Updated: Jul 3
If you are guilty of at least one (or a few), you're not alone. Even my married friends are making at least one of these relationship mistakes! Let me explain...
In the play Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe – a drama I studied enthusiastically in grad school that has remained memorable all these years later — Doctor Faustus, a German scholar, grew discontent with the limits of traditional forms of knowledge and learning. He yearned to go beyond law, logic, medicine, and religion. So he decided to learn to practice magic.
If you're thinking, "Yikes!" you're right!
Two of his friends taught him “the black arts,” and he began his new career as a magician by summoning Mephistopheles, a devil. Although Mephistopheles warned him about the horrors of hell, Faustus instructed him to return to his master, Lucifer, with an offer: Faustus would give his soul to the devil if Mephie would serve him for twenty-four years.
Throughout the drama, Faustus encounters the personifications of the seven deadly sins in various forms: covetousness, envy, gluttony, lechery, pride, sloth, and wrath. On the final night before the expiration of the twenty-four year contract, Faustus is overwhelmed by fear and remorse. He begs for mercy, but it is too late. At midnight, a bunch of devils come and carry his soul off to hell.
While it’s my truest hope that your misadventures in dating aren’t nearly so dark, dismal, and filled with everlasting consequence, I have noted – in my 24 years of studying human dating & mating habits – some commonly committed “sins” or transgressions in dating. If you’re committing one or more of these, your dating life is probably harder than it has to be!
Sin #1. You’re a grumbler. A complainer. A kvetcher. This is where the dater fails to assess, evaluate, and strategize accordingly, preferring instead to sit around at Mort’s bar, bitching about how idiotic other people are and about how frustrating it is when people don’t act the way you want them to. They don’t ask what’s working and what’s not. They don’t ask, how am I contributing to the problem. They don’t seek out expert advice or solutions.
P.S. Venting to your newly divorced friend does not constitute seeking expert advice.
Related to this is Negativity. It’s dating sin 1.5. Bad attitude. Woe-is-me-ism. Always talking about how “my job is the worst, I have no free time to go out and socialize!” or “my sister is awful, she has a great husband, but she won’t fix me up!” or “I’m so pissed at my cell phone provider right now, I lost all these text messages from that guy I met on Tinder!” Whatever. Being THAT person gives the impression that you’re committed to being unhappy.
Sin #2. You have poor boundaries. Having bad boundaries with your ex, your kids, your family, your co-workers. Taking on everyone’s sh*t and believing it’s your own or that you have to do something about it or getting sucked into drama. This is actually a total repellent to new love. Neither men nor women are attracted to people who don’t have clear, firm, self-loving boundaries. Being this way tends to attract users and losers.
Sin #3. You think that men are wired like women and women are wired like men. This results in women wishing men would be their closest confidantes and be intimate and vulnerable with them in the way their girlfriends are and just listen and stop trying to solve their problems. That’s not a reasonable expectation; don’t expect your guy to have the heart and soul of your best girlfriend encased in the body of a dude.
Thinking that women’s brains are like men’s brains also results in men sending unwanted dic picks to women who are so freaked out and offended by this that they want to swear off dating for the rest of their natural lives. Many men are wired for the visual and for novelty and aggressive sexuality, but most women want to build up to that point. They feel vulnerable and turned off when you request body pictures from them and/or you send them unsolicited pictures of your private parts.
Sin #4. You have unreasonable expectations. You think that your dating life should look like an episode of the Bachelor. Or that if you hire a dating coach and matchmaker, it’ll be like an episode of Million Dollar Matchmaker complete with champagne service in the back of a Rolls Royce as bikini-clad models crowding in the backseat. Nope, nope, and nope. Working with a professional dating guide like myself is going to be the best effort you’ve ever made. And since not one minute of it is scripted or directed for the sake of entertainment, you get real, tough-love, nitty-gritty, life-changing stuff!
Sin #5. You’re closed. Maybe you have a closed heart because you got hurt. You limit the flow of energy -- both coming in and going out. You keep saying, “I don’t need anyone” – either explicitly or through your behaviors. Maybe you keep a closed mind because you’re not open to creating a new look, adding new people to your friend group, or trying new activities that are slightly outside your comfort zone. Or you’re closed to trying a different dating site or a new app. Or when your friends offer to set you up you say no. Or when someone offers you advice, you dismiss it because you think, ‘Well, it’s easy for them, they’re so good looking and successful and fun that they don’t know what it’s like, they don’t know what I’m going through.’ You miss out on so much when you’re closed.
Here’s the unfiltered truth: The clients who are willing to get out of their rut, get out of their own way, and adopt a new modus operandi are the most successful with me. The biggest mistake I see in this category is when you’re not open to the possibility that the most wonderful person might come along in the package you least expect.
Married or partnered readers: You get your own personalized version of sin #5. You assume that because you’re in a relationship, dating shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary anymore. You assume that because you’ve been together a long time, you don’t have to worry about wooing your wife or having fun with your husband anymore.
Au contraire! You should still be flirting, you should still be discovering new things about each other, you should be planning adventures together (trying new things together creates bonding, by the way) and investing in your relationship – maybe even more so than you did when you were single because this is the glue that holds couples together.
Sin #6. You fail to recognize that there’s nothing more important you could invest in than your own happiness. Failing to realize that your relationships and who your partner is in life is among the top 2 things that determine your overall life satisfaction and level of contentment. (The other thing is your work.) The mindset that says I’m just gonna see what happens in the relationship category of your life doesn’t make any more sense to me than graduating from college and when someone asks you what do you want to do with your life, what do you want to do for work, saying, “I’m just gonna see what happens.” But then, as you can probably tell, I favor the proactive over the passive.
So this dating mistake is about being lazy. And it’s about being in denial. And, even worse, it’s about not valuing yourself enough to be willing to invest the time and the money and the effort into making whatever part of your life isn’t working, work better!
Sin #7. I’m leaving this one unfinished on purpose. That’s because I want to hear from YOU. Be honest and speak out: What’s the worst, most horrifying dating “sin” you’ve either had committed against you – or that you’ve done to someone else? (Don’t worry, I live and work in a zone of privacy; your secret sin is safe with me!) Come on, be brave! I’ll go first: I ghosted someone once. Not my proudest moment, and definitely a dating sin.
Now that I’ve confessed mine, you can confess yours! Email me at email@example.com OR leave your comment in the area below the Facebook post this linked from. I have a prize for the best (worst) dating sin winner!