Dating is a kind of due diligence. It gives you the opportunity to get to know a person you may have feelings for. This process is very important, because even though you may be feeling the love, the two of you may not be able to live together.
Dating gives you the opportunity to ask a ton of questions, and asking questions is the No. 1 thing that daters need to learn to do. Trust me, you won’t get the answers you need from anyone’s online profile. But by asking the right questions, you will learn about your potential new partner’s past and what his or her hopes and dreams are. Monica Leahy’s book, “1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married,” is a great resource.
Here are some mistakes to avoid while dating:
Making future plans too soon. If you start talking about big changes or events early on, like wedding plans or picking baby names, you can easily push an interested person away. I remember one episode of “The Bachelor” where one of the women came downstairs in a wedding dress. She didn’t get a rose. Go slow.
Staying with someone who you know isn’t a good fit, because you don’t want to hurt his or her feelings. If you know that this person isn’t right for you, let him or her know it in a nice way. Simply saying that you that the two of you are not meant to be will allow the other person to move on gracefully.
Lying to yourself about how you feel; this is a common rebound response. If being in a relationship is your driving force, it’s quite possible that you will settle for someone who is available but not necessarily right for you. If you are at this point in your life, it is wise to take some time off from the dating scene until you have regained your emotional balance.
Bringing your friend or parent on a date with a new guy or gal. Generally, this is not the best way to get to know someone else, and a third party could make the other person feel awkward. If you want to bring someone else along on a first date so that you feel safe, let your date know what you’d like to do, and discuss it a little, if necessary. Otherwise, dating should be just for the two of you.
When you see red flags – whatever they may be to you – don’t ignore them. If someone has done things in the past that conflict with your values, or if he or she believes in things that make you uncomfortable, honor your own feelings and don’t make any future plans. A bad person can still make you feel good, at least for a little while, so be careful and don’t get caught up in a situation that could hurt you in the end.
Dating, relating, and mating can be a challenge in modern times. You can avoid some painful mistakes if you apply a little common sense and refuse to settle for less than you deserve.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.