Ask Dr Gilda-Am I Sabotaging My Love Life?

One woman starts picking apart her date's flaws in every new relationship. How can she stop this self-destructive pattern and silence her jitters once and for all? Dr. Gilda offers some wise advice.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I've recently taken a large step by signing up for an Internet dating site. Luckily I've had some great success in initiating contact and have actually come across a very nice guy who seems pretty compatible with me. I especially appreciate that he's a smart
Write down all the wonderful things you like about New Guy.
guy (a legitimate rocket scientist, literally!). He's even good-looking. The problem is that every time I get into a relationship, I start noticing things about the person I don't like. For example, this current potential match has horrendous teeth. I don't mean to seem shallow and I don't want to sabotage a potentially good thing, but I can't help but wonder if I am just jittery about relationships in general or if I just am not attracted enough to the guy and should move on. Is it normal for people to think these things at the beginning of a relationship? If not, then what can I do to stop myself from making this mistake?
– Awfully Picky

Dear Awfully Picky,
Sorry to break the news to you, but even top models have flaws — which they conceal brilliantly so the public can go on believing that they're perfect. While dating, if you like someone initially and even find him to be "good-looking," it's probable that something other than his "horrendous teeth" is making you skittish about dating him.

Roger was just getting separated in two weeks from his soon-to-be ex, but he had already rushed into a new relationship with another woman, Dawn. They spoke about the future, their desire to be together, and their anticipation of Roger's divorce papers finally being signed. After court, Roger went to Dawn's house to celebrate his freedom, and both agreed they would now begin their new life as a pair. However, the next morning (uncharacteristically), Roger began to pick Dawn apart. He told her she had a pot belly, needed to change her hairstyle, and she also had to get more fashionable clothes to wear. Nothing about Dawn had bothered Roger before his divorce papers were signed; in fact, during that time, all he did was compliment her beauty and sense of style. But now, these new flaws seemed blinding to him. Clearly, these were Roger's rationalizations for wanting to terminate his new romance. A few days later, he told Dawn it was too soon after his marriage ended for him to have a girlfriend.

So, Picky, here's your question: "What do you fear about getting close to New Guy?" Are you afraid you'll lose your independence? Do you harbor bad memories of a relationship that's in your past? Do you have a pessimistic view of love in general? You said, "…every time I get into a relationship, I start noticing things about the person I don't like." So this is an obvious pattern with you. Now, let me suggest that you do the following:
  1. Write down all the wonderful things you like about New Guy.
  2. Establish when you noticed New Guy's "horrendous teeth." (I suspect it was right after you realized the two of you were becoming close.)
  3. List the men that you had initially liked, the flaws you found in each of them, and when you noticed these flaws. In other words, now bring the pattern you've been following into full, realistic view.
  4. Here's the good news: behavioral patterns can always be changed once you acknowledge what they are, so hopefully, you'll be able to avoid this issue in the future!
When Carla first met Len online, she was not attracted to him at all. She candidly told him that he was too short for her, he lived too far away, and she didn't like his lack of a college degree. But Len believed they should be together, and he continued to pursue Carla. As they became closer, Carla forgot about his "flaws." They just celebrated their third wedding anniversary!

While focusing on the list you wrote describing New Guy's wonderful qualities, ignore his "horrendous teeth." If this guy's teeth are still an issue for you after six months of enjoying this promising relationship, choose someone whose choppers are sparkling to date next. If not, congratulate yourself for investing in a love that is deeper than any superficial quality your guy might have. Heed the words of this Gilda-Gram: "After seven years of rubbing against a piece of sand, a beautiful pearl is formed. Don't be quick to give up on people who might initially rub you the wrong way." Teeth can be improved, but finding deep love is a blessing not to be taken lightly!

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (
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