Dating guy after guy without any success in building a lasting relationship can be frustrating. But, rather than groaning about how all men are jerks or that you must be fated to become a matandang dalaga, you have to look at the common denominator in all your failed romances: you. (Cosmopolitan Philippines' Editor-in-chief Zo Aguila gives her own take on this matter in her blog post "It's Not Him, It's YOU.")
That sounds harsh, but it doesn't mean you're giving off man repellent. Rather, you're likely making a wrong move that inadvertently shuts down the prospect of landing a steady dude who is right for you. "But if you step back and identify that error, you can address the problem," explains David Hawkins, PhD, author of Are You Really Ready For Love? To make this process easier, Cosmo asked love experts to lay out the most common relationship mistakes young women make. These quick fixes will help you get on track toward becoming part of a couple.
Relationship Mistake 1: You've Been Picking The Wrong Guys
There are probably certain non-negotiable boyfriend attributes you're looking for—you should be attracted to him, and he should be going places in life. But, lots of chicks forget to look at less obvious things that signal that you two will mesh, such as character traits and lifestyle habits. You're an early riser, for example, yet you insist on going to late-night bars where you constantly meet rocker night owls. See the potential for a mismatch here?
"It's not that you're picking men who won't make good boyfriends; they just aren't good boyfriend material for you," explains Tina B. Tessina, PhD, author of The Unofficial Guide To Dating Again. One possible reason: You obsess over how a potential suitor feels about you rather than determining whether he fits into your life. "Women worry so much about a guy's impression of them that they overlook certain qualities he has that make a big impact later on," says Tessina.
Or, perhaps you're caught up on how other people define a perfect partner—for example, he is supermodel-gorgeous, but that doesn't necessarily reflect the kind of guy you really like. To break this cycle, be honest about what's important to you, then seek out your type where you're more likely to meet him.
If you're career-minded, think about hitting up networking events and seminars that cater to professional guys. Love sports? Odds are higher that you'll find a cute guy at the gym than at a Fort club. And as you begin dating, be on the lookout for hints that he's not a long-term fit—such as he's so busy working, he can barely make time for you.
Relationship Mistake 2: You Haven't Been Really Ready
As you may have experienced, there's a ton of pressure at this point in your life to be paired up. So, it's easy to get swept into thinking that this is what is right for you. But, you have to ask yourself: Do you truly crave that kind of commitment…or are you not quite ready to leave singlehood behind?
"Despite the stress to settle down, it's common for young women to prefer dating different guys rather than getting into something long-term," says psychotherapist Rhonda Findling, author of The Dating Cure. "Trying to force yourself to be part of a couple when you'd be happier solo could be the reason your fledgling relationships have been failing."
Even if you are sure you want a serious thing, previous unions may have crumbled because you felt overwhelmed by the reality of commitment. As great as having a boyfriend is, some aspects of couplehood can seem stifling—like all that together-time. It's normal to get praning, but if you're ready now for a relationship, you have to nip anxiety in the bud.
Next time you start seeing a guy, curb your commitment jitters by scheduling time apart. Also, it's a good idea to set the pace of the relationship, so you only see each other once or twice a week at first. "The breathing room you allow yourself will make it a lot more comfortable to keep moving forward," says Findling.
Relationship Mistake 3: You Weren't Sharing Your Needs
Lots of women fall into this trap: Instead of being upfront about what you want—for example, that you'd like him to call more—you expect him to read your mind and know your needs automatically. "It's almost a test many women put men through: If he's the right guy, you assume that he should just get you and your expectations," explains John Curtis, PhD, author of The Business Of Love.
Just as destructive as when women confuse having needs with being needy, so they keep quiet because they don't want to come across as demanding. But, a successful romance requires you to speak up. Next time, be straight about what you crave. "Give your guy a simple heads-up about your needs that won't put him on the defensive," says Hawkins.
If you want him to call or text more often, don't wait until the point where you get inis and scream "I never hear from you!" Instead, say "I like talking to you after a long day, and I'd love it if you called more often. Maybe you could call me before you go to bed tonight?" Remember, guys aim to please. By phrasing it as an easy way to make you happy, he'll jump at the chance to do it.