4 Dysfunctional Dating Personalities

I must admit that in the past I’ve done wrong all the things I’m about to call out. I was selfish, and I didn’t know myself very well. I created parasitic relationships. I was insecure. I say “was” because along the way I learned a few things. You’re here already, so have a seat. You’ll probably nod along. I’ll try to be direct. Here are 4 types of dysfunctional dating personalities.

1. Mirrors

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“It’s like you’re my mirror, my mirror staring back at me.” -Justin Timberlake

I call them mirrors because these people are looking for only themselves in another person. Their traits, their strengths, and their weaknesses. They have grace only for familiar weaknesses, and appreciation for only their kind of strengths. They want to look at someone and feel like they’re looking in the mirror.

The lie they believe is that dating themselves would be the easiest thing, because they understand themselves. They want to trust and they can only trust themselves. They’re afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of unpredictability. They are afraid of the unfamiliar. They’ve probably been 100% burned by someone they trusted before, and now they’re out looking for themselves.

The thing about mirrors, though, is that you miss out on having a real counterpart, someone who loves you through the differences and whose strengths compliment yours. Breaking out of this mirror dating strategy looks a lot like laying down expectations and digging deep into humility. Look at your best friends and tell me how they’re different from you, and yet are still your best friends. Having major things in common is absolutely necessary, but don’t let fear or trust issues become the compass for your choices.

Mirror relationships miss out on the gospel because they are oftentimes judgmental. Mirrors are quick to cut a relationship the minute they realize they’re not dating themselves… that’s insecurity playing out like judgment.

I learned not to be a mirror, because I need someone who sees the world slightly differently than I do, yet loves me enough to come and sit by me and show me, and want to know what I see. I learned that brave communication is the key to accessing the reward of doing life with a different person. If we fail to communicate with courage, to voice our needs, we end up resenting that person for not seeing it the way we do. We assume the permanent role of being misunderstood, which is a victim mentality, and we miss out on the flexibility of love. Love can stretch around and see things from multiple angles. Love can give grace in the middle of disagreement. Dating someone who would be exactly me in another body would not lessen conflict, it’d probably increase it, because I’d expect that person to understand more about me with less information. It’s backwards. It’s lazy love. It’s self-seeking, literally. You should desire to look into someone else’s eyes and see them for who they are, not simply compare them to your likeness.

If you’re in a relationship with a mirror, you’ll feel like a show dog. They will run you through their hoops, their obstacle courses, and at the end of the day, you’re still on a trial period. You don’t feel secure in those relationships, because they’re constantly judging you, comparing you, and well.. you’re gonna be disappointing because you’re not their long-lost twin. If you let their disappointment (which actually stems from their own fear of failure due to previous failure) seep into YOUR heart, you’ll start to feel like you don’t measure up. That is not true. You are yourself, and you were never meant to be just like them. You are you, beautifully. You are worth the risk of being loved for who you are. If that person cannot appreciate who you are, you should break up with them. Do it quickly, and don’t look back. They do not currently have the ability to love you well, because they are only looking for themselves. Gather your courage and remember that you’re brave enough to love someone through their differences. That’ll come in handy when you’re dating someone who is enamored by YOU and not their traumatized sense of preservation. Pray for their healing, but for the love of God, get out of the toxic relationship.

2. Blankets

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“If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?” -Snow Patrol

Look, blankets are not the worst. Lots of blankets actually get married and stay married. But the thing about the blankets: they’re looking for comfort. They’ll date the friend and marry the friend, and truly they’re not feeling on the inside what they know they should be feeling. But they are so, so comfy that they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to hurt anybody. They don’t know who they would be without that friend of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 plus years in their lives, with due reason. They love that person, just in a “hug your grandma” kind of way. Aww. It’s super tragic. The friend zone gone wrong.

The lie that they believe is “there will not be someone else who will feel this familiar, who will love me for me, who will know me this well, and who will let me know them fully” and they sit there with this tangible option of comfort versus the invisible risk of the ominous, fiery “what if” in the uncertain future. This is why a lot of blankets do get married. They value the relationship for what it is, even if it is completely lukewarm, and they choose it. I’m sure some of these semi-arranged marriages do thrive, but I believe you should question your thinking during DATING if you’re not feeling anything beyond friendly love. I think it’s deceptive to someone to pretend you have passionate feelings for them. It’s a lie. When you’re married, you stay married. You kindle the fire. I’m writing this about DATING, k? Cool.

Blankets miss out on the opportunity of meeting someone who exhilarates them. It’s the crazy-in-love thing. Whether or not that fades is irrelevant. It should be there at least at first! The romantic in me demands the spark, the butterflies, the stuttering, the lingering on the phone unable to hang up, the swoon when that person kisses your cheek, and the fire that burns up inside when they look into your eyes and you know they are thinking about how much they love you. Blankets chance missing that, and I think that’s just crazy. Love is All-consuming Fire, by definition. God embodies both.

I see blanket relationships missing out on the gospel when it comes to being lukewarm. Often, these two people don’t go out of their way to express their love to each other. It’s a comfort zone, which isn’t unbiblical but it can hinder the zeal that could be there. It’s also a control and trust issue thing going on. Blankets think they are expert statisticians, that they know their odds are harsh. They may not believe God has the best for them and the person they’re dating.

I learned not to desire a blanket relationship when I realized how much pain it can create. Blankets are in my opinion the hardest breakups because they feel like you have to get out of the warmest bed to the coldest room, on a rainy morning, with the option of sleeping in, and instead you sit up, put your feet on the floor, and walk away from the comfort zone. It’s excruciating. I wish those on no one. But can I tell you how glad I am right now that I’m not in a blanket relationship? SO glad.

The key in overcoming these kinds of relationships is to have blind trust in the goodness of God, and also to place a high value on honesty. You might think you’re avoiding pain by staying in, when really you’re being dishonest with that person every single day by not loving them romantically. When that truth rises out, it hurts a different kind of pain. I’m not saying to be fully led by feelings, but you are not a robot! If you’re not feeling romantically drawn in, be honest and end it. Set that person free to experience a real two-way street relationship.

If you’re in a relationship with a blanket, you might feel unappreciated and overlooked. You’re not being pursued much. Romantic gestures might look forced. It’s the classic case of being taken for granted, mostly because… well… you’re being taken for granted. You might be feeling the fire yourself, but you notice the gap between your ideal and what you have. It might be great to ask some hard questions and to communicate what you need. Along the lines of “hey, I feel like we are so comfortable together, and I’d like to keep the fire alive. What are some ways you can think of that we can express passion to each other?” and TALK. TAAAALK. If you don’t talk about it and you break up with a blanket, you’re gonna hate me and yourself and everything. This is not an easy breakup. You’ll need to lean heavy on the Lord (as always) and dig deep into His Word. Prayer turns up like 15 notches. Surround yourself with friends and wisdom. All is well that ends well and I promise you have got to let go of mediocre to experience greatness. Good is the enemy of best. You are so so so worthy of passion, and you should make room for it.

3. Empty Cups

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“I don’t want no scrub, a scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me, hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.” -TLC

At the risk of sounding horribly harsh, let’s talk about empty cups.

Empty cups don’t have anything to offer you, but they still think they should be dating you. You have to fill them up and hold them up. Everything that would be of benefit in the relationship would be coming from one side, while the other is seeking validation, affirmation, status, and a way to avoid their own issues just a little bit longer. Empty cups put a high value on how they feel for you, and a very low value on pretty much everything else that is important, like faith, distance, financial health, overall health, life goals, accountability, family, and committed decisions like parenting, housing, and attempting to make some long-term decisions. This sounds AWFUL but you would not believe how many people are not in a healthy place emotionally to date but are still trying to date, in the middle of their broken places when they should be seeking Truth and wisdom and healing. These people are co-dependent. They don’t know what to do with themselves if their phone isn’t buzzing, because they don’t quite know how to access Jesus for a relationship. They are not permanently stuck that way, but they MUST go through healing. We have all been empty cups at one point, and we know that the best thing that can happen is being released so that we can lean on Jesus without a distraction or alternate source of comfort.

The lie they believe is that they need to lean on somebody else (and not 100% on Jesus) to give them their daily boost of “I am significant.” They do not fully know who they are in Christ, nor what Jesus does for them. Odds are, they are disconnected from the voice of God. Maybe it’s because of a stronghold, or just that they haven’t been taught how to access Jesus for themselves. This kind of love is like a vacuum, not an overflow. They’ll be looking to receive. They speak loftily without making any action to back up their words. They talk big game about their feelings, but they shy away from commitment and have no means whatsoever to actually commit! These relationships are so very unhealthy. These are breeding grounds for resentment and abuse of various forms.

Empty cups miss out on the opportunity of experiencing intimacy with God, because they’re afraid of intimacy with God. This might stem from parental wounds, or abuse, or hurt from a previous relationship. They for some reason feel separated from God, even though the Word of God says there is nothing that can separate them from the love of God. And because they need the love of God (we all desperately, desperately do), they’re gonna try to get it from a person. They want to be filled up. They want someone to pour joy and peace and love and patience into them, in an overflowing fashion. This is the role of the Holy Spirit within us. These are the fruits of intimacy with God, not with people. There is no suitable substitute for the love of God.

Empty cups miss out on the gospel because they struggle to believe it for themselves. They see other people enjoying the freedom and identity of Christ, but don’t quite know how to access that. They think there’s something wrong with being single, because they are not fully content with Christ alone.

I learned not to be an empty cup when I had no choice but to be a single empty cup haha. At first it was excruciating, but the lonely times with Jesus got sweeter and sweeter. Sometimes I’d get pizza and pepsi, and go to the dock to watch the sunset with Jesus. Sometimes I’d go hike a mountain or run in the trails. I’d sit and paint, and write, and color with markers. I would read out loud “Streams in the Desert” to Jesus in the morning, watching the sunrise. Sometimes I’d just cry in my car, and that was okay too! I started to understand what it meant to say “apart from You I have no good thing” and “there’s nothing on earth I desire beside You” and I became wildly independent. I realized that my love is independent, that I can love people and not require an ounce of it back. Forgiving people who didn’t love me well or at all. Loving my enemies. At the end of the process, I was filled to the brim.

Being an empty cup is not a permanent state, but dating when you feel this way or dating someone who feels this way is a TERRIBLE idea. The key in overcoming? Get healing. Get your time with the Lord, and that might mean you need to set a time frame and just be SINGLE during that time, by choice. Figure out your non-negotiables. Ask Him who you are. Ask Him to reveal His love for you. Take a sober look at your life, the different parts of it. Change what needs to change. Commit to what is important to you.

If you are dating an empty cup, you might feel the need to stay with them because you hate the idea of being yet another thing that falls apart in their life, BUT you need to pray and ask the Lord if you’re in the way of their healing. You might be a distraction. They need a counselor, a friend, a mentor. You need a break from all the hot mess drama. You might realize you don’t have 99 problems, you just have one. I say back away, but you do you, boo boo.

4. Reachers

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“I wish that I could be like the cool kids, ’cause all the cool kids they seem to fit in.” -Echosmith 

One of the tv shows that I used to indulge (I watched every single episode) is How I Met Your Mother. It isn’t PG and they make tasteless sexual jokes. But I watched it for the puns, the Star Wars references, the Canadian Robin Sparkles, the woo girls, and the heavy-metal music wrestling scenes. SO, in this show they brought up a theory that in every relationship there is a Reacher and a Settler… so someone is dating outside of their league, while the other is dating below their league. I disagree. HOWEVER, some people firmly believe they are the perpetual reacher. They don’t consider themselves to be worthy, which looks a lot like the empty cup, but a little different. Reachers aren’t empty, and they’re not looking for comfort. The lie they sincerely believe is that they are 100% out of their league, which sets the tone for an imbalance that plays out through the whole relationship.

Sidenote: I have SO been the reacher, as in I thought I was dating outside of my league. In the past, I dated a “cool kid” and for the life of me I could not figure out what he saw in me. The entire time that relationship lasted, I felt very uncomfortable, very unfit. I felt like the Princess Diaries, a commoner in royal settings. It made for a LOT of awkward interactions, second-guessing everything I said and trying too hard to attain a standard I made up for myself. I felt like the oddball around his cool friends, and I was just not trendy enough. I was hurt when that relationship ended, but GEEZ, I also felt SO relieved. I didn’t have to try to fit with the stuffy, superficial cool kids anymore. I could just eat a pizza with my hands, not worry if it was vegan or gluten-free or WHATEVER. I didn’t have to sit through another British tv show that bored me to tears. I could wear ripped jeans again and not feel like a hobo. I could say “I have never heard of that band” and smile for days.

With all that said, being the reacher is a full-time job. Constantly trying to adjust, to attain the standard, to fit in as much as possible, to say the right thing, the witty thing, to not be too quiet or too loud. Ew!

Reachers miss out on feeling like they’re enough and wonderful, just for who they are. They are constantly comparing themselves and worrying way too much about people’s opinions of them. It’s a performance, the kind that you know you haven’t practiced enough for and it makes you extra sweaty to think you’re probably gonna mess it up somehow. You’re expecting failure, and pit stains, expecting that person to wake up one day and see you for who you really are, and walk away. Being a reacher is not healthy. It’s not accurate.

Reachers miss the gospel because they don’t see their own value in God’s eyes. Identity in Christ. There are no leagues. There is, though, a thing called confidence. It’s important. I’ve met people who at first don’t catch your eye, but then they swoop in with their personality and captivate the room. I’ve met people who are so endearing that you can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy when you’re around them. You can’t tell me that if they dated an “attractive” or “affluent” person that they’d be the reacher? Nah. Neither are reachers. You have two people who are fascinated by each other. The gospel declares that Jesus is fascinated by each of us! None of us are peasants hoping to impress Him. He LOVES us. Though we fall short of glory, we have attained it in Him. To think you are less than worthy in any relationship is to miss the application of the gospel.

The key to overcoming the reacher mindset is to remember your God-given worth. If you don’t know it to remember it, then you need to go figure out how awesome you are so that you can come back like “of course you asked me out, way to notice how awesome I am!” and change the game. On the flip side, if you feel uncomfortable and feel like you don’t have the grace to be yourself in that relationship, talk about it and consider breaking up. I think the reacher is the opposite of the blanket. They’re so uncomfortable in their own skin and that discomfort travels through the relationship. It could be a good relationship, were it not for the person feeling so unworthy.

If you’re in a relationship with a reacher, you might be feeling super annoyed or tired of repeating yourself, telling them how great they are and having it go in one ear and out the other. And you might be wanting to date somebody who has more confidence, so that you don’t have to persuade them to believe they are good enough to be loved by you. Be wary not to put that person in uncomfortable situations to “test” them because that’s mean. It’s like taking a non-dancer to a salsa club… so mean! Be kind. If you’re not content in the relationship because that person keeps questioning their worth, you might wanna reconsider that relationship. It’s exhausting, and limiting. Imagine a relationship where both people felt confident of their worth, and celebrated each other? Yeah. Make room for that.

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I’d love your feedback. Did you relate to any of these? You’re awesome, and God is well-pleased with you.  If you’d like to talk about any of this, I will make time for you. Leave a comment with your thoughts 🙂 Also, if you have other suggestions of these kinds of relationships and you want me to write a part 2, leave those in the comments.

Thanks!

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13 thoughts on “4 Dysfunctional Dating Personalities

  1. Reblogged this on Embrace the Adventure// and commented:
    I’ve dated a mirror, been a mirror. Dated a blanket, been a blanket. Dated an empty cup, been that empty cup. Dated a reacher, and been that reacher….

    So grateful for grace and the lessons learned from dating and being that type of person in a relationship. Helena, you’re on point with this blog. Xoxo.

  2. Helena,

    This is such a great article on the types of dysfunctional relationships. I have definetely been guilty of all four types. Thank you for putting definition to these issues and showing how we can be better. Awesome!

  3. HeyHey!

    This is an amazing list that helped me see certain patterns in my past & present. Thanks for writing from the heart & for sharing what He’s illuminated in your life with us.

  4. Intense. Haven’t dated before but I’m fairly certain I’ve got all 4 of these issues. I’m in your neck of the woods for a couple more weeks. Feel like getting together at some point? Email or text me.

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