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The causes of bad dating habits and how to fix them

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Know Thyself

Bad dating habits. Every woman has a friend who has a few bad dating habits, and perhaps if you're reading this, you are that friend. Acknowledging that you have a few bad habits is the easy part. Now, how do you even begin to fix them?

Know Thyself

Bad dating habits. Every woman has a friend who has a few bad dating habits, and if you're reading this, perhaps you are that friend. Acknowledging that you have a few bad habits is the easy part. Now, how do you even begin to fix them?

Examining the causes of bad dating habits is big business, with authors, speakers and therapists making big money to plumb the depths of the human psyche to uncover the origins of destructive dating behaviors. And frankly, different experts have different ideas about the causes of these habits and how best to fix them.

Some experts think that bad habits are the result of negative thinking. Others believe that poor habits spring forth from the unconscious mind to derail a person's best intentions, often as a result of childhood experiences. Still, others believe that bad habits are the result of a mixture of thoughts, unconscious perspectives, environment and behaviors.

Why so many of us have bad dating habits

For the purposes of this guide, we are going to examine one perspective that seems to make a lot of sense, judging from chats over coffee with our friends and sisters. Doctor Harville Hendrix and his wife, Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, are renowned psychotherapists with several bestselling books, a thriving practice and acknowledgment from Queen Oprah herself. Although they work with couples, their theories about why we choose the partners we do shed a lot of light on why we date the way we do. And as we all know, understanding the why is a major impetus for change. In their book Getting the Love You Want, Drs. Hendrix and Hunt explain the reasons why so many of us have bad dating habits:

1

We want what is familiar

Do you ever wonder why everything at the beginning of a relationship feels exciting and new, but then a few months in, you realize your boyfriend resembles your father a little too closely? Human beings are wired to be drawn to that which is familiar. If your family of origin is really dysfunctional, there is a good possibility that your relationships will be dysfunctional too.

2

We want what confirms our beliefs

Humans are great at creating self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe that you are worthless, you will surround yourself with others who confirm this belief.

3

We want healing

It may be difficult to wrap your mind around this next point, but it's worth considering. Human beings want healing from past hurts. Very often, these hurts arise in childhood. Women and men tend to choose partners who resemble the people who hurt us most deeply because the unconscious mind longs for these partners to fix the pain that still lies inside. The problem is that these partners are usually unaware of the past hurt and have no way to fix the pain. And if they're unaware of the hurt and they resemble a workaholic father, this can spell disaster for a relationship.

What can you do to address a long history of bad relationships?

We're not going to lie. If Drs. Hendrix and Hunt are right, bad dating habits are not easy to shake because they are often the result of deeply held beliefs and feelings. So what can you do to address a long history of bad relationships?

1

Love yourself first

If you're looking for a man to take away the feelings of worthlessness that you have, stop. No man can do this for you. You must find a way to love yourself and quell the feelings of contempt that you have.

2

Address negative thinking

Quite often, the cause of negative behavior is a negative thought, so try to catch your thinking before it spirals into a behavior you don't like anymore. This can work for a lot of things. If you keep dating losers, try to address whatever thought lies behind the behavior that keeps telling you that you don't deserve to be treated better.

3

Know thyself

Knowing who you are is easier said than done. If it was easy, therapy wouldn't exist. With the help of a friend or counselor, try to understand your past hurts and what those hurts have told you about who you are. This is especially important if you just can't seem to stop your bad habits.

More on love and dating

5 Reasons why it's OK to ask a matchmaker for help
Tips for a first date that will ensure a second date

Date disaster: Mistakes you don't realize you're making

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