Nobody's perfect, but if your relationships tend to peter out after, oh, two dates or so, your romance MO might be due for a checkup. Five common dating habits are most often to blame -- read on to identify these buzzkills so you can avoid them in the future.
1. Adopting a Loser Mentality
OK, so maybe your job does suck, that skirt does make your ass look huge, and (woe!) you don't know which fork is the salad one. Your date doesn't need to know that. Fishing for compliments is another doomed tactic, because if he doesn't chirp in right away with what we want to hear ("Don't be silly, darling, you're much hotter than Charlize Theron! And a better actress too!), you get irritated. He, meanwhile, is thinking that it's hard work seeing someone who needs so much reassurance.
Acting like the date has already been a bust, or that you're lucky this gorgeous creature has even deigned to share the same oxygen as you, reads as insecurity. And guess what -- insecurity isn't sexy.
Be confident, and focus on your positive qualities; challenge yourself to make a self-congratulatory joke instead of a self-deprecating one at least once in front of him. If that doesn't come naturally to you, wear something that you love (and that flatters your figure), and listen to an upbeat, energy-boosting song on your way to the date.
2. Picking Fights
Did the waiter spill wine on your lap, or did your date push your buttons by daring to show up two minutes late? So what? Being hotheaded, picky or argumentative is a major turnoff on a date, so avoid hot-button topics and keep the boozin' to a minimum if that's likely to get you riled up.
The signs: You bring up someone you want to kill -- even jokingly -- more than once over dinner.
The solution: On the flip side, you'll earn major brownie points if you handle differences or unfortunate situations with a laid-back attitude. Lighten up!
3. Dating for the Sake of Dating
What's the point of having your dance card full if it's full of duds? Sometimes a string of bad, go-nowhere, ho-hum dates can hurt your psyche more than it can help. You feel like you're out there meeting people, but haven't gotten any closer to meeting The One, and your confidence tanks.
The signs: You can't actually name anything you and this guy have in common, and the most attractive thing about him is that he likes you.
The solution: Take yourself out of the game for a little while. A little dating detox can help you reassess your priorities and the qualities you're looking for in a main squeeze. And when you find someone who fits the bill, it's game on!
4. Having Bad Manners
Tipping the server a measly 15 percent may not be a deal-breaker, but acting like you were raised in a barn with your brother Cletus will. You don't need to have a charm school pedigree; just be courteous, friendly to everyone you meet (server included), and say "please" and "thank you." And for God's sake, don't talk with your mouth full of food, jab at your teeth with a toothpick at the dinner table, or spend 15 minutes chatting with your best friend on your cell during the meal. And don't hog the conversation.
The signs: You do any of the above, and excuse it to yourself with something like "I'm sure he didn't notice" or "I'm just being myself -- take me or leave me."
The solution: Give yourself an assignment to ask him about at least three different things during the next date -- having good manners includes knowing when to listen.
5. Being a Downer
Do people tend to go "wanh wanh wanhhhhhhh" after you've finished speaking? Look, people want to spend time with those who make them feel upbeat and good about themselves. They do not want to hang out with a miserable person who can't stop complaining about their dead-end job, no-good ex or psycho roommate.
The signs: You don't have anything good to say about anything you talk about. Can you say, "I'm waiting for you to come along and fix my whole life"?
The solution: Put the whining on the backburner and mention at least three good things about your life during casual conversation.
Tell Us: What's the worst dating mistake you've ever made?
Erin Donnelly is a regular Lemondrop contributor and the author of the "Dating Dossier" audiobook series on iTunes and Audible.