Web Culture

The Internet’s Worst Dating and Relationship Advice

Joel Lee 01-02-2015

Most dating advice on the web is awful. Everyone who’s been in at least one relationship thinks they’re enough of an expert to offer their thoughts, but much of this so-called “insight” is regurgitated by people who have no business offering advice in the first place.


In fact, some of the most popular bits of wisdom will achieve the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Let’s explore the worst of what the Internet has to offer in terms of relationship guidance, so you can avoid being caught in these traps.

Win Affection By Being Horrible

The worst bit of dating advice to explode in popularity over the past decade is more of a mentality than a word of wisdom — specifically speaking, the “red pill” mentality that influences and is influenced by “pick up artist” culture.

If you don’t know what those terms mean, consider yourself lucky.


The red pill approach to relationships takes its name from a scene in The Matrix, where Morpheus presents Neo with two pills: a red one that represents the “painful truth of reality” and a blue one that represents the “blissful ignorance of illusion”.


“Red pillers” preach that all romantic relationships are based on a power struggle, and the only way for men to win is by manipulating women through sexual strategy. For red pillers, this is the bitter “truth” of dating reality.

A lot of misguided advice stems from this way of thinking, but the worst has to be the idea of negging, which is colloquially defined as “the technique of using a light insult wrapped in the package of a complement” in order to “gain and maintain the attention of women”.


Spend just a few minutes in red pill culture and you’ll immediately smell the stench of true misogyny. To them, women are toys and if you can push their buttons in the right order at the right time, they’ll sleep with you. That’s just how the world works according to them.


But what do women think about this? Here’s how some women of /r/AskWomen replied when asked, “How do you react to negging?





That’s enough proof to declare this tactic as absolutely terrible, isn’t it?

Trick People Into Loving You

On the one hand, people are constantly advising single men and women to “just be yourself” when seeking out a partner. If you think about it, it’s a superficial phrase that ultimately proves unhelpful. If “being yourself” was enough, wouldn’t you be in a relationship by now?

Then again, swinging to the other side of the pendulum is not the way to go. “Fake it until you make it” is advised just as often, but it’s just as superficial. It might work for one night stands What Is The Best Dating App For Android? Dating apps have come a long way, and there are actually some great options on Android. Give these fantastic apps a try! Read More and casual flings What Is The Best Dating App For Android? Dating apps have come a long way, and there are actually some great options on Android. Give these fantastic apps a try! Read More , but it’s going to backfire big time if you’re looking for something more serious.



When taken to the extreme, you end up wearing a completely different. The goal, according to this advice, is to trick the other person by abandoning your true self and becoming what is most attractive to that person.

Once you’re in, you can slowly reveal your true self — but your true self is not who they fell in love with. As we all know, building a relationship 4 Online Relationship Tips That Actually Work There are plenty of examples to show that Happily Ever After is attainable for online and long distance relationships. Here are some of the best tips and advice to keep you on the right path. Read More on deception is the perfect recipe for romantic success. (Not.)


What’s truly sad about heeding this advice is that you’re passively admitting that you are so repulsive or undesirable that the only way you’d ever be able to start a relationship with someone is by shelving yourself, and that the only way you could ever initiate contact with someone is by “infiltrating” them.

Instead of looking for workarounds and shortcuts, maybe the answer is to spark personal growth How To Spark Personal Growth: 5 Tricks Of The Entrepreneur Not everyone has to be an entrepreneur, but everyone can learn something from the entrepreneur. By tapping into some of those entrepreneurial traits, you can radically alter your own life in an upward direction. Read More and become a better you From Boys To Men: 4 Subreddits All Guys Should Read There are some great subreddits on Reddit where you can find others just like you and me who are working to be the best men that they can be. Read More .

Play Hard to Get, Make Them Jealous

Playing hard to get is a common dating cliche. Everyone preaches it, and everyone swears by it, but is it actually helpful? Sometimes, sure, but it can also be twisted to encourage behavior that wasn’t intended when the phrase was first uttered.

When you first have interest in somebody, whether male or female, it’s natural to be somewhat apprehensive while you gauge their interest in you. This is when playing hard comes in handy as a way to see if they pursue you even when you aren’t pursuing them.

It does not mean this:


Along similar lines, common wisdom says that you need to make your significant other jealous from time to time in order to keep them on their toes. If you don’t, they’ll grow complacent and start taking you for granted. Keep reminding them that they need to work for your love, this line of thinking says..

Healthy relationships between two confident partners don’t need to rely on ploys like this:


Because that’s what it is: a ploy. A scheme. A trick.

Do you really want to be in a relationship where you constantly need to dangle thinly-veiled threats to keep your partner in line? Do you really want to be in a relationship where your partner does that to you?

When the Going Gets Tough, Break Up

One of the sadder trends in dating is the deterioration of commitment. That’s not to say that serious long-term relationships are a thing of the past, because they aren’t. I’m also not saying that we’ve left some kind of golden age of romance where relationships never ended – of course that’s not true.

However, it can’t be denied that the words “until death do us part 4 of the Best Wedding Proposals on the Web Fact: I'm a romantic. I'm one of those guys who loves love, believes in strong, lasting relationships, and... well... watches chick flicks. I watch them quite often (don't judge me, okay?). Now, I'll be honest... Read More ” have lost a lot of their impact. In marriages and dating, people giving advice online it seems as if people are way trigger-happy. If your relationship isn’t entirely smooth sailing, you’ll be advised to break it off and find a more compatible partner.




Again, I’m not saying that break-ups and divorce are never an option, but being so ready to jump to this step without first attempting to repair or salvage My Spouse Is Not A Geek: 5 Fun Ways To Connect The Marital Divide Some marriages can be made in digital heaven. If you're a relationship savvy geek, there are some creative ways to use the technology you love to bring you and your spouse even closer together. Read More is the kind of mentality that will follow you from relationship to relationship and sabotage you all along the way.

The problem is that people on the Internet don’t know your situation. Even if you are transparent and honest and share as much as you can, they only know your side and your perspective. You may be blind to certain details that change the entire context of your relationship struggles.

Except in extreme circumstances (e.g. an abusive partner), Internet dating advisors who suggest a break-up or divorce should be ignored. They rarely have enough information to appropriately make that call.

Prevent Pain By Not Caring At All

“How to not give a f**k” is an innocent and well-intentioned piece of advice that often backfires. It’s meant to help people who so dread rejection that they never initiate relationships. In that sense, it can help.

But as always this piece of advice can be taken too far, and it can prove to be highly detrimental — even harmful — when it veers off course.


Let’s return to the pendulum analogy. It’s not healthy to drown in anxiety and fear, but swinging to the opposite end isn’t any better. You can care too much and you can care not at all, but the best balance is right in the middle.

Final Thoughts

I don’t want to make it sound like every piece of dating advice is bad, but we’d all do well to avoid Internet dating advice from sources that haven’t proven their credibility. They may end up leading you toward a ruined first date, or worse.

The most important takeaway here is that conventional relationship wisdom can hurt rather than help, so always be skeptical of anything you read — even this article! You may also want to look into cognitive biases that may be harming your relationships.

Ready for some good advice for a change? Check out the best sites to get free advice online The 8 Best Sites to Get Good Free Advice Online If you know where to look, the internet can be a wonderful place for quality advice. Here are some of the best advice websites. Read More .

Image Credits: Happy Couple Via Shutterstock, Red Pill Blue Pill Via Wikipedia

Related topics: Online Dating, Web of Romance.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Anna
    April 9, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    This article is several years old, but I just came upon it.

    Sure, there may be a few good pieces of advice out there. The term "good" is subjective though and each person thinks what constitutes "good" is that it reinforces their beliefs or rejects their fears.

    There is no magic bullet. I wish there was. Things would be so much easier. Dating is about social interaction, chemistry, and personal dynamic between two people. Yes, there are certain elements that can be generalized, but each person is different for what motivates them.

    This is my opinion, but would we all not be better off if we just held true to being social and asking ourselves what would be the considerate and honest thing to so instead of letting mind games interfere? All this "advice" is meant to try to be one step ahead of the other person. You are told it is to increase your success. The flipside of that is it's saying... lessen your chances of being hurt by anticipating and calculating. Be suspicious. Don't be the chump. And, always, always realize the other person is in the power spot; it's your job to grasp onto any power you can get and claim your power seat through doing X, Y, and Z.

    Would we assume the other person was the almighty if we weren't being inundated with that message and given all these reasons and examples for why it is so? It's exploitation of fear to sell a product or service.

    I don't have the answers. If anyone really did there would be ONE book, not the heap of all the different ones out there.

    Maybe we should just think about that the next time we're frantically searching for answers, only to find that the so called answers are all mostly playing the blame game by either telling us there is something wrong with us or the other person that can be fixed in order to sell the product of advice.

  2. Sonorita Lopez
    May 16, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Relationship advice: five experts reveal the secrets to long lasting relationship



  3. Andy
    March 2, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for so thoughtful text! My worst dating advise was "to be yourself". I was so shy in that days and I don`t understand that advise at all! I need to mention, the more women you meet, the more experience you get. So don`t worry and go straight ahead for your dream love :)
    In addition, about online dating sites. Of course, there are a lot of fakes, spam, stupid sex content, but...! If you want to date some girl and have not enough experince - onling dating sites is a good platform to practise your skill :)
    Also I can advise you Nick Notas blog, I found out good things there, but they are more about short-term relationships :)
    Finally, wish you all true love, guys!

    [Comments Moderator: Thanks for the comment Andy, but the site you linked to had to be removed, it issued a malware warning]

    • Joel
      March 3, 2015 at 2:53 am

      Thanks for sharing, Andy! I agree that "be yourself" is such a common piece of advice that's often misunderstood or misinterpreted. And yeah, I also agree that experience is important, though I'd lean more towards emphasizing "social experience" rather than "dating experience" in particular.

  4. Chris
    February 19, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Idk about all of this, but I think I figured it out awhile ago. Women are very unique and there is only one thing that all of them have in common. Women want to get what they want without having to ask.

    They could want anything (time with you, an open ear, shows of affection, to be left alone for awhile, etc), but the key is them knowing that you know them well enough to know what they want without having to be told.

    I'm young and I know I could be wrong, but I'm extremely observant and this has served me well. Pretty much every other bit of advice I've heard about women in general is crap. Just my two cents.

    • Joel
      February 25, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I don't know about that. I personally know women who don't fit that generalization and I also know several men who behave that way. It's certainly a common trait, but I wonder if it's more of a human trait than it is a woman trait.

  5. Carl
    February 4, 2015 at 10:39 am

    A couple of years ago I bought 'Double Your Dating' by David De Angelo and got hold of his advanced seminar series on DVD which explored a whole range of dating techniques. There was a lot of good material on 'how to be a man' and things like that. The men attending the seminars, there were thousands of them, had paid out thousands to attend and near the end of the series there are video of world-renowned pick up artists. One guy interviewed was a blonde long haired rocker-type with tight leather jeans, cowboy boots, super-tanned, whiter than white teeth and brightly coloured tropical shirt and he was close to being the No 1 PUA in the world and he was asked 'what's the one secret you'd share that all men could do with knowing' and he replies 'Act like you don't care; if you look like you're disinterested you'll be attractive to the woman'. Watching this I couldn't help thinking 'so those guys spending weeks and thousands learning this stuff should act like they 'don't care'? How ironic is that!

    In your article you've given a couple of examples of women using 'keep 'em keen' tactics but I think the problem for men when using PUA behaviour is they're trying to outwit women who've been using these tactics to sort 'chaff from wheat' for centuries. I've worked in large organisations with 90% female staffing for over 20 years and I can tell you they're obsessed with lying to men, individually and in groups, and POWER. The number one conversation when a group of women are discussing a new relationship is 'who has control?' and if it's the woman that's seen as a good thing. I've tried various forms of dating and learned some strange things: for example the number one type of message I can expect to receive from women on dating websites is 'here's why you're not good enough for me to date' messages; they enjoy turning men down. I've met women on blind dates who've come out with comments such as 'I'm really ashamed to be seen here with you' and 'if you enter into a relationship with me I will dominate you'. I've had a female stalker who told me her online profile was actually a collection of women who would choose who amongst them would meet up with the 'next one'. When I tried speed dating, which I did 6 times, I noticed a pattern where out of the 13 women present only two would actually be available with everyone else pretending to be. You'd have 13 single men and then at the end of the night you'd see the groups of women congregate and start nodding, pointing and shaking heads at the men. When you date a woman, you see, you don't date a woman - you date an entire network of advisors. Working with women means I've had a couple of opportunities to form friendships and this would be my favourite way of meeting a woman but I've found the moment they know you're 'interested' in that way they do an overnight personality change and either suddenly your colleagues are aware of the stalker in the room or the woman is telling you she has a collection of men she's sleeping with and you'll have to accept it to be added to the list (that lady was a social worker) or they suddenly start lying and playing mind games doing such things as going on holidays with boyfriends they've told you they haven't got.

    I think the problem for a man attempting to use 'negging' and the like is he's trying to do it to people who do it without thinking about doing it because they are the 'desired' sex. Men desire; women desire to be desired - that's what's really happening. The way forward for men generally, I feel, is to stop pursuing women altogether. The 'don't care' message is a literal thing for me and I've learned just to not bother and concentrate on doing things of greater social worth. I often see dating advice advising one gender on how to treat another in a derogatory fashion and I'd prefer it if we focused on the idea that there's a person with a gender attached rather than the other way round. All this complexity in 'dating how to's' has just confused the fact men and women are designed to complement each other not to go to war all the time. It's the children produced by these half-hearted game-playing relationships I feel sorry for.

    • Joel
      February 4, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Any relationship, romantic or not, built on a struggle for power is bound to snap. Anyone who even thinks about "Who has control in this relationship?" is not suitable for a relationship.

      "Men and women are designed to complement each other, not to go to war all the time." <-- I agree!

  6. PlaGeRaN
    February 3, 2015 at 11:37 am

    funny how this popped up in Feb (worst month of the year). What happened to common interest? or finding someone that likes You for who You are and vice versa?

    • Joel
      February 4, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      I think that still happens often but we just don't hear about it. The kind of people who are self-aware enough to spot common interest and the kind of people who need the Internet's dating advice... they're most likely in mutually exclusive groups.

    • PlaGeRaN
      February 10, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Honestly Joel I'm very much an introvert, that has friends on IM's and tried my luck with some. One of the ladies (I'm a guy) found me interesting and we are married today. Sometimes we need to tempt fate and live and learn with and from our choices.

  7. Anonymous
    February 2, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    This is depressing because nothing anyone has said here is any different than I heard 20-30 years ago. Sad that with all the changes in our world that people are still clueless on how to meet.

    • dragonmouth
      February 3, 2015 at 12:48 am

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      People are not clueless. They just can't accept the fact that there ain't no secret formula. So they keep trying all kinds of weird ass tricks instead of just "meet and greet."

    • Joel
      February 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Yup, you're both right. People are always looking for shortcuts and magic. The only thing that changes are the details...

  8. socalnerd
    February 2, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Most Nice Guys that are burned by women, often turn to the MGTOW and Redpill mindset. I have been listening to Tom Leykis and his Leykis 101 course on how to get laid for little money. Its not a PUA. Its just common time tested method that works. It doesn't pay t be the nice guy. Most Nice Guys have gone out on dates only to hear the ladies complain about the last guys she went out with that treated her like crap. All of those aholes have one thing in common that Poindexter doesn't. They have all seen her naked and not Poindexter. Nice guy has to evolve his game or sugar his own churro.

    The premise is women love bad boys. Women love Men that are unreliable, flaky, aholes that treat them like crap. You have to pick on their insecurities. Women love to be the center of attention. Even though Women say they don't like the attention. Never seen a woman at a bar getting "angry" at how guys can't stop approaching her. Yet her dress style is the "Hey check me out, Fellas!" with super low cleavage. What has worked for me, is just walk by them and don't look at them at the bar. Converse with the bartender and never once look at the hot girl across the bar. She will think why is this guy not worshiping me. By the end of the night most come around and sniff what is my deal. I never compliment them, If they ever say "your mean!" I tell them "Sweetie, If you don't like it. Theres the door." I have yet to see one find the door behind her. Its not about "relationships" now its all about the hook up culture. Be honest, dating is about getting laid.

    Never, Ever listen or take advice from a "relationship" expert. Most of those ladies preach their expertise but never sport a wedding ring. If she was successful, ring would be on her finger as a trophy. Why ask a poor man on how to be rich? Why ask a relationship expert on dating advice. Why ask women on how to date them? Women don't know how it is for a man to date a woman. Just my thoughts

    • KazBaaah
      February 2, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      I see two problems with this

      1 - all too often a Nice Guy is not a nice guy, instead having the attitude that if he behaves in a certain way he is entitled to a woman's affections. Many Nice Guys don't have the insight to realise this

      2 - there is a big difference between being nice and being a doormat. Many Nice Guys (and even nice guys) are so eager to please that they stop offering any form of resistance to any suggestion or attitude, which is frankly a massive turnoff - if I want someone that adores me unquestioningly and lives their life to make me happy, I'll buy a dog

      • AnnihilationGamingTM
        November 17, 2016 at 3:03 am

        I have said that too women how want to be "friends" first:(

    • Joel
      February 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      "Most Nice Guys that are burned by women, often turn to the MGTOW and Redpill mindset."

      In general, I'd say that's an accurate observation. The rest of the "advice" you give is only applicable to a certain kind of woman. If that's the kind of woman you're after, go for it, but to generalize that all women want this or that is the exact attitude that repels women for "nice guys" in the first place.

      As for the rest, KazBaaah nailed it.

  9. Robyn
    February 2, 2015 at 4:09 am

    My guess is that people have always been that way and the internet isn't making it any worse, just letting us know about it more easily.

  10. Robyn
    February 1, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Wow. This is some of the most depressing stuff I've ever heard. Especially in this day of 'authenticity' and 'transparency.' But some people are clearly authentic asshats and transparently full of crap. I'm fortunate I'm now too old to have to deal with any of it.

    • Joel
      February 2, 2015 at 3:47 am

      I agree, it's very depressing no matter how you look at it. Though I do wonder if the above dating tips are actually a recent trend or if humans have always been that way and the Internet is just making it more pronounced?

  11. Buffet
    February 1, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    WTF is a #man?

    • Joel
      February 1, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Sorry, I'm not sure what you're asking. Can you elaborate?

    • Buffet
      February 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Yes sir. There's an octothorpe preceding the word "man" as if a number was originally intended, then inadvertently omitted?
      As it reads in it's current state it's nonsensical.
      Forgive me for making such in issue over a minor typographical error.

    • Joel
      February 2, 2015 at 3:44 am

      Oh! Took me a while to realize you were talking about one of the images. The #man is probably a hashtag, which are used in a lot of different ways depending on context. It's a difficult social phenomenon to explain in just a few words, but you'll find this article helpful if you care to learn more about it:


    • Buffet
      February 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Thank you sir. I'd have bet dimes to doughnuts it was a typo. I DO know that the term "hashtag" is Australian jargon. I'm sure the link you so kindly provided will fill in the blanks for me. G'day mate!