The Problem with Dating Advice

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After getting a divorce, I signed up for online dating sites, read tons of articles about dating and signed up for all kinds of newsletters on dating advice.

I’m approaching my second divorce anniversary (divorceary?), and I was cleaning out my junk email inbox. The many subject lines from these dating newsletters frustrated me.

  • “Top 3 mistakes women make that cause men to lose attraction”
  • “If you’d only known the right thing to say to him…”
  • “Can your clothes really help you attract the guy you want?”
  • “Playfully say this if you want him to ache for you all day long”
  • “A simple way to change his mind and his heart”

All I can say is, are you kidding me?

All of these emails imply that there is something wrong with women. That if we change just a bit, we can catch the man of our dreams.

Women (and probably men too) have enough criticism coming at them. I’m considered an attractive woman, and I do believe that, but there are days when I look in the mirror and all I see are flaws. Most people have those days. We don’t need someone giving us dating advice about how we need to change to attract the right man.

This advice gives the underlying message that men are perfect beings and we just need the right bait to attract that elusive fish. This advice is similar to what a girlfriend told me soon after my divorce. She said I needed to start listening to country music to catch a man, “Um, no.” (I have started listening again, but not to catch a man. I realized that, I do, in fact, like some country music after going to a few concerts with friends.)

But, I’m not going to change my clothes, my look, what kind of music I listen to, or who I am to attract any man. They would be attracted to an imposter anyway and what fun that would be?

Personal Growth

I do believe in personal growth. We can all become a better version of ourselves. And I do take time to reflect on how I could’ve handled a difficult situation better whether that’s a conversation with one of my children, a coworker, friend or a someone I’m dating. But that is just life and what you should do to become a better, happier person.

I want to become a more effective communicator, a more giving person who can stand firm on my boundaries and on how I should be treated. But I want to communicate that in a firm but kind way.

And I know there are things I’ve done to push someone away and there are things men have done to push me away. But that is part of the learning process.

One guy barely communicated in a passive and passive-aggressive way and pushed me away, and another over communicated and pushed me away. It’s different for everyone. There’s no magic bullet, no secret sequence of words on how to catch a woman or man.

Heck, I can’t even tell you what the magic amount of communication is for me.
What I can say is that open, direct, assertive (not aggressive) communication with me is key. Being able to say what you want and need is critical because otherwise how can the other person know if it will ever work or if they can deliver?

Be You

In the movie Field of Dreams the voice says, “build it and they will come.” So, here’s my dating advice: Be the best version of you and the right person will come. Make yourself happy.

The right person will be attracted to you for being you. And I can tell you from experience that I don’t want to date someone who is trying to be someone else. That mask falls off eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later).

I believe in being the most authentic and genuine person you can be. That is how you attract the person of your dreams not by clicking through an email to learn exactly what to say and when. Or to try and guilt you into thinking if you had only known a few key words to capture their heart you wouldn’t have lost them.

When you show up and are vulnerable with the person you are talking to, you are giving your all, and that’s all any of us can hope for. Sometimes it’s a good match and sometimes, not so much.