The rush of attraction can be all-consuming. In the first weeks and months of getting to know a certain someone, when your mutual stories somehow seem funnier and more insightful, time spent together can feel as though the world has blurred so that your bond could come into focus. And that's a lot of fun—but it can also be precarious.
"You should maintain balance in your life," says Kelly Campbell, associate professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino. "It is a mistake to spend all of your time with a new partner. Besides causing damage to yourself, such as losing your identity or losing friends, doing this often turns off a new partner, too."
Naturally, advice like this isn't exactly what someone in this stage of a relationship wants to hear. And yet Campbell's recommendation for maintaining relationships with loved ones and spending quality time alone is so that those who are falling in love can avoid common dating mistakes in the process.
"Listen to the opinions of your friends and family, too," she continues. "These individuals are better than you at evaluating whether the person is a good match and predicting whether the relationship will last. This is because when we are infatuated with someone, we tend to wear rose-colored glasses, which causes us to distort reality. We emphasize our partner's positive attributes and minimize or disregard their negative qualities."
So other than buying a love fern and creating a Photoshopped family album a few days in—which we learned not to do thanks to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days—what other dating mistakes can be avoided with a little perspective? We asked Campbell to describe common blunders and offer easy fixes as dates progress, and she also has advice for those who have made these lapses in the past. Because even though it's exhilarating to fall in love, it's also wise to keep your wits about you.
What are some common dating mistakes, and how can they be avoided?
Disclosing too much too soon: "Wait until this person knows you before you start revealing the intimate details of your life because disclosures that are too personal for the level of relationship can turn a partner off," Campbell says.
Lopsided interactions: "If your partner isn't disclosing a lot at the outset, you shouldn't compensate by revealing everything about yourself," she notes. "Don't be the partner who is constantly texting. If you aren't getting replies, stop and wait for them to text you."
Don't initiate all of the plans: "By following reciprocal guidelines, you can be more assured that your partner's interest level matches your own," Campbell adds.
Allowing the new relationship to dominate your time: "When we get involved with a new partner, we may want to see them as often as possible, text them all the time, and so on," she says. "Be sure to maintain your sense of self during this time period by spending time with friends and family, keeping up with hobbies, and having moments to yourself."
Overlooking warning signs: "You might find a partner so physically attractive that you overlook important personality flaws that might allude to them being a controlling, insecure person. For instance, are they already showing signs of jealousy?" she asks. "Or you might be desperate for a relationship, so you minimize those negative characteristics. This is a huge mistake. You'll end up much worse off than if you remained single, so pay attention to warning signs, address them, and cut off a partner who doesn't respond to your feedback."
Rushing physical intimacy: "There is no timeline for when it is considered okay to have sex, but both partners should be 100% ready," Campbell continues. "One way to assess whether the time is right is to ask whether you are comfortable discussing any topic, including STDs/STIs and birth control. If you are not able to openly and honestly discuss these topics with each other, then you are not ready to have sex."
Can these mistakes lead to a relationship's demise?
"Yes, these mistakes can lead to the relationship’s end," she says. "They can turn a prospective partner off, cause both partners to lose interest in each other, or worse, lead to a maladaptive union that adversely impacts health and well-being."
What advice would you give someone who has made these types of mistakes in their past relationships and is scared of making them again?
"Awareness is the first step," Campbell says. "So if you feel this way, you should be grateful that you recognize your past patterns and associated outcomes.
"Maintain that level of awareness as you start dating and find yourself getting more serious with someone," she continues. "A therapist can be a big help because they provide regular professional assistance to potentially meet your relationship goals. If you don't have access to a therapist, get some self-help books that are written by psychologists with advanced graduate degrees. Read the books on a regular basis to remind yourself of how to stay on track."