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5 Horrible Pieces of Dating Advice

Think twice before taking these tips to heart—or dishing them out.

Chances are, whether you’re happily single, recently single or have ever been single, you’ve been the recipient of a litany of dating advice over the years.

Some of it is good—perhaps helping you know how to respect the person you’re dating or saving you from unnecessary heartache. But some of this unsolicited counsel about dating and finding a spouse is misguided.

Sadly, much of the horrible dating advice we receive today is also peddled by our well-intentioned family members or close friends. It mostly comes from shortsighted anecdotes about their own personal experiences and what worked and didn’t work for them. Sometimes, we hear this advice so often we begin to believe it’s true, and we may even start doling it out ourselves.

To date, here are the top five worst pieces of dating advice I’ve received:

1. “You’ll Meet Your Spouse When You Stop Looking!”


People often respond with this pithy maxim when, in their opinion, someone they know is struggling with singleness “purgatory” or perhaps has been putting too much effort into finding a mate. “You know,” they’ll muse, “I met [insert spouse’s name] when I least expected it. I wasn’t even looking to date anyone!”

There is certainly a lot of merit in not acting out of desperation and taking seasons off from dating. However, taken to the extreme, this reverse psychology approach (of sticking your head in the sand yet expecting to find a serious relationship) is an oxymoron at best. Much of what we long for in life in discovering a fulfilling vocation, experiencing God and even meeting our future spouse requires effort on our part as well as reliance on God’s guidance.

2. “Just Follow Your Heart.”


Usually, what people mean when they encourage you to “follow your heart” is to not overanalyze the relationship (or the person), but to follow your feelings, wants and desires instead.

Dating can and should be fun. Feelings like physical attraction, happiness and even infatuation will occur, and they should be enjoyed while they last. But if you get caught up in the tidal wave of feelings without an anchor of rational thought and sober discernment, your thinking will become clouded by the excitement of the new relationship.

Blindly following your heart’s wave of emotions, without your getting brain involved, can then quickly crash you onto the rocks of reality if the relationship ends.

3. “You’re Being Too Picky.”


People often say this to someone when they have turned down a seemingly viable guy or gal match. But it’s actually not a matter of being too “picky” at all; it’s a matter of holding high expectations.

This may come as a surprise, but a famous marriage researcher named John Gottman has stated that “People who have higher standards and higher expectations for their marriage have the best marriages, not the worst.” Similar to a self-fulfilling prophecy, people who hold higher standards for marriage may find a more satisfying one.

With this premise in mind, you’re free to create a list of healthy, realistic expectations of marriage and a mate. If you’re a Christ follower, you can align your list with “God’s list” to help unveil His perfect spouse for you.

4. “If You Want Them to Like You, Play Hard to Get.”


This feeble attempt at making yourself seem more appealing comes in many forms. For example, some people might intentionally wait long periods to return a phone call/text message or generally act aloof to the relationship.

Creating this unhealthy pursue-distance cycle may work for a while, but contrivance will ultimately leave the other person confused and feeling disrespected. The nascent relationship will then be damaged. Moreover, if your early stage of companionship is based on guile, what do you expect the latter part of the relationship to end up like?

Lastly, if you follow the Golden Rule of “treating others as we would want to be treated,” then it will be the antidote to you manipulating others and game-playing.

5. “Dating Is a Numbers Game.”


It’s probably true that most of us will probably need to date at least a few people before we find our spouse. However, the view that you need to date as many people as possible to find the “right one” can be taken to the extreme. This form of dating can then turn into a game of playing the lottery with people. In other words, the more “tickets” we purchase, the greater chances we’ll have of “winning” the huge payout.

But the irrationality of this thinking should be obvious. We are not robots who can simply move from relationship to relationship without getting emotionally invested. Indeed, the breakup of a dating relationship has much more of an impact on our emotional and spiritual health than losing on a scratch-off ticket. We cannot avoid the experience of pain and loss from failed relationships. This is why focusing on quantity over quality can force flippant decisions, and will cause unnecessary pain for you and the other person.

Top Comments

Kaylee

1

Kaylee commented…

I do commend you on the article though I can't help but find #1 rather misleading and somewhat unfair. Like another user has commented here, I couldn't help but end up in that exact same situation and that is nothing but the truth-- 100%. I was simply focused on chasing God, completing college, traveling the world (when I could, ha!), and spending time with family and friends. That's it! The magical recipe-- having a life of your *own*, and not centering it around being with/without someone. You sadly leave out the thousands of typical Bible college students (well, even youth group folks) who get totally obsessed with being in a relationship that they become, for lack of a better word, desperate for one. We should only ever be desperate for Christ. When your priorities are out of line, why would He give you a relationship, too? Seek Him first and all else will follow; think that's pretty simple. Nobody wants to date someone who is desperate to be in a relationship; its not in the least bit attractive. I was and still am my own woman and my husband met me like that-- and we fell in love. I never sought him out but got to know him as a friend and over time, he pursued that relationship (now marriage, obviously). Certainly be aware of the folks around you (even moreso to those you call 'friends') but it is absolutely possible to happen when you least "expect" it-- because your priorities should be aligned elsewhere (ahem -- above).

14 Comments

Michelle Bransford

1

Michelle Bransford commented…

I'm not one for giving dating advice, as I was never good at it; However, #1 IS what happened to me. Great article/list. I'm stupidly drawn to articles with lists. I'm gonna share this one with the world!

Brett

125

Brett commented…

Ah Eric, some great stuff and sounds familiar from my times if singleness not too crazy long ago - how wonderfully amazingly bad well-meaning people can be sometimes...

i have a huge heart for relationships of all types and have some more helpful resources when it comes to dating stuff on my blog over here: http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/i-kissed-dating-the-parts

But possibly what's even more helpful is some incredible stories on Singleness that i have gathered from some of my slightly older single friends [some who are completely happy being there and some who would love for it not to be so] - these have been super popular on my sight and there really is a lot of great and powerful stuff to learn from some very amazing people: http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/taboo-topics-singleness-intro

But yes, lists and how-to's can have moments of helpfulness but as each person and each relationship ends up being so completely different, they tend to help point us in a helpful direction at best and be completely irritating and unhelpful and at times even destructive like your list above at worse.

Keep on
love brett fish

Trey Price

7

Trey Price commented…

Ok, I've received a lot of bad dating advice before but the only advice that I thought was actually helpful was #5. If that is bad than exactly what am I supposed to do? I've been trying to find a girlfriend for about a third of my life now with no luck whatsoever. I've asked friends for advice and either I've just gotten some meaningless platitude or advice that later exploded in my face. I've prayed but instead of the usual impression of an answer I get when I pray about other issues there's just silence. This is the only major area of life I really struggle with, I am pretty successful socially and academically in my university, but I've just been going in the same circle over and over again when it comes to dating. Does anyone have any advice that would be helpful?

Allyson

1

Allyson commented…

Eric,

Thanks for penning a few of the comments we singles hear so often today. I think the one I hear the most is about being too picky. Granted, the Lord has taught me a lot about the value of appropriate compromise in terms of some of the items on my list, and that has been good.

I'm in a place now where I have certain non-negotiables that I believe are biblically based and then I have my preferences that are guidelines for me but not set in stone. Through a few dating experiences, God has taught me the value of diversity in a few of my preferences, and I'm grateful for those experiences.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

His,
Allyson

Kaylee

1

Kaylee commented…

I do commend you on the article though I can't help but find #1 rather misleading and somewhat unfair. Like another user has commented here, I couldn't help but end up in that exact same situation and that is nothing but the truth-- 100%. I was simply focused on chasing God, completing college, traveling the world (when I could, ha!), and spending time with family and friends. That's it! The magical recipe-- having a life of your *own*, and not centering it around being with/without someone. You sadly leave out the thousands of typical Bible college students (well, even youth group folks) who get totally obsessed with being in a relationship that they become, for lack of a better word, desperate for one. We should only ever be desperate for Christ. When your priorities are out of line, why would He give you a relationship, too? Seek Him first and all else will follow; think that's pretty simple. Nobody wants to date someone who is desperate to be in a relationship; its not in the least bit attractive. I was and still am my own woman and my husband met me like that-- and we fell in love. I never sought him out but got to know him as a friend and over time, he pursued that relationship (now marriage, obviously). Certainly be aware of the folks around you (even moreso to those you call 'friends') but it is absolutely possible to happen when you least "expect" it-- because your priorities should be aligned elsewhere (ahem -- above).

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