Vague dating advice that keep us confused


If you’ve spent a decent amount of time single, you’ll either relate to the following or have a few ‘golden nuggets’ to contribute. Abstract, vague and misleading dating advice is everywhere. Last week I actually spent a good weekend looking for it. Here, I’ve included a few of my favourite PLUS some of yours along with commentary from my ladies and gents panel.

Generally bad dating advice

 “Just be yourself” 

Why it’s bad: It may sound logical at first, but we have so many sides of ourselves that we present in different situations. My ‘work self’ can be different from my ‘family self’. On top of that, not everyone is comfortable being themselves. For those, ‘just being yourself’ is easier said than done.

Thoughts from a gent:

“If I were to totally be myself, I’d walk up to a date with dirty sneakers, day old t-shirt and a 6 pack of beers getting ready to play some video games. But when I’m on a date, I present the best, the cleanest version of myself….so is that ‘being yourself?’.

Thoughts from a lady:

“Almost like hearing someone say ‘oh, you’ll meet him soon’ with an empathetic smile. Nothing but filler words”.

“You need to do this with your partner because I read about love language in xxx book”

Why it’s bad: It’s always easier to get advice then to give it. Only, who says the author of a book knows what’s best for you? Every relationship dynamic is different. Thinking there is a one size fits all approach to dating is a great way to sell books. But not so great when it comes to the way you and your partner connect.

Thoughts from a gent: “First I was told I just had to watch the Notebook. Now I have to read an actual book? I’d prefer to figure it out as I go along. Getting advice from some author I’ve never met, yeah that’s not such a turn on.

Thoughts from a lady: “Any other women tried telling their partner how to act? It doesn’t end well. It’s well intentioned I’m sure, but the only thing rarer than a parking spot in Sydney is a guy who enjoys being told what to do to improve his ‘love language’”.

“It’ll happen when you least expect it”

Why it’s bad: It’s the definition of empty language. Not only does it shift any personal responsibility from people to go out and forge connections themselves, but it lessens the chance of finding someone by assuming the ‘universe’ will handle things.

Thoughts from a gent: “When I least expect it? On that logic I’ll find ‘the one’ when I’m heading to the kebab shop on a Sunday morning, hungover and smelling like the Jack Daniels distillery. I’d rather meet someone when I am expecting it. That way I can at least shower first”.

Thoughts from a lady: “I want to make sure my legs are shaved and my hair is nice! It’s super romantic to think I’ll meet ‘the one’ at the shops or waiting for a bus. But in reality I want to expect it. Not just practically, because there’s a huge difference between dressing to impress girls vs dressing to impress guys. But I also want to be in the right phase of my life to expect it”.

Worse dating advice for women

“Make him work for it”

Why it’s bad: At some stage of early human history, making a man work for attention/affection may have been a great way to cultivate a relationship. In the 21st century, it isn’t. With social media and online dating offering the chance to keep or cull a burgeoning relationship with the flick of a finger, making him ‘work for it’ just pushes him towards finding a new partner who won’t make him jump through hoops to show commitment.

Thoughts from a gent: “I already have to work for a boss at a job I don’t enjoy. Adding more work for someone I’ve just met? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll show you if I’m interested. If you play mind games and want more, I’ll show you the door”.

Thoughts from a lady: “If you start off by playing games you’ll see your relationship end because of games. Why this focus on making him work for it? You’re not defined by a length of time between meeting and escalating things. It’s about quality not quantity”.

“Do xxx and he’ll beg to be your boyfriend”

Why it’s bad: Firstly, there’s no how-to guide to getting a boyfriend. Thinking there is will keep you in a pattern of failure and self-doubt. Secondly, aiming to have a man ‘beg’ is an unhealthy position. Starting a relationship on an uneven footing is asking for trouble down the line. Both partners should feel like they add something of value from the get-go.

Thoughts from a gent: “Call me crazy but I don’t love the idea of begging to be in a woman’s life. I’d much rather earn my way there. I don’t want to tick off someone else’s relationship wish list. I want to do my own thing to make it work”.

Thoughts from a lady: “This is a generic approach you hear a lot. To me, that means you’ll get a generic boyfriend if you implement it. It sounds cliché but if you want a yin to your yang you have to be true to yourself and let things evolve naturally. That’s how you’ll find someone special”

“Don’t settle for less”

Why it’s bad: This one comes straight out of the Disney Princess handbook. In theory it’s great. It makes sense that you wouldn’t settle for someone who doesn’t tick all your boxes. But there’s a fine line between expectation and reality. Everyone has annoying habits. Embracing someone despite them is what makes a relationship what it is.

Thoughts from a gent: “I hear this one all the time. I feel a lot of pressure because of it to be quite honest. I’m not a great cook and I couldn’t tell you the difference between a chardonnay and a Sav, but does that mean I’m not good enough? I have other redeeming qualities”.

Thoughts from a lady: It’s not about looking for that perfect guy. I’ve looked. Trust me, he doesn’t exist. The word ‘settle’ is so negative. People make mistakes so it’s how you communicate and encourage them to grow that shows value. How they respond shows whether they’re a keeper. Like my Mum always said, ‘you teach people how to treat you”.

Worse dating advice for men

“If you want her, you have to make her know you want to f*^& her”

Why it’s bad: There’s nothing wrong with cultivating desire. But with Tinder at the forefront of a generation of increasingly casual views towards sex the impact of being forward can backfire. Ever heard the term ‘f*#cboy’? Women avoid men who come across as shallow and wanting one thing.

Thoughts from a gent: “Nice guys finish last. Every bloke hears that ringing in their head when they try to make their intentions known. But coming on too strong means going home alone so it’s about finding a balance”

Thoughts from a lady: “Convincing guys to be open about wanting to sleep with women. That’s actual advice?! When have they not been open about that? Maybe focus on making a woman feel valued and appreciated and see where that gets you instead”

“Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen”

Why it’s bad: Outside of a 90’s rom-com, this advice is long dead. Or at least, it should be. With so many options and so many ways to connect with potential partners, being mean is the quickest way to ending up alone. This means no waiting x amount of days to text, no mind games and for the love of God absolutely no negging.

Thoughts from a gent: “I remember hearing this as a teenager and thinking it was the holy grail of dating advice. After a couple of years of awful results, I realized it was not. It’s all about the banter. Making them laugh, not doubt their self-worth”

Thoughts from a lady: “The way you treat others is a direct reflection on how you see yourself. If he’s being mean to me then it doesn’t show me he’s keen, it shows me he has to work on himself a lot more before he’s ready to commit to anyone”.

“Women love a Bad Boy”

Why it’s bad: Do women love a bad boy? No. The word ‘bad’ is already in that sentence which should offer some indication. ‘Bad’ doesn’t even have a meaning anymore. Is it riding motorcycles and staying out late or not paying your credit card repayments on time? Women don’t want a man they think they can fix. It’s 2017. They want a man who’s willing to fix himself.

Thoughts from a gent: “I’m so relieved this advice is outlasting it’s welcome. I’m terrified of riding a motorcycle. If calling in sick to work so I can watch the footy is bad, then I’ll qualify. Otherwise I’ve got too much going on in my life to try and project an image that really doesn’t reflect who I am”

Thoughts from a lady: “This is such vague language. What even is bad? If it means treating me badly then that’s not cool. Have an edge, embrace your personality, be independent and have your own style. That’s what’s sexy about a bad boy.”

What vague dating advice have you heard lately?

Photo by Hrvoje Grubisic on Unsplash


Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.