“It’s complicated” – a common phrase on a Facebook profile in response to “relationship status.” But it’s not just relationships that are complicated. This whole dating thing is complicated. If you are single and “out there” in today’s dating world, you will be navigating a host of experiences, situations, emotional highs and lows, and, yes, even expenses. In short, this is not your parents’ or grandparents’ dating climate.

If you want successful dating (and that can only be defined by you), you will want to think about how you present yourself and how you behave before, during, and after dates. You will want to avoid the dating mistakes that many do make.

Let’s unpack the most common dating mistakes. Some of them may not apply to you, so consider this a checklist – take what “fits” and discard what does not.

Not Having a Clear Purpose for Dating

People have all sorts of goals in mind when they date, from one-night hookups to casual dating with no serious commitment, to rebounding from a bad breakup, to looking for a lifelong partner. Why are you dating? Be honest with yourself about what you want out of dating. This will determine who you date, how you date, and even where you look for dates. If you are not clear on your dating goals, you may find yourself in situations that you really don’t like or want – a waste of your time.

Confusing Dating and a Relationship


If you are in a relationship, and it is going well, then you will probably want to date that one person exclusively. But if you are not in a relationship, only dating one person is a mistake. You need to play the field a bit. People often make the mistake of confining their dating to just one person at a time. Then, when the dating goes awry, they are left with starting the “hunt” all over again. If you play the field now, you will gain more experience and be able to clarify traits that you do or do not like.

Dating Too Many at One Time

So this is the opposite of the above. If you spread yourself too thin, you may be a great “party animal” but may never find contentment with one person if you are looking for a relationship. Each date will have good and not-so-good traits for different types of dates. If you’re not looking for a relationship, this may be fine for where you are right now. Just know that when you are ready to look for a serious relationship, you’ll need to narrow the field.

You’re On the Rebound


If you are not over a painful breakup, you are not ready to get out there yet. There is a huge difference between being lonely and being alone with yourself. Throwing yourself into dating and maybe even a new relationship before you have healed can have really bad results. Take time to debrief and engage in some self-analysis first. Socialize with friends/family or sign up for a class if you need to get out.

You Over- or Under-Use Online Dating Apps

Here’s the thing about dating apps. They can be great “filters” for selecting dates. You set up a profile and state your preferences. You receive “matches” based on these. Then you have the chance to engage in an “online” dating experience to get to know one another before you meet up in person. And these can be a “safe” starting space for those who have non-normative gender identities. Click here for an example. On the other hand, people with social anxiety can get caught up in using a dating app as a replacement for the real thing and never force themselves to get into a physical person-to-person dating environment.

Getting Too Attached Too Early

Those who are seeking a serious long-term relationship from dating can become impatient. And so they may lower their expectations or standards and hop into a relationship having only dated a short time. While many “experts” say this is one of the common dating mistakes women make, they do not have a “corner on this market.” Guys do this too, especially if they have self-esteem issues. Making this mistake can result in you getting less than you deserve.

And Now…(Drum Roll)…The Top Three Dating Mistakes That Lead to Breakups


The above mistakes can all be major “goofs,” but there are three that top the list. Consider them carefully.

1. Pretending to Be Someone You Are Not

This comes in all forms. Some inflate their educations, careers, financial status, etc. Others are so desperate to please a date that they fake knowledge, interests, etc. of those things their date is “into.” The truth will always come out in the end. You can’t pretend to know all about kayaking or being an “outdoors person” when you are not. Be honest upfront and you won’t have to “cover” your lies later. When someone you really like finds out, that will probably be a “deal-breaker.”

2. Being Too Needy

This problem expresses itself in lots of ways. Being too needy is a condition that usually results from low self-esteem, and it causes you to do things that will turn off those you are dating. Here are examples of how being too needy express themselves:

  • Obsessive texting: You may think that sending texts throughout the day and evening will show how much you are interested in or care for a person. But the receiver may see this as almost stalking. It’s fine to text a bit, but keep those messages short and light and space them out. Don’t text without some reason – a funny joke, a news item that may interest them, etc. Texting every day to say good morning or good night? No.
  • Showing Envy or Jealousy: When you are out on a date, how do you respond to your date interacting with others you see as “competition?” If you openly show that you are upset about those interactions, you will easily turn off your date.
  • You start acting like a detective: You try to figure out where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with. You follow their social media accounts like a sniffing dog; you call or text to find out where they are and what they are doing. In its extreme form, it can take on such ridiculous behaviors as parking outside their homes, following them, etc. This is really obsessive behavior at its worst. Get some professional help

3. Believing You Can Change the Person You are Dating

So, you are really attracted to someone you are dating. But they also have some behaviors that you really don’t like. Maybe they’re too flirty; maybe they drink too much when you are out; perhaps they ignore you between dates. Whatever their flaws, you think your love and attention can somehow change these behaviors. Don’t count on it – if the behaviors are deal-breakers for you, get out now.