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5 Common Pieces of Dating Advice That Can Be Useless or Bad

Somtimes it's smart to do the opposite of conventional advice.

Key points

  • There's plenty of generic dating advice out there. But such generic advice can be useless and even harmful.
  • While some dating advice does have some truth, not all advice holds for all people and situations.
  • Sometimes it's wise to do the opposite of commonplace dating advice.
  • The best dating advice comes after someone has taken the time to get to know you and your circumstances.
Antonio Garcia Recena/Getty
Some common pieces of dating advice can make you look like a real you-know-what.
Source: Antonio Garcia Recena/Getty

Dating can be tough, real tough. It's common for frustrated singles to reach out to friends, dating coaches, and sometimes just random people to get help and advice. And there's certainly no shortage of such advice out there. But how much of it is actually useful? How much of it actually gets at the heart of the matter?

Here are five common pieces of dating advice and what can be wrong about them:

1. "Marry the right person."

Really? I thought the goal was to marry the wrong person. This changes everything. When billionaire Warren Buffet offered the advice to marry the right person, many people acted as if was some type of brilliant revelation. Buffet wasn't wrong. But the tough part is actually defining, finding, and recognizing the "right person" and having that "right person" feel the same about you. The trouble with focusing too much on this piece of advice is that you may have a very rigid image of whom the right person needs to be and then overlook those who actually could end up being a good match. Entering a date with, "Is this the right person, is this the right person, is this the right person," bouncing around your head could distract you from the process of simply getting to know each other better.

2. "Confidence is everything."

No, it's not. Sure, a real lack of confidence can be an impediment. But so can empty bravado and bluster. When someone is quietly confident about his or her abilities, that may not come through clearly early in dating. So don't just look for confidence in the other person or try to act all alpha yourself just to appear attractive. It's better to just be yourself and see whether there's a match.

3. "Try online dating."

When you complain to friends that you are having trouble meeting other single people, do they respond with, "Try online dating," rather than actually introducing you to people? Isn't that kind of like telling your friends that you are hungry and having them respond, "Try going to the supermarket?" The one key difference, though, is that when you go to the supermarket, chances are you'll find something reasonable to eat there. The same can't necessarily be said about online dating. It can work for some but not for everyone. If you've already tried online dating and it hasn't worked for you, perhaps it is time to use another approach.

4. "Play hard to get."

Sure, you probably don't want to show up to a first date and say, "There's sex here if you want it." But how many times might you miss out on a connection because the other person mistakenly believes that you are not interested? Playing hard to get can end up selecting those who are more aggressive or love the chase. Instead, why not be more open about your feelings to those with whom you may be interested? Honesty and reasonable openness can help others better tell that you might be a good match for them as well. You don't want to end up "should-ing" all over yourself after missing a golden opportunity for a match.

5. "Keep the conversation light."

It's often said that you shouldn't discuss "heavy" subjects such as politics, religion, marriage, and where you hid the money after the bank robbery, or go too deep in early dating conversations. But if such things are important to you, why not bring them up? Why wait? Why delay really getting to know each other? If there is a fundamental, insurmountable difference that's truly important to you then it's better to know it earlier than later.

As is the case with lots of generic career advice, lots of generic dating advice that doesn't account for your specific circumstances can be pretty darn generically useless and even harmful. In fact, when people do offer you very generic advice, they may not be willing to get to know you better to offer more tailored advice. Or perhaps their understanding of dating may be quite dated.

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