Dating is complicated. It’s difficult to navigate through the steps of getting into a long term relationship even when both people are totally present. But sometimes one person is more willing to do the work while the other person sits on the sidelines. Sometimes, both people are not on the same page. Sometimes we stay in a relationship so we don’t have to be alone. Or we are so afraid of not feeling loved. Or we need validation through another person.

As a professional tarot reader, I have heard just about every dating scenario. Generally, I speak to women about their confusion in a relationship. Why it’s not progressing in the manner that they would like. What is it that they aren’t understanding and if they should move forward. Some of these situations are unique, but many are boiler-plate. Much of the time the cards have the same message.

The cards don’t lie. They don’t spare your feelings. They tell you like it is because they want you to learn the lesson and evolve. The Universe wants you to find real, honest love and not be stuck in a situation that doesn’t make you happy. But you have to be able to be shrewd in your dating practices and be adamant that you deserve the real thing. You have to see through the b.s. No more living in fairy tales.

Based on the thousands of love readings I have performed throughout the years these are the top three scenarios all women need to avoid and the reasons why.

1. The “When Will He Call Me?” Scenario

This is the most commonly asked question I get when doing readings. It seems innocuous enough but the question is a symptom of a larger problem: stupid outdated rules. I have asked women plainly, “Have you tried to contact him?” And the answers I usually get are: “No way. He needs to come after me! Or, “I don’t want to seem desperate.” Instead, women wait with baited breath and get their hopes up every time their phones vibrate hoping that Potential-Mister-Right has contacted them.

Let’s break down these two answers and figure out what makes them outdated.

1. “No way, He needs to come after me!” — Or rather what I like to call the “Disney Princess Delusion.” It’s what happens when we force our own ideas of what a relationship should look like onto a new dating situation. In this scenario, the man is supposed to do all the heavy lifting. This includes being the aggressor, contacting you frequently to express his interest in you, being overtly romantic, making and paying for all of the dates, expressing his love and commitment to you within three months and in six months time putting a ring on your finger.

All you have to do is be yourself and lap up the love and attention because that’s what a man does when he really loves a woman. He makes you the most important thing in his life and sweeps you off of your feet. He falls in love quickly and unexpectedly. You become the only thing he thinks about and without you, he is lost.

Sounds a lot like one of those bodice-ripper romance novels, right? Or every Disney movie with a prince and a princess in it. All too readily women buy into the fairy tale of what a man is supposed to do. And I didn’t just make those time frames up. Time and time again I have heard about the three month and six-month expectations getting calls from women who are pissed that the dates have come and gone.

This is not realistic. A man with a clear sense of self and good boundaries is not going to become obsessed over you after a few dates. He is not going to give up his whole life for the mere presence of you. They call that codependency and it’s a dysfunction. It’s not how healthy relationships work.

2. “I don’t want to seem desperate.” — There is no reason that a woman in the 21st century can’t text a guy and ask how his day went. This does not make you look desperate. It shows that you are an assertive woman who knows what she wants and has no problem going after it. Confidence is sexy.

The fight for equality is not just for the board room. It’s also for the bedroom. I have talked to men about what they expect when in comes to communication and dating. Most all guys have the same answer which is that they are relieved when a woman initiates contact. It takes some of the pressure off of them and they don’t have to guess whether or not a woman likes them.

My own boyfriend said that one of the things he likes about dating me was that I suggested places to go and I kept in contact with him. He was in film school and sometimes lost track of time. So, it wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk to me. He just didn’t realize four or five days had gone by because he was constantly working on a project.

The point: The Disney Princess Delusion is not real. It is outdated and it will keep you waiting for the phone to vibrate instead of actively dating. Being proactive doesn’t make you look desperate. It’s okay to take a risk and show that you are interested in a guy. They actually like that. Also, if you contact a man and he doesn’t seem interested then you can walk away that much quicker. You don’t have to wait around to figure it out.

2. The “Will He Leave His Wife For Me?” Scenario

I want to preface this scenario by saying I don’t judge women for dating married men. It’s not my place. When a person wants a reading I am here to give advice based on what the tarot cards have to say. Not on what my personal beliefs and morals are. I take special care to compartmentalize my own opinions in order to give the most honest reading possible.

That being said when you date a married man there are some truths that you are going to have to come to terms with and the major one is that he is not going to leave his wife. He may say he wants to leave his wife or that he doesn’t love her or that he is staying for the kids. However, all of these reasons have one thing in common: he hasn’t left nor will he.

There are a lot of reasons why men cheat. They aren’t happy, they are bored, they aren’t getting sex anymore, they feel obligated to stay, etc. Usually, though, they have no intention on actually leaving their wife. They like the safety net and the stability it provides. They like how it looks on paper. The longer the marriage the less chance that he is going to leave his wife.

He may say that he loves you and he probably does. He may say that he wishes he met you first and that things were different and he probably means it. However, he set up the scenario of having a mistress for a reason. It’s because he wanted something simple with no strings attached. He wanted something that was void of the trappings of a real relationship. No kids, bills, mortgages, braces, car payments or in-law dinners, etc. Nothing that dampens the sex or the feeling of intimacy that goes along with it. He wants a vacation from his real life in the form of a person.

To be honest, there is some selfishness in his wanting to be with you. You are really there for his enjoyment and for him to forget about his problems. You are the mistress, the therapist, and the emotional support all in one person. He will either stay detached so not to get too emotionally involved or he will tell you all of his secrets. Either way, you are going to feel a strong connection to him because you are going to realize that you are seeing a part of him that nobody else gets to see. You are going to feel special and rightly you should. He has chosen you to be his confidante.

Here is the where the reality comes into play, though. Remember, that you serve a purpose in his life. And he is not going to want to change that. If he wanted another wife he would have already left the first one. He would already be in search of another. That’s not what he did, though. He created a situation where he could keep the safety of his non-working marriage and have his emotional and physical needs met as well.

He is not going to leave his wife for you. In fact, the minute that you want more from him he is going to resent you. He may stay and promise you things that he has no intention of keeping. He may say that he can’t right now but soon. These are all ways of keeping you at bay in hopes that you will forget or that you will give up.

That being said there is a way that dating a married man can work. It’s about being realistic and honest about who you are and what you represent in his life. If you don’t want a real commitment and you are fine with sex dates and pillow talk he is the man for you. If you are looking to be his next wife be prepared to always be waiting on the sidelines, indefinitely. You are better off being with someone who is physically and emotionally available. Someone who you have a future with. Nobody likes being second best.

3. The “When Will He Commit to Me?” Scenario

This is always the hardest scenario to deal with because there is a time factor involved. If you are asking this question after three months of dating then you might still have awhile until he is exclusive with you. If you have been dating the same person for five years and you ask me this question there is a good chance you already know the answer: he isn’t.

Here is a realistic dating timeline based on my performing thousands of dating tarot readings and polling couples. It’s typical. That doesn’t mean that it’s the set in stone.

Three Months — This is where you start questioning if a relationship is in the works. Do you press forward and make it more serious or do you walk away?

Six Months — This is where you decide if the relationship is worth a commitment. You start calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend. You may have personal items at each other’s house.

One year — This is the time that you question if this is going to be a long-term relationship that could lead to marriage. Or if the fun is over and things have gotten too serious.

Two years — This is the time that marriage starts to come into play. Do you, don’t you?

Five years — This is the big re-evaluation phase. Do you still love the person even though all the endorphins have worn off and the honeymoon period is over? Or is it time to walk away?

Most of my relationships have broken off at the six-month and two-year evaluations. Either because I didn’t want to get more serious or because I knew that it wouldn’t go into the marriage phase. Usually, after two years with someone, you know what their intentions are and you know whether or not they are going to be marriage material. Most people show their true colors by that time.

As with all of these scenarios it’s important to be realistic. If you are under the “Disney Princess Delusion” you are going to expect a ring at the six-month mark. That’s not how most people work. I have heard plenty of stories of people falling in love quickly and being married before the year is up. But what they don’t tell you is that after the honeymoon period wears off they are left with the giant task of having to meander through the practical aspects of their marriage with no background experience and very little wiggle room. Love does not conquer all. You still have to put with all the bad habits of your mate and now you are legally obligated to them.

Sometimes, it’s better to take your time, go through the different phases of a relationship and evaluate all the practical trivialities of what a commitment to your significant other looks like. Don’t worry so much about WHEN he is going to commit to you and worry more about IF you want to him to be your partner. If he has outright told you he doesn’t want to commit BELIEVE him. Take him at face value. Don’t fall into the delusion with some time the idea is going to grow on him and he is going to change his mind. At that point, you are just wasting your time. Years from now you will be calling me asking for a reading about why your man isn’t committing to you after five years. Why hasn’t he changed yet?

Here is the cold hard truth: people don’t change unless they want to. If he says he doesn’t want a commitment with you and you stay that tells him that you accept his terms. You are going to play by those terms until the bitter end unless somewhere along the lines he decides differently. But that’s quite a risk to take and who has that kind of time? Men are very honest when it comes to their intentions. A lot of women confuse the issue by not listening and layering what they hear with their own expectations.

The point is, don’t waste your time on maybe. Listen to what your man says and take him on face value. And be realistic. If he hasn’t given you a ring after five years chances are you are going to be waiting on your death bed. If he hasn’t committed at the six-month mark stop reading so many romance novels and get back into the real world.

Heather Woodward helps psychics, empaths and witchy entrepreneurs level up their natural psychic gifts so they have the confidence to charge what they’re worth. Get started with this  free training to help you get in touch with your natural psychic abilities: Week Long Intuition Boot Camp