I’m only 20. I have had exactly four boyfriends, ranging in duration from a month and a half to 3+ years. Relationships are one of life’s greatest teaching tools. They help you learn how to interact with others, they teach you things about yourself, human nature, and life. And through dating, I have learned one crucial, important lesson about life:
Don’t take dating advice.
“Don’t answer any of his questions. Respond to each question with a question of your own. You’ll look more intriguing and mysterious.” Bitch, this ain’t Jeopardy.
Here’s the thing: everyone is different. Every relationship is different. Every conversation is different. Just because your boyfriend isn’t returning phone calls doesn’t mean that he’s just like your friend’s sister’s boyfriend who didn’t return phone calls and was actually on a plane to Brazil to go find a prostitute. ((true story))
“Tell him you’re interested in someone else! It will make him jealous and he’ll appreciate you more!” How did this advice make it out of junior high?
Everywhere you turn, people are giving you advice. You state one annoyance with your significant other, and you have three people there to tell you how to proceed. There are big lists of “warning signs” and “DON’T EVER”s that you’re supposed to follow. And while some of these are very accurate, for the most part I say forget them. Don’t go into a relationship like you’re going into battle. Don’t have a mental list of everything you’re supposed to do. Act normal, for Christ’s sake. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a date.
“If he’s not responding to your advances, be bold! Don’t take no for an answer! Make the first move- guys like aggression.” Let’s try another phrasing. Rape, perhaps?
My boyfriend and I have been together for more than three years, and we’re incredibly happy. And we’ve done almost everything wrong. Long distance? Check. Start dating before college? Check. Stay together through college? Check. It goes on and on. We’ve broken some of the “major rules” of dating dont’s- and guess what? I really don’t care. I have a long and successful relationship to show for it.
“If he doesn’t like your friends, he has to go.” Or maybe your friend is actually just a bitch?
No one knows you, or your partner, or the intricacies of your relationship. No one is qualified to tell you how to run your life. Not your mother, not your friend, not your roommate, not even me. People come to me a lot saying “you’ve been a relationship so long, what do I do if….?” Unless it’s something simple like “hey, they cheated on you” or “hey, you know, you could maybe try actually talking to your girlfriend,” or “well, she killed your father…” I try to stay out of things. It’s not my place. It’s no one’s place.
“The quickest way to get over a breakup is to find a new guy to distract you.” And then you can be distracted by a new breakup!
Maybe the only person whose advice you should listen to is your 87 year old grandma, because she’s spent 50 years putting up with your crotchety 93 year old grandpa. Maybe listen to her. Maybe.
“If you never fight, there’s a problem. Fighting is healthy and necessary.” Or maybe you’re just happy.
Key line: don’t get bogged down in the games and the play-by play advice manuals. They’re doing you more harm than good. You go into a date so occupied about sitting a certain way so your boobs puff out and freaking out over the salad vs. hamburger debate that you forget to mention that you’re actually a Ph.D candidate focusing in neuroscience who works for a world peace organization. ((You know, like we all are)).
“Everyone deserves a shot. Never turn down an offer for a first date.” Let’s apply that one to the crazy homeless guy on the Metro who asked me to be his fifth wife. Enough said.
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