dating

“Attraction doesn’t matter." 5 rubbish pieces of dating advice you should never, ever follow.

Each time I was single — in my 20s and recently after divorce — I was offered advice from friends, family, even strangers! Why does being single attract so much unsolicited advice?

Some of it was helpful, some not so much.

Here are 5 pieces of advice that did more harm than good:

Side note: Here's the worst advice Mamamia employees had ever given. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

“You need to get married to get out of the rut.”

In the middle of studying and working out what you want to do with your life you can have moments of feeling like you’re in a rut. It can feel like you’ve stalled. You’re not going anywhere.

I knew in my early 20s I wanted to get married and have children and it felt like I needed that to move my life forward. Other people will tell you that’s what you need too. The next level of adulting is getting married, getting a home, having kids.

It’s not true.

If your life feels like it’s stalled, it’s an opportunity to figure out what you want. Marriage doesn’t get you out of a rut. Changing careers can. Starting a new hobby can. Travel can. Get passionate about life rather than getting passionate about the first person who comes along.

“They’re the one – I can tell.”

People who love us want us the best for us. When you introduce your new partner they get excited about what it could mean for you. They want to be supportive. They want you to be happy. They want you to find love.

It’s so easy to meet someone a few times and think they’re perfect. In my 20s my good friend met my new boyfriend once, took me aside and whispered, “Yes, he’s definitely the one!” At the time, I wasn’t so sure but I respected my friend’s opinion. Perhaps he is the one then, I thought. It certainly influenced my decision to get engaged a few months later.

Maybe they tick boxes your friend or family member has: tall, wealthy, polite. That doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Our loved ones' opinions matter to us and we can be very influenced by them. Be careful how influenced you are when it comes to something as important as choosing your partner.

“Attraction doesn’t matter.”

Aren’t you being shallow judging a potential partner on their looks? People will tell you attraction grows. Yes, it can. They’ll tell you chemistry fades anyway. Again, that’s true. We all lose our looks eventually, right? Even with all our creams and potions, yes.

So it’s what’s inside that counts when you’re looking for a partner?

Of course, that’s true, but attraction still matters. Your partner doesn’t need to be a supermodel for you to look across at them and feel like they have the cutest smile you’ve seen. You want someone you adore and part of that is finding them physically attractive.

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Listen to Mamamia's award-winning podcast, The Split. In this episode, we discuss how to start dating again after divorce and separation. 

You want someone who adores you too. Adores the way your eyes crinkle when you laugh. Adores the way you smell and the sound of your voice. If you’re not attracted to each other you’re really just good friends.

“You just need commitment to make a relationship work.”

A couple of years ago, a study was published showing commitment is more important than compatibility. It makes sense. If you’re 10 out of 10 compatible but not at all committed to each other, at the first sign of trouble you’ll break up. It won’t matter how well matched you are.

You can also be complete opposites and commit to sticking together forever, no matter what, and you’ll be able to. We can be very determined when we want to be. But should you make it work, no matter what, just because you can?

“It’s how you speak to each other, how well you get along, and how you move through time together.”

If your partner is treating you badly obviously not. But what if you’re just very different? What if they’re your opposite, enjoy different things, have a different personality and values to you?

Commitment can certainly make a relationship work even if you're very different (we are all different to our partners in some ways). The Gottman Institute says, “it’s not who you are or what you do that will prolong or help you find the perfect mate. It’s how you speak to each other, how well you get along, and how you move through time together.”

But if the differences are large you’re going to have to work harder at getting along. There’ll be a lot of negotiating and compromise. The less compatible you are, the harder it is to make it work. Sure, you can increase how similar you are — couples often become more like each other. But some combinations of people just don’t work. Should we force it?

“You need a partner.”

There’s so much pressure to find a partner. Coupled up people love to encourage their single friends to find love. Movies make it look like the ultimate goal. If you want a relationship, go after it. But if you’re happy being single, tell the advice-givers to clear off.

Not everyone needs to couple up. Singleness has advantages. You can have laser focus. You can pour yourself into a mission. You can say “yes” to any opportunity. A great job opens up on the other side of the country? Yes! A opportunity to study in Peru? Sure! Build a business with travel and long hours? Why not!

You can make a huge impact with your freedom. You can build incredible friendships. You can pour all your efforts into your goals. Being in a couple can definitely take energy away from other areas in your life. If single works for you, enjoy it!

Your friends and family want the best for you, that’s why they offer advice. But they don’t always know what is best. Only you can decide that.

Carefully judge each piece of well-meaning advice, and decide for yourself if it works for you.

This post first appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. 

Kelly Eden is a writer and writing coach living in New Zealand. Ready to tell your own story? Get free weekly writing tips.

Feature Image: Getty.