All dating advice is as terrible as the people who give it
I saw this article awhile back and meant to blog about it but forgot until today.
I agree. Most all dating advice I’ve ever seen or heard has been terrible. It’s usually based on unrealistic stereotypes, or only what worked for the particular person who wrote it. What worked for your friend in snagging a spouse may not work for you, so I don’t know why people bother to give this advice or read it.
The only reason I bother to ever read it is to “hate read” it. I’m interested in seeing what awful advice the writers are doling out to adult singles.
A lot of dating advice does not work. I do occasionally see a point or two that is valid, but the lion’s share of dating advice I’ve seen just does not work. I think most dating advice, especially the advice being hyped in books, is bogus. It’s all about making a buck off lonely hearts.
Anyway, a lot of criticisms this guy has about dating advice are the same issues and problems I’ve noticed with it over the years, and some of the criticisms he raises are one reason I usually give most dating advice books and columns little to no attention.
(Link): All dating advice is as terrible as the people who give it
As a rule, you should be skeptical of anyone offering advice about anything – including me, and including this sentence.
But as the annual exercise in twee consumerism formerly known as Valentine’s Day rolls round again, it’s worth issuing a reminder that you should be especially skeptical of anyone offering advice on love, romance or relationships. No other sub-genre of self-help seems so prone to confused reasoning, conflicts of interest or folk wisdom masquerading as science.
Everyone has ulterior motives.
There’s a good chance that anybody emitting romantic tips is a deeply insecure (Link): life-choice evangelist – that they’ve chosen some path (to marry young, or to wait, to have children, to stay single, etc) and they’re not sure it was right.
Their uncertainty manifests itself as a desperate attempt to persuade you that it’s the best choice for you, too.
One (Link): 2013 study concluded that both single and coupled-up people are prejudiced in favor of those who share that status – even in contexts where it’s irrelevant, such as choosing whom to vote for, or to hire.
(Significantly, the bias was stronger among those who considered their situation most permanent. The more you feel condemned to eternal singlehood or trapped in marriage, the researchers reasoned, the more insistent you’ll be that “one’s current situation [is] an ideal – not just for oneself, but universally.”)
The opposite (but no less irritating) phenomenon occurs when dating advice represents choices the advice-giver didn’t make, but wishes he or she had.
The classic case here, I’d argue, is Susan Patton, aka ‘Princeton Mom’, who (Link): made headlines a couple of years back by urging Ivy League women to snag a husband from among their classmates in time for graduation.
Why? Apparently because she (Link): wishes she’d done so herself. Would she have been happier that way? She has no way of knowing, of course.
Does that matter? What, in the nonsense-saturated field of dating guidance? You must be kidding!
You should also distrust anyone who adopts a jaded tone and speaks of dating as warfare or as a market, and implies that you’re terribly naive if you think it’s anything more than a cynical power game. (Telltale signs include quoting (Link): The Rules, or mentioning evolutionary psychology.)
Continue reading “All Dating Advice is as Terrible As the People Who Give It by Oliver Burkeman”