If you’re currently single, that means every dating relationship you’ve ever been in has failed (or you've never dated). That’s not meant to be negative or make you feel bad; it’s just a fact. So far, dating hasn’t worked out for you.
I’ve been there. I went through my share of failed dating relationships when I was single. Why did they fail? There are many reasons, but often it was because of my own mistakes. It was heartache or frustration or wasted time that could have been prevented.
Now that I work in a young adult ministry with a few thousand singles, I see the same dating mistakes happening over and over again. I’d like to help you avoid them. So, in no particular order, here are nine of the most common dating mistakes I’ve seen:
Dating for fun, not for marriage.
Either you’re heading for marriage, or you’re heading for a break-up. So if marriage isn’t your goal, or isn’t even an option, you’re basically guaranteeing the relationship will fail. Your best-case scenario is that it fails quickly, before anybody can get seriously hurt.
Trusting feelings over facts.
Feelings are unreliable. Feelings change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have feelings for the person you’re dating, but it becomes a problem when they blind you to the facts. They can cause you to gloss over obvious red flags or ignore signs you should break up. Conversely, a lack of an instant “spark” can cause you to ignore or quickly give up on someone who would actually be a great match—and whom you might develop feelings for after a few dates of getting to see how awesome they are.
Dropping your friends/community and spending all your time with the person you’re dating.
This plays right into the tendency to be blinded by feelings. Those who know you best and who care about you as a friend are great resources in dating. Since they’re not “in love” with your boyfriend or girlfriend, they should be able to more clearly see whether this person is a good potential spouse for you.
Being driven by fear.
“What if nobody else comes along and I’ll be single forever” is probably not a good way to make decisions on dating and marriage. Even if it were true, being single is better than being in a relationship with the wrong guy or girl.
Pursuing the wrong people.
So you’re attracted to “bad boys”? Well, by definition, they’re never going to be good for you. Think you can overlook the fact that you don’t share the same faith because you share a love of Doctor Who? Then you’re prioritizing the relationship over the Lord, and dating is your true god.
Focusing on physical attractiveness.
Physical attraction is less important than you think. It can be a factor, but it shouldn’t be a main factor. Looks are guaranteed to change over time. So, if that’s all you’re interested in, then you already know that you’ll eventually lose interest.
Going too far physically.
How far is too far? As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, sometimes even kissing can be too far (or can increase the temptation to go further). Premarital sex can cause you to stay in a bad relationship far longer than you should, make breakups more painful, complicates future relationships, and has other consequences. Instead of moving you closer to marriage, it tends to slow down that process.
Not being honest.
If you’re trying to be what he or she wants you to be—instead of just being who you are—then you’ve fallen into this dating mistake. They’re not even really dating you; they’re dating an imaginary person, a fictional character that you’ve made up. Eventually the charade will fall, and it rarely ends well.
If you ask her out, she might say “no,” but she might say “yes.” Even if it feels like a long shot, there’s still at least a small chance you’ll succeed. If you don’t ask, your odds remain at 0%.
That’s not all the dating mistakes you can make, but it’s some of the big ones. What mistakes have you made in dating?
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)