11 Common Pieces Of Dating Advice That Can Be Toxic
There's so much dating advice floating around out there, that it can be tough to weed through it all and get down to the good stuff. This becomes even trickier when it's well-known dating advice you've heard a million times, such as "you need to get back out there" and "you teach people how to treat you." You might take these lines as gospel — as so many people do — but in reality, quite a few classic dating tips can actually be quite toxic.
If advice like this works for you, and you find it helpful in some way, that's great. But don't follow it if you feel it may be leading you down the wrong road, or making your dating life more difficult than it needs to be. It's perfectly OK to pause and reevaluate these common tips and tricks, to see if they really work for you, and adjust as necessary.
"All dating advice should be taken with a grain of salt," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. You need to pause and think if it applies to you, if it's helpful, or if it's even actually still viable, especially since the "rules" of dating change all the time. Here are a few well-known but potentially toxic pieces of dating advice we've all heard but may need to ignore, according to experts.
1. Be Extra Impressive On The First Date
While it's fun to present a slightly better version of yourself on the first date — you might get dressed up, be extra chatty, and so on — it's not a good idea to pretend to be someone you're not, regardless of what anyone says.
"The first impression matters, but while you should behave well on your dates, you should also show off your true self," Sonya Schwartz, a dating and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Don’t say you like something you don’t just to make a good impression." And don't act in a way that feels natural.
"If things evolve into a relationship, it will be hard to explain why you lied at first," she says. You want this person to see the real you, so that you can have a truthful relationship, but also know from the get-go if you're truly compatible.
2. Remember That Opposites Attract
If you've heard the age-old advice that "opposites attract," then you know it implies two people need to be very different in order to have a healthy relationship. But this can be a toxic mindset to have, if you take it too seriously.
"The problem with this advice is that you then focus on the wrong attributes," Len Rubel, founder of Strategy for Dating, tells Bustle. "You focus on looking for someone who is different on the surface, not who they are at their core — and surface-level attraction won't last."
Compatibility, when it comes to core values, is everything. "Dating someone with completely opposite views and aspirations could be exciting at first but in the long-run, it [may] only lead to frustration and arguments," Schwartz says. Of course, you can find happiness with someone who's very different from you, but it's definitely not a requirement.
3. Always Play Hard To Get
This is another piece of toxic dating advice that well-meaning friends dole out on the regular. But it definitely isn't helpful.
As Schwartz says, many people who play hard to get find themselves losing confidence as the game goes on. Not to mention, this strategy has a tendency to backfire, as many people quickly lose interest when they don't think someone cares.
What you should do instead, Schwartz says, "is show your interest and see what response you get." If you're both feelin' it, let each other know and go from there.
4. You Teach People How To Treat You
Have you ever heard the old saying, "You teach people how to treat you"? This implies that you need to, well, teach someone how to be nice to you, polite, and so on by not allowing them to get away with rudeness and disrespect.
But in reality, with the right partner, experts say you shouldn't have to "teach" them anything. "If you have to teach someone to be kind, considerate, loving, and respectful towards you then you're with the wrong person," dating expert Kevin Darné tells Bustle. "Life is too short to be trying to change water into wine. The goal is to find someone who already is the kind of person you want to be with."
5. Don't Have Sex On The First Date
We've all been told that it's important to avoid having sex on the first date. Doing so, as many people say, not only ruins your date's opinion of you, but also ruins your chances of ever seeing them again.
And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. "No one should have sex unless they want to," Darné says. "Playing a calendar game with sex has never insured a lasting relationship." So if you want to have a good time, and it feels right, go for it.
Also, bear in mind that if this person was going to be negatively impacted by hooking up on the first date, they weren't someone you likely wanted to be with anyway.
"Having sex [...] doesn't convert nice [people] into [...] jerks," Darné says. "Odds are they were jerks to begin with [...] The only agenda for having sex in a new relationship is to determine chemistry [...] If you don't feel like having sex then don't. Let it be your choice."
6. Being In A Relationship Means Having "No Privacy"
Many people are under the impression that being in a relationship means you have to give up all your privacy. But that's just not true. You can date, and even be in a relationship, and still maintain healthy boundaries.
While partners do have more access to each other's lives than the average person, it's not a requirement for dating to be a complete open book. "No one is entitled to snoop through your personal items," Darné says. "Trust should be one of the foundations of a relationship." And starting off on the wrong foot, by snooping or being distrustful, just isn't healthy.
7. Dating Is A Numbers Game
If you've ever been told to get out there and date as many people as you can, feel free to ignore it. Despite what people say, dating isn't a number games, Eric Resnick, a leading dating coach, tells Bustle. "When you take that approach to dating, you are setting a countdown timer and you have to find 'the one' before you get so fed up that you give up on looking."
Instead, "try listening to your gut a little bit more," he says. "You might not know if a potential date is [right for you,] but there's a pretty good chance when you can tell that they aren't."
8. You Need To Rebound To Recover From A Breakup
Many people are quick to tell their friends that they need to "get back out there" in order to recover after a breakup. And while that advice works for some, it can be toxic for others.
If you aren't ready to date, you might be "exposing yourself when you are in a vulnerable state," David A. Songco, PsyD, CGP, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. For many people, going out or having sex before they've recovered can be more painful than just staying home.
Also, it might confirm in your mind that you need another person in order to feel better, which just isn't true. As Dr. Songco says, "If you are looking to others for validation, that is usually indicative that you have other, deeper things to work on before trying have a relationship." So instead of rebounding, you may want to talk with a trusted family member, friend, or even reach out to a therapist.
9. If You Wait Around, The Right Person Will Come Along
Sadly, sitting at home or hoping you'll meet someone new, without actually putting yourself out there, doesn't always work. Sure, you might strike it lucky and meet a cool person on your way to work. But more often than not, dating takes effort.
As Bennett says, "The best way to make sure you meet the right person is to actually take the initiative in dating." Join meet ups, try a dating app, go out with friends, and be open to new experiences — all of which will open up the chances of the right person coming along.
10. You'll Find Your Perfect Person
While it's obviously fine to have high standards when it comes to dating, it's not healthy to be on the lookout for a "perfect" person — as they simply don't exist.
"If you’re expecting your date to be some impossible ideal, you’ll never be happy," Bennett says. "Hold to your standards and core values, but also recognize that all people have flaws (including you) and that’s OK."
11. You Don't Have To Change For Anyone
As mentioned above, it's toxic to try to be someone you're not. And yet, when you're in the market to meet someone new, it can be just as toxic to keep doing the same thing while expecting different results.
It's important to remain authentic and true to yourself but it never hurts to engage in some self-reflection, and find ways to be your best self in order to attract the type of people you deserve, Bennett says.
This might include going to therapy to learn how to let go of old baggage, talking with friends, or stepping outside your comfort zone. By focusing on self improvement — and ignoring some these super antiquated dating tips — you'll be less likely to fall into toxic traps when it comes to relationships.