6 Terrible Pieces Of Relationship Advice Every Girl Needs To Forget

If you're a woman, you're of dating age, and you have relatives/friends/access to any form of media, chances are you've heard a lot of terrible dating advice. Depending on your romantic situation, you might have heard several varieties of tired wisdom, up to and beyond the point of marriage. Some of it comes in the form of painfully dated, fortune cookie-esque sayings, and some of it comes from a genuine place of concern and good intention, even from people you otherwise love and trust.

But honestly? It doesn't matter. Because even the best-intended pieces of Shitty Relationship Advice put women in a terrible box based on their gender, and hold them up to impossible standards. It's the kind of advice that says "be sexy enough to be desirable, but not so sexual that the man is forced to confront you as a full human with needs, desires, and a past." It's a romantic tightrope, and it's bullshit.

Here, the 6 most awful pieces of dating advice all girls need to forget.

1. "No one will buy the cow if they get the milk for free."

I will assume by the livestock-themed nature of this expression that it dates back to an era in American history when a significant portion of the population were farmers. Given that we live in the era of Monsanto, and it's unlikely that anyone saying this has even met a dairy farmer, the least we could do is update this phrase. Something like, "No one will send the Snapchat if they save the screenshot for free?" (I've never used Snapchat.)

The point is, this phrase is terrible, because it implies that sex is some sort of commodity with a finite value that you must dole out sparingly, which is dumb. (Sex is great! And a renewable resource! It is much less like milk, and much more like solar power.) It also frames women as cows, in which our sexual purity is the milk that men come and gather, and honestly if you were going with sex and udder metaphors, I feel like the men would be...nevermind. This is awful, forget you ever heard this phrase.

2. "Let the guy feel like a man and pay for the first date or two."

On the one hand, I am incredibly cheap, so I kind of like this rule for selfish reasons. But realistically, this is 2014, we are trying to break gender rules, and the economy is terrible. So "feeling like a man" should not be contingent upon his ability to pay for the first date (or three). If he asks you out, and offers to pay, you can accept it. But expecting him to do it – or thinking that it is what is going to establish him as "the man" in the equation – only reinforces the crippling norms that we are trying to escape as women.

3. "A guy won't want a girl with too high a number."

There is nothing more tragic than otherwise-totally-confident girls who get hung up on their number of sexual partners. Many is the time I've been in a conversation with a girlfriend, and had her say something like "I'm just gonna tell him I slept with nine dudes, because single digits are better. 12 sounds slutty." That is a direct quote, actually. (And I considered doing a similar thing when I first my now-boyfriend, but decided against it, because I got strong "grown-ass man who isn't threatened" vibes from him. We should all be striving to date grown-ass people who are not threatened by grown-ass women with sexual histories they aren't ashamed of.)

But "numbers" are kind of an insane concept to begin with, and very clearly built in an old-fashioned idea of sex, so we should get rid of them altogether. How many people you've slept with doesn't have much bearing on who you are as a person, even if we are taught to feel ashamed one way or the other about it. There are extremely mentally healthy people who have had sex with 50 people, and really messed up people who have slept with two. "Number" doesn't define worth, or even how you will be in bed (trust me). So it's better to forget what yours even is.

4. "Always wait until the _____ date to have sex."

My personal litmus test is "wait until you can be reasonably sure that this person isn't crazy, and that you will actually want to hang out with them the following morning," which often takes several dates. But that's not for everyone! If you're feeling it, do it on the first date. Dumb people who are bitter and don't want anyone else to have fun will tell you that a person won't ~respect~ you if you sleep with them too soon, but don't listen to them. If your deal is having sex on the first date, you wouldn't want someone who would judge you for that anyway, right? Besides, there is no "magic number," after which your sex will no longer be some immoral, future-ruining act. Just sleep with someone when it feels right, and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You're the only person who has to live in your body, have your orgasms, and wake up next to a new person. So you be the judge.

5. "You must live together before you can get married," OR "Living together before marriage is a mistake."

There are people who will tell you that you HAVE to live together, because if you don't, you don't actually know your partner and your relationship is bound to fall. They think that you have to go into your marriage with the intimate knowledge of your partner that only several years' worth of cohabitation can provide, and otherwise, you will not be equipped for the decision.

There are people who will tell you that you CAN'T live together, either for religious reasons, or because they think it will make you (or, more likely, him) complacent about marriage. They'll tell you that it won't be special anymore, and there will be no reason to get married – nor will anything really change once you do, which can lead to higher divorce rates.

Neither of these people will be in your specific relationship, and therefore should not be telling you what to do. People who live together before marriage get divorced, and so do people who don't. You do what feels right in your situation.

6. "Your boyfriend/girlfriend should be your best friend."

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who thinks this is bad advice, but that's fine. I'm willing to plant my flag alone on this one. I just think that it's ridiculous to think that everyone should fill the place of highest platonic love in their life with their romantic partner. Some people's best friends are their SOs, but others aren't. (Mine isn't, and I am not my boyfriend's. We both have very close best friends who are like family, who hold their own special places, and who could never take the other's place – or vice versa.)

Best friends are incredibly special. You might travel, live, do business, or even buy property with your best friend, much as you would with a spouse. Your relationship can last your entire life, and fill your heart in a way totally unique from your SO. This doesn't take anything away from the other relationship, and it's a role that doesn't need to be filled by the person you are committed to romantically. Some people need separate people to fill different parts of their lives and personalities, and that's totally healthy. So if you are deeply in love, but still feel the need to have sacred, dedicated time with your BFF, that doesn't mean you aren't totally fulfilled. It just means you're a normal human being with more needs than one person can take care of. And that's fine.

Image: Flickr/swirlingthoughts