:
1. Make choices today that will ensure a better tomorrow. Consistently wise decisions about life and love will give you a giant step toward a healthy, lasting relationship.
2. Find the balance between being idealistic and realistic. Holding out for the best possible partner is admirable…as long as you acknowledge that the PERFECT person only exists in fantasies.
3. Resist the urge to find comfort in food or drink. This, of course, is one of the most prevalent means of self-sabotage. Substance misuse or abuse—whether of food, alcohol, or drugs—seems helpful in the moment, but is harmful in the long haul.
4. Push past procrastination. Psychologists tell us procrastination is one of the most common—and easily rationalized—forms of self-sabotage. Today is the day to return that phone call, begin your diet, or ask out the person you’ve had your eye on.
5. Choose to feel hopeful, not hopeless. If you’ve experienced heartache due to dating disappointments (and who hasn’t?), it’s tempting to give up—or go through the motions even though dating seems futile. Hopefulness, however, is an attitude that will sustain you through hard times.
6. Refuse to isolate. Whether you’re isolating yourself by avoiding connections made online or by turning down social events, you’re preventing your chances of meeting new friends and possibly a life partner.
7. Stop making excuses. You might be using excuses to avoid going out with someone, or to not return emails/texts, or to not address pressing issues in your life. As the 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said, “An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.”
8. Vow to be proactive. You’ve got to have courage to ask someone out, initiate a conversation with a person you don’t know, or join a new group where you can meet people. But it takes that kind of courage to find the love of your life.
9. Don’t let dating dash your self-confidence. Believe that your self-worth is never at stake during the dating process.
10. Beware of your desire/need to “fix” a partner. The best relationships include two people who want to improve and change—because of their own motivation.
11. Know when to compromise and when not to. Smart singles are uncompromising about the significant issues and compromising about the insignificant ones.
12. Take your time. Romance works best—and lasts longest—if you think of it as a leisurely stroll, not a furious sprint to some fictional finish line.
13. Work to resolve your wounds. Nobody wants to start a new relationship by helping you clear away emotional baggage from the last one. Be sure to do that heavy lifting on your own, prior to dating again.
14. Let loose—meaning, don’t cling to a relationship too tightly. Healthy relationships need room to breathe.
15. Accept your fears, but don’t be paralyzed by them. Since dating can trigger fears of rejection or humiliation, it’s easier to stay in your comfy routine. By playing it safe, you may avoid painful feelings, but you’ll also avoid meeting the love of your life.
Are you guilty of any of these behaviors? How have you overcome them?