Watch Out for These Common Dating Traps.
Beware or be sorry.
There are several factors that can make a relationship feel right, even when it’s not. In the first two articles of this series (click here for part 1 and click here for part 2) I discussed the importance of putting certain boundaries in place to ensure objectivity in dating. Who you marry might be the most important decision of your life, so you want to ensure clarity when making this decision. In this article of the series, we look at more common dating traps people fall into, so that you can beware – and not be sorry.
Beware of opposites attract.
Opposites often do attract, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. It depends on where it comes from.
Sometimes it could be a self-esteem issue. You feel a lacking and so you are drawn to people who appear to be good at that thing, hoping that person will somehow "rub off on you", and you can be more like that by association. But the other person may resent you for that, not want to share that with you and was only interested in you the way you were. For example, a quiet, introverted person wants to be with an outgoing person in order to become more gregarious. But the outgoing person likes you as the quiet person who lets them take the spotlight, and resents you when you try to be more like them.
The best choices are made from a place of feeling complete. You need to look at the other person as the icing to your cake. It adds to it, but you’re delicious even without it; it’s just an extra bonus. Don’t let them be the flour, sugar or eggs, a fundamental ingredient to who you are.
Go by what a person does, not what they say.
Words are cheap. They're easy. Many times we speak according to the ideal version of ourselves, but it’s not really what we practice. Don’t let a person tell you who they are; you decide who they are by seeing the things they do and don’t do.
For example, a man says he would treat his wife like a queen. Well is he treating you that way now? If a woman talks about how loving and giving she is, have you seen her be that way with other people (not just you)?
People tend give themselves away in the beginning, often through humor.
People tend to give themselves away in the beginning. Funny thing how this works, but people almost always let you know in the very beginning what their main issue is- they just may say it humorously. They’ll say it in passing or casually, but they tend to let you know what you are getting yourself into- while laughing.
It's funny how this works out but people almost always let you know at the very beginning what their main issue is. They’ll say it in passing or casually, or they may say it humorously, but people often let you know from the get-go what you are getting yourself into.
For example, someone jokes about how unorganized and messy she is, or jokes about how he would just watch TV all day if he could. Notice when this happens and take it seriously even if they don’t say it in a serious way. Look for corroboration to see if and how it's true. Then decide if it’s a problem for you or not, or be sure to discuss what the person does to manage it.
Beware of blind spots.
Watch out for a quality that is so attractive it could blind you to what else is there. Good looks, charm, money, popularity, well-known family, lucrative family business are all some popular ones. I have seen people get married this way and then it backfires on them.
Imagine if you married for looks, but it turns out that looks were ALL you got. He or she wasn't a good or kind person. Do you think marrying someone attractive is enough to make you happy?
Let’s say you married into a reputable family, but then they ‘owned’ you. They had a say in everything you did and you felt like you no longer had a life of your own. Would it still feel worth it?
Trust yourself over anyone else. You’re the one that has to live with your decision.
It's good to get advice from others you trust with more life experience than you, including rabbis, parents, teachers and married friends. But make sure you are always the one in the driver’s seat. No one should have more influence on your decision to be with this person or not than you.
Your gut instincts are often more important than any information you can give over to someone else.
And it’s easy for someone to have an opinion about your life; they don’t have to live with it. You are the only one that has to live with your choice, so you need to be comfortable with it!
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that following a rabbi or a therapist’s advice is foolproof. They are human and make mistakes. It’s great to consult with them, but you need to check in with yourself to see if their advice sits right with you.
If you don’t feel secure enough in your ability to make decisions, getting the help of a therapist to come into your own would be very valuable as preparation for marriage.
I hope these warnings are helpful. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t see just how important they can be until it’s too late.