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Swipe Right: 10 Online Dating Mistakes You Might Be Making

We all make mistakes.

Image of person holding a phone with an online dating app open

Dating, especially online dating, is a great way to meet new people and find love. It’s the most popular way that people meet their partners in the twenty-first century. However, online dating can also be a minefield that can lead to getting your heart broken, or to wasting your own time. These experiences are both part of the process—however, if these normal experiences end up becoming your norm, you may be making one of these common online dating mistakes.

When we talk about dating mistakes, we’re referring to the larger patterns of behavior that cause us to repeat the same cycles and dynamics in different interactions with people. We aren’t talking about the smaller, less consequential mistakes of saying the wrong thing, going on a bad date, or accidentally being awkward (we’re all awkward at times.) We mean the kind of mistakes that can lead to frustration with dating and the dating world in general. Let’s begin.

Dating Mistake #1: Not being clear about what you want.

man making online dating mistakes

Do you want a serious relationship? A casual fling? A long-term commitment? It’s important to be clear about your intentions from the start, so that you don’t waste your own time—or someone else’s. It can be tempting to think that you are going to change someone’s mind about what they’re looking for and be *the one* that makes them change. However, in doing this, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. When the other person is clear about what they desire, listen to them. If they’re unclear, proceed with caution. If the person is at a different stage in their life where they want different things, you can be a perfect match on paper, but in real life, it won’t add up.

Dating Mistake #2: Being too closed off.

faceless stylish woman standing with hands behind back

It’s natural to be cautious when meeting someone new—we don’t suggest telling them your entire life story upon meeting them—but you will need to let them in at some point! If it doesn’t seem like you’re connecting on a deeper level on any of your dates, this could be a potential reason. Connection happens when we reveal deeper parts about ourselves and our date responds in kind. If you are having trouble opening up at all due to past hurts, it may be helpful to consider talking to a trusted friend or qualified mental health professional.

Dating Mistake #3: Getting too attached too quickly.

monochrome photo of couple holding hands

It’s natural to feel excited when you meet someone new, but it’s important to take things slow. Don’t rush into a relationship before you’ve had a chance to get to know the person properly. With online dating especially, it can be tempting to get very attached to one date that went well. But veteran daters know that this can be setting yourself up for disappointment. It takes time to see how a person reacts in all different sorts of situations and to really know how you will mesh and how they will treat you long-term.

Dating Mistake #4: Always Overthinking Things.

a woman lying on the bed contemplating her online dating mistakes

Dating can be a lot of pressure, and it’s easy to get caught up in your head. However, it’s important to try to relax and enjoy the process. If you’re too focused on analyzing every little detail, you’ll miss out on the fun of meeting new people. Even though we are listing some common mistakes for your benefit, it’s important not to overthink and start looking for mistakes you’ve made in every situation. We all make mistakes. Forgive yourself.

Mistake #5: Neglecting your friends and family.

group of friends drinking alcoholic beverages in park

When you’re dating, it’s easy to get so caught up in the new person that you neglect your friends and family. However, it’s important to make time for the people who are important to you, even if it means scheduling your dates around them. Plus, you always come across better when you can demonstrate to your dates that you have your own life outside them.

Dating Mistake #6: Expecting more than they can give.

It’s okay to want attention from your date, but it’s important to find a balance. If you’re constantly texting or calling them before you’ve established expectations around the topic, or if you get upset if they don’t text you back right away, you can come across as “needy.” Although we hate this term (everyone has emotional needs! It’s nothing to be ashamed of), this can often demonstrate an incompatibility between you and your date. This can also mean expecting a higher level of commitment and availability than the person is willing to give.

Mistake #7. Playing “games.”

yellow and black wooden cabinet that says game over

Don’t try to play games with your date. This includes things like playing hard to get, pretending to be interested in someone else, or making up situations to test their reactions. Games are only going to lead to confusion and hurt feelings. Try your best to be honest with yourself and your date–you’ll end up with higher quality matches in the end.

8. Ignoring red flags.

red flags on flagpoles

If you see red flags early on in a relationship, don’t ignore them or assume they will go away. Red flags are warning signs that something is wrong. If you ignore them, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and hurt. See our list of red flags if you want a reference on what to look out for. Remember, this is likely the best their behavior will be.

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9. Not staying true to yourself and what you want.

close up photo of lavender growing on field

The most important thing to remember when dating is to stay true to yourself. This means being open with what your values are and what your hopes are for a relationship. Don’t try to be okay with something you’re not, because it will only lead to problems in the long run. You shouldn’t have to give up large parts of yourself for a partner—that’s a sign that you may be incompatible.

10. Giving up too easily.

broken heart cardboard on brown wooden table top

If you don’t find love right away, or even after a long period—don’t give up. Dating can be a lot of work, but the only way you’re going to find love is if you keep trying. If you need to, take a break. But don’t give up completely. The right person is out there… but no one said it would be easy to find them.

We hope that being aware of these common mistakes will help you have a more positive experience dating, rather than one filled with disappointment and misery. It’s tough out there—we understand. If you’re looking for a way to stay motivated and keep yourself honest throughout the dating process, check out our guided journal specifically made for online dating. And as always, happy dating!

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