Dating is not always easy, and a new relationship can be both intoxicating and challenging. You and your new partner are constantly revealing aspects of who you are to one another as you get to know each other. Although this newness is thrilling, this exchange can touch some of our most vulnerable parts – and being vulnerable can put us in a difficult position. We can choose to either revel in this emotional and psychological risk taking, or we can choose protect ourselves from it. Sometimes, especially when we feel like we need to protect ourselves, we act in ways that actually creates distance rather than connection with our new partner, and without really being aware of it we may be doing things that cut off a new relationship at the knees. We simply get in our own way.
Does this sound familiar? Are your new relationships consistently ending abruptly, leaving you feeling confused and frustrated? Here are 8 signs that you might be getting in your own way with your new relationship, sabotaging it before it can even develop. If these sound familiar, consider seeking out a therapist who can assist you in building insight into these behaviors and help you develop some more adaptive alternatives.
- Expecting too much attention too soon. In a new relationship, it might not be appropriate to want your partner to make you his number one priority right away. For example, if you find yourself getting upset that he is not calling or texting you multiple times during the day, you should re-evaluate what is really appropriate this early in the relationship. Remember, you are separate individuals who both have lives of your own that need attention, too.
- Unrealistic expectations of the other. Do you want her to always be available when you call? Should he open every door for you? Should he come to your pet’s vet appointment with you? Should she profess her love for you after the second date? It is probably unrealistic to expect this much of your new partner, so be aware of yourself and what really matters early in the relationship. Just because she cannot see you right now does not necessarily mean that she does not want to see you at all.
- Clinging. Even though you might really like this new person, it can feel overwhelming to him or her if you are constantly calling, texting, and emailing. Doing these things is sometimes about your own insecurity about whether or not this other person is interested in you, and the overall effect can be that you inadvertently push the other person away. Pace yourself, stay calm, and know that if the other person is interested, he or she will also reach out to you as well.
- Jealousy and mistrust. Accusing your new dating partner of being unfaithful or untrustworthy in the absence of any real supporting data can spell the end of your relationship. Constantly accusing him of flirting every time he interacts with another woman or going into his or her phone to check calls, texts, and social media is a form of insecurity that is not necessarily warranted this early in a relationship. Doing it enough may push this person away.
- Being someone you are not. Of course you want the person you are dating to like you, but it will not end well if you portray yourself to be someone you just are not. If you do not like dogs but she does, do not say that you are a dog person! Think about the long-term consequences of hiding who you are or misrepresenting yourself. You ultimately want this person to like you for who you really are, not some fantasy version of yourself that fits the other person’s standards. It is worth it in the end to be honest about who you are with someone you are dating.
- Being dishonest about exclusivity. You and your partner should always be aware of whether or not the other is being exclusive with your relationship. While you are first dating, you both may decide that it is acceptable to date other people – but it is never going to end well if you say you are exclusive but then actually date other people.
- Not accepting bids for connection. Have you ever thought, “If I do not get too close, at least he/she cannot hurt me”? For some people, getting emotionally close to another person is scary and threatening. Although it is wise to be discerning in this area, not accepting your new partner’s compliments, doubting his or her interest in you, or pulling away when he or she reaches out to connect in a healthy way can signal to the other person to keep their distance.
- Judging your current relationship by your past history. Each of us has “baggage” – or emotional and psychological wounds – from past relationships. Yes, history is a good teacher and we learn to expect what we have always gotten from others, but we also run the risk of pushing our new partner away when we constantly interpret his/her behaviors based on past experiences. In a way, you are not really seeing who this new partner is when you do that, which can feel invalidating and frustrating to that person. Try to stay in the moment and acknowledge the uniqueness of this new person rather than apply old experiences onto current situations.