Today’s dating and relationship landscape is nothing like it was for previous generations. Growing up, it was heavily implied that I needed to get my "Mrs. degree" as quickly as possible, because I would need a joint income in order to live a comfortable life.
That, uh, didn’t pan out. Here I am at age 31 — I have almost all of my student debt paid off, and I’m financially independent. I’m also single and dating. It’s difficult for me to imagine a world where I did get married in my twenties, because, at least in my situation, it feels like antiquated advice. If I had pushed myself into marriage, it would have ended in an early divorce. I simply wasn’t ready or emotionally mature enough for that kind of commitment back then.
However, urging individuals to settle down quickly is still classic relationship advice. The more I think about it, the more I realize there’s a lot of outdated relationship advice that just doesn’t work in 2019. Here are four other examples.
1. “Wait three days after the first date to ask a person out on another date.”
What is the three day rule, and where did it come from? According to eHarmony, this is a traditional tactic where men make women wait three days before calling to ask them on another date. Why three days? Supposedly, three days is enough to make a woman want a man more. It also gives men enough time to figure out if their date is worth further pursuit.
Personally, everything about this rule makes me — and likely many reading this — want to barf. The three day rule is basically the equivalent of 300 years in 2019’s swipe heavy, text-friendly and very online dating culture. The person you went out with three days ago has probably gone on another date since then. They dismissed you as a potential interest since, well, you didn’t show interest fast enough. It’s not a romantic gesture, nor is it chivalrous. To quote Ariana Grande, it’s “thank u, next” classic relationship advice that deserves to bite the dust.
Licensed mental health counselor Michelle Terry doesn’t advise playing the waiting game, either. She warns that all it does is breed questions and doubts about if there is mutual interest. Follow Terry’s “tell them within 24 hours” rule instead.
“If you had a good time on a date, don’t wait to let it be known!” Terry says. “Tell them either right at the end in person that you had a good time and would like to see them again, or tell them within 24 hours. The less waiting and wondering, the better.”
2. “Couples should do everything together.”
Sometimes, Instagram makes it look as though couples are physically incapable of posting content where they are not joined at the hip. Imagine doing everything as a couple. Everything. All day, every day, for years on end. This piece of classic relationship advice presumes that you would always enjoy this, never get tired of it and grow stronger as a couple because you do everything together.
The reality, especially today, is that this would be flirty and fun for all of two days (at best) before you'd start to develop internal cabin fever. It’s also behavior that is indicative of deeper issues under the surface. Dr. Susan Mendelsohn, a licensed clinical psychologist, says that when a couple tells her they do everything together, she knows they have a communication problem.
“This is a lack of intimate communication,” Mendelsohn explains. “One partner is more passive and willing to do anything to avoid causing waves in the relationship. Hence, the dependent, insecure partner.”
Eventually, Mendelsohn says, both partners become resentful of each other. This is because it is truly impossible for any two people to want to do exactly the same thing all the time. The best advice is not to do everything together. There’s nothing implying that you are no longer in love when you prioritize your own needs and development as one-half of a couple.
“It’s important to find one’s personal identity and independence in order for a healthy relationship to last," Mendelsohn advises.
3. “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
Let’s get you up to speed if you’re not familiar with this classically terrible piece of relationship advice. Basically, letting sleeping dogs lie means ignoring or avoiding an issue to the best of your ability so as not to get into a fight. Couples should find a way to deal with and resolve the issue, but are largely concerned that ensuing emotions may be more trouble than what it’s worth.
This classic relationship advice makes the assumption that if you disagree with your partner in any way, shape, or form, you clearly can’t be together. But that’s the foundation all healthy relationships are built upon!
Heather Lyons is a licensed psychologist, couples counselor and owner of the Baltimore Therapy Group. She’s not a fan of this old school advice because it isn’t a disagreement that harms a relationship. Disagreements, according to Lyons, help couples right the course of their relationships and fine tune. Instead, what harms the relationship is the way couples argue together.
“Healthy couples fight,” Lyons says. “What healthy couples don’t do is criticize one another, get defensive during fighting, show contempt during fights or shut down arguments in a controlling or one-sided manner.”
4. “Men do not want to marry smart women.”
One of the first questions I like to ask when I’m on a date with a man is what life is like for guys on dating apps. My presumption is that the flip side of the coin has got to be spectacular. There must be so many witty, funny, wonderful women out there to choose from!
The men I’ve spoken to, at least those in the Los Angeles area where I live, don’t see it that way. Increasingly, their chief complaint is that they will go out with a woman who is very pretty. However, these same men quickly discover — wait for it — that subsequent dates afterwards require the pair to speak to one another.
The next thing I know, I’m seated in front of a 36-year-old man telling me (rather earnestly, too) that he has had an epiphany. He needs to date, and be with, a smart woman. It’s an attractive feature to be able to hold a conversation with another person.
“Really,” I deadpan in response.
I feel like bestowing him a “hero award.” This is a term my dad and I coined when I was in high school. We would sarcastically applaud individuals self-martyring themselves through life with a “hero” award. So brave and noble of these men to finally understand that they must talk to the person they may potentially marry one day! A hero!
Mendelsohn urges women not to believe the myth that men don’t want to marry smart women. “I have learned that men, secure ones, enjoy intelligent women with whom they can converse.”
I couldn’t agree more. Only seek a smart partner, and beware those with insecurity issues that see your smarts as a threat (which typically red flag themselves pretty early on). Take the idea that men don’t want to marry smart women outside, get a shovel and dig a small ditch to bury this wildly misogynistic piece of relationship advice deep inside.