Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

Dating Mistakes: Sexual Caution and Other Turn-Offs

Avoid these mistakes and your dating life will thank you!

As a psychologist in Los Angeles who specializes in relationship issues, I talk about dating all the time with my clients. I've identified several mistakes that men and women make in dating, and hopefully this list can be helpful to you.

Fixating on one physical type – and not giving other types a chance.

Hands down, I see this problem most frequently when it comes to women who refuse to date a short man. I have had so many women come to see because they have trouble with relationships, and the vast majority has one type they would never date: short men. It’s almost as if these grown women believe short men have cooties! Huh, you say? I am always so confused when I meet someone who denies an entire category of people consideration for dating – especially because of height. My gosh, some of the kindest, smartest, and most financially successful men in the world are short. Note: If you ever attend a high-falutin’ Hollywood party with your favorite actors and actresses, you’ll quickly see how many A-list stars are tiny, tiny, tiny. And there is nothing wrong with that. The more open you are about types of people you'll consider dating, the better.

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Working too hard in the beginning.

A male client of mine once told me about the first date he’d coordinated for a girl he desperately wanted to impress. Long story short, a limo was involved, and that’s all the information you need to understand the mistake. It goes without saying that the relationship my client started in the limo has since ended, and it ended because he walked into the relationship convinced that he had to search for approval and prove his worth to her. Limo? Let’s find out her last name and, I don’t know, maybe whether she’s a nice, responsible person before we start maxing out any credit cards, okay? If you work too hard when you first start dating someone, you’re wearing your (boat load) of anxiety on your sleeve.

Making too many future plans.

Dating is partly frustrating for men and women because of the uncertainty involved. Romantic affection is a delicate thing, and there’s nothing you can do to control someone to like you back. Most anxiety in the beginning of dating centers on that facet exactly: whether he or she likes you back. One way that new daters try to overcompensate for the uncertainty of the future is to make lots of plans during the date, as if your object of interest could slip through your fingers and disappear if you’re not careful. You’ve probably been on a date where someone suggests, “We should see that movie together” or “This summer we have to [insert activity].” Slow down and relax. If the two of you are meant to be together, let the chemistry unfold.

Using too much sexual caution.

You probably didn’t predict this one but I like to go out with a bang. It’s interesting that men and women often have want to initiate a sexual gesture early in dating, but they frequently quash those sexual impulses for fear of putting the other person off. What many clients express to me in therapy is that they wish their date wouldn’t pump the brakes so much and would actually make a move! For example, I have female clients who have fantasies of the guy they’re dating initiating intense sexual gestures (e.g., getting pushed on the bed and having their clothes taken off). The men they date, however, often make assumptions that the women don’t want to be handled like an object. Here's the caveat: When it comes to sexual gestures, be mindful to continually check in with your partner to make sure it’s okay. At the first hint of the word “no” or “stop,” it’s time to do just that.

Though dating is not easy or always pleasant, it can be better if you avoid making certain mistakes. Take good care of yourself as you look for your match!

 

Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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