Advice

4 Universal Dating Mistakes We Can All Learn From

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Dating seems basic: you show up, someone else shows up, you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) each other’s company. Easy, right? Wrong. There’s a lot more to dating than that, which means there’s a lot of room for making mistakes. Trust me; I’ve made a lot of them. Below, a list of my silliest errors.

Plus: 7 Types Of Men Who Won’t Make You Happy

I Assumed The Point Was to Make Someone Fall in Love With Me:

For years, I thought the entire reason we ever went out on dates was so that we could attract admirers. I would regale potential mates with hilarious anecdotes, show what a fun-loving gal I was and essentially charm and cajole like I was running for office or campaigning to win a beauty pageant. While this technique was occasionally effective, what I wouldn’t do on my dates was get to know the guy I was sitting across from. And that would leave me with a greater problem: I would base my decision on whether or not I wanted to go out with him again solely on how good a kiss we’d had, if we’d kissed. While kissing is important, I think everyone out of high school can probably agree on the fact that this is not how sound dating decisions are made. Still, what else did I have to work with? At a certain point, I came to understand that the point of a date wasn’t to leave the person swooning but to actually get to know him.

I Thought I Had to Make Out:

People pleasing can be a dangerous trait when it comes to dating and the way mine used to manifest itself was in the true belief that I was somehow obligated to kiss a guy at the end of the night. I just somehow got it into my head that a kiss was expected and that if I wanted to get out of it, I’d have to develop some elaborate plan along the lines of faking a seizure. I’d actually linger in a car waiting for a kiss I didn’t even want because I somehow thought that’s how dates had to end. It was a glorious relief to realize that simply saying, “Thanks so much” and exiting the car (or, in New York, giving a hug, a handshake or simply a smile) was plenty.

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I Didn’t Just Accept the Fact That We Weren’t Connecting:

Boy, does hope spring eternal when we date. I have painted red flags white so many times that I should have probably stashed a can of paint and paintbrush in my purse. I’ve also tried to make things work—or, even worse, blamed myself when they weren’t—instead of realizing that I was out with a douchebag or just accepted the fact that the guy and I weren’t connecting. I remember one date in particular where I was asking a guy what his family was like and he snapped that I needed to learn to not ask such personal questions and instead inquire about more comfortable topics, like what his hobbies were. I felt ashamed, asked him about his hobbies and listened while he dove into a boring soliloquy about his passion for skiing; I wish I’d instead realized he was weird and that I’d done nothing wrong (or, better yet, never said yes to the date in the first place).

Plus: About That Time I Did Drugs With My Boyfriend, And It Was A Mistake

I Assumed It Was a Disaster Because No Future Plans Were Made:

I think many women out there are guilty of this one: we think that if we’re on a date and the guy doesn’t inquire if we’re free a few nights later or mention the fact that he wants to see us again, it means he didn’t like us. The fact is, not every man does that. Some do—to an annoying or psychotic degree. Some don’t, and that doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Obviously it’s 2012 and a girl can of course offer up, at the end of the night, that she’d love for the guy to come bowling/karaoke singing/Ferris wheel riding or whatever else she might have in mind but I know the times that I’ve done that, it’s because I was nervously trying to secure a future date rather than leaving it up to fate. I was basically trying to control a situation where I didn’t feel like I had any and it would make me feel bad, no matter what response I got. Not every girl’s going to have that motive but if she does, I can promise that leaving it up in the air and receiving an enthusiastic call or text the next day feels much better than trying to get some sort of a guarantee in the moment. Just like with so many things, letting go often allows us to receive exactly what we want.

Anna David is the author of the new Kindle Single Animal Attraction, which is about how her relationship with her cats impacts her relationships with men. She’s also the author of the novels Party Girl (HarperCollins, 2007) and Bought (HarperCollins, 2009) and the memoir Falling for Me (HarperCollins, 2011). She conceived of and edited the anthology Reality Matters (HarperCollins, 2010), is the Executive Editor of addiction and recovery website The Fix, and has written for The New York Times, The LA Times, Vanity Fair, Cosmo, People, Premiere, Us Weekly, Details, Playboy, Redbook, Self, and Women’s Health, among many other publications. She appears on NBC, Fox News, CNN, and other networks discussing either relationships or addiction. Her next book, which she’s writing on the actor Tom Sizemore, will be released in 2013 by Simon & Schuster.

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