4 Dating Myths That Are Keeping You from Your Person—and How to Break Out of Them

f the fairy tale"
f the fairy tale
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

Although women are now taught not to wait around for their knight in shining armor, I think there’s still some small part of us that romanticizes the idea of a fairy tale love. Because what could be better than being swept off your feet by someone who lights you up from the inside out and makes you feel like the most beautiful person in the world? But according to author, love coach, and podcast host Damona Hoffman, ditching the fairy tale and writing your own rules is key to finding your happily ever after. And after reading Hoffman’s new book F the Fairy Tale: Rewrite the Dating Myths and Live Your Own Love Story, I have to say, I’m convinced she’s right.

The truth is, most of us tend to approach dating methodically with something Hoffman lovingly calls the four major myths:

  • The List Myth: The list of desired qualities we use to measure potential partners. According to Hoffman, daters with this myth typically feel pressured to settle down on a specific timeline.
  • The Rules Myth: The mindset that dating is a game to be won by scoring a partner. Hoffman explained that this myth is the most dominant in our culture today, as evidenced by the constant desire to shortcut finding love through quick hacks.
  • The Chemistry Myth: This refers to the idea that a long-term relationship isn’t possible unless you feel an instantaneous connection right off the bat, which, according to Hoffman, usually leads to missed connections.
  • The Soulmate Myth: The idea that everyone has only one perfect match, which Hoffman explains, prevents us from fully committing and moving into fulfilling relationships.

Of course, the fact that we use these myths in our dating lives is merely a result of what we’ve been taught about finding love from our friends, family, and shows like The Bachelor. But with Hoffman’s expert tips, you can break away from them, experience a healthy and happy dating journey, and write the love story of your dreams. After devouring the tips from F the Fairy Tale, I’m here to share 12 of the most important dating tips I learned.

Damona Hoffman
F the Fairy Tale: Rewrite the Dating Myths and Live Your Own Love Story

Drawing from nearly 20 years of experience as a dating coach, Damona Hoffman is helping readers break free of the four dating myths that hold us back. In F the Fairy Tale, you will learn about the actual pillars of strong relationships and gain the tools to finally create the happy ending to your love story.

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1. Ditch your checklist

Although we’ve been told having a checklist of what we’re looking for in a partner can help us find the one, Hoffman swears it’s the opposite. Instead, it overwhelms our dating pool and makes us feel like we’re settling if someone doesn’t check off every box. The first step to breaking out of the List Myth is to narrow yours down to three must-haves and one deal breaker. While must-haves are the things that speak to who you are and how you live your life, Hoffman explains that a deal breaker is what you can’t live with under any circumstance.

To determine what yours are, consider your relationship and life goals. For example, if you’re an inherent go-getter, you might want a partner who’s equally as ambitious, regardless of which tax bracket they’re in—and in this case, being content doing the bare minimum might be a deal breaker for you. Likewise, if you want to raise kids eventually, financial stability might be one of your must-haves, whereas wanting no children would be a deal breaker.

2. Filter your dating search by values

They say there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but according to Hoffman, “Values are the primary filter in searching for a match.” Essentially, values influence how you live your everyday life, look at the world, and choose to spend your time. Family, career, and health are very important to me, so my ideal partner is on board with weekly Sunday dinners and encourages me to be my best while working hard in their career and prioritizing their well-being.

Identifying your core values will help you find someone with similar ones. Plus, having closely aligned values will make it easier to build a life together. However, while determining your core values can be tricky, Hoffman cautions against using religion and political affiliation as shortcuts because values vary across party lines and in every house of worship. Instead, she suggests arranging these areas of your life in order of priority: Career fulfillment, education and personal growth, family time, friendships, health, financial stability, philanthropy, and faith.

3. Seek out goal alignment

According to Hoffman, the first thing you should do on a date is make sure your date’s goals are aligned with yours. “This is so foundational yet often overlooked in the early phase of dating because people are afraid that, if they speak their truth, their date might run away,” she explains in F the Fairy Tale. But rejection is a good thing—it spares us and prepares us for the right one. For this reason, expressing your desires—whatever they may be—sooner rather than later is vital.

Whether you want marriage and children or an open relationship or are planning to move across the country, getting your goals for the future out in the open will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. You wouldn’t want to waste your time (or someone else’s) if their goals don’t align with yours, would you? Get clear on your goals and communicate them ASAP to build a strong foundation with a potential partner.

4. Focus on connection, not chemistry

Contrary to popular opinion, having instant chemistry with someone does not always indicate they’re a good match for us. And according to Hoffman, constantly looking for it prevents us from getting to know someone on a deeper level. Instead, she swears by focusing on and building a connection through communication, which starts with listening and asking follow-up questions that help you fully understand someone else. For example, if you both love hiking, ask them what their favorite trail is and what they love about it, or ask them what their favorite movie is and why, or what their hobbies are. Even if they’re not into the same things as you, simply asking, “What do you like about that?” is a great way to continue the conversation and learn more about someone.

In essence, chemistry is fleeting, but connection is not. While you may not have everything in common with your partner, finding things you can bond over will serve as the building blocks of your relationship. Plus, these will be things you can always come back to and bond over for years to come.

5. Cycle your dating apps

When you juggle multiple dating apps at once, you’re more likely to miss out on messages from potentially great matches. This is why Hoffman swears by “cycling” your apps in F the Fairy Tale. With this method, you use one app solely for four to six weeks before jumping to another for the same period of time. After that, you’ll switch to a new one or back to the first again. Not only will this help prevent dating burnout, but it’ll also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and missing important notifications and messages. Plus, since you won’t be as spread thin, you’ll be able to really understand the dating pool on each app and whether or not it’s right for you.

6. Text to build excitement, not as a way to vet someone

While texting will never replace face-to-face communication, there’s no denying it’s here to stay. However, Hoffman cautions against falling into the “texting trap”—AKA overtexting and using it as a way to vet someone before your date. So instead of finding out their entire nighttime routine or how they like to spend their weekends and deciding you don’t like them before you’ve even met them, ask light questions that’ll give you insight into their personality. You can do this by using information from their dating profile or discussing music preferences and hobbies. This way, you’ll stay in contact but won’t know their whole life story before you’ve even exchanged a proper, in-person hello.

According to Hoffman, these short-form text threads should be the standard until after you’ve hit three dates, which is when you’ll likely know whether you want to pursue the relationship further and start going deeper. In the meantime, opting to use short text threads will keep boundaries in place and escalate the excitement of dating them.

Source: @shvets-production | Pexels

7. Limit the first date to 60 minutes

It’s natural to want to keep the date going or head somewhere else when you’re having a great time, but Hoffman swears by limiting all first dates to 60 minutes (or 90 minutes max). Once you’ve hit that 60-minute mark or had an extra martini, you’re liable to reveal intimate details about yourself (think: sexual history or salary) or run the risk of flatlining, which is when the energy starts to fall and exhaustion creeps in. “What we remember most about dates are the beginning and the ending,” Hoffman explains in F the Fairy Tale. “End the date when you’re still on a high note.”

This is especially true for dates going well because it’ll leave you both wanting more and can lead to a second date. Whatever the case, Hoffman says to create an entrance and exit plan ahead of time and be upfront with your date about how much time you have. You can say you have to get home to feed your pet or get up early for work the next morning.

8. Be open about your finances

The societal taboo around discussing finances is, thankfully, evolving and becoming more commonplace, which is why it’s important to recognize that the money talk isn’t reserved just for couples. “Early on, you must talk about your spending habits and discretionary income because these impact how you spend your time together,” Hoffman explains in F the Fairy Tale. In essence, this means discussing your immediate finances, like what you can and can’t afford to do. (You shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for a plane ticket to join them on vacation if you can’t afford to, and vice versa.)

That said, while it’s ultimately up to you how much you reveal, keep in mind that having debt or being in a tight spot financially isn’t always an automatic deal breaker. Plus, not only will having this conversation early on be better for your wallet, but it’ll also show your partner that you’re capable of being transparent with others, which will make them feel safer and comfortable opening up to you, too.

9. Don’t be afraid of conflict

As enticing as avoiding conflict altogether sounds, Hoffman says it’s crucial for the progression of a relationship. It leads to conflict resolution and gives you an idea of how compatible you and your partner are. Of course, everyone handles conflict differently, but if you both can come from a place of empathy and work toward a resolution, it’s usually a good sign that you’ll handle conflict together well in the future. Likewise, this will also give you a chance to learn their conflict style before getting deep into a relationship; having the ability to listen and hear you out is always a green flag compared to someone who gets defensive and mean; however, if you can learn how they respond to problems and vice versa early on, you’ll be all the better for it in the long run.

10. Stop looking for your soulmate

Hoffman also says that while having a soulmate sounds romantic, “pursuing that ideal keeps you constantly in a scarcity mindset.” In essence, limiting yourself to one person leaves no room for new, potential matches to enter and blocks you from receiving and discovering what is meant for you. Plus, if you are in a relationship, you might be worried about whether you’re with your soulmate or if they’re still out there, which will prevent you from committing 100 percent. Instead of looking for your soulmate, Hoffman recommends fostering and adopting a relationship growth mindset so you can change together, learn from each other, and become each other’s perfect fit.

11. Trust them until you’re given a reason not to

All solid relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on safety—but trust doesn’t happen overnight. “Trust is built in small moments, micro-decisions, and actions that align with words,” Hoffman says. Essentially, this means surrendering to trust your partner and making sure their actions align with what they tell you. If you go into a new relationship weary (maybe because you’ve been burned in the past), you’re not being fair to this new person who hasn’t done anything to show they are untrustworthy. Of course, all of this takes time, but if you notice that you repeatedly feel safe with them or that they’re always there for you, Hoffman says that’s a good sign that you can trust them off the bat.

12. Take things slow

We’re all familiar with the honeymoon phase, but according to Hoffman in F the Fairy Tale, slow and steady wins the race—especially for the first six weeks of your relationship. “It’s easy to get swept up in the emotion at the beginning, but in relationships, we are playing the long game, or at least we hope to,” she explained. Take things slow when you meet a new potential partner for at least six weeks. After that, Hoffman says you can move forward on your own timeline, as this is when each relationship settles into its own pacing. Meaning, you’ll have more clarity and conviction in whether you’d like to move forward and build a life with them and how you’d like to do that. But until then? Don’t be afraid to take things slow, savor the start of your relationship, and give yourself permission to enjoy the ride.

Damona Hoffman
F the Fairy Tale: Rewrite the Dating Myths and Live Your Own Love Story

Drawing from nearly 20 years of experience as a dating coach, Damona Hoffman is helping readers break free of the four dating myths that hold us back. In F the Fairy Tale, you will learn about the actual pillars of strong relationships and gain the tools to finally create the happy ending to your love story.

Shop now