1. “Everything happens for a reason.”

You’re old enough to know the truth now: nope. It doesn’t. There really isn’t a master plan; sometimes you have bad luck, and sometimes you make bad choices, but at least your life is yours to master. You don’t deserve that bad partner because you did something wrong when you were twelve. Promise.

2. “Online dating is for geeks and losers.”

Uh, no. Where have you been for the past ten years? I actually adore the OkCupid algorithm and find it pretty accurate, assuming people are being honest when they answer those questions. My husband and I met on there with a 99% match, and I have not only made great friends, but even found a roommate, all thanks to OKC. I’m a little more suspicious of Tinder, though.

3. “The clock is ticking; you better act fast if you don’t want to be left behind.”

Okay, the idea that people have expiration dates is…gross. Even if you are feeling some pressure (internal or external) to have a kid or settle down, that’s no reason to jump on something that isn’t actually that good for you. Presumably you want more from a partner than just being good ENOUGH and willing to have babies by the time you’re 35. You’re not Scarlet O’Hara trying to “catch a husband”; you’re a grown adult, with value and worth, and so are the people you’re dating.

4. “He can just outgrow that behaviour.”

By the time you’re in your thirties, your personality is probably pretty set…and maybe you’ve realized that it’s almost impossible to change anyone. Whether they are a night owl or have a drinking problem, no matter how hard you love them, you probably can’t make it work by sheer force of will. So if someone displays traits you don’t like? Feel free to step away.

5. “Don’t act too excited, it makes you look desperate.”

You know what you like, who you are, and how you want to dress by now, so why be ironically or manipulatively laid back if you feel enthusiastic about someone? Be honest. If they don’t feel the same way, that’s okay; but if they do, you might have wasted your shot pretending to play it cool.

6. “You definitely won’t get married if you’re having casual sex.”

In the first place, who says getting married is your life goal? That’s pretty boring. In the second place, casual sex can be fun, especially now that you’re old enough and (often) forthright enough to ask for exactly what you want, and not get taken in by any loser manoeuvres. If someone is just looking for casual sex and so are you, you can feel free to jump right into that and enjoy. If you think you actually want something more long-term with someone, obviously don’t say you’re all right with something casual, because then you’ll just end up feeling used.

7. “Don’t commit too fast, you’ll just get your heart broken.”

Well…yeah, you might. But you might get your heart broken if you wait years to commit, too. Just because your last relationship dragged you behind a truck and left your heart in tatters doesn’t mean you can’t trust and love someone new. “Once bitten, twice shy” are not words to live your life by; they’re a good way to stay along for a long time.

8. “Everybody decides they want kids eventually.”

I can’t stress this enough: no, they don’t. It is completely unfair to you and your partner to go into a relationship where you want kids and you know they don’t hoping or assuming you can change their mind. Everybody DOESN’T want kids, and you should definitely trust someone when they say they’ve made up their mind. They might still change it, but you should always take statements about big life choices at face value.

9. “If you’re worried he’s cheating, check his email or text messages for evidence.”

This is terrible advice. It’s not, not, NOT okay to violate someone’s privacy just because you’re suspicious. Talk to them. Figure out how you’re feeling and see if they can do anything to alleviate your concern. If you really are worried and feel like you absolutely have to have a peek, okay, but be aware that it’s super disrespectful and two wrongs do not make a right.

10. “If you don’t meet anyone now, you’ll never meet anyone.”

Your life is hardly over in your thirties; honestly, given medical advancements, you’ve probably got at least another 60 years left. And you’re going to find new opportunities to meet people as you try new hobbies and activities, go to friend’s houses, and join clubs or community groups. You could run into your next spouse in the grocery store squeezing cantaloupe, and it could happen tomorrow or thirty years from now. Anyone who tells you this is buying in to the whole idea of expiration dates, and that sucks.

11. “You’ll find someone.”

Not always, you know? And that’s okay. You can love yourself and your life single, and also you get to sleep diagonally across the bed and hog all the pillows. You don’t need a partner to prove your worth to the world.

12. “Weddings are a great place to meet single men.”

They really aren’t. Usually everybody brings a date, and if they don’t, and you get set up with someone’s charming second cousin twice removed, you will probably find yourself stuck with a nervously grinning stranger in a tux for four hours before you can successfully bow out and go home. Similarly, people are so geographically scattered now, if you do meet someone interesting and single, they might be from three thousand miles away. Oops.

13. “It’ll be fine if you date people substantially younger than you are!”

I was a very mature 19 year old when I met my first husband, who was 13 years older than me. Now that I’m 35, I have no idea how he enjoyed talking to me. This is not a hard and fast rule, obviously…but chances are you really will have a lot more in common with someone around your age by now than someone fourteen years your junior. Age is just a number, but generational differences, and being at different places in your life, are real.

14. “If you wanted to be married and you’re not by now, you must have made some kind of mistake.”

Gee, thanks, The Rules. Way to blame someone for life circumstances outside their control. Maybe the city you live in doesn’t contain that many interesting people of your preferred gender to date. Maybe the person you were in a serious relationship with decided they didn’t want to get married. Maybe you got so busy pursuing your career or other life goals that you forgot you wanted to get married. This is a garbage thing to say to someone.

15. “You know what you like by now, just stick with it.”

In some ways, this is actually okay advice. In others, it pretty much guarantees that you’ll stay within a “type”. It can sometimes be awesome to try dating someone totally unlike every other person you’ve ever dated, just because screw it, you never know who might surprise you.

16. “You’re definitely at a disadvantage.”

Because men like younger girls! Those “dudebros” on dating websites who are in their mid-thirties and list their “preferred age” for potential partners as “19-25” can bite me.

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