When your single friends complain about how hard it is to find love these days, the natural response is to try and offer them some helpful advice. But not all dating advice is created equal.
Finding love is hard, especially when you’re looking for a meaningful relationship in the era of hookup culture and casual dating. It can be difficult to find a man who’s looking for something serious. The search for love often leaves single ladies feeling frustrated, so of course we look to our friends for help. Sometimes, however, even the most well-intentioned advice can actually end up making things worse. Here are a few pieces of dating “advice” that you should avoid giving your single friends at all costs:
“Just stop looking, and it will happen!”
This is some of the worst dating advice you could ever give someone. Think about it: in what other areas of life is it ever good advice to tell someone with a goal to “stop striving for it and it will happen!” If someone is looking to lose weight, do you tell them to stop trying and the scale will magically start going down? If someone wants to get a promotion at work, do you tell them to stop putting in the extra hours and that corner office will be theirs? No!
Like anything else in life, love takes work. That's true even when you're IN a relationship. Telling a single woman to stop looking for love is horrible advice, and it absolves her of any personal responsibility for her own happiness. Instead, encourage your single friends to keep putting themselves out there even if they’re feeling hopeless. Finding meaningful connections in life is difficult, but that doesn’t mean those relationships aren’t worth fighting for.
“Love will find you when you least expect it.”
This is a subtle variation of “Just stop looking…” but it’s equally bad advice because it encourages women to be reactive when it comes to love instead of proactive. What does it even mean for love to find you when you least expect it? Is the love of my life going to hit me with his car while I’m walking down the street minding my own business? Is he going to swoop in like Tarzan and abduct me in the middle of an important presentation at work?
Telling a single woman to stop looking for love absolves her of any personal responsibility for her own happiness.
A better way to frame this is: “Love can blossom in unexpected places.” If you’re a woman looking for love, then try new things. Allow yourself to be approachable when you’re out and about, smile at the cute guy at your gym, say yes to that party you’re invited to even if you don’t know many people going. Yes, it can be intimidating, but remember: love isn’t more likely to find you when you least expect it, but it is more likely to find you if you open yourself up to new possibilities.
“You're just being too picky!”
The caveat here is that this one is sometimes true, but it depends on what she’s being picky about. Every woman should have standards for the men she dates, and we all have our own deal-breakers when it comes to issues like religion, politics, and whether or not we want to have children. It’s perfectly reasonable for a woman to turn down a man for things like pressuring her for sex or if you simply have incompatible visions for the future.
At the same time, it’s also true that we can be too picky! Instead of simply telling a woman that she’s being too picky, ask her what she’s looking for in a man. If she says she’s only willing to date men who are 6’2” with flowing blonde locks, then you’re well within your right to tell her she’s being too picky. While physical attraction is necessary in romantic relationships, it’s not the only thing that matters. Other attributes like a good sense of humor are also important.
“How are you still single? You're so great!”
While this can be flattering to hear, it’s not entirely helpful, and although it’s meant to uplift women and make them feel better, it can actually end up having the opposite effect. If someone keeps reassuring you that you’re so great and it’s crazy that you’re still single, it often just builds resentment towards dating in general: “I’m great, so it must be the men who are the problem!” That’s not really a great attitude to hit the dating scene with.
“I miss being single! You're so lucky.”
Again, not helpful. This is also a great way to make your friend resent you because telling someone who’s looking for love that they’re lucky to be single tells them that you don’t understand what they’re going through at all. I’m not saying that single women are miserable – far from it. But if she’s a woman who is dating with a purpose and wants to find a life-long partner, then I can guarantee you the last thing she feels is “lucky” to be single.
“There are plenty of fish in the sea!”
This one is simply untrue for many women. Yes, there are plenty of men in the world, but the issue is finding the right one. Due to the current culture of hookups and casual dating, there are fewer marriage-minded men on the market. It turns out that when you give men the option of casual and consequence-free sex or marriage, many of them choose the former.
Thanks to hookup culture and casual dating, there are fewer marriage-minded men on the market.
Despite the lie that casual dating makes men and women equal, it actually benefits men far more than it benefits women because women face bigger consequences for engaging in it. The sad reality of the current dating culture is that it actually turns that big sea of eligible fish into a much smaller pool.
“You should try online dating!”
In this day and age, who hasn’t tried online dating? Dating apps are no longer novel, they’re the new normal. In fact, there are so many dating apps out there that it can be difficult to choose which one to use. Dating apps can also be very overwhelming. When you’re presented with limitless options and swipes, it can be difficult to focus your attention or narrow down your search. If you’re dating with purpose in the real world, make sure you bring that same mindset to online dating. Don’t swipe mindlessly, swipe with intention.
Another important thing to consider when a single friend comes to you with their dating woes is whether she’s actually looking for advice or if she simply wants to vent. Oftentimes, women just want some solidarity and that’s okay! It’s important to get your frustrations out, and it’s cathartic to open up to our friends about things that are bothering us. So pour her a glass of wine, try to cheer her up, and maybe save the advice for another day.
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