You would think that a word as simple as "date" wouldn't be as complicated as it is, but y'all. First, there's the dictionary definition of date—"a social or romantic engagement or outing". OK. I think most of us can agree on that. But then, if you put "What is the purpose of dating?" in Google, you're gonna see a lot of Christian websites discuss how it's so you can find out who is suitable to be a spouse or not.
I mean, that might be the case for many people, but what if you're someone who is currently happily single and just want a little company and not a lifetime partner (at least not just yet)? Then, to make things even more confusing, there's a study that was published on USA Today's site a few years ago. The gist is that 2,647 people between the ages of 18-59 couldn't seem to get on the same page about what constitutes a date and what is more like simply hanging out.
So yeah, let's start right here. When it comes to all of the dating mistakes you could probably make, perhaps the most slept on one is going out with someone thinking that you're on a date, while they're out with you thinking that it's something else entirely different. Or, to add to that, going on a date believing that he feels one way about you when that might not be the case at all.
When two people aren't even on the same page about why they're spending quality time together or what they ultimately desire to come from doing so, it's almost expected that some other dating faux pas will ensue.
Ones like what? Let's begin with some of the ones that we as women have the tendency to make.
Last spring, Vox published a piece with a subtitle that particularly caught my attention—"Calling 911 means different things to white and black people" (LISTEN. SMH.) It was basically delving into how dangerous—and I'll throw in the word "ridiculous", for safe measure—it is for white people to call the police on us (Black people) for no good reason.
What does this have to even remotely do with the first dating mistake that far too many of us tend to make? We as a people—especially our Black men—find ourselves in unfair (and honestly, illegal) situations where we're interrogated by law enforcement. So, the last thing we need is to go on a date and be inundated with a billion-and-one questions; especially if they come with a tone and delivery like the answers are demanded and not simply requested.
Although dates should be about getting to know someone better, any information that is shared is privileged not a right. It's always important to remember that.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Several years ago, I did a radio interview with a pastor (yes, pastor) on singles and dating. Even with as much as I talk about sex, he even threw me off when he said (on air) that he advises high school and college-aged men to masturbate so that they won't be "too forward" with the ladies.
If you were a Being Mary Jane fan, you probably recall the time she used a vibrator before she met up with David so that she wouldn't be tempted to have sex with him (again). I get that. But is it just me or did the pastor sound more like he was trying to keep young men from being low-key sex offenders?
Anyway, the overall point is this. If I were to give advice to young women, I'd probably say in the 48 hours leading up to a date, don't watch a rom-com, reruns of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette or anything else that will have you wishing that you were going on a date that has a four-figure budget, rose petals on the floor and maybe…just maybe a helicopter.
Why? It's simple. If you go in with super-high—which usually means totally unrealistic—expectations, 99.5 times, you're probably gonna be disappointed. And get this—it won't be his fault. It'll be yours.
Rambling About Your Ex
If you've been rocking with us over here for a while, you know that we've all got interesting insights in exes. One of us shared that she thinks it's healthy to remain friends with an ex. Another talked about how she still has sex with her ex. Another sistah shared how her ex ghosting her turned out to be a good thing. I've thrown my two cents in about what to do if you can't seem to find closure with one of your exes.
Whichever one of these stories you can relate to, let me tell you who doesn't want to hear much about it—the current guy that you're dating. Bottom line, unless he comes right on out and asks you about your experiences with your ex specifically, keep that topic of conversation to yourself. Just like you would roll your eyes if he went on and on about his past lady, it's totally understandable if he shuts down if you went on and on about an ex-boyfriend (or ex-fiance' or husband).
Ignoring Red Flags
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about things men say on dates that are red flags. The purpose of red flags are they help you to discern things on the front end that could start off being minor irritants or inconveniences; however, if you let them slide, they could become huge issues up the road.
A man who flirts with a server in front of you, takes calls while on the date, doesn't have enough money to cover the check, expects sex out the gate, doesn't answer direct questions, gives backhanded compliments, doesn't make you feel emotionally or physically safe—girl, I could go on and on, but I think you get where I'm coming from. If something in your gut is telling you that something is off, something somewhere probably is. And to ignore that feeling could turn out to be a colossal mistake.
Not Being Open to Trying New Things
Every once in a while, Maverick Movies (on YouTube) will capture my attention. In one of their movies about four women and their relationship journeys, a lady came really close to missing out on a good man all because he took her on a picnic instead of to an expensive restaurant. Without giving too much of the flick away, yes, his money was tight, but it was because he was investing in his own business.
The thing that was a trip about her is she admitted that, although it wasn't the kind of date that was her preference, she actually ended up liking it a lot. Moral to the story—some of us miss out on great date potentials in the real world because if it's not the kind we're accustomed to, we build up a wall.
If the man you're seeing (or are thinking about seeing) suggests something that is totally out of your comfort zone, why not give it a shot? At the very least, he gets an "A" for originality. Plus, you'll know that he's someone who thinks out of the box. I don't know about you, but that kind of man is a major plus in my book.
Falling Too Quickly
All of us have that one girlfriend who loves being in love with love. All she has to do is meet a man, establish a mutual attraction, go on two dates and she's hopping on Pinterest to figure out what kind of save-the-dates she should send out. While we might tease her for being this way, if it's a pattern, it really isn't much of a laughing matter.
One type of addiction that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserves is love addiction. In a nutshell, it's the kind of people who want to be in a relationship so badly that they'll settle, put themselves in compromising situations or become so intense in the beginning stages of a connection that they run the person off.
Guys are able to sense love addicts from a mile away. If you don't believe me, ask some of your male friends how many they've dated before. Out of all of the dating mistakes I've shared, this might be the one that freaks them out the most. (If you want to take a quiz to find out if you are a love addict, click here.)
I can't tell you how many married couples I've dealt with whose main complaint is the person they married isn't the person they dated. It's not because they are dealing with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (so to speak). It's because their partner was so busy trying to be perfect that a lot of their "humanness" caught them off guard once they jumped the broom. They weren't confrontational while they were dating, so now they seem contrary and difficult. They never saw them without make-up (or wigs or weaves) and so, waking up in the morning is…an adjustment. They were always in the mood before marriage and so the many sex droughts are throwing them off. Waaaaay off.
Author Brene' Brown once said, "When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver!" What I'll add to that is perfection is the ultimate form of "false advertising" because you're presenting an image that isn't fully authentic. It isn't truly you.
Not one is saying to belch or fart on the first date but, once a true connection has been established, if you're hiding parts of yourself because you're afraid he want love, like or want you if he finds out, that's not only a big dating mistake but a serious relationship one too.
Whenever I ask my male friends about the biggest mistakes that women make (according to their estimation and experience), what tends to come up A LOT is many ladies rush things. And that ends up ruining things.
Now, I'm not talking about if you've been with someone for a year, met his mama, bought him a birthday and Christmas present and you're wondering what's up (check out "Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?"). I'm talking about after three great dates, all of us a sudden, your online status is "in a relationship", you're tagging him in all of your posts and giving him the third degree for not calling you back or texting you every day.
The best kind of relationship is the one that organically evolves over time. Don't sabotage a good thing because you're so busy trying to get to the next chapter that you can't sit back, relax and enjoy the one that you're currently in.
Out of all of the dating mistakes that you could make, this one could end up causing you to lose what will come to you in due time. Set your standards but try not to rush the process. Aight? Cool.
Featured image by Getty Images.