If you’ve been through the ringer in your dating life, it’s tricky to put yourself out there again.
You hope you’ll clock the red flags you missed in past relationships, and if you do and call them out, you hope you won’t fall for the same BS again.
Or, even worse—what if there are new red flags that you didn’t know to look out for, and you end up getting hurt all over again?
I wish there was a surefire way to figure out how to only invest your time, emotions, and energy into the right person, but that’s not how this finding-love process works.
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk of getting hurt when dating. By avoiding the four things listed below, you can empower yourself with a clear mind and possibly prevent more pain in your search for love.
1. Indulge confusion. If someone you find interesting says they want to see you but doesn’t make an actual plan to do so, they’re not confusing you. They’re just not available. Feel the bummer, and move on.
If they go hot-hot-hot with you and then suddenly drop off after two weeks, this isn’t confusing either. No one should be that intense and love-bombing you without knowing you. That behavior is a red flag in and of itself. It wasn’t something you said or did. It just wasn’t a sustainable or real connection because it takes time to get to know someone.
2. Decide you like them right away. I too am guilty of getting carried away right off the bat and deciding that this is it! The chemistry, the laughs, the feeling that you’ve known each other for years after only a few dates—and because it’s been so long since you’ve felt this way, this must be the one.
It’s okay to feel an undeniable pull towards someone, but it’s your job to slow your roll and take your time getting to know them. The attraction can be real, but find out what it is they’re looking for, and see if their actions line up with their words over time.
Continue living your own life that exists outside of this new person. See how they respond to the relationship going at a slower, healthier pace, not because you want to play games, but because you are actually taking your finding-love journey seriously.
3. Show all your cards. A person you just started seeing hasn’t earned the rights to your deepest, darkest secrets by date four. Seriously.
I get that you want them to know as much as possible about you to avoid being rejected later on for something in your past.
But do they really need to know all about your childhood trauma so early on? Sharing the most personal details of your life right away can give the impression that you’re much closer than you actually are. And it sets you up for a lot more pain if this person decides you’re not a match for them.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be a little vulnerable and have deep conversations in the initial stages of getting to know someone. But it may be helpful to decide ahead of time just how much information you want to share.
4. Date exclusively. I get it. It’s rare to find someone genuinely intriguing. When they finally come along, you have zero interest in dating anyone else because it seems like slim pickins out there. (And I don’t disagree.)
However, refer back to one and two of this list. It takes time to get to know someone. Putting all your eggs in one basket with a person you’ve hung out with a handful of times opens you up to the frustration of not keeping your options open. And maybe the other person was doing so the whole time.
Also, you may believe the relationship’s more serious than it is when you’re putting all your energy, precious dating time, and focus into this one person, which only leads to more pain and heartache if it doesn’t work out.
I’m not going to lie. Sticking to these guidelines can be challenging when a promising person comes along who shows up in all the right ways. But remind yourself—no matter how different they may seem compared to the past doozies you’ve dated, showing up differently for yourself will undoubtedly bring you the healthiest, happiest, and most grounded relationship you’ve experienced yet.
If you want to attract different, you’ve gotta show up different.
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