While many of these questions have legitimate answers, almost all of them have ambiguous ones as well. What pieces of relationship advice should we take and what should we let fall to the wayside? What’s the difference between good advice and crap advice? Who determines what is good and what isn’t? The main issue is that relationships are complicated because no two are ever alike. If you want something real to hold onto, consider the following and keep in mind there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” technique when it comes to relationship advice:
“They’re Only Mean Because They Like You”
Almost every little girl in existence has heard this little piece of “advice.” Little Tommy pulled our hair when we were kids, little Billy calling us names.
No, this isn’t what a boy does when he likes a girl. It’s called bullying for a reason.
If a guy is mean to you, regardless of how old either of you are, he’s being cruel for no reason other than the fact that he feels he can – and as girls and women, it is up to us to let them know we aren’t going to put up with their mistreatment of us in any way, regardless of his reasons. This piece of “advice” might be one of the most damaging things people fall for.
“Play Hard To Get”
The logic behind this thought is to make the other person work a little for your affections. If you seem too accommodating, too interested, then there’s no game to play. Interestingly, people have always said they hate games when it comes to relationships. It’s actually very simple: If you like someone, tell them. If you want them to chase you, go ahead and play the game, but don’t expect them to chase you forever – everyone has their limits and no one likes to be toyed with.
“Age Is Just A Number”
If you’re eighteen and your partner is 27, there is a vast difference in mental maturity.
It also begs the question, “why isn’t a 27-year-old able to find love in someone their own age?” Either you’re a remarkably mature teenager or that older person is taking advantage of your naivete. Once you reach a certain maturity, it is possible for age to truly become “just a number,” and that point is determined by various factors, however, in general, age is much more than just a number.
While it’s true opposites do attract, Psychology Today explains people with similarities tend to have the best relationships. If one person is extremely religious and the other is not religious at all, that relationship will not do as well as a relationship between two completely non-religious or two completely religious individuals. The same goes for general interests, passions, and desires. Life goals can’t be vastly different either if a relationship is going to work. If you want a real relationship, look for someone who has at least a little in common with you.
“Have Kids Young”
The idea is to have children when you’re young, so you have the energy to play with them and when they’re old enough to leave the nest, you’re still young enough to enjoy life. While this sounds like a great idea, it’s important to note the difficulties that come along with having children when you’re in your teens or early twenties.
Will you be able to accomplish your goals when you have to worry about childcare?
Can you afford to raise them the way you’d like and live comfortably? What about the things young people enjoy – such as parties, clubs, travel and the carefree life? None of these are easy when you have children to tend to.
“He/She Can Change”
It’s possible to love someone and hope they can change. Men and women do this in their relationships all the time. “I love so-and-so, I just hope I can change their bad habit of x, y or z.” Here’s the thing – people don’t usually change. It’s great if they have a positive attitude and are willing to acknowledge where they can improve, but you can’t get into a relationship with someone and hope they’ll change completely for your sake, or even for their own. Either you appreciate the person you’re with as they are, or you don’t. Happiness is unlikely if you begin a romantic endeavor with hopes of the other person changing.
“Wait Three Days To Call”
So you meet a great person and they gave you their number. Don’t appear too eager, wait three days to contact them, right? Wrong. In our age of instant gratification, waiting three days can indicate you don’t care about a possible relationship with them. They may even wonder if you’re too preoccupied with other romantic pursuits. Don’t play games – if you’re interested in someone, tell them. They made their interest in you clear, so you should respond in kind – let them know how you feel and ask them out on a date.
“It’s Fine To Read Their Messages”
If they’ve got nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from you rummaging through their text messages, emails and personal correspondence, right? Wrong. Privacy is a sacred thing in all relationships, whether they’re based on love, respect, family, friendship or romance. The need to look through another person’s private messages is a sign that you may have some unresolved trust issues.
Either you can be with them and trust them not to hurt you, or you can’t.
Unless they give you their express permission, it’s never okay to read their messages.
“Having Kids Strengthens Relationships”
When couples are having trouble, they sometimes believe that having a child will help them focus their love and bring them together. This has rarely, if ever, been the case. According to Fortune, the stresses of having children doesn’t make a failing relationship any stronger, it merely masks the old issues with new concerns, namely the raising of a child. Don’t make a permanent decision for the sake of a relationship that is already on its way out. Having kids definitely will not strengthen your relationship.
“If They Don’t Get It From You, They’ll Get It From Someone Else”
The fear of your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, or general love interest turning to someone else to satisfy a desire or need is enough to make you hold them tightly and want to give in to whatever whim they happen to have. Don’t. If your partner loves kissing but you hate it, don’t kiss them just to keep them from turning to someone else. Either your partner is happy being with you just as you are or they aren’t.
Don’t bend to their desires just because you’re afraid of losing them. You’re worth more than that.
“Never Walk Away From An Argument”
If you’re upset and so is your lover, then, by all means, take a few minutes, hours, or even days to cool down. Sometimes a little space is all it takes for you both to gather your thoughts and calm down enough to think rationally. While it makes sense to stay and talk things out, there is a point where staying isn’t helping and things are just getting worse. Don’t fall for this piece of advice – it only works in the right situations and at the right time.
“If It’s Meant To Be, It Would Be Easier”
There are two problems with this mindset:
1. People are “meant to be”
2. The “right” relationship is easy
Anyone who has ever been in a real relationship can tell you there are rough times. It’s why some people get divorced and why others have mini breakdowns. Relationships are tricky. Maybe you love him but he doesn’t love you. Years down the line, things can change and the feeling is mutual. Does it mean you’re meant to be? Not necessarily. Does it mean everything will be rainbows and butterflies? Heck no! Simple relationships belong in fairy tales, not real life.
“Withhold Love As A Punishment”
Oh heck no! Unless you’re playing mommy or daddy in the relationship, there’s no reason either of you should punish the other! What are you, eight? If you’re not feeling it, then, by all means, say no because no ALWAYS means no, however, if you’re just trying to get your way and your partner doesn’t want to yield, you’re being childish.
Have a conversation like a rational adult, don’t play those weird games that inevitably result in broken hearts and tattered relationships.
“Find Someone Who’ll Treat You Like A Queen/King”
It makes sense to want a partner who will place you on a pedestal. You’re an amazing person and you deserve the royal treatment, right? Well, sometimes that mindset can go a little too far, leading both men and women to believe that if their partner isn’t practically worshiping them, then something is wrong in the relationship. It’s okay to find someone who loves you for who you are and who wants to spoil you from time to time, but don’t expect that treatment 24/7.
“Long Distance Relationships Never Work”
There are literally thousands of successful long-term relationships! This piece of advice made sense once upon a time when the internet wasn’t a thing and long-distance phone calls cost an arm and a leg. Nowadays, we have Facetime, social media, cameras on our computers and laptops, texting and all kinds of technology to help people communicate, regardless of distance.
If you really love someone and they love you too, it’s not impossible to spend some time apart.
She might go away for college or he might find his dream job in another city, but that doesn’t mean you can’ be together in the end.
“Never Let Him See You Without Makeup”
This may make a little bit of sense on the first few dates and sleepovers, but after a while you should open up and let him see the real you. That isn’t to say you’re hiding behind your makeup – after all, you love playing with your different color palettes and feel great showing off your artistic skills. All we’re saying is it’s okay for him to see your naked face. In fact, if he’s a good guy who really loves you for who you are, he’ll love your face with or without makeup.
“Don’t Introduce Your Partner To Your Friends Until Things Get Serious”
Why not? It’s not like your friends can’t handle hanging out with your main squeeze! Besides, this little piece of “advice” implies you need to decide between hanging with your squad or chilling with your new man/woman. Don’t limit yourself! Let everyone meet up and have a good time!
Odds are, your friends will alert you to any “red flags” and you’ll get to see how your new partner acts when he’s around other people, which is a whole other level of truly beneficial advice.
“When You’re Mad, Just Give Them The Silent Treatment”
This is excellent advice – if you’re in elementary school. Don’t play stupid games! If you’re angry and you don’t want to talk, tell your partner, “Hey, I’m really mad right now. I can’t talk to you when I’m like this.” Then go away. It’s not that hard to disengage and calm down. The last thing you should do is try to play a mind game. It’ll be tedious for you and infuriating for them, thus prolonging the amount of time it would otherwise take for you both to find common ground.
“Guys Have To Ask The Girls Out”
You’re powerful and your crush is probably still trying to figure out how to ask you out, so don’t hesitate – announce your intentions and take control!
“Jealousy Is A Good Thing”
The thing about jealousy is it’s not always an easy emotion to control Like most emotions, jealousy is raw and comes unbidden. No one sits there thinking, “You know, I should be really jealous right now. Yeah, I think I’m going to be super jealous!” While this emotion is entirely normal, going too far is, well, going too far. If you or your partner react negatively to jealousy and take it out in unhealthy ways, then no, jealousy is not a good thing.
“Never Talk About The Future On A First Date”
The logic behind this little gem of advice is simple: You don’t want to come off looking desperate or crazy. You just met someone, you’re still trying to get to know them, and suddenly they’re planning your future together.
While it’s true you shouldn’t jump to those sorts of conclusions on a first date, it’s not out of line to discuss the possibility of meeting up again in the future, or talking about your goals, dreams, and passions.
It’s okay to talk about wanting a house by the beach or a job in San Francisco, it’s not okay to talk about how many kids you’ll have with your date or what their names will be. Find the balance and try not to get carried away.
“Never Respond To A Text Right Away”
You want your crush to think you’ve got a life, so don’t respond to their messages right away! While this logic may seem sound, it’s actually kind of silly. There’s no reason you need to hold back. We’re in the age of information! We have everything at our fingertips, flirting included. If you get a text while you’re on your phone, which is likely a good 50 percent of the time, if not more, then go ahead and respond! Your crush isn’t going to assume you’re desperate or you have no life – they’ll likely be happy you’re responding.
“Don’t Fight In Public”
Have you ever wondered why some people will break up with their partners in public places? This old worn-out rule is why!
They’re hoping you won’t make a scene if they break your heart in public!
Not only that, but if someone makes a huge mistake and you’re ready to discuss it, location doesn’t matter (within reason, of course) so while you don’t need to get into a screaming match, it is absolutely your right to hold your partner accountable regardless of physical location.
“If Your Best Friend Doesn’t Like Them, The Relationship Won’t Work Out”
This is a tricky piece of advice. While it makes sense that your bestie’s opinion would absolutely matter, the bottom line is simple: Even your most trusted friend can’t see what your romantic relationship is like. They don’t have all the insights you might think they have, or they might not be the best judge of character. What matters most in a relationship is how you feel about your partner. Yes, listen to what your best friend has to say, but don’t let them be the deciding factor.
“The Best Time To Find A New Love Is Right After Heartbreak”
This piece of “advice” should be restructured to say, “The best time to find a new bad relationship is when you’re at your most vulnerable.”
There’s a reason the next relationship is called a rebound – they’re your entryway back into the world of dating.
They’re the person you use to heal and move on from your last relationship. It isn’t fair to the rebound and it isn’t right of you. Skip this bad advice and do the right thing – date only when you’re ready.
“Online Dating Is For Losers”
Um, what? Once upon a time, it was really weird to meet people online but that was because the internet was still a pup and there were a lot of stereotypes. In the 90’s, if you met someone online, it was because you couldn’t rustle up a date in real life. This negative perception continued into the early 00’s, with some still believing you’re somehow more lonely or less of a person for meeting the love of your life through a dating app. It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now – again, technology helps bring people together.
“Always Make Yourself Available For A Date”
Why should you restructure your entire day in the hopes of being ready for a date that might not come? This advice is ridiculous! If you’re waiting on someone to get off work or school so you can go on a date, then plan to have that block of time open, but don’t go out of your way all day everyday so you can be available according to your partner’s schedule!
You’ve got a life too! So live it and both you and your partner benefit.
“Never Look At Other Men/Women”
Once you’re in a relationship, there are certain expectations. There are usually the unanimous decisions to remain monogamous, to spend time together and to make the relationship known in each person’s circle of friends and family. Sometimes, the terms of a relationship include more specific details, such as never looking at a member of the opposite gender. If you’re thinking this is silly, that’s because it is. If you can’t handle your partner looking at the attractive waitress, you’ve got some serious issues to work through. Don’t try to control your partner – let their eyes roam a little. It doesn’t hurt anything except perhaps your pride.
“If You Don’t Feel A Spark, It’s Not Meant To Be”
We’re not living in a storybook where the prince meets the princess and suddenly the world has color and the air holds within it the sweet smell of spring. In real life, when you fall in love, you take a chance. Every. Single. Time.
There are no guarantees in life so don’t try to rationalize whether a relationship will work or not based on a spark.
Yes, some people are immediately attracted to one another, but just because the attraction isn’t immediate doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed to fail.