Dating Over Thirty: Don’t Fall into These 8 Common Pitfalls

Dating is a series of learning experiences until we get it right.

No one teaches us how to date or find suitable relationships for ourselves. Instead, we rely on childhood relationship patterns and life experiences with dating to figure out which partner and relationship are right for us.

Unlike many people, I married the first woman I dated.

After the fateful 7th year of being married, we separated and divorced. It was in my 30’s that I started dating again and it’s not been easy. There are so many mistakes you make once and if you don’t learn your lessons, you will continue to stumble in love.

I hope sharing my experiences and lessons with you can help you avoid making some of these common dating mistakes we make. Today’s mistakes and failures can be tomorrow’s lessons and wisdom. Today’s setbacks and disappointments can lead us to our happily ever after.

Here are 8 common mistakes when looking for love:

1. Making them out to be someone they are not

When I meet someone for the first time and am attracted to them, my mind goes into over-drive trying to make them out to be the person that I want them to be.

Based on superficial factors and dating profiles even, I imagine them to be the dream partner that I’m looking for. I assume they have certain qualities and characteristics that I want them to have.

I realize in due time that this person is not the person I’m looking for.

If I’ve been dating them for a while, I feel disappointed and tricked but I was the one who had created this fantasy person in my mind.

Allowing your mind to create fictionalized characters of partners will only result in unrealized expectations and disappointment.

Try this instead:

  • Notice how you’re mentally creating a fictional person who may not have the characteristics you’re looking for. Be aware that you tend to instill values and traits in someone who may not have them.

  • You have to take people by what they say and most importantly, what they do. Let their actions speak louder than your perceived image of them.

  • Take it one day at a time and one step at a time. Don’t walk down the aisle of your mind before your first date.

2. Looking into signs that may not be there

I immediately start believing that there are many signs between me and the person I’m interested in.

Every coincidence and commonality is a sign for me.

Maybe you messaged each other at 11:11 am or maybe they were wearing your most favorite color in the world in their profile photo. Maybe they speak the same language your parents do or studied at the same university that you did.

If someone told me they were a minimalist or had any connection to Malaysia where I was born, I would immediately think this was a sign from the universe. I fell head over heels for a minimalist and definitely thought that a woman I met with roots from our home country and I were destined to be.

In your process of getting to know each other, you too may be reading too much into signs and shared commonalities believing this person to be the “one”.

Try this instead:

  • Take signs as signals and notifications that you need to investigate more. Determine if there’s something more to it than a coincidence.

  • Make your decisions based on the person in front of you instead of what you believe the universe is instructing you to do through signs and symbols.

  • Make decisions based on communication with each other and compatibility.

3. Ignoring qualities that will sustain a relationship

You’re not picking partners based on the things that truly matter.

Beauty and good looks seem to win the day. Charm and humor might sway you over. People who ignore you and take you for granted might seem exciting at the beginning.

Instead of looking at the substantive qualities that matter, you’re focused on the superficial qualities that don’t impact a relationship. Your gaze has been on the exciting and interesting instead of the true qualities that help a relationship sustain itself and thrive.

Try this instead

  • Look at how your partner cares for you, spends time with you, and prioritizes you.

  • Look at their ability to converse, compromise, forgive and repair things when issues come up in the relationship.

  • Notice which qualities in partners really make the difference in the relationships around you. Prioritize the qualities that matter for you and search for partners that possess these qualities.

4. Ignoring red flags early in the relationship

You don’t take time to reflect on the red flags that you notice early in the relationship.

You don’t recall the same patterns from previous relationships. Their intense pursuit, in the beginning, bouts of extreme anger, or subtle criticisms are swept under the rug.

You choose not to make a big deal out of the red flags you notice and would rather be in a relationship than allow the red flags to keep you from one.

You optimistically believe what you’re currently noticing won’t become a bigger issue. You idealistically believe that you can deal with the red flag issues that you’ve seen.

Try this instead:

  • Take some time to reflect upon the red flags you’ve seen in previous relationships that should be warning bells for you today.

  • Don’t sweep red flags under the rug but be conscious and aware of them. Talk about them if they are glaring enough to get some clarification or to set boundaries.

  • Be prepared to walk away if the red flags are indicative of bigger issues you can see down the road.

5. Pursuing people who are not available for love

It’s easy to spot these people if you know what to look for.

There are large parts of the dating population who are not ready for love. They’ve been burned in love, they have been mistreated in love and hurt in love. They have tall unscalable walls around their heart which they are trying to keep you away from.

You may think that you are the one that’s going to show them what real love looks like but you’re going to be fighting an uphill climb. People who are not emotionally available will come up with every excuse under the sun about why they can’t be in a relationship.

They’ll hide from relationships due to work, due to distance, due to their busy life, or due to “the differences” you both have. They’ll be hot and cold, they’ll chase and retreat, and they will continue to send you mixed signals.

Try this instead:

  • Be aware that partners who are playing hard to get may not be available for a relationship.

  • Watch to see if they turn hot and cold, pull and push away, and do other things that leave you in constant doubt about the future of the relationships.

  • If they are too earnest about pursuing you in the beginning, be on alert that you may be with someone who is not available for the long run. Let actions and an increased level of commitment guide your decisions.

6. Putting people on a pedestal

You meet them and immediately think they are the best thing that could have happened to you.

Why would someone so wonderful have some interest in you? You believe them to be an angel sent from the heavens above. You believe them to be a gift from the universe or a divine soulmate.

You want them in your life so you put them on a pedestal. You don’t treat them as an equal but as someone who is much too good for you. You cater to their every want and desire.

You violate every boundary you have and throw yourself 200% into the relationship. You are at their every beck and call to impress them, woo them and get them to stay with someone like you.

Try this instead:

  • Live your own life and pursue your own interests without disrupting your life for another person.

  • Be aware that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when the person doesn’t live up to your expectations of who they really are.

  • Affirm your own worth, values, and what you bring to the relationship. Don’t put yourself so far beneath someone that they are bound to take advantage of you or disappoint you.

7. Wanting to rescue people

Like me, you are particularly drawn to people in pain or struggling. You can’t help but find yourself attracted to the addicted, to the wounded, and to the ones in pain.

You believe that they need you and you want to be there for them. You are willing to put aside your needs and wants and be completely present for them.

Even if they are not the partner you want, you are intent on saving them, rescuing them, and helping them. You know that you can improve their lives and get them to the place they need to go. You feel sadness and compassion for the life that they’ve had.

You want to show up for them to help them navigate their life challenges despite it being unfair to you. You value their needs, struggles, and difficult life situation ahead of your own.

Try this instead:

  • Inquire what pain and emotional wounds in your life that at not being attended to.

  • Support yourself and be there for yourself through your own pains and struggles.

  • Know that the most you can do for anyone else is to accept them and listen to them. You are not obligated to and don’t need to fix or change anyone.

8. Not knowing what you want in a partner

It’s much more exciting to date and find people who you never expected to find.

You’re going with the flow and will figure it out when you meet the right person. The only problem is that when you do meet the right partner, you’ll never know it’s them.

Not knowing who you want or what you want in a partner will lead you on a long and costly goose chase to find your significant other.

Instead of going about it blindly and continually dating the same kinds of people you’re not compatible with, you can make a more intentional and conscious effort to get clear on what type of partner you’re looking for.

Try this instead:

  • Reflect on your past relationships to determine what qualities you need from a partner and what qualities you must stay away from.

  • Get as clear as you can about what you’re looking for in a partner and stay focused on finding someone with those qualities.

  • If the person you’re dating doesn’t have those essential qualities you want, be willing to walk away from the relationship.

What other common mistakes do you make when falling in love? Please leave a comment below and share your struggles.

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