Popular Relationship Advice You Can Totally Ignore

In middle school, my favorite pastime was to walk to the Borders, and read glossy copies of Seventeen and Cosmo Girl, always skipping straight to the relationship columns. I was afraid to even speak to boys, but reading up on how to “deal” with them seemed like a valuable craft worth knowing before I did anything too hands-on (pun intended).

These women’s magazines taught me to play hard to get. They taught me to be myself but a better version of myself when I was around my crush. They taught me that boys didn’t really know anything about girls, and that females are more mature than boys by about a decade, so I shouldn’t expect boys to “get” anything.

It took me years to shed this misinformation, to collect my own data firsthand, and to realize that sometimes rules just don’t apply when it comes to dating.

I mean, yeah, be kind, be respectful, be supportive. Be all those things. Listen to your friends and your family if that’s what you want to do. But if you’re looking for relationship guidance, don’t expect clear-cut answers; love isn’t math class. Do what feels right for you. If you’re unsure, here are some general pieces of advice you can probably toss out of your life forever.

1. Love happens when you stop looking for it

There is no actual set time or place or year that will jumpstart a relationship or materialize a boyfriend or girlfriend for you. You could REALLY, REALLY want to be in love with someone, and still end up meeting someone amazing. Or you could put love on the back-burner and suddenly meet your dream cutie at Starbucks. Life happens. It’s all random (in my opinion).

2. Sex is a duty

No. Sex is an awesome bonding experience that should be equally magnificent for you and your partner. Sex is not expected of you, and if you don’t feel like doing it, don’t ever feel obligated.

3. If you have sex on the first date, he won’t respect you

Honestly, there is no right or wrong time to have sex if that is what you are ready for. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you it’s “slutty” to have sex with a guy sooner than later, because that’s damaging and no one has the right to make you feel ashamed or guilty for your choices. Waiting to have sex doesn’t make your relationship any stronger or weaker, it really just depends on the person you’re with and what they want out of a relationship, and how you want to work with that.

4. Relationships are a great motivator to start exercising

Relationships shouldn’t justify looking better for someone, and if getting in shape or toned or whatever, is your goal, you don’t have to do it for anyone but yourself.

5. If you love someone, you’ll be compelled to change things about yourself

If someone loves you, they will accept and appreciate you for who you are. So Do. You.

6. If they’re really your soul mate, they will just innately understand you

Even if this person has built a shrine for you, Helga Pataki-style, there is no way they will know you completely unless you open yourself up for that, and allow them to get to know you. So like, don’t expect them to know who your favorite band is if you haven’t told them. Lovers are not mind readers.

7. Porn will destroy your relationship

I know it may seem upsetting to catch your partner watching porn, or discover a racy computer file, but this probably doesn’t mean they prefer porn over you. It just means they’re human.

8. If your boyfriend seems distracted, he’s probably cheating on you

OR maybe he’s just thinking about making a mac ‘n cheese pizza. Do not assume the worst.

9. Men like to solve problems, so they’re not good conversationalists whenever you need advice or want to talk

Lumping all men into one category of behavior is flawed, since all men are different. Some are indeed more inclined to just solve an issue rather than discuss it. But some are totally interested in hashing it out with you until you feel all better.

10. Bickering is super unhealthy, and a clear sign of the end

If it’s getting to the point where you can’t stand each other’s guts, then sure. Maybe consider counseling. But if you bicker every once in a while about something stupid, then it’s called being in a serious relationship. Some couples fight, some couples don’t. We were all raised to handle things differently, so you can’t expect everyone to communicate in a universal fashion.

11. Men love long hair, so if you’re thinking of cutting it. . .don’t

Do whatever you want, girl. It’s not his hair, and if you feel sexy with a pixie cut, you do it UP.

12. Exercising is a great bonding experiencing for all couples

Or the seventh circle of hell. Making tacos is also a great bonding experience. Do whatever is fun for you as a pair.

13. Just stick with it

It’s very, very hard to end a relationship. It’s something that rips our heart up into a million, fleshy pieces, but if you don’t feel the same way you used to, or you can’t imagine a future with them, it’s okay to leave. It’s selfish and it will most likely feel terrible, but never stay with a person because you know it will destroy them if they know how you truly feel.

14. Guys only like low-maintenance women

I’m not low-maintenance. I tried to appear that way in college when I dated a few guys, but it was a big fat lie. I tried to be the “cool” girl; I claimed I didn’t want a real relationship (I did), I said I didn’t even really get makeup (I loved makeup), and I said my ideal date was hiking (my ideal date is probably a trip the art museum, and then the art store so I can pick up some cool décor for my apartment, and then I would want to go to a semi-expensive exotic restaurant where I can try new things and order international craft beer). Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of being hyper-feminine and knowing what you want and like. If a guy doesn’t like that, then he’s not the guy for you. This goes the other way, too. Just be yourself.

15. Men can’t help themselves, so keep an eye on them

Someone told my friend that she should download a tracking device for her boyfriend who was, at the time, living far away from her. This was so she could make sure he didn’t cheat on her. Um. No. Don’t do that. Men can help themselves just fine, and if you have one that can’t, he’s not a keeper.

16. The time it takes to get over someone is twice the amount spent with them

It may take you YEARS UPON YEARS to get over a crush you had your senior year of college. Or it could take you a couple of weeks. No, these are emotions, not scientific equations.

17. When you’re on a date, order a steak so your man will know you can eat

This was something I overheard Tyra Banks say on the Tyra Show (which was actually amazing); she said men love it when they see a girl eat. Tyra, I love you so much, but no. Order what you feel like ordering. Order a salad if you’re not feeling super hungry. Order tacos. Order pizza. Order sushi. Order Pad Thai. Men are not analyzing what you eat and they are not associating the food you order with the person you are.

18. It’s hot when a guy is jealous—it means he really cares

Actually no, it means he may be insecure, and insecurity can lead to a distrustful relationship.

19. Play The Game

You know the drill: wait three days to call, don’t text back right away, seem disinterested. Can we all just drop the façade and just do whatever we want? Thanks.

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