The 10 biggest dating mistakes women make

Jun 22, 2015 at 5:29 p.m. ET
Image: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Mistakes are unavoidable in dating, and the best we can hope for is that we learn from them and go on to form good relationships. Here are the 10 biggest mistakes I've heard from women in the years I've been coaching and counseling them.

1. We sell ourselves short

You've heard the phrases: "We get the love we think we deserve" and "You are what you attract." If we don't believe that we deserve an attractive man of good character, we're susceptible to attractive men of poor character.

If you find yourself winding up with the wrong men again and again, recognize that you're attracting and choosing them. That's where the change needs to happen.

2. We use the wrong dealbreakers

There's nothing wrong with a long checklist of qualities you want in a man. You have every reason to be choosy when selecting a partner for a long-term relationship. But too often we select for the wrong traits.

We choose novelty, adventure and impulsivity over stability, loyalty and empathy. If we want a stable, long-term relationship, we need to actively filter for those traits in dating.

3. We wait too long to date seriously

There are a whole host of good reasons to begin the search for a life partner before the age of 30. Taking into account lifetime wages, divorce risk, fertility and the supply of marriageable men, a woman's late 20s are the sweet spot for tying the knot.

4. We give too many "benefit of the doubts"

We interpret mixed messages in the most positive light possible, when they are really just bad messages crowding out good messages.

5. We fail to set boundaries

We find ourselves putting up with behaviors we swore we'd never tolerate. Yet we don't speak up for fear of rocking the boat (which is already leaky). We swallow our disappointment. This sends a clear message that we lack self-respect, thereby ensuring more bad treatment.

6. We forfeit our power

We're all give and no get. We go all in when he hasn't. We're the most interested party who cares more. That creates imbalance by giving him all the power in the relationship, which never feels OK.

7. We don't acknowledge relationship stagnation

We should see growth, or forward movement, in any healthy relationship. If you're not both enthusiastically headed toward real commitment, your best strategy is to cut your losses and get back into the dating pool.

8. We fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy

We often stay in bad relationships because we've already invested lots of time and effort to try to make the relationship work. But this is a poor strategy, because our prior investment is immaterial.

9. We figure that anything is better than being single

Personally, socially, economically and even professionally, people fare better with a mate. The mistake we make is that we exit the dating pool too early out of fear that nothing better will come along. We settle early for someone we're not head over heels for.

10. We don't trust our intuition

We usually know when something isn't right because our bodies tell us so. We have butterflies, or feel anxiety about whether our partner is as invested as we are. The right relationship should feel devoid of anxiety.

Most of us make these mistakes when we're immature, and we learn through experience. But sometimes we get trapped in a mindset that devalues our own worth. When that happens, we need to stop and recover our self-esteem.

When we choose the wrong relationships, we sabotage our own potential for contentment. I hope each one of us will find the strength to risk love but also to demand it.