A “dating trap” is an unconscious relationship choice that results in an unsolvable problem in a relationship. Getting out of the trap often means leaving the relationship. When you’re single, by practicing Conscious Dating you can do a lot more than you realize to avoid these traps and prepare for a lasting and successful relationship. Here are the 14 dating traps people often fall into:
1. Marketing Trap
You believe that you need to make yourself more appealing to attract and ‘sell’ yourself with attractive packaging and presentation.
When you fall into the Marketing Trap, you fear that who you really are isn’t appealing enough when you are out in the dating world. So, you try to make yourself more attractive by changing the way you look, acting a different way, and perhaps even making up lies and half-truths about yourself. In doing so, you risk disappointment and relationship failure, because you are not being the authentic you. Whenever you are not your authentic self, you distance yourself from the person you are trying to connect with. So when the reality of who you are comes to light, one or both of you are left feeling disappointed and angry.
How do you escape the Marketing Trap? Authenticity. You will attract compatible people when you show them who you really are: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Just be you. You are enough.
2. Packaging Trap
You focus on outside packaging – such as someone’s body, looks, job, wealth, material possessions and overlook the reality of the person inside. The Packaging Trap is the opposite of the Marketing Trap, instead of seeking to sell yourself with attractive packaging, you focus on the packaging of others.
Avoid the Packaging Trap by looking beyond the outside packaging and into areas of real compatibility. This doesn’t mean you should forget about chemistry. But, there is more to chemistry than the initial attraction you feel towards someone. There is a study that looked at the success of online dating relationships. People were asked to categorize peoples’ profiles into a yes, no, or maybe category for their interest in dating the person. The vast majority of successful relationships came from the “maybe” category. So, when you meet someone new, take the time to get to know the person and try not to judge the book by it’s cover.
3. Scarcity Trap
You, perhaps unconsciously, believe there is a limited supply of possible partners. Therefore, you think you have to take what you can get or be alone. The Scarcity Trap results in relationship failure because there is a temptation to settle for less: you believe you can’t get what you really want because the options are few. Unfortunately, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy because when you expect less, you get less. As a result, the relationship usually lacks key components needed for success. You end up resenting the person for not being who you want them to be, and you are always looking for someone better.
To avoid the Scarcity Trap, define your vision of what you really want in a relationship, your requirements in a compatible partner, and persevere until you find it. Trust that, if you apply yourself, you can get what you really want in life. You must be able to say “no” to what you don’t want to be available to say “yes” to what you do want. You have the power to choose who, what, where, when, and how, you get what you really want if you make effective choices aligned with your Vision and Requirements.
4. Compatibility Trap
You fall into the Compatibility Trap when you mistakenly think a relationship will work simply because you have fun and get along with someone. Successful long-term relationships require more. This results in relationship failure when one or both of you discover the vast difference between a fun-focused, recreational dating relationship and a serious, long-term committed relationship. The process and criteria for choosing a recreational relationship needs to be very different from choosing a Life Partner.
When you are ready for a Life Partnership, define your Requirements and use them to scout, sort, screen and test potential partners. Do not try to convert a recreational relationship into a committed one, unless 100% of your Requirements are met.
5. Fairytale Trap
You passively expect your soul mate to magically appear and you live happily ever after without any real effort on your part. When you passively wait for something to happen, you have no control over the outcome. So, you end up kissing a lot of frogs that never actually turn into your soul mate.
Many people end up in this trap at some point in their life. Get out of it by taking personal responsibility for your relationship choices and outcomes. Create effective scouting, sorting, and screening strategies. Initiate contact and be the “Chooser,” don’t simply react to people that choose you. Take control and design your own life.
6. Date-To-Mate Trap
You quickly go from a date to being a couple. Believing that if you develop an exclusive relationship with someone, a successful committed relationship will happen. Other terms for this are ‘Serial Monogamy’ and the ‘Mini-Marriage’. This approach is a costly use of time and emotional energy. The inertia in this trap is pressure to make the relationship work, attempt to solve unsolvable problems, and fit a square peg in a round hole because breaking up and being single again is an undesired outcome.
Instead of going right into a committed relationship, date a variety of people and have fun without being exclusive. When you are ready for a committed relationship define your Requirements and use them as tools to scout, sort, and screen potential partners. Make a careful, conscious relationship choice and use a “pre-commitment” period to determine if this is the right relationship for you.
7. Attraction Trap
This trap involves making relationship choices based on feelings of attraction. You interpret a strong physical attraction to someone as a sign that the relationship is a good choice and ‘meant to be’. This approach results in relationship failure, because you ignore the red flags while infatuated. Your strong attraction causes you to make excuses for seemingly small problems that will later become unclimbable mountains. Unconscious choices usually result in repeating unproductive past patterns.
Attraction is like the radar that helps you find your target, but don’t blindly follow this radar. Again, balance your attractions by defining your Requirements and use them to scout, sort, and screen potential partners.
8. Love Trap
You fall into the Love Trap when you mistake infatuation, attraction, good sex, or attachment as love. “If it feels good, it must be love.” “Love conquers all.” “All you need is love.” You feel so in love that you believe it must be a good relationship. But, this honeymoon phase only lasts one to three years. After it’s over, you wonder what happened to your great love affair. You spend the rest of your time trying, and failing, to get it back.
Avoid the Love Trap by realizing the initial feelings of love may be affecting your judgments. Take the time to make conscious relationship choices by using your Vision and Requirements to screen your partners.
9. Sex Trap
Sex releases hormones into your body that make you feel connected to the other person. You fall into the Sex Trap when you confuse this feeling with love, use it as a sign of compatibility, or become emotionally attached from having sex.
Sex and touch are an important part of committed long-term relationships, but don’t allow them to cloud your judgement. Make conscious relationship choices by defining your Requirements and use them to scout, sort, and screen potential partners. Understand that a relationship needs more than great sex to thrive.
10. Rescue Trap
Most of us like the idea of a hero flying in to save the day. You fall into the Rescue Trap when you expect a relationship to solve your emotional and financial difficulties and bring you happiness and fulfillment. You avoid taking responsibility for your life challenges, expecting to be rescued from them. This results in neediness, resentment, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.
In order to be successful and happy in any part of your life, you need to take responsibility for your life. Understand that only you can solve your current problems. Resolve emotional, financial, and other issues prior to seeking a lasting committed relationship. This allows you to be in the position of “choice” instead of “need”.
11. Co-Dependent Trap
You expect someone to love you and give you what you want by giving the other person what he/she wants. You see love as something that must be earned and often view yourself as not enough. You pursue relationships because you feel incomplete when you’re not in one. You want to be the hero and, therefore, seek someone who wants to be helped. But you learn the hard way that, although it feels good to be needed, someone who needs you is not necessarily able to give you what you need. Needing to be needed often results in unconsciously attracting a relationship with a person who needs you but is unable to give you what you want or need.
Avoiding the Co-Dependent Trap begins with the acknowledgment that you are enough. You do not need to solve other people’s problems to be of value. Define your Vision and Requirements and choose a closely aligned partner. Learn to be assertive, identify and ask for what you want and need, assert boundaries, and develop the ability to say “No.” Be the “Chooser” and remain cautious of people that choose you.
12. Entitlement Trap
You believe you deserve to get what you want in life without effort or changes on your part. The Entitlement Trap results in relationship failure as you rely on your partner to bring you happiness and fulfillment. This inevitably results in disappointment.
Everyone is entitled to be happy. But, don’t believe that the world, or your partner, owes you this happiness. Take personal responsibility for your life and relationship. Develop your Vision and the action steps needed to get you there. Then, when choosing a life partner, make sure he/she aligns with your Vision and meets your Requirements.
13. Virtual Reality Trap
The Virtual Reality Trap involves making hasty long-term relationship decisions based on short-term impressions instead of actual experience and knowledge. You focus on potential, hoping what you really need will happen or change over time. But, virtual reality never seems to manifest into actual reality. Your needs end up not getting met and the relationship fails.
Don’t get stuck in virtual reality. Assume “you don’t know what you don’t know” and take your time. Stay in a “pre-committed” stage until you have solid experience and knowledge that the relationship is right for you. Finding a life partner is not a race – it’s a journey.
14. Lone Ranger Trap
You are so focused on finding your life partner that you ignore the beauty that other relationships may bring to your life. You evaluate people you meet for their relationship potential only and don’t take the opportunity to cultivate new friends. This usually results in isolation, hasty decisions, and settling for less than what you really want because you don’t want to be alone. You are too focused on the destination and not the journey.
If you don’t want to make these mistakes, see people with a new focus. Work on developing a support network and community of friends. Allow your support network to help you by scouting out potential partners for you. See being single as an opportunity, not something you have to be cured of. Enjoy the journey of finding your soul mate and the destination will take care of itself.
Intimidating list, isn’t it? Recognize yourself in one or more of these traps? Most people who contact Best Connections fall into more than one trap. Here’s the good news, these are all patterns of decision making that can be changed simply by being aware of them. Simple, but not always easy. Sometimes, it takes the support of friends, family, a therapist, a coach, etc. Find the support you need to avoid these dating traps and discover your soul mate. This is the most important journey of your life. In “Life’s Little Instruction Book”, H. Jackson Brown wrote, “Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of your happiness or misery.”
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