While every couple faces the risks associated with new love, there are particular dynamics that will doom a relationship from the very start. If you’re dating and looking for the right partner, understanding a few basic rules will make the scavenger hunt that much easier. Take a look at the three relationship dynamics below that are destined to end from the very beginning – no matter what anybody says, or how hard anyone tries.
1. Looking for Fun Versus Looking for a Steady Partner
Without question, this dynamic is the most ill-fated one of all. For this reason, we’ll spend more time discussing this dynamic than the others.
A female client of mine recently started dating a man who only texted or called her a few days each week, even though my client wanted more frequent contact. Fast forward two months, and my client felt frustrated and insecure that he was not interested in her because he wasn’t initiating frequent contact. When she forced the issue and wouldn’t let him get away with a dismissive response, he snapped and said, “Look, I am taking a work assignment in a month that’s going to take me to Spain for six weeks. Why would I want to get attached to anyone now? I thought we were just having fun.” If only my client had asked him upfront what he was looking for, she could have learned the truth and saved herself some heartache!
How to prevent this dynamic: Before stepping one foot on a date, make sure you know what you want from dating. Are you looking to casually date and potentially date more than one person for awhile? Are you looking to date only one person and work toward a serious, long-term relationship with a steady partner? Unless you instinctively know which of these two scenarios you’re looking for, you really shouldn’t be dating. Second, you need to discuss relationship goals at some point in the early dating stages. Instead of putting the other person on the spot and asking what they’re looking for, first tell them what you want.
A suggested approach if you’re looking for something serious: “There’s always that weirdness in dating where you don’t really know what the other person is looking for. But for me, I can tell you that I am happy to casually date for a bit, but what I’m really looking for is one person I can be with for a long time.”
A suggested approach if you’re looking for something casual: “There’s always that weirdness in dating where you don’t really know what the other person is looking for. But for me, I’m not actually looking for something really serious at this point. If it happens down the road, that’s fine, but I want to keep things light and casual.” If someone asks you if you want to date other people at the same time, it’s a fair question, so make sure to answer honestly. If you want to be able to date other people, say that but ask, “Are you comfortable with that? If not, I’m a big [insert “boy” or “girl”] and I can handle it!”
2. One Person has Major Insecurities, But the Other Does Not
I’ve heard people say that women have more insecurities than men, but I’ve never found this to be true. Though they often feel insecure about different things, men’s insecurity issues can be just as deadly to the relationship as those of women. A man or woman you date may have any of the following major insecurities: financial (not making enough money), appearance (too overweight, not pretty or handsome enough), intelligence (not smart enough), education (not being educated enough), or rejection/abandonment (feeling like you will be rejected or left). If you start dating someone who has any of these insecurities to an extreme degree, the relationship – as a rule – is not going to last.
How to prevent this dynamic: As harsh or insensitive as this sounds, walk a-w-a-y immediately. However, walking away doesn’t mean that you have to be nasty. Simply call the person or talk in person. Say, “I don’t feel like we’re a good fit, but it’s been nice hanging out with you and I hope we can bump into each other in the future and say hello.”
3. Trying to Catch a Player
Let’s be honest: Some players can be awfully attractive. Players are often physically attractive; they know just what to say and when to say it; and they always make you feel noticed. The problem is that they never notice you for very long. Players like to initiate contact with their admirers, but they don’t like it when their admirers initiate plans with them. Similarly, players will reach out to you occasionally, but only enough to keep you interested. Players feed on attention and can’t live without it. Accordingly, settling down with one person would cut them off from so much of the attention they crave from their various admirers.
How to prevent this dynamic: When you start getting the sense that someone you like is a player, be honest and straightforward. Say, “I like you, but I have this feeling that you’re a player, and it makes me uncomfortable. It may be my loss, but I just don’t feel comfortable seeing you again.”
The takeaway: Ultimately, these three relationship dynamics – each destined to end miserably – are absolutely preventable. The most important thing for you to remember: Do not try to change who the player is. As special as you are, no one is special enough to change the stripes of a tiger.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.