Register for all the major online dating sites – Check.
Go to singles mixers – Check.
Ask friends to help scout – Check.
Go out on a bunch of dates and come home frustrated and dismayed – Check.
What exactly is going wrong? If you’re like me, it could very well be that you’ve fallen into one of these common dating traps.
This list is based on research via the Relationship Coaching Institute, my own experiences, my friends’ and clients’ experiences, and just plain observation. When I first came across these concepts, based on research from the Relationship Coaching Institute, it really blew my mind – as I read each one, I realized exactly what I had been doing. Dating traps are the effects or results of the causes – faulty logic, limiting beliefs, and fear. The moment I read them, discussed, augmented them to reflect my own experiences, my friends’ and clients’ experiences, I felt much clearer about how and why a majority of my past relationships ended up in flames.
I realized that merely being aware of them helped me avoid falling back into these traps and better prepare for a successful and lasting relationship. Most of the traps result in unsolvable problems in a relationship – I felt it was important to avoid wasting my time in relationships rife with unsolvable problems.
Think about how these apply to you. Perhaps you’re afraid that you’re not going to get what you really want, or that you’ll be single for the rest of your life and always be unhappy. But the truth is that when you act out of fear, you end up creating the very things that you’re afraid of.
By practicing Empowered Dating you can do a lot more than you realize to avoid these traps and prepare for an extraordinary relationship.
1. Marketing Trap : How many of you get hung up on the fallacy that you have to look like Hugh Jackman or Angelina Jolie to find an extraordinary partner? This is the trap where you spend lots of time making yourself more appealing with attractive outer “packaging”. When you fall into the Marketing Trap, you fear that nobody wants you as you really are. By marketing’ yourself, you risk disappointment and relationship failure. So when the excitement and promise of the ‘sizzle’ conflicts with reality, one or both of you are left feeling disappointed and angry. Now this is not to say that you should let yourself go to pot … but to be aware of your motivations.
2. Packaging Trap : Oh my goodness, this was such a biggie for me! I would primarily (often solely) focus on outside packaging – such as someone’s body, looks, job, wealth, material possessions and overlook the reality of the person inside. Particularly when I was in the advertising business – I felt that my partner needed to not only look stylish but he needed the right job title. I wanted a partner that others in the ad industry would envy. Man, did I set myself up for misery.
3. Scarcity Trap : After identifying my core relationship requirements, I found myself falling into the belief that I’d never find a partner with whom I could experience those requirements. As a result, I often teeter on the edge of thinking there’s a limited supply of possible partners so I have to take what I can get — or be alone. What – A – Mistake. This belief inevitably resulted in relationship failure because I believed I can’t get what I really want. I was tempted to settle for less – and as we all know: If you expect less, you get less. As well, you will always be on the lookout for someone ‘better’- just in case.
4. Compatibility Trap : Assuming that if you have fun together and get along well, you are compatible and a committed relationship will work. In this trap, we forget that dating focuses on having fun, which is different than focusing on a long-term committed relationship. This results in relationship failure when discovering the vast difference between a fun-focused, recreational dating relationship and a serious, long-term committed relationship. The process and criteria for choosing a recreational relationship needs to be very different from choosing a Life Partner.
5. Magical Thinking Trap : Magical thinking is the belief that one’s thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world – or that the mere act of thinking something corresponds with doing it. This is expecting your ideal partner to magically appear – or believing that finding your life partner will just happen — so that you can live happily ever after, without effort on your part. This results in disappointment when the frogs that happen to jump into your life don’t become princes.
6. Date-To-Mate Trap : How many times did I fall into this one, where I would connect with someone I thought was attractive, had the right job title and social status and then we’d become an ‘instant couple’. In this trap, we act as if we’re giving each person we date an extended test drive as a potential spouse. Here we believe that if you develop an exclusive relationship with someone we’re dating, a successful committed relationship will eventually happen. Other terms for this are ‘Serial Monogamy” and the ‘Mini- Marriage’. This approach is a costly use of time and emotional energy. The inertia in this trap is pressure to make the relationship work, attempt to resolve unsolvable problems, and fit a square peg in a round hole because breaking up and being single again is an undesired outcome.
7. Attraction Trap : Making relationship choices solely based on feelings of attraction. I remember falling hard for this super hot yoga teacher, who taught me a lot about Hindu spirituality and ascetic discipline, and telling myself that, despite his obvious emotional detachment, this strong physical attraction was a sign that the relationship was a good choice and ‘meant to be’. This approach results in relationship failure when unsolvable problems surface because you ignored the red flags while infatuated. Unconscious choices usually result in repeating unproductive past patterns. Attraction is like the radar that helps you find your target. But the Attraction Trap occurs when you blindly follow this radar.
8. Sex Trap : Focusing on the chemistry under the covers by interpreting sex as love; using sex as a kind of compatibility test (if the sex is good then the relationship will be good as well); or becoming emotionally attached and considering yourself in a kind of committed relationship as soon as you have sex.
9. Rescue Me Trap : Hoping a relationship will solve your emotional and financial difficulties and bring you happiness and fulfillment, something like winning the lottery. You avoid taking responsibility for your life challenges, expecting to be rescued from them. Results in desperation, neediness, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.
10. Co-Dependant Trap : You expect someone to love you and give you what you want by giving the other person what he/she wants. You attempt to earn love and happiness by acquiescing, giving, and helping. You really want to be in a relationship. You feel that you are not worthy as you are, and need to earn love. You pursue relationships hard because you feel incomplete when you’re not in one. You want to be the hero and therefore seek someone who wants to be helped. But you learn the hard way that although it feels good to be needed, someone who needs you is not necessarily able to give you what you need. Needing to be needed often results in unconsciously attracting and choosing a relationship with a person who needs you – but as you later discover is unable to give you what you want or need.
11. First Impression Trap : Believing that what you see is what you get. Making hasty long-term relationship decisions based on short-term impressions and inferences instead of actual experience and knowledge. Getting involved in a relationship focusing on potential, hoping that some things that you really need to happen will get better or change over time. Results in seeing what you want to see. Relationship failure results when later reality doesn’t match.
12. Lone Ranger Trap : You live your single life focused on your goal of finding your life partner, believing that you don’t need anyone else in your life. You evaluate people you meet for their relationship potential only and do not take the opportunity to cultivate new friends. Results in isolation, perception of scarcity of potential partners and risk of settling for less than what you really want because you don’t want to be alone.
13. Love Trap : Interpreting infatuation, attraction, need, good sex, and/or attachment as love. “If it feels good, it must be love,” “Love conquers all,” “All you need is love.” You feel so in love that you believe it must be a good relationship. After the initial infatuation is gone, you spend the rest of your time together just trying to get it back.
14. Entitlement Trap : Believing that you deserve to be happy and get what you want in your life without effort or changes on your part. Results in relationship failure as you rely on your partner to bring you happiness and fulfillment. This inevitably results in disappointment.
Recognize yourself in one or more of these traps? (I’ve fallen into seven of these traps – pretty much repeatedly until I went through my own Empowered Dating coaching process.)
Here’s the good news: these are all patterns of choice making that can start to change simply by being aware of them. Like all change processes, awareness is a great start and needs to be sustained by the support from our friends, family, therapist, a relationship coach, etc. The Relationship Journey is the most important journey of your life – my top recommendation would be to get the support you need to avoid these dating traps so you can finally find the love of your life and live happily ever after.
So tell me ~
1. Which dating traps have you fallen into?
2. Which trap is your riskiest?
3. If you could give yourself some expert advice, what would you say?
4. What will you do to follow your own advice?
Interested in creating the life and relationship that you really want? Ask about my Empowered Dating Programs and Webinars. Click here to email me.
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