This is article #25 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
(Photo: Ben Raynal)
Having a Not-To-Do List can be much more powerful than having a To-Do list.
Take dieting. Nutritionists have repeatedly shown to get in shape, simply adding exercise and protein shakes to your routine isn’t enough; for REAL dramatic changes in your body shape, it’s more important to get rid of the bad input in your diet (e.g. processed carbohydrates, refined sugar, excessive alcohol).
Take time-management. As authors like Tim Ferriss have repeatedly shown, the most productive people achieve their crazy output simply because they are good at saying NO to people and eliminating unnecessary distractions from their day. In other words, they don’t try to add more stuff to their routine, they just take on LESS and do a few things well.
Take writing. One of the most famous handbooks for writers, The Elements of Style, focuses extensively on eliminating bad habits that writers have picked up, instead of offering just a bunch of techniques to add to their repertoire. One of the strongest maxims in the entire book, for example, urges writers to omit needless words.
Getting rid of the bad, then, often has more impact than adding the good.
This also applies in dating. One bad trait can ruin the potential of an entire budding relationship. It doesn’t matter how many little 1% positives you add if you’re starting at -100%.
I’ve noticed how some women try out the advice Matt gives in the book or in his video blogs; they meet more men, start conversations and get more sociable, and although they start getting some more dates, they eventually become disillusioned. Because they are now putting twice the effort into their love lives, and take on many new behaviours, but still seem to be scaring away guys for some unknown reason.
Then they rightfully get pissed off – and wonder how they can possibly try any harder than they already do.
But being more attractive isn’t just about doing more stuff. You can be doing everything you can to meet and date new guys, but if you have one or two really bad habits it can do lethal damage to your chances of ever hearing from a guy after a first-date.
So below I’ve laid out a Not-To-Do List for dating in general.
Lose these major turn-offs and you instantly increase your attractiveness simply by ironing out a few bad habits.
Many habits can be easily fixed – they are often just patterns we’ve gotten into over time. Once you’re aware of how destructive these behaviours can be, all you have to do is the exact opposite:
5 Habits That Destroy Your Long-Term Relationship Potential
1. Talking About Your Love Life As Though It’s A Project
Anyone who gets frequently lost in long conversations about the state of their love life, and discusses ‘it’ as though it were an object, as in “how is it doing?” and “is it in a good place now?”, might as well be wearing a bumper sticker that says “NEVER date me – I’m a neurotic disaster who will probably blog about you immediately after this date and add you to my long list of dating stories”.
You might view your love life as a project (and if you do I advise you to stop now), but at the very least stop diagnosing and examining it through a microscope as though you were cataloguing the life-cycle of a new bacteria. Or please, at the very very least, don’t talk to guys about your love life in this way.
The same goes for being a relationship martyr. Cease all conversations in which you express your puzzlement at not finding a great guy. Or worst of all, that conversation where you bemoan the fact great guys don’t even exist (because that really does turn-off the good ones).
Great guys want to choose you, not save you. And that means not making him feel like he’s a chapter in your own personal Bridget Jones dating saga.
2. Excessively Complaining
People do this one all the time without even realizing. Try for just this week to count the number of times you complain about something to a friend or colleague (or even a date) and I guarantee you’ll be shocked.
We all have to blow off steam. It’s a natural therapy to get out frustration.
But notice if you’re:
(a) Complaining just to make conversation
(b) Complaining to indulge
(c) Complaining about something that doesn’t really matter (which is nearly everything)
There are funny ways to complain, and there are times when it’s appropriate to show you won’t stand for something. But the point here is about frequency. Recent research has shown that couples need a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Think of every time you complain about something on a date as a negative interaction, and seek to minimize it as much as possible.
3. Running Yourself Down (A Lot)
Most people strike the balance wrong when it comes to self-deprecating humour.
The point of self-deprecating humour is to point to a little foible or shortcoming you have, and make yourself the butt of a joke. When used sparingly and confidently this can be very effective. But a lot of people over-use it, or tend to leave out the humour part and just appear to others to be running themselves down all the time, which makes you look insecure.
People who point out their flaws too much lose the charm of being flawed and end up just looking like someone who constantly airs their insecurities out to the world, whether it’s over their weight, their intelligence, or some failure in their career they can’t move on from.
The truth about most flaws is that people are looking to see how you deal with them. If you constantly bring them up in a negative way, it signals that you don’t respect yourself and that whatever the hang-up is, you are in no way comfortable about it.
Now, I say this one with trepidation, because I know just how nauseating the opposite kind of person can be: The absurdly contented over-the-top positive narcissist who loves themselves and is unfalteringly confident is also just as repellant, and usually comes across as fake and inauthentic.
Conclusion: There is always a balance between being cocky and self-deprecating, but as a general principle: minimize the self-criticism in public (plenty of others will criticize you anyway). It might be fun to indulge in it occasionally, but no-one wants to live with the person who constantly treats themselves as a consolation prize.
4. Failing To Curb Neediness
Neediness includes any behaviour that shows you aren’t self-validated. The worst kind are things like: texting/calling a guy too much, needing constant praise and attention, being possessive and jealous, being so desperate for approval that you agree with everything a guy says, or just showing that you can’t enjoy yourself without him.
People can get away with neediness at first if a guy is already attracted, but after a few months he’ll develop a creeping sense of dread and be desperate to escape as quickly as possible.
5. Being Shallow And Obsessed With Gossip
Shallowness often goes with being self-absorbed.
It’s another one of those traits that has a life-span. If a woman ticks lots of other boxes, a guy will put up with it for a while – but eventually it becomes wearing and makes him crave deeper and more intellectual company.
Try to notice if your default is to constantly slip into gossiping about your friends, or if you tend to avoid deep subjects and always keep things at a surface level. Shallowness usually goes hand in hand with being boring, so it’s crucial to understand the basics of intriguing conversation that will let you explore his personality more (and reveal more of your own).
These things might seem like they require enormous changes, but in my experience, just being aware of an unattractive characteristic can take you a long way towards ironing it out of your personality. Chances are you show a few of these traits from time to time (which we all do). Pick the one or two that you think might apply to you, and make a commitment for the next 30 days to iron them out.
What are the biggest turn-off behaviours you notice in guys? Let me know in the comments below!
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