Let’s call it subpar or flawed advice rather than plain old bad advice to keep it more upbeat. Flawed dating advice from well-meaning friends, family, and therapists happens too often. If I could get the world to stop giving this advice, there would be more love and less confusion.
The advice business is a challenging career path. In part because people frame dating and love from their lifelong perspectives. Their beliefs are formed from what they see and believe to be true. Movies, social media, and other well-meaning people also influence it. The well-meaning people make up my top 10 list of bad advice.
My top 10 list of bad advice, I mean subpar.
Be yourself. People should always be their authentic selves. However, in the dating world, mystery is paramount; being completely yourself doesn’t allow that. Well, at least early on, hold back from sharing absolutely everything. Because when you meet someone you like and say way too much or trust way too much, you are likely to push people away. Revealing yourself over time is better for building a relationship.
Additionally, you most likely will find it hard to be yourself on an early date because your natural self is nervous or possibly even triggered. Anyway, you’re not in your natural state. (Yet!) This is well-meaning advice but not practical. Better advice is to relax and be inquisitive. Ask questions, a lot of questions, and see what you reveal. Learn about this person and see if proper chemistry and compatibility appear.
Date yourself. I don’t know the true meaning of this. It confuses me every time I hear it. Is it suggesting self-care? Is it suggesting know what you want or know who you are? It could indicate that you must learn to be a happy single person. It could imply that you should date someone just like you. No matter the meaning, you will not meet a clone to date. Knowing what you want from a date and a partner is important because the people you meet will be entirely original humans and have flaws. You are better off learning the components of attraction. Attraction only begins with physical appearance. Do you know what comes next? What attraction is not? What’s creepy? What are your dating standards? What are the boundaries? And so on. I really think this is meaningless so I don’t have better advice. Maybe better advice would be to “learn about the principles of dating before you date” anyone.
Don’t trust anyone. I’m going to give credit to- control your trust level- validity. However, since the message here is literally don’t trust anyone, I have to ask that you reframe it. When you have this distrusting vibe about you, your energy is negative; therefore, your actions, nonverbal messages, and intentional actions make you appear defensive, and hence, your words are also not as attractive as they could be. harboring this mindset of distrust gives countless cues that you are someone with a ton of baggage. One of my favorite sayings is “Trust responsibility.” So, trust people at appropriate levels for the level of your relationship. If you are meeting someone new, do not trust them like you have spent 15 hours a week with them for a year, and they have shown you they are a stellar human. But do trust them at the “just met you” level. Trust them to communicate honestly, to spend time learning about you and caring for you at this just-met-you level. We have all been hurt, betrayed, lied to, and misguided, but not trusting someone without cause has negative energy. It’s not attractive. Trust responsibility is better advice.
Sex sells. I will give this a minimal amount of leeway because you must have sexual chemistry with a person to find romance. Beyond that, it’s not good advice. Sex is too easy. If you are hypersexual, you are attractive, and you have that person’s attention. Still, it’s cheap early on in a relationship and unlikely to go the distance. A style that will take you further is simply being flirty and having standards. People who desire and value romantic relationships that build partnerships do not participate in hook-up culture. They will not take you home on the first night. Showing an individual your interests, status, and standards is much more valuable. Better advice is to “keep your standards high and throw in a sexual innuendo -aka flirt- here and there’.
You’ll find someone when you stop looking. Finding a partner is only possible if you are looking or open to it. Unfortunately, many people become disillusioned by dating and leave the game but still long for a partner. However, you must leave your house and talk to people to meet someone. You still must be alluring. Whether looking online or offline, you must be open to a relationship and do the things that bring one. I can only support the sentiment behind the advice if it encourages you to become happy with your single self and the single life. Being glad you have friends and family with things to do is attractive. Being satisfied with your single self means you keep up with your health and do exciting things while meeting new people. Better advice is to build a joy-filled single life and remain open-minded. Or focus on doing the things where you can meet many diverse people and stay open-minded about romance.
Completely heal yourself before you date. I have heard this many times as “hurt people hurt people .”You can and should work on yourself before you start dating. Suppose you have deep grief or relationship traits (think narcissistic traits or addictive traits) that make it challenging to have a relationship. In that case, it’s best to work on those while single.
However, you cannot learn to be vulnerable again without another person. You can get part of the way, but truly healing requires that you date. That other or subsequent relationship may not be the lasting one. Being with someone different than your ex is eye-opening. It takes some time to be vulnerable and trust them with your emotional baggage. “get therapy or work with a coach to help you progress” is better advice. Or “You must accept your role in the failed relationship and learn where you define your boundaries, standards, and expectations.”
Play hard to get it is common advice. Here is where that goes astray. The sentiment is don’t chase. However, a sizable group hears this message instead- “don’t put out any single and interested signals.” Don’t look at that handsome man over there; he might get the wrong idea about you; OR- don’t approach that woman; she’s out of your league. People don’t need the cliche; they need more helpful and insightful. Better advice is “be easy to meet and hard to keep” (Courtesy of Matthew Hussey) and “don’t chase.”
You’re a catch; anyone would be lucky to have you. I am shaking my head constantly at this advice. It is an attempt to bolster self-esteem and confidence. However, dating is 99% rejection. Only one person will be yours in the end. You are intended for someone exceptional- the ONE. ‘Anyone would be lucky to have you advice’ sets people up to poorly manage rejection. Why would they pass me up? The answer is this person isn’t for you. Something else caught their attention. Who knows what that is? Next! Better advice is “someone special is you there. You haven’t met them yet.” Honestly, people never know when they are going to meet someone special. It’s always waiting, growing, and seeing what happens.
Just leave is such common advice when something goes wrong in a relationship. As a population, we could be better communicators and better at giving validity to another person’s point of view or making a change as requested by our partner. Behaviors that break us apart are usually tolerated for a while, but at some point, we can’t stand them any longer. Some problems take a while to resolve and can get under your skin. Outside people will label them as disrespectful, narcissistic, toxic, and abusive to you and will encourage ending the relationship. Repairing a relationship damaged by loss of trust and boundary violations is painful for both parties. I will admit there are times when leave is the strong message a person needs. If the relationship is truly abusive, a condescending mindset is prevalent or there is agreement, you’re better off parting. In this case, better advice is no advice at all. Ask questions and let people come to conclusions. Friends ask, how can I help? And listen.
Healthy/Good relationships are easy. This advice sets up the leave advice when emotions of sadness, confusion, or negativity arise. Plus, implying that a difficult time isn’t healthy does not support repair. Relationship problems can be emotionally and physically draining at times. Working out the little things and the significant issues have the same process. Begin resolving the small stuff early on. So, as couples depart the honeymoon stage, they will start finding things that are sometimes very hard, problematic, confusing, and entwined with other issues. Complex, however, does not mean tolerating toxic behaviors like being belittled, being cheated on, being ignored, and so on. Addressing, discussing, and resolving problems, disagreements, and conflicts are all situations that need resolution as they occur. Just in time, communication takes some courage and integrity.
Additionally, knowing that some problems can take a long time to resolve or be revisited again and that the relationship will take a long time to repair is helpful for a positive mindset. We must have a mindset that issues are healthy for growth and create new bonds with our partner. Sometimes, a whole period of life with this person will not be easy. It can feel heated or possibly sad. Repairing the relationship is the next stage; that is where we feel a new bond with our partner. It’s a constant cycle of issues, potentially uncomfortable discussions, fixes, and repairs. Only some things are huge issues, so that’s why we cannot pass over the small problems. It’s practice for significant issues. It is work but shouldn’t be your entire life and drain you like Dracula, either. Better advice than leaving is reminding people that it is healthy to disagree, have conflicts, and feel bad occasionally. Remind people to focus on the repair and not relive the problem repeatedly.
People love to talk about and give advice on dating and relationships. Romantic culture is influenced by so much. Our families of origin, friends, and the media affect people’s reactions to relationships in ways that are not always the best. Too often, advice is based on fantasy or personal experiences making it inappropriate for that individual. It’s much easier to advise than to act on advice. People come from their perspective. There are some behaviors people will believe are correct, and we will never convince them otherwise. Therefore, asking questions is better than giving advice. Keep asking questions your friends will appreciate it more than subpar advice.
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