I’ve written quite a bit on being a single mom and dating. Although my intention was always to entertain and encourage women (with or without children) to love and be loved without settling, I realize there were times that I may have been perceived as one of those “relationship writers,” which frankly, makes me want to wretch a little. Because, regardless of intention, Internet relationship writers are basically full of shit and the advice they dole out is doubly full of shit.
Still, sex and relationship advice -- good or bad -- sells, and we've been getting so much bad advice through the years that it seems like relationship writers are in a Who Can Give The Most Effed Uppest Advice And Still Make Money contest. Among the current contest winners is Susan Patton and her book “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One,” which advises young women to focus all of their energy on getting plastic surgery, getting married, and doing whatever one does to not be vulnerable to rape.
Bad sex and relationship advice is not new. Remember when it was recommended to douche? If you wanted a fresh private area, you simply selected one of the hundreds of boxes that lined the grocery or drugstore shelves (never mind how long they may have been sitting there) and then squirted lilac scented happiness up into an area that really wasn’t meant to smell of lilacs in the first place.
Or what about when we were told to never pass gas around men? Do you know how long women have been holding in and wrecking entire digestive systems because they were told men don’t like women who fart? It sounds like crazy talk now, but we’ve been told a lot of stuff that is actually harmful and not at all helpful.
Remember pre-Internet when every issue of whatever lady mag included 99 Ways To Make Him Love You. 10 Ways To Get Him To Propose. How To Be Better In Bed (for women, of course). While the magazines in the grocery store haven’t changed much, sadly, the amount of relationship advice seems to have increased by 5 billion.
On the one hand, we can now consult Dr. Google privately if we wish to self-diagnose the weird rash on our ass (I see you, pinworm vagina lady). On the other hand, any person with an Internet connection can advise you on what to do if your boyfriend gave you that rash, how to get him to propose because of the rash, whether or not you should forgive him for it, and how to cure the rash from home with olive oil and hummus.
Please file all of that advice away (along with Susan Patton’s book) into a file of Bad And Useless Relationship And Sex Advice. “Fake orgasms -- because you won’t enjoy sex in your 20s.” Really? For God’s sake (and here is where I insert unwanted and unqualified relationship advice), if you love your vag at all -- don’t do that. That’s like telling someone to laugh even if you don’t think the joke’s funny. Sure there are times when faking it until you make it are legit –- padded bras, Spanx, clip-in hair extensions. I am here for all of that if it genuinely makes you feel good about yourself, but faking orgasms crosses a line. How is he ever going to do better if you keep pretending like half-assed is glorious? And why are you sending him back out there thinking he’s good at something he's not?
Some Internet relationship experts advise finding a husband before you’re all used up. Others suggest waiting until you’re 60 and have sowed your wild oats of bad sex and tatted drug dealers. Lower your expectations. Have more sex. Withhold sex. Even better are the articles and blog posts and books filled up with tips for making him marry you. And, if it isn’t bad relationship advice, it’s useless advice that is helpful to no one. Like, “Don’t wear socks in bed!” or “Make sure he feels needed.” Stop doing that because someone somewhere is really wondering whether or not her man is going to leave her if she wears socks in bed.
It seems to me that most of the relationship advice is bad, shitty advice and I suspect we’ll look back in 20 years and view it much like we view the old-school douche (and I am not talking about your first boyfriend), shaking our heads from our rocking chairs and thinking, “How did anyone ever think that was a great idea?” Maybe if we ignore it, those who are giving bad relationship advice will go away in the same manner. Or at least reappear as an updated, medicated wipe or something -- because that is something we may actually be able to work with.