Modern dating is no walk in the park, but sometimes, we set ourselves up for failure. (Consider yourself the annoying little pebble in your shoe that’s making the walk all the more unbearable.)
We’re here to help. Below, therapists share seven reasons why you’re chronically falling for the wrong person.
1. You’re portraying yourself on dating apps (and possibly, in person) as someone you’re not.
If you’re an introvert who’d rather watch true crime docs on a Friday night than head out to a bar, say that on your dating profile. Stay true to yourself while looking for a partner; don’t pretend to be someone you’re not or put yourself in situations you wouldn’t normally sign up for, said Aaron Anderson, a couples therapist in Denver, Colorado.
“When you do this, you’ll find yourself around people who just don’t jive with you,” Anderson said. “There may be a deeper reason behind this, too. So ask yourself, why are you trying to fit in with a certain crowd? Why are you trying to attract a certain type of partner? As you explore these answers, you’ll find that you’re discovering yourself and attracting people more like you who you actually like.”
2. You build a fantasy about the other person before you even meet up.
If you’re an overthinker or just a head-in-the-clouds romantic, schedule that date as soon as possible. Why? You don’t want to use that idle time to build up a fantasy of the person based on what limited knowledge you have about them. (Oh, he has fishing and hiking photos, just like 75 percent of the men on Bumble in your area? Your dad’s going to love him.)
“Don’t fall in love with the fantasy you have in your head about the person,” he told HuffPost. “Attracting the right partner requires intention as well as dedicating time to get to know the real person, not who you made up in your mind.”
3. You’re telling yourself that you’re unworthy of love, or even just a first date.
Positive self-talk is critical when you’re dating. If you’re wondering if your date is judging your job title or you’re telling yourself you should have slimmed down before dating again, you’ll inevitably project uncertainty. Dating with confidence starts with embracing and valuing who you are now, at this moment in time, Gornto said.
“If you are buying into lies about yourself that increase insecurity ― ‘No one will like me’ or ‘I’m not good-looking enough’ ― you’re setting yourself up for failure,” he said. “Confidence is attractive. Developing a strong sense of self and challenging the lies and negative narrator in your mind and replacing those thoughts with truth is so important.”
4. You’re searching for your perfect match.
You deserve to have high standards, but don’t be that person who’s always looking over their shoulder, scanning the room for the next best thing (or worse, that person who hops on Tinder the second their date heads to the bathroom). Give people a chance to prove they’re a catch, said Jennifer Behnke, a therapist in South Florida.
“People who are looking for their ‘perfect match’ are unknowingly positioning themselves into a long-term season of singledom, wrought with disappointment,” she said. “No one is perfect. No relationship is perfect. You must be willing to balance having expectations while also accepting your partner for who they are.”
5. You have some baggage to address.
It might be worth considering that you’re ill-prepared for dating, at least at this point in your life. If you’re falling into the same tired relationship scripts of your past ― feeling insecure if the other person doesn’t text you constantly, for instance ― or if you still feel hung up on your ex, consider taking a dating timeout, said Anderson.
“Nobody likes to hear this, but let’s face it, baggage really is a possibility. You can’t help it if you’re hung up on your ex or if your parents weren’t particularly the best and you’re repeating the same patterns,” he said. “Do some work on you. Find a dating coach or a counselor and you’ll find yourself in a relationship you like soon enough.”
6. Your type is “emotionally unavailable.”
There’s nothing wrong with having a type ― unless your type is emotionally unavailable and relationship-challenged.
“If you don’t learn the lessons you are meant to in a relationship and from the people you’ve been attracted to in the past, you’ll continue to have similar experiences,” Behnke said. “For example, you might be familiar with the hurt attached to choosing the distant, bad boy, but still continue to seek these people out, consciously or subconsciously.”
Be conscious of who you’re attracted to and don’t buy into the wrongheaded belief that you can “fix” or change someone.
“Going into a relationship in which you view your partner as a wounded bird with your role being to ‘fix’ them is a disaster waiting to happen,” Behnke said. “It’s just not realistic. Not only does it send your partner the message that they’re not good enough, it positions the two of you in a parent-child dynamic rather than equals and lovers.”
7. You’re looking for someone you need, not someone you want.
Ask yourself why you want to be in a relationship. Your desire shouldn’t come from a place of need; no one is going to make you feel whole or fulfill all your needs. You should be looking for an interesting, equal partner, not an emotional caretaker to help you fill in blanks in your life.
“When you look for someone you want rather than need, you’re probably taking care of your own needs,” Anderson said. “You’re looking for a life partner to join along on your life journey because they add to it in ways that are irreplaceable.”
Focus on taking care of you and disabuse yourself of the belief that a relationship is a shortcut to happiness or feeling fulfilled with where you’re at in life, Anderson said.
“With this little mental shift, you’ll probably find yourself around some fascinating people who add to your life,” he said. “And then, hopefully, you’ll find yourself in a relationship that’s irreplaceable.”