A lot of advice might come from a good place, but that doesn’t mean you should follow it.
As a Relationship Coach and a female human, I’ve read so much dating advice directed at women. I’ve found that too many can be damaging, sexist, or easily misinterpreted.
If you’re a woman who’s newly dating, young, or just need a reality-check, here is the advice you should roll your eyes at:
1. “They’re only being mean because they like you.”
I was probably 9 when someone first advised me on the “ways of love.” I had a crush on a neighbor boy named Evan who frequently kicked me on the playground.
I didn’t understand why he’d sometimes be so mean to me. Then a teacher told me, “He’s only mean because he likes you, Tara!”
My eyes lit up with understanding. Shittiness=❤ !
Ugh. Could there be anything more ruinous than telling a young girl that? Anything more likely to set her up for spending a lifetime of putting up with nonsense from unkind people?
If someone likes you, they should ONLY show it with kindness. Never take unkindness or disrespect as a sign that someone likes you.
2. “Give them a chance, even if you’re not interested.”
This advice assumes that you don’t know what you want, but if you went went on a date with that (boring/rude/unattractive, etc.) person, you might find exactly what you were looking for.
Sometimes we are surprised. We get to know someone more and realize that we’d overlooked or underestimated them.
But I’m sure you know what you don’t want.
If you have no interest in someone, you don’t have to give them a chance just because someone told you that you should.
It would actually be kinder if you didn’t, so they didn’t get their hopes up.
3. “Love takes work.”
This advice can so often be grossly misinterpreted.
Healthy relationships do take work, which often includes a lot of communication and compromise, but your relationship should make your life better overall.
If it’s not, it’s skirting too close to the damaging idea that love is supposed to be hard. Work on a relationship isn’t supposed to be uphill drudgery, especially because you’re both supposed to be shouldering the burden.
Many of us who have followed this advice have likely stayed in toxic relationships just because we told ourselves it was supposed to be “work.”
4. “If you really love someone, you’ll stay with them no matter what.”
Like #3, this one also can be widely misinterpreted.
Every relationship goes through seasons of drought. Maybe one of you was laid off, is dealing with the loss of a parent or other loved one, in school and working a full-time job, etc. There will be times that will be hard that you will have to work through as a couple and as an individual.
But too often this advice encourages women to stay in relationships that are unhealthy. This advice is NOT saying, “Stay with them even if they beat you, abuse you, or regularly mistreat you.” It’s simply giving a reminder that love is not all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes it’s a day-to-day choice to stay in that relationship.
You should never have to choose whether to stay in a relationship that’s unhealthy. The obvious choice should always be to leave.
5. “Don’t bring up the future too soon.”
When I was dating following my separation/divorce, I heard this advice frequently. I was warned it would “scare people off.”
If a person wasn’t on the same page as me from the very beginning, I didn’t want them. It’s not that I showed up to the date and said, “Hey, I want to marry you,” but I was clear that I was dating with the intention of building toward a serious relationship.
If these people weren’t interested in the same thing I was, I was able to weed them out early.
If you’re looking for something specific, don’t let anyone advise you to not make clear your expectations or to lower them.
You deserve what you want, and you’ll be able to find it if you find the right person.
6. “They’ll change if you ______.”
This might be only a Southern thing, but I’ve heard several iterations of this advice: that you can “fix” or “raise” your adult partner to be what you want them to be. Marriage or a child will help them “grow up,” and you can personally help them realize their potential.
People can change, but only if they want to.
I’ve known women who thought further commitment or marriage would stop their partner’s infidelity or another child would make their partner step up at home. Assuming or hoping for someone to change is setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment and wasted time.
It’s better to ask yourself: if everything stayed exactly the same, would I be able to live with that? Your partner may very well change, but you can’t base your choices on that hope.
7. “Wait to have sex.”
Wait three dates, five dates, until you’ve exchanged “I love you’s,” until you’ve met their parents…
I’m assuming you’re both grown and consenting, so you can fuck whoever you want whenever you want.
What you do in the bedroom is no one else’s business except whoever’s in there with you.
This advice is slut-shamey and gross, like you’re less of a woman if you happen to have sex before date #3.
There is no magic formula for love or commitment, but sex between consenting adults should always equal fun and not be tied up with some judgmental timetable.
8. “My partner has needs.”
I’ve heard it at least a hundred times, specifically from female clients shaming themselves for previous partners cheating on them.
You’re allowed to not be in the mood. You’re allowed to be tired and to have a break from being touched.
Yes, it can become a problem if you’re always turning your partner down. It could be because you’re depressed, dealing with hormonal/body/self-image issues, or there could be other issues in your relationship that need to be dealt with before you can become intimate again.
When we hear advice like this, the implication is, “…and their needs come before yours.”
You have needs too, and the kindest thing you could do for yourself is to honor them. You can’t make your partner be faithful to you by always being sexually available, and you could end up abusing yourself by continually making yourself do something you don’t want to.
Be kind to yourself. You deserve that.
A lot of this terrible advice is old and overused. Just because you’ve heard it for so long doesn’t mean it’s good advice, plus a woman being able to comfortably own her sexuality is still a (sadly) new concept.
Have standards, don’t put up with abuse or toxicity, communicate clearly, and honor yourself and your body. Love may be a battlefield, but you and your self-respect don’t have to die on it.