Think Your Love Life Stinks?

Are you stuck in a love-life rut? We’ll show you how to banish destructive dating patterns and make a fresh, successful start.

By Chelsea Kaplan

f you’re convinced you’re destined to lose at the game of love, prepare to change your perspective. According to Alan Cohen, author of Don’t Get Lucky, Get Smart: Why Your Love Life Sucks—and What You Can Do About It, you hold all the power to turn things around. He insists that recognizing — and, more importantly, breaking — your “unlucky” dating patterns will transform your love life from depressing to
Take time to get to know your potential partner before buying the house together.
delightful in no time.

Ready to have that happen? We thought so. Below, find some of the dating patterns Cohen lists as particularly unlucky… learn to identify and avoid them!

Unlucky dating pattern #1: Mistaking “hope at first sight” for “love at first sight”
Many romances are built on hopes, dreams, and fantasies rather than reality. “Hopes and dreams are extremely important, but they must also be balanced with reality checks,” Cohen advises. When you meet someone new, especially online, it can be tempting to fantasize about how he or she is the one who will fulfill your longtime hopes. “Many people fall in love instantly through cyberspace,” he notes. “While some such relationships blossom into lifelong connections, you need get to know each other as real people first.”

How can you determine if your love is real? “Take time to get to know your potential partner before buying the house together or choosing names for your children,” says Cohen. “If your love falls apart at the first upset, or you get into ongoing fighting or drama, it’s not really love. If you get to know each other, and, for better and worse, you still value each other and choose to be together, you have a very good thing going.”

Unlucky dating pattern #2: Dating when feeling desperate
Dating decisions that stem from feelings of loneliness or hopelessness almost never pan out well, says Cohen. “One of my coaching clients was an attractive, intelligent, successful professional who could have had her pick of men—and she did,” he explains. “As she approached the age of 40, she began to feel desperate to find a life partner and have children. Then she began to make desperate choices and hook up with men who were either feeling equally desperate or played on her feelings of insecurity. Needless to say, none of these relationships worked.”

If this behavior sounds familiar, Cohen advises trying your best to relax and trust yourself and your dating process—and perhaps even take a break from the dating game altogether. “Sometimes it’s helpful to stop dating for a while, step back, find yourself and fall in love with who you are. Then, when the time is right, you can venture out into the dating world again, and your results will be altogether more successful,” he asserts. Ideally, such a break will allow you to connect with others not because you need them, but because you want to.” As a result of this crucial shift, he says you’ll be drawn to a healthy partner with whom you can develop a great relationship.

Unlucky dating pattern #3: Seeking only your one perfect match
If you tend to dismiss partners when you find something “wrong” with them, you may have a history of letting pickiness overshadow possibilities. “Creating a great relationship is less about finding the right person and more about letting someone be the right person,” Cohen explains. “Every potential partner has great qualities, along with traits
This does not have to be a painful or cumbersome task at all.
that you find unattractive. The more you focus on what you love, or could love, the more you bring those positive qualities forth. The more you zero in on the person’s deficits, the more you bring those forth. Create a fabulous partner by magnifying what is, rather than criticizing what isn’t.”

If you are trying to discern between being “too picky” or simply “selective,” he suggests asking yourself if the trait in your partner that you are questioning is minor or major. Are the other qualities of your partner attractive enough that, on balance, you can overlook it? Or is this trait something that could undermine everything else? It’s also helpful, he says, to look at your patterns over time. “If you have tended to be picky, picky, picky, it may time to be open, open, open,” he says. At the same time, if you have had relationships tank because you were not selective enough, it’s time to exercise some discernment.

Unlucky dating pattern #4: Getting stuck with the wrong person—again and again
According to Cohen, every relationship partner, whether he or she shows up for a day or a lifetime, is a perfect mirror for what is going on inside you. “If you keep meeting people who use and abuse you, there must be a part of you that doesn’t feel you deserve a partner who honors you,” he explains. While such relationships may be painful, if they force you to recognize that you do deserve better, they actually help to heal what was working against you. “Then, when you make a relationship choice based on self-respect, it will be stronger, sweeter, and enduring,” says Cohen.

If you keep getting stuck on the wrong partner, realize that there is something stuck inside of you, something that you must shift before seeking a new partner. “This does not have to be a painful or cumbersome task at all; on the contrary, it can be fun and liberating,” Cohen says, whether you work with a coach, therapist or use self-help books to guide the process. “This process will place yourself in the driver’s seat of your love life and attract people who can deliver what you want and deserve.”

Chelsea Kaplan’s blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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