From Agony Aunt to sending screenshots to the girls to voting on Instagram polls. Humans have been looking for dating advice for a long time without signs of slowing down. There’s nothing quite like chatting to your grandmother about relationships to make you realise that like everything else in life, dating advice gets old. For some reason, though, we seem to cling to old theories when trying to attract new love.
In Psychology Today, Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D. chair of the psychology department at Albright College exposed the popular dating advice which we should do away with.
Here are five pieces of dating advice that research says is trash
1 You’ll just know when they’re right
Some call it love at first sight – the idea that you’ll somehow just know when you finally find the right person. However, Seidman says, there’s evidence to tell us otherwise.
‘Research shows that many people believe they have experienced it. But in fact, the research suggests that this feeling of “love” is really just a feeling of intense physical attraction — more akin to lust,’ Seidman explains.
‘Many people who report “love at first sight” with their current partner are just projecting their current feelings onto their initial encounters with that person.’
Makes sense. If you were wildly attracted to someone when you first met them but the relationship goes nowhere, those initial feels are given little weight. However, if that wild, intense attraction grows into a lasting relationship, we view the initial feelings as something deeper.
2 Dating advice 101: Play hard to get
The theory goes that people want what they can’t have. And while there is research to suggest that we are more attracted to people who appear selective when choosing a partner, it’s not quite as simple as that. ‘Research on reciprocity shows that we like people who like us. We are also unlikely to pursue someone we believe is out of our league.’
So we can’t play hard to get but we should be picky. How in the hell is anyone expected to bag a new boo?
‘The best strategy may be to show the person you’re interested in that you have high standards, but to also let them know that they meet those standards,’ Seidman suggests. ‘Essentially, you want to send the message, “I’m picky, but I like you.”‘
3 Only be the absolute best version of yourself until you’re firmly committed
It’s like every Greek grandmother got together 60 years ago and decided over baklava that no man must ever know who we truly are UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE AND YOU’VE ACQUIRED HALF HIS FORTUNE.
I love the women that came before me, truly, but this is one that I’ve heard a lot. God forbid we should appear ‘too much’ to the people we’re hoping to share a good portion of our lives with. While Seidman acknowledges that first impressions matter, and that ‘opening up too soon is generally viewed as socially inappropriate and is likely to turn someone off’ (lol oops, that’s my go-to move), we need to not take this advice too seriously.
‘For example, the authors of The Rules advise women to hide some personal information from a boyfriend for the first few months, until they are sure he is madly in love with them, in case any of these personal revelations could turn him off and cause him to leave.’ I don’t really know what ‘personal information’ women are being encouraged to hide (dead ex-boyfriend buried under the parquet flooring of our rented flats? Sex toys shaped like sperm whales?), but just don’t. Why? Because, as Seidman says, ‘If you keep everything light, you will never develop emotional intimacy with each other.’
‘Someone who falls in love with you in the absence of emotional intimacy is probably not someone you want to form a lasting relationship with. In fact, a relationship free of emotional intimacy is what people with avoidant attachment styles desire – that is, an intimacy-free courtship will appeal to an intimacy-avoidant person.’
4 Opposites attract
Truthfully, I kind of disagree with Seidman on this one because my partner and I have pretty much zilch in common, as illustrated here, but I can totally understand why the complete lack of commonality could be an issue. ‘Maybe you’re very cautious and conservative and are excited by someone who is spontaneous and unconventional,’ Seidman explains. ‘Maybe you’re very emotional and find the perspective of someone who is highly rational to be eye-opening.’
‘However, research on “fatal attractions” suggests that these sorts of opposite qualities may initially attract us, but ultimately end up being sources of friction.’ As in, you might begin to see their care-free attitude as reckless, or their rationality as cold.
In my case, 3.5 years down I’m still grateful for the differences in my relationship. I feel we learn so much from each other. But truthfully, it can be hard when you speak Greek and your partner speaks Aramaic (I can’t actually speak Greek, I’m just painting a word picture). The trick, I’ve found, is to value the fundamentals that you have in common – in our case, communication and respect for one another – and be patient while figuring out the rest.
5 You’ll only meet liars and weirdos if you date online
Oh, Dirty John and Catfish. We can’t really be blamed for being cautious AF when it comes to online dating. However, Seidman says, it might not totally deserve its bad rep.
‘Research shows that there are almost no personality differences between people who date online and those who don’t. In fact, one study found that people who met their spouses online were more likely to be of higher socioeconomic status than those who met offline.’
Seidman acknowledges that some people do lie about things like their age on appearance online. But ‘research shows that extreme lies are rare because people who are looking to develop relationships with those they meet online realise that such lies will eventually be revealed, and when they are, it would likely spell the end of the relationship.’
So, sure, you might catch a pesky catfish. But you also might bag a lovely person of **high socioeconomic status**, which even my grandmother could get behind.
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