Dating Advice - Reducing the Risk of Getting Into a Bad Relationship

Taken From Advice on Relationships From "The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating" by Josh Harris

This is advice on ways of ending up in a relationship that's more likely to last, and reducing the risk of being hurt while in a new relationship.

The most effective way of doing that is basically not to rush into romance that could make you feel a strong emotional bond before you really know each other well enough to know whether you get on well in a variety of situations. People can assume they get on really well with a girlfriend or boyfriend because they have so far, but they might never have seen them when they're angry or anxious or making important decisions where they need good judgment, or in any number of other situations where it might become clear that their behaviour has flaws that might make them more difficult to live with than was at first realised.

This advice might contradict a lot of what friends think is cool and the normal thing to do. But it makes a lot of sense.

A related article:

Not Getting Sexual or Emotionally Attached to a Girlfriend or Boyfriend Too Soon


One thing you can do that can end up with you getting hurt is getting emotionally or physically intimate with a partner before you both know each other well enough to be sure you could make a long-term commitment to each other that you have good reason to think would succeed. Sex can cause some people to feel very emotionally attached to their partner. So getting physically or emotionally close just for fun or for the pleasure of the here-and-now can mean that if/when the relationship breaks up, either because you didn't know each other well enough to know it wouldn't last before you started having sex and then you found out you didn't get on well enough to stay with each other long-term, or because one partner never intended it to last anyway because they feel they're not ready for "serious commitment", and the other one didn't realise, it can deeply hurt one or both partners.

So it's best to do other things on dates instead.

To see more on this issue, you can read:

Pressure to Be on Your Best Behaviour


Too much pressure is put on people when they’re dating because they can feel they must perform at their best, because it's all about romantic attraction. You just don't feel that pressure when you see the person as a friend. So you can feel more at your ease if/when romance does develop gradually if friendship comes first. If you do see each other as friends rather than as romantic partners, you'll feel free to be yourselves and do activities together, without spending three hours beforehand making sure and worrying over whether you look perfect, for example.

If a romantic attraction develops after a friendship, you'll move into it in a more relaxed way, and it's likely to be more healthy, because you'll be more sure you're compatible.

So it'll be better if you try to build friendships first, finding out about each other's interests and going to places where you can develop shared interests and hobbies, rather than going on dates such as going to see films, where you won't be finding out about each other, and there'll be pressure on you to get romantic before you really know if you're suitable for each other, because you'll be thought of by everyone as a romantic couple.

Relationships that aren't built on shared interests will likely fall apart when the romantic feelings fade away, - and most people's romantic feelings naturally fade over time - so it's better to go out to places where you can develop your similarities to each other than it is to go to places where you won't find out that much about each other and will be feeling under pressure to be on your best behaviour, like to films or fancy restaurants, where you either won't have much of a chance to talk to each other, or you won't be behaving as you normally would.

Mistaking Sex for Love


Another good reason for focusing on building a friendship together and finding out as much as you can about the likes and dislikes of each other and developing shared hobbies and interests together, instead of focusing on how physically attracted you are to each other and spending most of your time getting physically intimate with each other, is that people can mistake physical intimacy for love, because it feels good. So if you do that, and then you're trying to work out how much the relationship's really got going for it and whether it's likely to last, it can be very difficult to weigh up the pros and cons of it, because you'll be so focused on how much you have enjoyed the physical aspects and long for more, you'll be very difficult to convince it wouldn't work till the evidence is too glaring to miss.

So you might not pay enough attention to danger signs, like being incompatible or wanting different things from the relationship, perhaps until you've made a commitment to each other, thinking you were well-suited to each other, mainly because you were physically right for each other. So that can mean problems later on, especially if it means the distress of a divorce, which will naturally be even worse if there are children, if you realise you have big differences that you don't know how you can resolve, or you're making each other miserable because your personalities aren't that compatible.

If you can go to places where there will be quite a lot of opportunities for you to talk and find out about each other while you're getting to know each other, and if you focus on getting to know each other's personalities rather than getting physical, you can avoid some possible difficulties later.

When you start off by getting physical on dates rather than by building up friendships, it can be as if the main value of you and your partner as people is seen in terms of how good you look and how well you can each perform as a date, rather than what you're like as a friend. Even before anything physical is done, that can be the underlying attitude where dates are all about romance.

Getting So Wrapped Up in Each Other That you Isolate Yourselves From Others

Fed up

Another problem can be that people dating can be so wrapped up in each other that they isolate themselves from other people. So other friendships can break down because they're not being kept alive so friends lose touch with each other, and the couple can become less close to their families. And one thing that can make that bad is that when you want to make decisions, you'll likely just turn to each other, instead of asking the opinions of a variety of people, as you're more likely to do if you're seeing more people you're fairly close to. So since you're not getting such a variety of opinion, you can make worse decisions, because you don't hear so many different perspectives on things, so there's more likely to be things you forget to consider.

This could be serious when you're talking about marriage or children or moving in together, or making an equally big decision.

If you split up after having isolated yourselves from others, the friendships you had before might take a while to build up again, because the friends have got used to you not being around, and don't feel they know you as well as they did and have got involved in other things.

Dating Can Rob you of Time you Could be Spending Developing Talents

A talent

Another problem can be that dating can distract you from developing skills and creating opportunities that can help you in the future, so you damage your chances of getting on in life, furthering your education, making new contacts that can help you find jobs or get involved in new hobbies, and developing the skills further that you already have. You can spend so much time and energy thinking and talking about your relationship and being wrapped up in each other that you can become less interested in things that could really further your interesting experiences and life chances.

And when you have experienced a bit of physical intimacy, you'll tend to have a craving for more, so it's quite possible you'll keep being attracted to those kinds of relationships or focusing your energies on trying to get them instead of using your time to further your talents. You can practice being a good boyfriend or girlfriend during dating; but missing out on things outside the relationship might mean you become a less skilled, knowledgeable and interesting husband or wife when you want to keep a relationship going long-term and need more than bedroom skills to do it.

Really Getting to Know a Boyfriend or Girlfriend


Dating is an artificial environment where you're often on your best behaviour, trying to put forward the charming image you want the other person to see, which might be different from who you really are, so dating can be misleading; it isn't a good way of finding out what another person's really like, which you will need to do if you want to take the relationship further with much chance of long-term success.

Dating can be fun, but it's like an escape from real life, which is good if you're in a long-term relationship and need to get away from stressful circumstances for a while, but it's not a good way to get to know someone in the first place.

If you're trying to get to know someone at first, you should make sure you see your boyfriend or girlfriend's negative as well as positive qualities, by observing them interacting with their friends and family, and seeing them working on things. You need to find out how they behave when things aren't going their way, and how they behave when someone provokes them, and when they're arguing. you need to know answers to that kind of thing, because the way they behave with others will be the way they end up behaving with you, so you need to spend quite a lot of time with girlfriends or boyfriends in everyday settings.

It's been said that you should never get into a serious relationship with anyone before you've argued with them so you can find out what they're like under provocation.

But a lot of people might not be nasty at all, but nevertheless, you still might find out things about them that you're really not happy with some time after you meet them. So it's best to get to know people before doing anything with them that would make you feel emotionally committed to them.

Still, if you're in a relationship that's going wrong, it doesn't necessarily mean you made a mistake to get into it in the first place. A lot of relationships can be improved a lot. There are quite a lot of helpful web pages that could give you some good advice. Here are a few:

To the People's Concerns Page which features audio interviews on topics including people's stories of school bullying and their suggested methods of dealing with it, experiences of university life - including the fun side, and the tale of a cycling accident that could have been disastrous if it hadn't been for reflective gear.

Home Page.