If you go into any bookstore, you’ll immediately spot the books that offer dating advice. They’ve got the hot pink covers and titles written in curly letters. They promise the moon: capture the heart of Mr. Right, find your soul mate, and never be lonely again. But the minute you pick one up and vow to buy it, you can‘t help sneaking a glance at the check-out counter. Can you really walk up to that nice-looking young man, set this book down, and hand over your payment without blushing or muttering, “It’s not for me; it’s for a friend?”
Once upon a time, buying a book of dating advice was an admission of hopelessness. It conveyed the message that you were so bad with men that you needed a book to tell you how to do it.
Luckily, times have changed!
These days, dating advice is a form of entertainment. Dating gurus peddle their advice online, on talk shows, and in the latest bestsellers. Everyone knows “the Rules” or what it means when “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
But does any of that dating advice actually work? Are women today finding it easier to meet men because of it?
Let’s find out what the arguments for and against dating advice are saying, and you can decide for yourself.
Dating Advice is Downright Dangerous
Unlike food or medicine, dating advice isn’t regulated. Anyone can say anything, and they don’t have to offer up scientific evidence proving their claims.
No wonder the field of dating advice has exploded, with every armchair psychologist offering an opinion about what it takes for a person to meet their perfect mate. Anyone can write a best-selling dating advice book with no credentials at all.
So how do we know that all this advice isn’t doing us more harm than good?
Life coach Marie Forleo, in her book Make Every Man Want You, suggests that following lists of “Do’s and Don’ts” can actually hurt a woman‘s chances with the opposite sex. It takes her out of the moment and keeps her in her head, where her constant self-policing communicates tension and awkwardness rather than warmth and authenticity.
Even worse, some dating advice is based on the idea that you have to convince, trick, or manipulate a man into liking you. This advice implies that who you are isn’t good enough; you have to become more feminine, mysterious, and flirtatious if you want to be more successful with men.
These techniques can certainly get results, but at a cost. As I often say in my books, playing games attracts game players. Pretend to be different from who you are, and you’ll attract a man who’s not interested in the genuine you but rather the person you’re pretending to be. Are you really willing to compromise your integrity for that?
Dating Advice is a Red Herring
But why do we even need people to tell us how to attract men in the first place? Haven’t human beings managed to meet, mate, and raise children together since the dawn of time? The dance of flirtation and attraction is programmed into our genes. Perhaps we should just get out of the way of ourselves and let nature take its course.
Or maybe our focus on dating advice is simply a distraction that keeps us from dealing with our real issues. Maybe the reason we don’t seem to be able to form happy and healthy long-term relationships has nothing to do with a lack of dating skills and everything to do with a lack of self-esteem.
This point of view suggests that we don’t actually need dating advice. Instead, what we need is to learn to love and accept ourselves unconditionally. When we feel better about ourselves, we’re naturally more confident, and our social life flourishes as a result.
One of the original proponents of this belief is self-help author Louise Hay. In her seminal 1984 classic, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay explains that we are misled into thinking that our financial problems, relationship problems, and health problems are separate issues. To her, all problems are simply the manifestation of one core issue:
We don’t love ourselves enough.
According to this idea, if you work on loving yourself, your entire life – from your relationships to your health to your career – will fall into place.
Dating Tips Help Women
But surely women wouldn’t buy all these courses, books and programs on how to meet and attract the perfect man if dating tips didn’t do some good. Dating advice has to work somewhat; otherwise, no one would keep buying it!
The dating world has gotten considerably more complicated than it was for our ancestors. Just a few generations ago, men and women had prescribed roles, and courtship was strictly regulated. Young couples didn’t have the choices that modern couples have. Cohabitation wasn’t socially acceptable, and having a baby out of wedlock was frowned upon.
Today, the only rule of dating is that there are no rules. Women can ask out men, go to bed with a man on the first date, and live on their own without a chaperone or guardian to protect their virtue. It’s an exciting time to be single, but it’s also very confusing. You can’t ask your mother or grandmother for advice, because the modern dating world is very different to what it was when they were growing up.
We will always need advice that reflects the society we live in, and today’s dating gurus and agony aunts are filling that role. Their expert advice helps us learn how to get better at relationships without having to figure everyone out for ourselves. After all, we go to experts for advice in every other area of our life, from what we eat to what we wear, so why wouldn’t we consult an expert in relationships?