Whether you have found love or are still searching for it, one thing’s for sure:
It’s not easy—and maybe it will never be.
The mere thought of it is even scary. Think about it. How do strangers become lovers and how do lovers become strangers—again? What if we love and lose? What if we love and get stuck? Is love a feeling or a way of life? Will it save us, fix us, or break us?
The questions are many and the answers are, well, mysterious. Say what you like about love, we might never be able to figure it out. This is what makes looking for it so complicated and messy.
Now we may not be looking for love per se. We’re simply looking for the right person to share it with, which, ultimately, makes the quest much more arduous. I wasn’t looking for love when I met my husband nearly five years ago. I was hopeless and jaded. I know it sounds depressing, but being in that neutral, leave-me-the-f*ck-alone state was actually beneficial.
I had put a copious amount of effort and energy into my past relationships and doing the same emotional work (again) was out of the question for me. Ironically, I ended up marrying the man with whom I was “lazy.”
Looking back at it now, what I had called effort and energy weren’t “effort and energy” at all. They were mistakes—plain and simple. Luckily, I spared my husband (most of) my mistakes, and maybe, this is why it has worked out (but don’t take my word for it because, of course, there are thousands of other factors that contribute to the failure of any relationship).
But I’m not the only one who has made mistakes when it comes to love. We’ve all made dating mistakes at least once in our lifetime, and it’s okay. We all tend to fall into the same dating patterns over and over again, especially if we’re really into someone.
However, with failure comes wisdom. So if we want our relationships to (maybe) last, we better avoid doing these seven common mistakes:
1. Making a list of things we want in a partner. Knowing what we want is great; it means we’re confident and prepared. But writing down a detailed list of qualities to look for in a partner is limiting…and might not always be what we need. It’s important to look for similar values (such as trust, family, financial matters, or loyalty) or nonnegotiables (such as abuse, violence, narcissism, or sociopathy), but being picky about the less-important stuff (such as their smile or stature) is…silly. Spontaneity is essential. They don’t have to tick off certain boxes, but they do have to make us feel good about ourselves—and the world.
2. Having colossal expectations. Unrealistic expectations have ruined my romantic connections many times on different occasions. When it comes to love, we can’t exactly expect something specific. Like everything else in life, love (and people in particular) is unpredictable and unreliable. Meeting someone with a long list of expectations is a recipe for disaster. We need to see what a person is willing to show us before making assumptions about them. Having no expectations increases our chances of finding a meaningful, long-lasting connection.
3. Comparing our relationships. Comparison in relationships is dangerous—and a huge mistake. Comparing our current partner or date to someone else (especially someone from our past) limits the authenticity of our connections. We can’t see people clearly for who they are when we compare them. Every person is unique, so no two relationships will look the same. Look for compatibility—not common traits with other people. Remember to leave your past behind when you walk into a new relationship.
4. Thinking we have to be someone else. Sometimes we mask up who we really are—our hobbies, interests, and character—to gain our partner’s or date’s approval. We worry that our true colors might push them away, so we let go of our authenticity to avoid rejection and failure. For a relationship to succeed, we shouldn’t be fake or misleading. Own your personality and character without pretending to be someone you’re not; have fun. Genuinity strengthens romantic bonds; insincerity dissolves them.
5. Feeling butterflies doesn’t mean they’re the one. Love will trigger tons of emotions in our bodies, but as you may know, these euphoric reactions don’t last long. Having said that, don’t choose someone based on how their presence or touch or voice makes you feel in your body. I didn’t feel butterflies in my stomach when I first saw my husband and we didn’t stare into each other’s eyes for one minute straight; however, our relationship is more successful than any fleeting romance I have lived. Look for qualities—not feelings.
6. Putting deadlines on your relationship. Know that every relationship evolves at its own pace, so putting a certain timeline to when you should move things to the next level is absurd. Instead of focusing on time, focus on your intuition and the other person’s actions. When you see (and feel) that things aren’t progressing, then you can decide on your plan of action.
7. Not communicating our needs. Sharing our experiences, stories, feelings, and desires is necessary for any healthy partnership. No matter how well our partner may know us, they can never figure out what we really want. Especially at the beginning, it’s important to be clear about what we’re expecting so we don’t accumulate misunderstandings.