Most relationships die prematurely. Bound by the spell of attraction, we dive in too soon, too fast, and then it all goes to ruins. At times it happens instantly: A wrong word is said at the wrong time. Other times, it takes a series of events.
Whatever the case, we often forget that anything precious and worth having requires care and nurturing especially at the initial stage.
Relationships that have weathered the storms of life can take any blow life throws their way. But when relationships are mere saplings, they wither and die faster than they blossom.
If you’re repeatedly nursing heartbreaks at the tomb of your gone-too-soon-relationships, here’s what you’re doing wrong.
1. Taking the Plunge Too Soon.
Your new lover melts your heart. You want to be with them all the time, so what’s the next best thing? Move-in together! Awesome! (yea, not quite.) Moving in together is one of those things we know we shouldn’t do but do it anyway.
When you get too serious too soon, you arrive at the assumption that you already know everything you need to know about each other. You stop doing the things you used to do before, which most likely brought you both together.
The cookie then slowly begins to crumble. Here’s why:
Moving in together means different things to both man and woman.
A man sees this as an opportunity to “test drive the marriage” when a woman sees this as a sign that marriage is the next thing in line — Two assumptions that mean two completely different things.
When relationships start on different wavelengths, it causes problems that can be buried at the initial stages, rest quietly for a while only to rise from the tomb and strike both partners.
About 75% of couples move in together before marriage but studies show these same couples report fewer happy marriages. Premarital cohabitation increases the risk of divorce after the first year.
A friend who had moved in with her college boyfriend once told me,
“You struggle with more problems than people still dating or those already married. You stay with the person due to inertia not because they fit the profile of your ideal partner. Also, you increase your chances of living together without increasing how interested or committed you are to each other.”
What you can do instead:
Being in love isn’t enough reason to move in with someone. You need to have a strong enough foundation in the courtship days to ascertain whether or not the relationship has legs.
Laying the foundation can mean meeting family and friends, doing more stuff together, and fighting more (it’s a good thing). In addition to teaching you more about your partner, these experiences can give you a glimpse of what a future with your lover will look like.
So, take time to learn your partner. No one can tell you how much time you need, but when you’re ready, you’ll know.
2. Desiring the Unavailable.
There are plenty of unavailable people in the dating scene even though they seem available. The most obvious is the separated-but-not-divorced. They aren’t free from their past and not free to jump into the future either. The other category is those who have never had a real relationship — beyond the odd flings. Even when a relationship takes off, it’s dead within a month.
It may seem like that on the surface, but emotionally unavailable people don’t set out to hurt others. Deep down, they either struggle with vulnerability or are burdened with a host of other personal issues like childhood trauma and fear.
Being detached from their feelings makes it hard to handle the feelings of others. And because they are closed to intimacy, they self-sabotage to protect themselves. Which means they need to work through those hurdles before they can open up to you.
It can be confusing when you fall for someone who gives you mixed signals, as is often the case with emotionally unavailable lovers.
What you can do instead:
But no matter how much you want to be with someone, you must be careful not to desire their growth more than they want it themselves. It’s tempting to think you can change someone’s attitude, yet, the truth is, only they can make that decision. You can inspire them, but you can’t make that choice for them.
Psychologists suggest reframing your experience with the emotionally unavailable person by not looking at it as “dating” but as a way of creating a human connection. You can start by asking yourself, “Am I having fun? Do I like this person?”
Also, it helps to open yourself up to meeting people you are compatible with, even if the chemistry isn’t there initially. Expanding your dating pool extricates you from dating unavailable folks.
3. Standards Are Great, but You Need This One Thing Too.
I’m all for having standards when choosing the person to date. Knowing the right person for you helps you weed out those who can’t give you the relationship you want. But in the same breath, checklists can be stifling. Shutting the door on people who can make you happy because they fall short in a few aspects.
The key to winning in the dating game is having the right standards and having a small margin of flexibility.
At times, the people we end up with look nothing as expected, and that’s okay as long as they make you happy.
What you can do instead:
Approach a new relationship with an open mind as opposed to comparing them with your checklist. It’s amazing what people can teach you when you express curiosity. Even if they don’t teach you anything new, it doesn’t hurt to adopt the mindset, “I’m having fun.”
When you look at it as a way of having fun, dating becomes more exciting because you extricate yourself from the pressure that comes with finding the person who fits your checklist. Most importantly, focus on how you feel around them and how they treat you.
- Do they express interest in your life?
- Do they ask about your dog?
- How do they talk about their mother?
These are the aspects you need to focus on. They give a relationship more substance than a mere checklist.
4. Not Knowing the Perfect Balance.
Whilst I’m advocating for having fun, there is such a thing as having too much fun too early in the relationship and throwing caution in the wind too soon. Like disclosing sensitive and personal information, thoughts, and memories to the other person before you’re sure of their personality and the level of emotional intimacy you’re involved in.
If you’re the type of person who discloses too much personal information, you have a high level of self-disclosure. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it can help bring a sense of closeness to the dating phase.
What brings people together is how well they know each other because it reveals how compatible they are. However, untimely self-disclosure is a toxic dating habit that can create embarrassment and ruin the chances of your relationship blossoming.
Here’s one scenario that can explain this better:
When you share details about yourself with an introvert, you end up feeling short-changed. Generally, introverted personalities only disclose to people they know well, which makes it hard to know them and creates a sense of imbalance. They suddenly know too about you without you knowing much about them.
This imbalance can make it hard to trust your date or cause them to lose interest. Most people forget that any information they reveal in the dating phase becomes their partner’s version of the gospel truth because they don’t know them well yet. People buy the version of you that you sell to them.
It’s why your date doesn’t need to know how many people you’ve been intimate with or how much money you make (yet).
What you can do instead:
Before disclosing personal information, ask yourself:
- “What is the current level of emotional intimacy in this relationship?”
- “What’s the personality type of my date?”
- “How would I process the information if they served it to me?
Would you still want to be with them knowing they have a debt problem? Probably not.
The key is to share enough for your date to know you without overwhelming them with details they can’t easily digest or that can influence their view of you negatively. This doesn’t mean you’re fake; it goes back to what we said about handling young relationships with care because they are fragile.
When the relationship has thawed a bit, you can be honest about your flaws. Why?
It’s easier for people to accept your weaknesses after they know you and the strengths you possess.
But this takes time.
While this list isn’t conclusive of the toxic dating habits, it highlights the most common. So if you’re tired of going in circles in the dating scene, here’s what you need to avoid:
- Taking the plunge too soon. It leads to unhappy marriages and an increased risk of divorce.
- Desiring the unavailable. Expand your dating pool.
- Have standards but also have a small margin of flexibility. Ditch the checklist.
- Disclose enough, but don’t overwhelm your date. Find the perfect balance.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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Photo credit: Judeus Samson on Unsplash