Who doesn’t want a blissed-out relationship based on the kind of love musicians write songs about? That might be the dream, but you may actually be standing in your own way of achieving it. The good news is that you can ID the sneaky things you do that might sabotage your happiness without realizing it, then change them to boost your chances of finding forever love. We talked to Jane Greer, Ph.D., New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, for some tips on how to keep these relationship-wreckers from affecting your love life.
1. Being Too Available
Of course you’re going to be tempted to drop everything when you’re hanging out with your girls and the guy you’re seeing invites you out for a last-minute drink. But that temptation doesn’t mean you should give in. Resist, girl! “Breaking plans to become available to see a guy at the last minute is putting things completely on his terms,” says Greer. “Especially if you routinely meet only at the times that are good for him.” While compromise is key for any relationship, always being at his beck and call sends the message that he’s running the show
2. Falling into a Rut
“It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone without realizing it in a way that makes it hard for you to meet people,” says Greer. “For example, maybe you always hang out with your sister and her husband or you give up free nights to babysit their kids.” While it’s fantastic to lend a helping hand, you have to shake things up if you want to bump into someone exciting. “Getting caught up in a single routine means you lose out on single time for yourself and miss opportunities to get out and meet a potential partner,” says Greer. Switch things up as much as you can. A packed schedule full of different hobbies and parties is basically sending the universe an “I’m ready to meet someone now!” message.
3. Going Overboard on Ex Talk
No matter how annoying your ex is, the chances that a new guy wants to hear a diatribe about just why he sucks are low. You know you should avoid that kind of talk on the first few dates, but once you become more comfortable and you both start talking about whatever skeletons you have in the relationship closet, you might bash your old guy a little too freely. “Continually talking about your ex when you’re with somebody new or staying involved in a negative, angry way with your ex is an easy way to sabotage your love life,” says Greer. Not only does it potentially freak a new guy out, but it means your romantic energy is still tangled up in the past. “You need to have a clear path for meeting someone new,” says Greer. “It’s about moving on and letting go.”
4. Rushing the Relationship
Few things are better than that heady feeling when you realize a relationship might be getting really serious. There’s nothing wrong with engagement rings and your (obviously adorable) future babies dancing before your eyes, but you should be absolutely sure you two are on the same page before you really start putting the pressure on your S.O. There’s nothing wrong with bringing up what you’re looking for down the road—but forcing your guy to commit to having four kids before you’ve been dating for four months can be counterproductive.
5. Always Being On Call
How insanely annoying is it when a guy is like, “Let’s hang out Friday night” but keeps the actual plans vague? You could reach out to him and be like, “Dude, tell me what we’re doing!” but that might feel too forward for you. The result is that at least once in your life, you’ve probably spent a night glued to your phone, acting like a doctor who’s attached to her pager at all times. Wrong move. “Waiting around for him to call can easily lead to you staying home because you haven’t heard from him,” says Greer. Your best move is to make other plans and go on living your life. If he never gets in touch, whatever—you were having fun anyway! And if he does, he’ll learn that you’re in demand and he needs to actively make plans if he wants a chance to see you.
6. Going After the Unavailable Dude
This one’s a doozy. Attractive yet unavailable guys are everywhere, from your hot boss whose wife you see at company events to your drool-worthy guy friend who just got a girlfriend. “Maybe he’s married or recently separated or even unemotionally available in the sense that he needs time to work through a previous relationship,” says Greer. No matter the case, she advises steering clear because it’s pretty hard to start a good relationship on such a shaky beginning—and don’t you deserve better than that? Instead, keep your eyes peeled for a guy who is available in all the right ways (as in: no ex drama, no current partner, and emotionally open to a relationship).