November 30, 2021 |Gideon Hanekom

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This post will explore 9 items of bad relationship advice you should stop listening to in order to help you better your relationship life. It’s important to be aware of bad advice about relationships and bad dating advice since it can result in all kinds of adverse effects ranging from making no improvements to creating even worse outcomes.

It is difficult to be monogamous and maintain a relationship in the twenty-first century.

People used to stay together and form long-lasting relationships for no apparent reason a few decades ago.

People were devoted to their partners and had seemingly less intention of cheating on them.

For example, according to the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey statistics from 2013, American wives were approximately 40% more likely to be cheating on their spouses in 2010 than in 1990.

Meanwhile, the percentage of husbands reporting adultery has remained stable at 21%.

Marriages are also becoming less prevalent, according to, with the proportion of people marrying falling in most countries in recent decades.

However, this is not true in all nations, and divorce rates have been trending to rise globally since the 1970s, although it differs greatly from country to country.

Of course, there are several variables that can account for these developments.

For example, women are more independent, individuals are marrying later in life in most countries, and cohabitation, or couples living together who are not married, is growing more prevalent.

Additionally, one could argue that societal expectations and norms, particularly Orthodox Christian standards, “pressed” couples to stay together significantly more than they do now. But that has all changed lately.

Furthermore, many people nowadays appear to be either single and keeping their options open, or they want to be in a relationship but don’t know how to keep it or make their partners happy.

bad relationship advice

As a result, many people’s main issue is their inability to maintain a healthy relationship since they don’t know how to do it.

They are dissatisfied since they cannot find satisfaction in a relationship and it oftentimes does not fulfil them in any way.

Now, when it comes down to it, if you want to be happy in a relationship, you must first learn how to be a good partner and how to develop a happier, healthier, and more intimate connection because you can only control yourself, your actions, and your decisions most of the time.

Unfortunately, many people squander time by following bad relationship advice of friends who have had little success in relationships.

Because everyone is unique, the same relationship advice may not work for everyone.

But here’s the first bit of relationship advice that I’ve learned in my life,

Stop listening to people who haven’t had any success in their own relationships!

It’s meaningless to try to teach someone how to be in a relationship if they’ve never been in one or does not have a great track record themselves.

Would you trust your money to a broker who, although having an extensive understanding of investment, is unable to develop their own portfolio?

Adding to that, getting into a relationship can be one of the best and worst things in the world.

What I’ve learned is that a toxic relationship is one of the most difficult to deal with; it’s very unpleasant, and not all relationships survive it.

One particular type of toxic relationship that is common and that invites a lot of bad relationship advice, is one in which the two people involved do not want to be in a relationship but feel compelled to do so.

Usually, when you are imprisoned in a relationship, you begin to despise the person you are with, you stop enjoying life, and you become irritable all of the time.

Toxic relationships like these are also awful because they can make you feel isolated, alone, helpless, and unloved.

But this does not have to be the case; toxic relationships can be addressed and even be changed.

By starting to establish a healthy relationship, you may work your way out of a toxic one (please note that we’re not talking about abusive relationships here).

Before you decide to stop the relationship, there are several things you could do to save it or keep it from ending.

The first step to consider is to,

Stop listening to bad relationship advice

We need to quit listening to bad relationship advice since it simply increases the likelihood of us messing up the relationship and harming each other even further.

The more we listen to it, the more we believe we’re doomed to fail and that everyone else knows more than us.

bad relationship advice

Bad relationship advice advises giving up on attempting to cure things because it will not work, or that relationships are only supposed to last a specific period of time.

Bad relationship advice is unhelpful and ineffective, but that does not imply you should disregard good relationship advice.

Relationships need effort.

You can’t just make up ideas about how you want your relationship to be and expect them to be great after a few tries.

Relationships require time and effort to develop, but the more you work on them using strategies that work, the better they will become.

Boundaries and respect, for example, should always be the foundation of a healthy relationship.

But it’s important to realise that not everything in a relationship has to be flawless, and it’s acceptable if something isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be.

If they put forth the effort, most people are capable of building healthy relationships and even strengthening those areas that might be struggling at the moment.

Why we should stop taking bad relationship advice

People expect quick answers to their relationship difficulties and simple solutions.

When couples don’t know how to restore their marriage, they look for good advice from others.

However, people do not always consider whether it will work for them.

Listen, just because you can tell someone what they want to hear doesn’t guarantee it will benefit them.

We all have unique circumstances and needs as spouses.

Nobody, including our partners, actually understands our needs better than we do.

bad relationship advice

To be honest, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all relationship advice.

Relationships are an exceedingly complex set of dynamics that necessitate a lot of intricacies and individual analysis, not to mention self-awareness from both sides to even recognise the most significant difficulties.

And that takes a lot of time, thinking, personal introspection, and empathy on the part of everyone involved.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, you’re better off focusing on your own relationship and what you can do to improve it rather than looking for a quick fix from someone on the internet or an advice column.

And, yeah, this relationship advice blog is included.

The information I give here is generally helpful and is based on solid relationship research, but in the end, you must determine what is best for you.

For example, if you’re trying to figure out why your husband isn’t interested in sex, get some outside perspective.

However, don’t expect this to solve the difficulties or any underlying concerns.

In reality, the only real answer to this relationship problem is for you to identify it and decide to work through it as a couple.

Be truthful to yourself as well as your spouse.

At the end of the day, many people desire quick and simple solutions to their problems.

They believe that if they can find the one solution that will solve all of their issues, they will not have to put out any additional work.

This isn’t always the case, though.

There are lots of challenges, and it might be difficult to determine which one you are experiencing.

Some issues are major, while others are minor.

It’s critical to be really honest with yourself about what you’re actually dealing with.

However, that being said, there is some genuinely bad relationship advice you must consider avoiding.

They may appear to be alright at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you will realise that they may cause more harm than good.

9 Pieces of bad relationship advice you should avoid

It’s easy to get caught up in the “romantic” image of relationships, believing there’s a right and wrong way to approach them.

There isn’t, as it turns out.

This article will teach you the most prevalent bad relationship advice and why it isn’t so bad after all.

1. “They’ll love you back if you’re good enough.”

Nothing is more humiliating than attempting to please someone who is uninterested in you or more in love with themselves.

Moreover, by making it your mission to please them, you are essentially reinforcing the notion that they are worth more than you as a person.

But, that is absolute BS!

No one is worth more than you, and those who expect you to be someone worthy of their love is most likely self-centred but definitely not the right person for you.

The moment you have to “be good enough” for someone to love you, pack your bags and leave.

Someone who truly loves you will love you for whom you are because in their eyes you’re already good enough.

You don’t have to prove yourself.

On that same point – if someone is expecting you to jump through hoops before making an effort to show their interest or commitment, send them on their way.

They aren’t worth your time.

Not the other way round.

2. “In a relationship, always give 100%.”

This is rubbish and highly unlikely in my opinion.

Relationships are living breathing dynamic things where everything is always in flux, most of all our effort.

Yes, I appreciate the sentiment of giving your all in a relationship, but the reality is that it depends on whether you can or not.

And sometimes, you cannot.

Sometimes life happens and giving 100% just isn’t possible.

Sometimes all you have to give is 70% which means your partner will have to give a tad more to make up the difference, but that’s fine.

That’s how life, and definitely, relationships work.

Expecting your partner to always give 100% as a sign of their commitment and love is unrealistic and stupid.

It’s great to give your all when you can, but you must recognise that most people are unable to give their all the majority of the time for reasons unrelated to the relationship or you.

Now, does that mean that a spouse who only half-arses their commitment or effort is OK?

Of course not!

bad relationship advice

As partners, we should always strive to do our best and give our relationships our all, but this requires accepting and embracing the reality of life’s numerous and shifting demands and obstacles and that it’s not always possible.

3. “You should leave your choices open.”

This is bad relationship advice, especially if you’re just starting out dating.

Let’s start with the happiness part.

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert’s research, published in his book Stumbling on Happiness, reveals that reversible, keep-your-options-open judgments consistently result in lower levels of happiness than irreversible ones.

In other words, when we can back out of our decisions, we are substantially less satisfied with them.

Humans are especially adept at reorganising and restructuring our ideas in order to achieve the most positive experience possible in any situation.

The psychological immune system shields us, to some extent, from the unfavourable repercussions of our choices–after all, practically every choice has a disadvantage.

The key to happiness is to focus as little as possible on the negative aspects of life.

When you keep your options open, you can’t help but worry about the downside because you’re still trying to figure out if you made the proper decision.

The psychological immune system does not activate, and you are left feeling less delighted about whatever decision you ultimately choose.

Now, think about all of that for a moment and what it potentially means for your relationship when you follow this bad relationship advice.

Additionally, I agree, as Ronna Wineberg ( points out, making a decision is not an easy task.

Intention, will, strength, worry, and even persuasion are all part of it.

A decision might be freeing or disturbing, eliciting feelings of euphoria, freedom, or terror.

It can be nurturing or a source of contention.

Alternatively, we may feel compelled to make a decision.

A person’s choice can either strengthen or weaken a relationship.

As a result, risk is always inherent in relationships.

So, all we can do is make the best decision we can base on the information we have at the time, even if we don’t always feel certain about it.

However, if you want to give a relationship a fair chance, it is prudent to embrace our choices while rejecting alternative options.

Once we’ve done that we must continue to live in the choice we have made in order to watch what happens over time.

It could turn out to be the best decision we’ve ever made, or it could turn out to be nothing more than a bitter and costly lesson.

But, sadly, that is how life works.

We have to take chances without knowing the outcome in advance.

If we all possessed crystal balls that could see into the future, life would be a boring and futile endeavour.

4. “You must prioritise me.”

Putting someone else ahead of yourself is a formula for disaster.

For one, feeling like you’re giving too much is the worst feeling in the world.

But secondly, it doesn’t matter how much you can give or how much you are willing to do for someone else, if they are not putting you first, your relationship will be unhappy.

In that sense, putting yourself first isn’t a sign of selfishness.

bad relationship advice

It actually denotes wisdom, strength, and maturity because you are the one who knows yourself best and what you truly need.

And only by knowing yourself and caring for your needs are we able to have the energy, wisdom, and know-how to care for others.

Doing that isn’t easy, but it tends to be the wisest thing to do in the end.

Running on empty will not allow you to care for your loved ones for very long.

Eventual selflessness requires some measure of initial selfishness.

5. “We must be honest with one another.”

I’m not going to lie and say that dishonesty is a good thing.

To be honest with each other, however, does not imply that you must always agree on everything, nor does it imply that you must always voice your views.

According to Shaunti Feldhahn’s research, extremely happy couples intentionally treat one another with compassion; they laugh and challenge one another, but never in ways that their partner would interpret as rude or harmful.

That means, if brutal honesty risks disrespecting or hurting their partner, they will abandon it.

Yes, if someone asks you to tell the truth, you do your best.

But that doesn’t mean you have to do it in a way that degrades or shames them.

It all boils down to how you treat others, especially those close to you, at the end of the day.

It all comes down to how you think of them and treat them.

It also comes down to how you make them feel about themselves and you.

If you use “truth” in a way that hurts, criticises, or shames your spouse, your relationship will eventually pay a dear price.

6. “You should be more like…”

What does that even mean?

We don’t have to be like “anything” if we’re in a healthy relationship.

Yes, we can always improve things about ourselves or do things better, but that doesn’t mean we should be anything but ourselves to be accepted by our partners.

Being or having the “ideal” or “perfect” partner, by the way, is just that: an illusion.

It’s devoid of substance.

It’s a creation of your mind.

A product that, if turned into an expectation can be hazardous.

Here’s a basic rundown of how it works: You begin by believing that there is only one way to be…usually being more like you.

There is only one way to be loved, one way to live your life, one way to achieve anything, i.e., your way.

But, as difficult as it may be to realise, someone’s way of being, living, loving, or doing anything is never the only way.

There are always many ways to do things.

So, avoid trying to change your partner who lives, loves, or does things differently than you.

Accept their unique approach to living, loving, and doing things, because forcing your way of doing things on them will just make them despise you.

If they don’t want to adjust to you or your way of doing things, you can’t expect them to.

Accept their differences and expect that they will accept yours.

No one is perfect.

Don’t try to persuade them to change.

There is nothing you can do if they refuse to change.

Accept it.

Don’t try to persuade them to be anything other than themselves.

They will not change if they do not want to.

Accept them as they are.

If you try to change your spouse, they will most likely start disconnecting from you, and over time, become completely alienated from you.

7. “You’re More Passionate If You Fight.”

Frequent disagreements do not make your relationship “passionate.”

They wreak havoc on a relationship.

Conflict is limited in a good relationship and does not occur on a regular basis.

A couple may claim that they don’t fight because they “get along so well” or “are in love,” but the truth is that they just understand each other better and agree on what it takes to be happy in a relationship compared to an unhappy couple.

First and foremost, an occasional disagreement or argument does not imply that your relationship is bad or doomed.

But learning to discuss differences in a gentle and sympathetic manner is essential for a good connection.

And discussing disagreements in a healthy manner isn’t just about resolving issues; it’s also about developing trust and intimacy.

You may disagree with your partner’s stance on a subject, but you should be able to appreciate where they are coming from emotionally.

You might even find yourself sympathising with their point of view.

How many times have you had a significant disagreement with your spouse in the last few years of your relationship?

What were they like?

This is important to consider because disagreements that often lead to yelling, retaliation, and silent treatment are unhealthy.

“But we fight because we care about each other!” you or your partner may argue.

Yet, the truth of the matter is that regular conflicts aren’t loving; they’re harmful, especially if you have children.

Seeing their parents quarrel and struggle with the other is not healthy for a child.

Disputes in the home can cause uneasiness and cause children to be concerned about their future or even question their own self-worth.

Your conflicts may have a greater impact on your children than you realise.

According to studies, children raised by arguing parents are more prone to suffer from depression or other mental health concerns.

bad relationship advice

So rather than accepting this bad relationship advice, opt to concentrate on resolving conflict constructively and showing your devotion by attending couple’s counselling together and learning to manage arguments compassionately.

8. “Never go to bed angry.”

This advice is frequently offered with the best of intentions.

However, relationship research does not support it.

According to Shaunti Feldhahn’s research, when very happy couples are unable to resolve conflict and anger before bedtime, they choose to sleep on it.

If there is still anger in the morning, they do not let it go unresolved; instead, they deal with it.

This notion of not going to bed angry is not only foolish and illogical, but it is also bad relationship advice.

Yes, if you can settle an issue before going to bed without missing sleep, do so.

In most cases, however, several high-stress hours of arguing and yelling merely result in two extremely irritated and sleep-deprived people who are more likely to get into another argument when faced with the potential of further conflict.

And we all know that a persistent state of tension is not conducive to a loving relationship.

So, if things aren’t going to get sorted before you go to bed, sleep on it and come back to it later.

9. “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”

This piece of bad relationship advice is widely spread, yet it is extremely antiquated, wrong, and, in some cases, possibly toxic.

The truth is that both partners of a relationship should be fulfilled as often as possible, which often entails compromising because nothing breeds animosity faster than consistently ignoring your own or your spouse’s needs and desires, as is the case in many marriages.

Because of this, both partners should strive to reach a compromise wherever feasible and learn to deal with things they don’t particularly like.

That, in turn, necessitates maintaining open channels of communication and fostering a safe environment in which both partners can express themselves freely.

As a couple, you must be prepared to accept the fact that things may not always turn out the way you expect them to.

It may also imply that you will not always get your way, but relationships are fundamentally about making compromises with one another.

The key is to recognise that the health of your relationship is dependent on both parties of the relationship communicating and compromising on an ongoing basis and aiming to make things as easy as possible for each other.

You are part of the same team – so play like it!

10. Bonus: “Love is enough.”

The notion that love is sufficient to sustain a relationship is a myth.

It’s easy to assume that “love is enough” when you’re first in love.

The early phases of a relationship create an appearance of peace and mutual understanding, and we believe we can continue as we are indefinitely.

However, once the initial pleasure wears off, we learn that this is not the case.

Our expectations of one another frequently do not align.

We expect different things from our partners and from life in general.

Now, love can give us courage. Love can assist us in confronting our worries.

When we want to hide from the world, love can help us persist.

However, love cannot solve every problem.

You and your partner may “love” one other, which is wonderful!

Yet, love’s power is limited.

For example, if one of you desires children and the other is adamantly opposed to having any, “loving each other” will not bridge the gap.

There is no love that can reconcile clashing goals if one of you wishes to migrate to Canada while the other refuses to leave small-town New Zealand.

Yes, breaking up with someone you actually love is heartbreaking, but if staying in your relationship involves losing your most important life goals and, more importantly, happiness, it may be the wisest choice.

Love is extremely powerful, but it is not all-powerful.

It is the clear-eyed realism of love, rather than any romantic delusion of love’s power to transform anybody, anyplace, that ultimately preserves relationships.

As a result, we must aim to establish boundaries, set expectations, and keep our relationships accountable to them.

Take Away

If you’re looking for advice on how to improve your relationship, it’s best not to believe everything you hear.

Instead of adopting bad relationship advice, it may be more beneficial to communicate with your spouse to figure out what works and what doesn’t for you and your partner.

Also, trust your instincts about what is best for you and why you feel that way.

For example, if the idea of a trial separation doesn’t work for you, it might be time to end the relationship before it destroys you both.

Conversely, however, perhaps it reignites the passion. 

When it comes to relationships, often there is no such thing as a “right” time to do anything in a relationship, just as there is no such thing as a “bad” time for anything.

There is just time, and only time will tell whether your timing this time was helpful or not.

But there definitely is bad relationship advice and never a good time to follow that.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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