Dating advice is like folklore passed down through generations. Whether there’s truth in those words is not of concern. From parent to child, friend to friend, and slightly drunk Aunt to weary niece on Thanksgiving, we continue to shell out horrible dating advice.
And I get it. Because I fell victim to believing this same kind of advice when I was younger. I’d read magazines and talk with my friends and have my assumptions about how dating worked confirmed time and time again.
But that advice actually sucked. Though well-intended, I hope, the dating advice we were taught growing up is actually perpetuating unhealthy habits that aren’t doing anyone any good.
And it’s time to sort this all out. Because dating is hard enough; it’s a vulnerable process that’s complicated and lonely at times. You don’t need to throw shitty dating advice into that cocktail of perpetuated anguish.
So let’s talk about some common pieces of dating advice that you should forever stop listening to if you want a healthy romantic life.
1. “If there’s no spark on the first date, it’s not meant to be.”
I’d be hesitant about listening to any advice that suggests “sparks” or “fireworks” on the first date are necessary for a lasting relationship.
Getting to know a complete stranger takes time. And dating is about learning what works and doesn’t work for you. Sometimes it’ll take until the third date to realize you really like someone.
I say if the person is nice and interesting, pursue things until the third or fourth date. Give the person a chance; you may just find that the sparks were there, just a little hidden at first.
2. “You need to act uninterested in the beginning.”
This advice falls into the category of playing games, and games do not make for a healthy relationship.
If someone is going to run because you texted them after the date to let them know you had fun, let them sprint away.
You should be interested in finding someone as interested in you as you are with them. Showing that you enjoy your date’s company and want to keep seeing them is healthy and will be reciprocated by a person worth your while.
3. “Don’t date someone with an incompatible zodiac sign.”
*Eyes roll into the back of my head*
I’m not into astrology. It’s just not my jam. And this kind of advice completely ignores the idea of nature vs. nurture.
What makes someone a great partner is their personality. Those kinds of characteristics are created through past experiences, the relationship with their parents, and the ability to express their emotions.
They’re not created based on how close the moon was at the time of their birth. End of story.
4. “Wait until you find ‘the one.’”
It would be a sad reality to believe that there is only one person in this vast world that is compatible as a life partner.
And I say that being in a very committed relationship. I love my boyfriend. I think we’re great together. But god forbid, if something were to happen to him, I wouldn’t believe I lost my one chance at love.
This kind of advice sets extremely high expectations for a romantic partner. There are plenty of people out there that could be a great life partner. You just have to find one that makes you feel comfortable being yourself, that you love spending time with, and who you’re attracted to.
5. “Make them work for you.”
I hate this advice for two reasons:
A relationship is not about who is better.
You’re not a prize to be won like a goldfish at a carnival.
Let’s please stop with this notion of making someone work for your love. A relationship is an equal partnership. You should be loved, and respect, but both of those should be reciprocated.
Don’t act like they’re below you and need to earn your love. That’s a bit narcissistic.
6. “Age matters.”
Nope. Age does not matter.
What matters is the individual’s experiences. How they view life. The way they view love.
I’ve had the displeasure of dating someone 12 years my senior. I assumed our relationship would be this mature presence in my life that would rock my world. Boy, was I wrong.
There was a reason he was still single. And all the time in the world wouldn’t change his unhealthy behaviors until he took a hard look in the mirror and decided to put in the work.
On the other hand, my current boyfriend is two years younger than me. He’s one of the most responsible and caring men I’ve ever been with.
As long as everyone is a consenting adult, age doesn’t matter. Their past and how that shaped them matters.
7. “Be your best self.”
I understand where this advice comes from and the good intentions behind it.
But the best kind of relationship you’ll ever find yourself in is one where you’re fully accepted by the other person. That includes your makeup-free face, the audible burps, your sweatpants with holes in them, and your unfiltered word vomit.
Wanting to dress up for nice dinners and talk about happy memories on the first few dates makes sense. Just don’t feel the need to act like someone you’re not.
8. “You’re being too picky; you’re not getting any younger.”
This piece of dating advice almost brings tears to my eyes.
I know that being single can be lonely. It’s a rough process to go on dates and continually watch things not work out. But the last thing you want to do is make a huge decision like finding a life partner out of desperation.
If someone is giving you this advice, tell them it’s unwanted.
Dating is your own process that happens on your own terms; it’s not something you can rush.
If there’s any advice you should take, it’s this: Be yourself, date different kinds of people, go at your own speed, and be a good person.
There’s no right way to date, but there’s definitely a lot of wrong ways.