If you want to know about dating wrong - just ask me.
I've had my fair share of confusion when it came to dating because I never really understood what a healthy relationship of any sort looked like or felt like. Aside from my older sister, no one ever sat me down and told me "Gabbi, this is how you date." Once I got her in my corner and really sought to understand my own shortcomings, I was able to pick out some unhealthy dating patterns that were killing my self-esteem and ruining the pure unadulterated fun of dating.
Not only will I tell you what these things are, I'll also help walk you through how to counteract these patterns and turn them into things to help you date more successfully and confidently. I believe in honesty, so I'll give you things that worked for me as ridiculous as they are. Take it or leave it - but so far leaving it hasn't worked for you...has it, beloved?
So here we go - the dating habits that are ruining your self-esteem.
RUSHING THE TIMING
The first thing I had to stop doing is rushing the timing. You miss out on some very important character traits, typically negative ones, when you rush. More specifically if you feel you are being rushed you begin to lose your control over what the relationship becomes. This hurts your self-esteem because you may begin to lose trust in your personal judgment when it comes to people. You start to believe that you have horrible choices in significant others, but in reality you just move too fast and do not get to see people for who they truly are.
What to do instead? Try making a list of the character traits you're interested in and make a checkmark next to them each time it is displayed in the person you're dating- maybe even add an X when they act in the opposite manner (hint: keep this on your smartphone). Have a goal of 3-5 checkmarks in either direction to determine if you want to go on a date two or a date three. Sometimes you're just too focused on timing, it has nothing to do with your judgment. This will refocus your efforts on what matters - not the time. Quality of time is important, not length!
THINKING DATE+DATE EQUALS RELATIONSHIP
The second thing I had to cut out is expecting a date to become a relationship. I don't know what was wrong with my brain looking back, but I am so happy that some of those horror stories on my wish list did not become relationships. Let me break something down for you... You know what a date is? An audition for the next date. Then all of those dates compiled are like a job interview, you decide if you want to hire or fire that person. If you expect every date to be a relationship, which by the way will not happen, you'll be left thinking something is wrong with you because you don't have anyone yet. In reality, there's nothing wrong with you. The issue is the two of you together - it doesn't work.
So if you're not spending time waiting for the magical words "We together, or nah?", what should you focus on? Being the best hiring manager you can be. Going back to the first point, know what you want. Know what makes you happy. Know what you cannot deal with. Some important things on my list are 1) a relationship with God, 2) can't be a weed-head or smoke cigarettes, and 3) a clear goal and a clear starting point on that goal. I figure all of this out by date 1 if not by date 2. If it helps, write down questions you want to ask the person whether it be over the phone or in person. Also know what kind of relationship you want. Do you want something serious or are you just kicking it? Don't say you're just kicking it to play it cool if you want something serious, that's like negotiating for your own lower salary.
BEING MORE LIKEABLE THAN AUTHENTIC
The last and most regrettable mistake I've made - going on dates with the objective of getting the other person to like you. Imagine for a second that you are standing in outer space while planet Earth revolves around you. That's how you should date. It is not about the other person - it's about you. Going with the intentions of being likeable instead of being yourself simply sets you up for self-esteem failure. For one, who says they are even likeable? They could be a serial killer, and you are worried about if they like you. This is my honest go to thought whenever I find myself going back to this dating pattern. Also, you're amazing even if they don't like you.
Focus! Focus on making sure they are not a psychopath. Focus on making sure they like people. Focus on making sure they do not exhibit signs of controlling and manipulative personality traits, and lastly focus on how your value systems mesh. Go on the date to figure out if you like them. Pay attention to the details, big and small, to see if you all have similar lifestyles and goals. If he wants to move to Antarctica and you hate cold weather it's probably a clear no.
You are so much more than what a date thinks of you, so never reduce yourself to such small measures. Just because they don't see the value in dating you, does not mean they do not see your value or that your value does not exist. Dating is about evaluating the quality of the connection, not prepping for the exam of a lifetime. Aim to be yourself, learn about the other person, and you'll be just fine.
Gabriella Payne builds teams and communities through inspiration and strategic confidence development. She works with universities, athletic groups, and corporations to help students and recent graduates transform their mental thought patterns by teaching new, healthier habits. She is also an advocate for the prevention of domestic abuse and teaches a series called "See It Coming".