The toxic men-tality of male dating advice

Is male relationship advice ever worth listening to?

Jon Deery
25th October 2021
Image: Pixabay
I’ve been told to “just let her wait a couple days for a response”; to “touch the small of her back” with my thumb at a party; to lift my head up so my jawline’s showing; to give up poetry; to write her a poem; to pay for every meal, and to let her pay for meals. Some of the contradictory dating advice has even come from the same guy, often in the course of the same conversation. At this point, I’m past the point of listening to almost all dating advice from my male friends.

Before I discuss the advice in more detail, I should clarify that I am no expert in the dating field.

There is no such thing as a 'dating expert'.

But that’s not because I’m ‘awkward’, or inexperienced, or because women are confusing and unknowable - it’s because (and I hate to say this in the relationships section) there is no such thing as a ‘dating expert’.

Relationships, by their very nature, are unique, and entirely context-dependent. Any person claiming to have a set of techniques, or a ‘formula’, to help you to ‘pull’ a girl, is in the very act of making such a claim demonstrating that they don’t understand how this all works.

Now, to be fair, none of my mates have used words like ‘hack’ or ‘formula’ - those are deployed by the hacks all over the internet who prey on insecure men, feeding them pseudoscience about ‘alpha’ and ‘sigma’ masculinities in order to sell them protein shakes and dating courses - but I have been given advice that mirrors this method in all but the phrasing.

(CW: video contains swearing and adult themes)

Video: Pick Up Artist Bootcamp, Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan, Youtube

For instance, the classic quote I’ve mentioned above: “let her wait”. By far the most common piece of advice I’ve ever received from guys, and as such the one that’s probably caused me the most damage. It feels archaic; like some rich bachelor in an Austen novel refusing a dance with his desired partner because ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

What it results in, in real life, is a tedious game of delays that may never amount to anything - tapping anxiously on a desk, phone scorching in your pocket, thinking ‘just hold on another hour, and then look.’ It’s self-inflicted torture (which is what the self-help grifters almost always mean by ‘delayed gratification’).

Once you finally do open that message you’ve been waiting hours to view, chances are the previous Snaps have been deleted so you have no idea what she’s on about, or the conversation’s momentum has disappeared so completely that you’ve got to awkwardly segue into something else, or you’ve exhausted yourself with entertaining the possible things she might say, and how you might respond, that you’ve got no energy left to actually respond.

But more than that, the most damaging thing is that, by this point, you’ve bought into the idea that, if this girl rejects you, it’s your own fault for not having followed the ‘rules’ properly. You replied too soon, you put one too many ‘y’s on your ‘heyyy’, and now you’ll be single forever.

If left unchecked, these ‘rules’ lead down the road to misogyny - viewing women as the object of a game that only men understand is a fine way to dehumanise an entire gender.

If left unchecked, these ‘rules’ lead down the road to misogyny - viewing women as the object of a game that only men understand is a fine way to dehumanise an entire gender.

And there’s the crux of it. Here’s the take-home message which I think might actually be equally applicable for all genders (it’s worth noting that I’ve been given some of the same terrible advice by men about me dating men as I have about me dating women):

Just be human. Remember the other person, whoever they may be, is human too. And as such, there’s no simple route to their heart.

It’s rubbish, meaningless advice, and it has no practical applicability.

And that’s exactly the point.

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