Joining the ranks of cat memes, pterodactyl porn, and Nigerian Princes with free money, there’s a new contender in the Internet content fray: Relationship advice.
On news portals and in pop-up ads, everyone wants to tell you what you’re doing wrong that will wreck your relationship, 10 ways to keep him interested, and the truth about what she really wants in bed. Oh, and how to know if your spouse is cheating.
While these click-magnet headers sound catchy, the articles rarely offer anything of substance. Part of the problem is that they’re regurgitated by so-called “experts” on dating, but what qualifies as expertise is entirely subjective.
It also doesn’t help that relationships provide an endless deluge of subjective drama, and everyone — friends, family, and so-called experts — can’t resist the temptation to toss in two-cents from the outside. Of course, I must admit to being one of these people, and often analyze, write, and borderline pontificate on this blog, in a way that yes, is at times advice-ish. I sincerely hope, however, that there’s a difference in how such musings are represented and the utter BS of many dating columns. (Irony of that new Wizpert button aside, there are no experts here and nothing is for sale and/or being sold.)
It’d be nice if we could sic the FDA on purveyors of bad personal info, but that’s not happening anytime soon. Until then, I’ve noted various offenders whose dating advice is just… awful. Horrifying, really. And, then added a quick note to the perpetrators themselves in case they ever stumble across this blog. Daters, feel free to add, object, or agree!
Who should NOT give dating advice — In my completely non-expert opinion.
- Anyone with 100+ failed date notches on their belt.
When someone hits a triple digit value in their search for the one, I’m hesitant to call it “experience” or “expertise.” I think it’s more appropriately called “a reason to hire a therapist.”
Take, for example, the ‘cyber-expert’ Julie Spira, who recounts an alarmingly high number of first dates in her book, The Perils of Cyberdating. By the end of this tragic disclosure, I wasn’t convinced that online dating is perilous so much as that the author is completely nuts. Between her Valet Test (where if a guy doesn’t take her valet ticket and pay for it, he “fails”), alternating over-investment and capricious rejection of men she barely knows, and multiple sketchy, short-lived marriages, the whole thing was a little book of big red flags… about Julie Spira.
To the Gurus: If you’ve reached 100+ dates without successfully finding someone, your approach probably isn’t educated or inspiring. It’s probably just scaring people off and you haven’t noticed it yet. In sharing your “observations” with others, at worst you’ll be perpetuating highly ineffective methods. At best you’re missing hours that should be spent with a therapist.
- Hot chicks.
Now, keep in mind I don’t mean just decently good-looking women, or the ladies who are consistently described as “super cute” by their friends. I mean the women who women hate, and who men act stupid around. Think: Victoria’s Secret models and ex-Playboy bunnies with ghostwritten autobiographies based on soon-to-be-failed marriages.
You know what works for hot chicks when it comes to dating? Pretty much everything. The few rules that apply to beautiful women (don’t act crazy, don’t act crazy, and have at least one iota of personality less annoying than 6am concrete jackhammering) usually do not suffice for the majority of people. Such is life.
To the Gurus: Please don’t lecture us on your insights and the super-awesome skill set you’ve developed to capture the affections of men. You have no secret. You have no skills. You have a genetic blessing and a great boob job. End of story.
- Self-proclaimed “players” or anyone who has ever, or will ever, be affiliated with the Pick-Up Artist (PUA) community.
Now, after reading a couple dozen of the forums and guides written by these PUA fellas, I almost sympathize with their plight. They see females as an elusive species that requires extensive study and manipulation to conquer. It’s endearing, really, that we marshal so much of their focus. But… that doesn’t mean anyone should listen to their twisted perspective on dating.
For one thing, almost all of their discussions are about appearances. Not actually doing anything right or becoming better people, just *appearing* to be interesting, successful, etc so they can succeed with the ladies (translation: get laid that once every eight dozen tries their approach works).
Also, it seems these guys care more about what other guys think of them and not what it actually takes to attract women. Which, makes sense when it surfaces yet again that a dating demigod is ACTUALLY playing World of Warcraft in his parents’ basement, and only writing about some pretend sex life online. In the gnarly mess of competing characters, it’s still the blind leading the blind — they’ve just temporarily hidden it behind the ego of people who think they see 20/20.
To the Gurus: Between those of you who are super angry at women for being female (not getting laid), and the others who are clearly just selling ‘advice’ because you’ve realized that you can (possibly getting laid, but only interested in recruiting desperate men to stroke your…ego), this underground community has all the social value of a North Korean nuclear silo. There are more rewarding things in life than anonymous minions who want to hear about your awesomely faked sexcapades. Promise.
- Anyone who uses the term “alpha male.”
A close cousin to the PUA gurus, there is an entire movement encouraging men to exert themselves as “alpha males.”
Let’s think for a moment about the men we hold up as the truly great leaders –the CEO’s, 4-Star Generals, Chuck Norris, etc. — and how they achieved greatness. Did it involve buying a vanity license plate to read ALPHA D69? Usually, no. Being a badass means you don’t have to use amped-up, über-masculine terms to define yourself.
As for their advice, anytime someone throws down the phrase alpha male, it’s usually followed with a whole lot of hoopla on how to act around women — mostly machismo and antiquated renditions of “show no feelings and the chicks will instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.”
In all my days on the dating scene, I can think of a few men who stood out as the kind of top dogs that ‘alphas’ try to emulate: The strong, smart, every man’s men who generally kicks ass at everything they do. And yes, get laid like crazy.
But, with these guys, it’s clear that their appeal is not how they tee themselves up, or their personal efforts to be domineering. They let their actions speak louder than words, and kept the confidence of their peers through personal integrity. The alpha male advice can’t fake what these guys have going for them, and although it may suck for the male 99%, not everyone can be leader of the pack.
To the Gurus: Don’t slap an alpha male band-aid on an inferiority bullet wound and call it a strategy. The only thing you’ll attract with such obnoxious self-promotion is lots of eye rolling, so please stop spreading this silly terminology and the archaic principles behind it. It’s embarrassing. To you, to me, to Chuck Norris. Really to everyone who meets you.
TO EITHER GENDER
- People who have been married for more than 10 years (unless they are giving advice to other married people).
The human memory is a funny thing. We can recall every Britney Spears lyric from the 1990′s, but ask someone the capital of North Dakota and they’ll lose to a 5th grader every time. It’s inevitable that some stuff gets pushed to the mental wayside over the years — usually the boring, hard, or completely irrelevant aspects of our education. And, anything that makes us doubt our ability to instruct everyone else on the right way to do things.
Alas, if you haven’t actively “dated” since Princess Diana was waving graciously at the masses, there’s a chance your memory is missing a big chunk of reality. It’s not all sunshine and puppy tails, and even if it was, dating advice from back in the day neglects the modern dilemmas — What the heck is proper text etiquette? Should men use emoticoms and lol? Does it have to be official on Facebook to be *really* official? Can it be relationship Monday-Friday if the weekends are used for casual orgies with married folks, farm animals, and local politicians? Sorry seniors, but I doubt that early 80′s experience covered the basics.
To the Gurus: We’re all happy that whatever you did worked out for you, but when it comes to dating, you’ve got a decade of neural pruning between you and what it’s really like. Be happy where you are, and leave the single folks to drown in their own misery, without adding confusing mixed messages about how it “works.” Receiving that sappy Leave it to Beaver Christmas card every year is cruel enough as is.