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Bad relationship advice. It’s out there, and if you’ve been in the dating game for longer than a millisecond, chances are good that you’ve heard some doozies!
Some bad relationship advice is a result of outdated social norms and a throwback to times when gender roles were expected and strictly enforced, and some bad relationship advice is well-meaning in its origin, but also… still just not good!
If you’re dating regularly, you’ve probably received some pretty questionable dating advice, but we think these are the top 15 pieces of bad relationship advice you should definitely ignore!
Table of Contents
Bad Relationship Advice & Terrible Dating Tips
Never go to bed angry
This is classic and cliche bad relationship advice 101, and it’s also one that just doesn’t make a ton of logical sense. Don’t go to bed angry? Why, because humans are known for becoming more reasonable, calm, and compassionate the more sleep deprived they are?
Yeah, no. Sometimes the best thing a couple can do is to decide to table an issue or an argument until they’ve had a chance to cool off a bit, and what’s better to cool a person off than a good night’s sleep?
Play hard to get
This is another one of those classic pieces of relationship advice that are really predicated on very old-fashioned ideals. Typically aimed at women, this bad dating advice basically tells us that men like to pursue, or “hunt,” and we are the prey.
Let’s just skip right over all those silly dating games, because healthy adults can express interest in each other without having to turn it into some kind of ploy to lure someone in. In fact, it’s refreshingly mature when people are able to be honest and up front about who they are and what they are looking for in a relationship.
If you need some ideas, check out these ways to tell someone you like them for grown ass adults. Maturity rocks.
Love conquers all
Isn’t this such a sweet idea? The idea that if two people are “meant to be,” then nothing can stand in their way?
Well, it’s sweet but not really honest. Life is not a Hallmark movie and there are so many life situations that make it so two people who might sincerely love each other can’t make it work. It might be a classic Right Person, Wrong Time situation, or one where someone has a lot of personal growth they need to go through before they will be ready to show up as a good, healthy partner.
And who knows? Life is long with many twists and turns. Maybe that person who isn’t working out now might find their way back into your life decades down the road. Don’t rearrange your life waiting for them, but you can accept that if it’s truly “meant to be,” you’ll find each other again.
Never make the first move
This is bad dating advice for many reasons! What if the person you’re interested in is very shy, and they might never make the first move? What if you keep waiting and waiting and the other person never makes the first move, but someone else swoops in and scoops them up?
This is the 21st century, you can make the first move if you want to! Seriously, if you need someone’s permission, this is it.
Always forgive and forget
Sweeping generalizations about relationship advice aside, telling someone that they should forgive and forget is a bit of a grey area. In some cases, it makes sense to forgive and forget a minor grievance like your partner forgetting to take the trash out… again. But if we’re talking major betrayals and life-changing issues, then it probably doesn’t.
This doesn’t mean you can’t forgive your partner and move forward with the relationship after they’ve done something very hurtful, but to forget? To try to completely wipe the slate clean? Not only is this likely impossible for most of us, but once it has happened, it becomes a part of the story of the relationship. It will either be a thing that you two repair together and become even stronger because you’ve faced it head-on, or it will be a thing that lingers and disturbs the peace in your heads and hearts until the end of the relationship.
Only you and your partner can determine what your story will be.
Oof. This is a hard one because we have heard this sentiment a million and one times in songs, movies, bumper stickers, etc, but the truth is that love should not be a painful experience! If you find yourself feeling like love hurts more often than not, this is a glaring red flag that your relationship has gone off course somewhere. Love shouldn’t hurt.
You can’t blame them for cheating, people aren’t meant to be monogamous
This is a frustrating piece of bad relationship advice. While there are many that now practice ethical non monogamy quite happily, the basic tenet of this practice – and what makes it ethical – is that all parties are on board. This is NOT cheating because no one is being misled and nothing is being hidden.
Cheating is when the agreement is monogamy and one or both partners stray from this agreement, typically with great effort to hide their actions. If you and your partner have not explicitly made an agreement to practice ethical non monogamy, then the standard expectation is monogamy, and cheating is cheating.
And yes, you should always hold people accountable for their actions.
Always date down
Oh, my. Sometimes bad relationship advice sounds so antiquated it’s a wonder that it’s managed to hang on so long! Always date down was supposed to be some sort of insurance against your partner leaving you in the future, with the idea that if you had “dated down,” your partner would recognize that you were likely the best they could ever get.
This is just such a silly way to try to manipulate your partner and your future! No one knows the future, but if you enter into your relationship with honesty and integrity, you’re far more likely to have a long, fulfilling relationship than if you try to pick your partner based on some belief that you are “dating down” and will never be left behind.
If it’s not easy, it’s not meant to be
As we get older, it becomes fairly obvious that the most important things in this world require a certain level of work to get and maintain. It’s not that relationships should feel difficult or tiring to be in, but in order to have a truthful connection to another human being, you’ve got to put some effort into showing up for each other.
It’s not always easy to show up for your partner, but if you are fulfilled and happy in your relationship, then doing this kind of relationship work should be one of the easiest choices you make!
Keep your real opinions to yourself until after a few dates
So much bad dating advice revolves around the premise that you’ve got to trick someone into wanting to be with you! Hiding who you really are is not a good way to start off a relationship, so while you shouldn’t rush into telling every single little bit of information you can in the first few dates, you certainly shouldn’t be going out of your way to hide who you really are and what you really believe. You want someone to fall for you, not a pretend version of you.
Passionate couples fight more
This is one of those bad relationship tips that almost tries to cover up for toxic relationships. Fighting in a relationship isn’t always toxic, but always fighting and labeling it as “passion?” That is a big red flag.
Disagreements and conflicts happen, but if they are always happening? Your relationship isn’t passionate, it’s in need of assistance, and getting couples counseling is a great place to find it.
You can fall in love with a rich man as easily as you can a poor man
You might’ve gotten this bad relationship tip from an older member of your family before, and again, it’s typically directed at women. The idea behind it, of course, is that falling in love should be more about picking someone that can help you build a secure, safe life rather than picking someone you have chemistry and attraction with.
While this may have been wise advice for our great-grandparents’ generation, women no longer have to rely on a significant other to buy property, open up a line of credit, have a fulfilling career, etc, so we have the luxury of being able to fall in love for love.
They will change if you love them enough
This is such a hard bit of bad relationship advice because when we love someone deeply, we want to help them through their hardships. However, if someone’s hardship involves personal growth and battling inner demons, that’s not something you can love someone into doing.
People don’t change because someone loved them long enough or in the right ways, people change because they finally decide to do the hard work of personal growth. In fact, sometimes our love can even prolong this process if we are making excuses for someone’s issues and keeping them just comfortable enough to never have to actually turn and face it.
It’s a complicated situation, but for the most part, you can’t love someone into change.
They’re only jealous and controlling because they care
This is such an antiquated bit of bad relationship advice. Society used to make a lot of excuses for abusive partners, suggesting that abuse was a part of the way that some people showed they cared. This is blatantly untrue, and if your partner is controlling where you go and who you see and is jealous of others in your life, these are major relationship red flags and are NOT a sign of someone caring.
You shouldn’t have to say what you want, they should just know
Umm, no. People are not mind readers. Healthy, mature relationships involve people being able to clearly articulate what they want and need. You can’t expect someone to magically know exactly what you need, and expecting this is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Whether you’re hearing bad relationship advice from family, friends, or your Uber driver, the best antidote to terrible relationship tips is often your own gut. Don’t play games, stay true to yourself, and you’ll be just fine out there.
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- 15 Awesome TED Talks on Relationships and Marriage
- 7 Things People in Happy Relationships Don’t Do
- How to Deal With Anxiety in Relationships: Best Tips from Our Own Experience
- Couples Bucket List Ideas: 110 Romantic + Fun Things to Do
- 10 Ways to Maintain Connection in a Relationship
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.