How to Keep From Falling for the Top Dating Myths

couple on date in silhouetteEven the most seasoned dater can end up falling for one of the top dating myths — and not be aware of it!

We may not know the origin of each of these beliefs, but ever since at least the Middle Ages in Europe, the intensity of falling in love and the longing for someone are with us now.

Here are some top tips about why you shouldn’t fall for certain dating myths — and how to prevent acting on them.  This advice is based on the solid research of others and on my research with thousands of women over five years.

Myth #1: “If I don’t feel chemistry right away for someone, I can’t see them as a good match for me.”

Don’t rejector choose someone based right away on chemistry.  Why?  Chemistry can take time.  The foundation of romantic comedies is that each person discovers later that the person is a great match for them.  The two lovers have to overcome obstacles such as misperceptions of the other person, or attachment to someone else out of loyalty, family pressure or loneliness.

But the most common reason to avoid relying on instant chemistry is people’s tendencies to choose someone who fits into a dysfunctional relationship pattern that comes from the patterns of the continuums of control vs. passivity, and emotional distance vs. two-peas –in-a-pod.  We are all at risk of recreating our unresolved, often unconscious, attachment styles that we learned from our families.

As a result, feeling chemistry for someone might just be your emotional comfortwith someone—and some relational pattern—that is not good for you!

Instead, use these suggestions:

  • Date lots of different people
  • Hang out and do casual, real-life activities such as meeting for coffee or brunch—alone and with each other’s friends. Observe the person over time.
  • Give most people second chances—or even more.
  • Know your dysfunctional comfort style, and “tough out” feeling “not you” for a while with a new person.
  • Wait for chemistry to kick in when you know that you actually like and respect the other person—and that you like and respect who you are in this new relationship.

Myth # 2: “It’s my body, my feelings, so if I feel like having sex right away with someone, well, why not?”

Okay, you’re using birth control—hopefully.  You’re really attracted to this person. You never thought you could get someone like that.  It’s your one chance, you think.  This person seems to offer you a life you never thought you could have.

Or, perhaps you are very lonely now.  Maybe you’re getting older, or you are amongst the few people in your family who doesn’t have a partner.  You might even be overcoming a setback at work or in your health.  And if your partner broke up with you, you might want to “prove” to yourself that you can get someone.  These reasons can’t address every situation, but these are the ones that appear most often in studies.

So, what really is wrong with having sex right away—or soon? 

For women, there is always the issue of safety.  By now, television shows such as “Dateline” have taught us the danger lurking inside charmers and exciting men.

Other than safety, what are the top reasons for holding off on sex too soon?  The reasons do not have anything to do with ethics, religion or morals—although if these issues are important to you, then slow down and take your time!

But the main reasons to wait until you know and like each other are

Sex arouses your hormones of pleasure (from elevated dopamine and other neuro-chemicals)  and attachment (from elevated oxytocin, the hormone that pregnancy activates so that mother and baby can bond.)

Oops—no wonder sex too soon can be a potent misstep:   You can end up feeling connected to someone you hardly know—and who hardly knows you.   And then you can end up feeling right about the wrong person for you.

Instead, use these suggestions:

  • Slow down.  Stop the fantasizing in your brain.
  • Make your dates casual.  Make them resemble real life.  After all, most of relationship life is very ordinary.  Run errands together, hang out with friends and get feedback from people you trust.  Observe how this person interacts with you and your friends, and what this person’s friends say about him or her.
  • Don’t put yourself in compromising positions by going back to one of your places.  If you want to linger, go to a hotel bar.
  • Accept that you will feel uncomfortable stepping out of your comfort zone.  And accept that you might also feel uncomfortable without the approval and acceptance you faslsely believe sex grants.

Myth # 3: “I should date someone really different from my previous not-so-great choice of partner.”

There is nothing wrong with a competent person or a calm person.  But, if things are rocky, you could end up saying to yourself:  “Well, I’d better tough this out because I already know what happened when I chose someone who was the opposite.”Choosing someone different is not, in itself, an unhealthy idea.  Different is not the problem.  One common problem, though, can arise when you get trapped into thinking of people as “types.”  For example, if your previous partner was too passive, you might find yourself falling for a commanding, take charge person.  You say to yourself:  “No more indecisive people.”  Or if your partner loved drama, you might say to yourself:  “I want a steady, calm person.”

Instead, use these suggestions:

Be aware that you might be over-correcting your previous relationship pattern.

  • Focus on how you two actually relate. Your relationship pattern will tell you more about the wisdom of your choice.
  • Observe who has the most “say” in a relationship. Do you share in decisions? Is there mutual respect of each other’s ideas and needs?  Does either of you give in too much or criticize and control?
  • Observe who is too needy or too distant. Is there so much texting going on that it looks like stalking or neediness?

There are many more myths out there, but if you start with these three, you can fine tune your judgment and choices.

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