Internet Dating Advice Is Notoriously Terrible — So I Fixed It

Illustrated by Ariel Davis.
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but there’s a lot of shitty dating advice out there. Plenty of women’s magazines and websites (like, admittedly, the one you’re on right now) make their nut doling out anecdotes and tips that single women in desperate need of a clue will cling to. Most of the time, the advice is written by people who’ve found partners and can now condescend to tell you exactly what to do to be as blissfully paired as they are (or, at least, that’s what it feels like). I think you’ll agree with me when I say: Fuck that noise.
During my single heydey, I’d Google myself into a tizzy, trying to piece together the right set of tips to make myself appear carefree, cool, and sexy — the type of woman any man would want to wife up (ugh). When my relationships eventually faltered, I’d spend hours online trying to figure out exactly what went wrong.
It’s something that so many people do — whether they’re in a relationship or not — and my guess is that it might have something to do with a need to feel in control. When things go badly in our relationships, it’s easy to feel out of whack and want to make sense of it all. So, we turn to advice on why things skewed, and how we can keep them from going haywire in the future. But what I eventually realized is that the majority of heterosexual-geared dating advice places the blame squarely on the shoulders of women. We were too interested in him, or we weren’t interested enough. Men like women who they can chase, but are also tired of having to be the ones to make plans. They don’t care about text messages, but make sure not to text him more than twice in an hour.
I can see why the advice is framed like this: By telling women it’s their fault, the advice promises that we’re able to change the situation — we’re the masters of our own destinies! But, in reality, we can’t always manipulate and change a relationship scenario, because there are other autonomous humans involved. The whole thing eventually becomes exhausting and, frankly, total bullshit.
So, through the comedy of follies that is my dating life, I’ve pieced together my own tips, tricks, and “dating rules,” adapted from the horrific advice I’ve culled from the internet. I’m not an expert in any of this, of course. And because of that, I’m telling you from the jump that these tips are not meant to be prescriptive to anyone but myself. I’m not here to tell you what to do. These are the rules I’m living by from now on, whether they work for other people or not. My hope is that, in reading these, you’ll get a little introspective, and maybe come up with your own tips and tricks. Because everyone’s life is different, guys. Let’s all write our own non-shitty dating advice.
After being raised on a steady diet of Disney movies, I expected to meet someone and fall passionately in love — but wound up collapsing under the pressures of modern dating. Luckily, I eventually realized that there's no "right" way to date, and that I need to find happiness within myself, no partner needed. It’s Not You is where I write to calm the voices in my head — and hear from all of you. Follow me on Twitter, on Instagram, or email me at maria.delrusso@refinery29.com.