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Top 10 Dating Myths

May 9, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Like urban legends, they sound reasonable. But they're not.

Like urban legends, those stories that seem credible but have only a thread of truth running through them, our world is full of dating myths. They sound like they make a lot of sense, but they're not true. In fact, the misinformation promulgated by these myths keeps many people from dating productively. How many of these myths do you believe?

Myth #1 – The more people I go out with, the better chance I have of meeting Mr./Ms. Right.

This is a common attitude among people who have been dating for a short period of time. However, after a few years, this becomes a prescription for dating burnout. We'd prefer that daters be selective from the start of their dating careers and only say "Yes" to suggestions that seem to be in the ballpark.

It's better to date a few people who seem right "on paper" than dozens of people who sound "nice" but will never turn out to be a good match for you. Dating isn't a numbers game -- you are looking for one lifelong partner, not 100 cups of coffee.

Myth #2 - The smartest and prettiest women get married first.

Each time we hear a comment like this, we think of the many talented, intelligent, and beautiful single women we know who have not yet found the right man to marry. Many of these women have happily-married friends who might be regarded as less attractive, intelligent or successful. But marriage-oriented dating isn't a contest where the "highest score" wins the prize.

A woman who is very accomplished or attractive may receive more offers for dates than some of her friends, but many of them may be not be suitable for her. Because her "checklist" may be longer, she may have a harder time finding Mr. Right. A woman who is dating-for-marriage should be focused on finding the right man, and the length of this process doesn't bear any relationship to her beauty, intelligence or talents.

God made a match for everyone -- rich or poor, short or tall.

Myth #3 – If there were more social events, I would have been married a long time ago.

Today, few marriages result from social "mega-events." Events that are intended to attract the most people possible have poor track records for bringing people together, because attendees tend to socialize with the people they already know. Even when someone is confident enough to approach someone new, the atmosphere is usually too impersonal for any real conversation to take place.

To make small-scale events more effective, organizers can create opportunities for people who don't know each other to be introduced and interact, and include plenty of married couples who can facilitate introductions, discussions, and post-event follow-up.

Many people make the mistake of putting all of their eggs in one basket. There is no one perfect venue for meeting the right person. You do not know if the messenger who will facilitate your "match" is your best friend, the organizers of a weekend, your co-worker, a professional matchmaker, or your handyman. By taking advantage of many networking opportunities, you increase the possibility of meeting the person you're meant to marry.

Myth #4 – If you date a long time, it means you really know what you're doing.

Invariably, before one of our speaking engagements we'll overhear an unmarried person say, "What are Sherry and Rosie going to tell me that I don't already know? I'm an expert on dating!" Often, that same person will approach us afterward and say, "You have a different perspective that I didn't consider. If I was the ‘expert' on dating that I thought I was, I wouldn't be struggling as much as I am now. I don't like to admit it, but there are a few things about myself and the way I've been dating that I need to change."

Whenever we speak to singles who have been dating for a while, we encourage them to adopt one new concept, or an idea they've heard before but haven't yet tried, and to use that as a basis for changing their dating practices.

Myth #5 - If things don't click on the first date, you are probably not right for each other.

On a first date, it is indeed possible to get a good sense that you and your date are not right for each other, if either:

  • you don't have compatible values and goals
  • you want different things out of life
  • you have a strong distaste for your date's personality or appearance
  • it is physically and/or emotionally difficult for you to sit through the date because you're so different

However, in most cases it is virtually impossible to know this early if a person is right for you. It often takes a few dates to realize that you're starting to connect to each other. When in doubt, give it a second chance. Many couples are happily-married today because they followed this advice.

Particularly, physical attraction often takes time to build. Many of us have an idealized look we like, and when we date someone who doesn't fit that ideal we might be inclined to say, "I'm not attracted" -- and not go out any longer. Many people have told us that they decided to give themselves a few more dates to get to know the other person better, even though they weren't attracted at first, and found that the other person's looks grew on them. This is a relatively short process; the attraction usually starts to develop within the first three to five dates.

Myth #6 – First impressions about a blind date are always correct.

It's part of human nature that people aren't always themselves when they meet someone new. Someone who is slow to warm up might be more comfortable on a second or third meeting. Another person might be extremely charming at first but over time reveal himself to be controlling, selfish or rude. A bad day at work or a cold coming on could negatively affect someone's style of relating.

And then there are the normal mistakes people make and feel embarrassed about later -- putting their foot in their mouth, nervously talking too fast or too much, feeling uncomfortable because they wore absolutely the wrong thing for this particular date, or trying too hard to impress the other person. The real essence of another person takes time to come through. That's why it's a good idea not to rush to judgment on a first date.

Myth #7 – If we date longer, the qualities that bother me about the other person will get worked out.

This is probably the most common myth that misleads daters. No courtship is completely smooth. However, when something bothers you about the other person, and you can't come to terms with it yourself, or work it out with the other person at an early point in the courtship, it is probable that you won't be able to do so no matter how long you keep dating. It's called "spinning your wheels," and it often occurs when the other person seems right in so many respects, except for this one issue.

Some people have to experience this a few times before they realize the pattern they are in. When the right person comes along, major issues will either not be present or will get resolved quickly, and the courtship will be much smoother.

Myth #8 – The "right" girl will straighten him out!

This is a dangerous misconception. Change has to come from within a person. Marriage is not a "cure" for someone who is having trouble finding out what he wants to do with his life, can't control his temper, has trouble staying with a job or earning a living, doesn't think it is necessary for him to take medication that helps him be more functional, or can't handle the responsibilities of day-to-day living.

A "lost" soul should find himself before marriage, not during marriage. Unfortunately, many troubled people believe that once they find someone to marry, they don't need to whip themselves into shape, and unfairly expect their spouse to "fix" them. Most of the time, these marriages are very unhappy or end in divorce. If you've heard a rare story about someone who turned his life around after marriage, it's because he decided to do so on his own, irrespective of his spouse's emotional support.

Myth #9 – It doesn't matter if most of your friends and family don't like the person you're crazy about. You understand him, and your opinion is the only one that matters.

One of your friends or relatives may not like the person you're dating because of a personality conflict. However, when a few people who care about you feel there is a problem with your dating partner, they may see something that you can't see because of your emotions, attraction, or sense of pride.

In such a case, it's a good idea to take a closer look at what's happening. See your date in different settings, engage in more meaningful discussions about problematic issues, explore the other person's background, and date long enough to really know each other well before you make any decisions about the future.

Myth #10 – Love conquers all.

The myth that anything can be worked out if two people fall in love has led far too many people into ill-suited marriages. He wants to live in Israel, she prefers California; he wants to become more religiously observant, but she's not ready to give up pepperoni pizza; he wants his wife to stay at home when the children are young, but she expects to continue her career track.

Some couples decide to become engaged first and work out the details later. The problem is that since these lifestyle goals often go to the core of a person's sense of who he or she is, they aren't easily compromised. If they remain unresolved, they can become a recurrent source of conflict for a couple, and they are an invitation to a broken engagement or divorce. No matter how much two people care for each other, if they can't come to terms with significant differences in their values, lifestyle expectations, or dreams for the future, they're probably not going to make it long-term.

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