There’s a lot of dating advice floating around the universe. Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad—and most of it’s downright confusing. Ask anyone for dating advice and no two responses will be the same. Perform a simple Google search for “dating advice” and you’ll be hit with tens of thousands of results. How are you supposed to filter through so many conflicting opinions and find what works best for you?
I’ll let you in on a secret: most dating advice out there is no good. It’s good for someone, but probably doesn’t apply to you, because dating advice is 100% subjective. One man’s hard and fast rule (wait three days after a date to call her) is another man’s M.O. (if you have a great connection, why wait to make contact?). In reality, there’s very little dating advice that universally applies to everyone; it would be impossible to be that inclusive. For the most part, dating advice is just a series of tips based on personal triumphs and failures, repackaged into bite-sized lessons.: “Always be fashionably late,” “You’ll never find true love at a bar,” “Don’t date a guy with a cat”.
These personal stories are certainly helpful to hear, but they’re just that—personal stories. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. Just because your friend asked a guy out and he said “no” doesn’t mean you should wait around for men to approach you.
Personally, I find most dating advice to be far too extreme. It’s typically framed with absolute statements that start with “always” or “never” or “don’t.” How limiting is that? Following dating advice too closely defeats the purpose of dating entirely. If you practiced every piece of dating advice you heard, you’d never get anywhere; your brain and your heart would be confused, and you’d never let anyone in.
All of that said, I’ve done it. I’ve found the solution. I’ve discovered the single best piece of dating advice in the history of the universe, and I’m going to share it with you. It applies to everyone, and it works in every situation. This advice even transcends dating, and can be applied to other aspects of your life: work, friendships, you name it.
Drumroll, please, and prepare for your life to change: If somebody isn’t interested in the you-est version of YOU, then you don’t want to date them in the first place.
It’s simple advice, but it’s also incredibly practical. Why would you want to waste your time with someone who doesn’t value the things that make you, you? And yet, in reality, it can be a difficult concept to accept and practice. It’s reliant on a certain amount of self-trust. It requires the confidence to say to yourself, I’m okay with being alone right now if it means I’m open to meeting a better match in the future. Those convictions don’t just happen overnight.
A popular piece of dating advice is “ just be yourself.” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, but I don’t think it’s enough to simply say, “ just be yourself.” It’s important to understand why you should insist on being yourself. To understand that those small quirks and traits and behaviors that define what “yourself” means are the things that someone will value and love about you. That if someone doesn’t mesh with your vibe, it’s okay to not pursue things further. That there’s someone who will appreciate you, and that you deserve to meet them.
I’m not suggesting you totally let yourself go, wear sweatpants on the first date and grow furious with anyone who doesn’t immediately recognize and praise your awesomeness. There are certain fronts we put up around new people, which is understandable. For example, when I’m getting to know someone I’m extra polite, I avoid crude language, and I try to be more flexible than normal. Things like that will reveal themselves in time, and it’s that transition into your truer self you want your partner to accept and cherish.
Saying “no” isn’t easy. If you had a connection with someone, why not pursue it and see where it goes? By all means, please do. But the moment you hear that voice in the back of your head that says, This is going alright, but I’m not sure this person really gets ME, it might be time to respectfully bow out and set your sights on someone you mesh better with on the little things.
This dating advice applies to more scenarios than just dating. Say you landed an interview for a job you’re really excited about, but halfway through the interview the chemistry feels off. They’re questioning your abilities too closely and don’t seem impressed with your achievements. Instead of pining after a company that doesn’t recognize your value, take a step back. If they don’t like what you consider your best work, you won’t be happy at this job, regardless of how great the company is on paper. It’s better to politely withdraw from the running after the interview and focus your efforts on finding something that’s a mutual good fit for both parties. In the end, you’ll both be happier.
If you have a tendency to get down on yourself when something doesn’t work out, don’t fret. The more you learn to say “no” to the wrong people and “yes” to the right people, your relationship radar will become more finely-tuned and you’ll channel your energy into relationships you’re truly passionate about—be they romantic, friendly or professional.
If somebody isn’t interested in the you-est version of YOU, you don’t want to date them in the first place. I hope you find this advice helpful. I hope it encourages you to consider what YOU want from a relationship and pushes you to put your needs on a modestly-sized pedestal. I hope it empowers you to stick by your convictions and gives you the courage to not only think, but also believe, “It’s not there for me, and I feel confident about meeting someone better.”