13 Toxic Habits That Can Make Dating Hard

by Raven Ishak

In today's tech-savvy world, it easier than ever to connect with someone on a romantic level. With just one swipe, you're open to a world of new potential mates. However, with this new found exploration, some people are unaware that their toxic habits are preventing them from finding a soulmate. When you're searching for someone to connect with on a romantic level, you're permitting yourself to be vulnerable. You're hoping to meet that one person who just gets you, who can become your best friend, and, honestly, who doesn't mind binge-watching hours of The Crown on Netflix. But sometimes, our own habits get in the way of finding "the one."

"Bottom line: trust is what we are all looking for. Trust stimulates oxytocin. How do we know who we can trust? It’s hard because betrayed trust triggers a huge cortisol surge. That wires you to fear anything that disappointed you before. We've all have disappointments so we all bring fears to our relationships. It helps to know that your survival threat feeling is caused by an old cortisol pathway rather than a real survival threat," says founder of the Inner Mammal Institute Loretta Breuning in an interview with Bustle over email.

"The conundrum is very real. Touch and trust always go together in the state of nature because anyone close enough to touch you is close enough to hurt you. Oxytocin makes touch feel good, and also creates the good feeling of trust. Your oxytocin turns on easily when you see someone who fits the oxytocin pathways built by your past experience. But your past pain came from people you trusted, so your cortisol pathways wire you to fear the very people you are also wired to trust. Yikes! This is why we’re better off being practical instead of relying on our automatic impulses."

While you may yearn to find someone to connect with, for some reason, it's just not happening. So to clear things up, I chatted with a few experts to get to the bottom of this puzzling topic by finding out what kind of toxic habits people have that could be preventing them from finding their soulmate.

1. Being Emotionally Numb

It can be hard to find a connection with someone when you're emotionally not available. You're unable to be excited or empathic because you haven't been able to trust anyone for a few months or years. "When we have bad relationships or worse, unresolved trauma, we might close up. We can't filter the emotions that we shut down, we just take our entire being down a few notches. That means, you will be numb and in a way, blind to what might be right in front of you. You can't find your soulmate if you are in a fog with no lighthouse," says zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva in an interview with Bustle over email.

2. Compartmentalizing

"You put people into boxes or zones: friend zone, work buddy zone, etc. Well, the more you stereotype or typecast your life, the more you compartmentalize them... which really is just you in one box, them in another, and never the two boxes shall meet — until you allow some intermingling emotionally," says Paiva. Maybe you have this dream scenario of accidently bumping into your partner in Central Park or your list of your potential soulmate's qualities is completely unrealistic. Because of these, you ignore everyone else you meet because they don't fit into this "world" you've created, ultimately preventing you from finding your ideal mate.

3. Using Rejection As A Coping Mechanism

You rather reject everyone than get your heart stomped on one more time. While you didn't have a say over your last heartbreak, you believe being in control can change things around so you won't get hurt again. However, this habit can prevent you from finding love. It can be hard to find someone when you won't allow anyone to get close to you. "We all have been hurt, but it depends upon how we cope and how we can retain a beautiful and safe vulnerability to the outside world. If we reject others as a way to protect ourselves, we develop a bristly exterior. That might look like being overly sexual or flirty, or 'tough' or super independent. Whatever image or costume you choose to wear, it's still a costume. Images that are not truth are rejections. Allowing someone to see and experience your authenticity will help you to find a soul mate... because you can't find one until you are ready to be real," says Paiva.

4. Making Things Up

Even though you hate your job and only have $20 in the bank doesn't mean you have to make things up for someone to fall in love with you. No one is perfect and the right person will appreciate you — flaws and all. "Bragging and unrealistic exaggeration often come with a bar scene but making stuff up is not the route toward a true relationship. These days it’s too easy to Google someone who claims to be a professional race car driver or award-winning neurosurgeon. Stick to the facts and connect with someone who will like you for who you are not who you claim to be," says sociologist and founder of Marika Lindholm in an interview with Bustle over email.

5. Narcissism

While it's totally normal to love yourself, you don't want to be viewed as someone who's self-centered. Being in a relationship with someone means you must give a lot. You want to make sure your partner is happy, which sometimes entails putting their needs before your own. "Narcissist tendencies get in the way of genuine connection. People who don’t listen, never ask questions and only ramble on about themselves are not soulmate material," says Lindholm.

6. Constantly Putting Yourself Down

If you don't respect yourself, how do you expect anyone else to do the same? You need to better the relationship you have with yourself before you can commit to loving anyone else. "Being slightly self-deprecating can be viewed as modest and humble but someone who continuously puts themselves down is not attractive. How can you expect someone to love you if you don’t love yourself? Appreciate what you have to offer and others will too," says Lindholm.

7. Always Looking For Something Better

If you're always scouting for the next best person, you could miss out on the opportunity to find true love. Sometimes the best love stories don't involve a multimillionaire who rides on a white stallion on a white sandy beach. You want someone who appreciates you and all your flaws, who isn't afraid to tell you when you're being an idiot because they want you to grow and learn. "Are you always looking for someone better? Always wanting to trade up? Chances are that you will never settle into a relationship with a soulmate because you are too busy looking for the next best thing. Instead [of] appreciating what could be or what you already have," says Lindholm.

8. Letting The Past Affect The Present

Let's be honest: there's no way you can grow and learn from your past mistakes and relationships if you fear them. Even though your past SO lied to you or found someone new doesn't mean it will happen again. "Don’t let past hurts dictate how you feel about your future. Just because you might have been cheated on or hurt in a relationship doesn’t mean it will happen again. If you hang on to the negative, the chances of a positive future are profoundly diminished. Learn to stay open and think positively," says Lindholm.

9. Overthinking Every Situation

While I may be guilty of this, I have to admit, this way of thinking is completely unhealthy. If you're constantly complaining to others, especially your dates, about your life without actually doing anything about it, then that might be a reason why you're having a hard time finding a soulmate. "Overthinking and obsessing over your problems can put a damper on finding a soulmate. It’s great to find someone sympathetic to your problems but even the nicest person will get tired of hearing about them, especially if you don’t take action. It’s important to work on your problems but sometimes even more important to put them aside and enjoy yourself," says Linholm.

10. Not Being Authentic

Some people don't like the person they are. They could hate their job or wish they were more extroverted than introverted. However, making things up will only bring more pain or attract the wrong people. You want to find someone that loves you for you, not the fake person you're pretending to be. "Being too nice doesn’t sound like a liability but if you are enacting a phony, sweet persona it’s impossible for someone to know the real you. If someone is attracted to your 'fake' personality, you compromise your integrity, and you will grow farther apart as you hide your true self," says Linholm.

11. Comparing Yourself To Others

Who cares if someone makes more money than you or has a cool new car. That doesn't make you less qualified to find love. If you don't believe that you're worthy enough for love, others may think the same. "One of my favorite sayings is, 'to compare is to despair.' If you're constantly comparing the internal reality of your relationship to the external veneer of the relationships around you, you're always going to feel cheated. To break this habit you have to consciously bring your attention back to the fullness of your relationship instead of looking at what it lacks," says Licensed Psychotherapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer in an interview with Bustle over email.

12. Giving Up On The Person

It's easy to give up on a relationship when you don't immediately feel what you want to feel. While you don't want to force anything, you don't want to take things too seriously. Be open, because sometimes, the person you never thought you could be in a relationship with is the exact person you need in your life. "In this day and age of online dating, it's easy to get discouraged and either give up completely or [settle] for mediocre relationships. To succeed in finding a soulmate, however, you need to be persistent and patient. Good things happen to those who work and wait," says Hokemeyer.

13. Doubting Yourself

"Nothing succeeds quite like confidence. Believe in yourself. Constantly remind yourself that you are worthy of love, respect, sexual fulfillment and relational integrity. When negative thoughts start to drag you down, replace them with a simple and affirming mantra. If you can't think of one on your own you can borrow one of my favorites: the light of love is me," says Hokeymeyer. Just because your single doesn't mean it's your fault — there is nothing wrong with you. Believe in what you bring to the world, and the right person will graviate towards it.

Just because you haven't found your soulmate yet doesn't mean they're not out there. Try not to continue this toxic habit and enjoy the dating world as much as you can. Sooner or later, your partner will crime will come into your life before you know it.

Images: Pexels