Love and Social Media: How Relationship Advice Cripples Us

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Thousands of books, and hundreds of blog posts later, how much has relationship advice really helped us? Think about it.

How much of the advice tells you something that you didn’t know before? How much of that advice do you actually use?

Have you really gotten better at understanding people?

Does it stop you from impulsively calling Joe or Jane who’s been yanking your chain for the past few months? Has it helped you to stand up to your partner, when he or she doesn’t make an effort to understand you or compromise? Have you really gotten better at understanding people? Does it really teach you how to snag that person who is determined to put you in the Unrequited Love Hall of Fame?

I’m guessing that most of your answers are no. Thing is…you’re already emotionally intelligent enough to know how to ‘handle your stories’. Knowing what to do isn’t the hard part. It’s managing your emotions, and sticking to what keeps you happy, instead of falling into negative dating and relationship patterns, that’s the challenge.

Relationship books and blogs always score big distribution wise, because everybody wants somebody to love (or so they say). As Outlish’s editor, I’ve seen people come to our site, because they typed “How to please a Trini man” on Google. We can laugh at this, if we want, but most of us have googled some love advice at least once (ladies do it more than men I think).

I fundamentally disagree with depending on your favourite blogger or expert to help you make decisions. I’d rather build my capacity to be wise about love and life, and make independent decisions.

I really think that this access to info, and emo rants on Facebook or Twitter have heightened people’s preoccupation with, and even anxiety about relationships. Long time, you only had to study family friends asking when you’re getting married. Now it’s the Internet making you think about relationships more than you’d like to.

I’d rather build my capacity to be wise about love and life, and make independent decisions.

Advice comes in all forms. There are the articles that give helpful advice, those that make women feel inadequate for STILL being single, and those that bash men for not ‘manning’ up.

US writer, Tracy McMillan, enraged many women back in 2011, when she wrote the piece, “Why You’re Not Married”, for Huffington Post, which essentially blamed women’s singleness on them being either b*tches, shallow, sluts, liars, selfish, or just not good enough.

She was back at it again this May, with “Why You’re Still Not Married”, with brand-new reasons like “you’re a mess” because you overdrink, overeat, overspend, or underearn, or you’re crazy because you’re too intense. She added that maybe “you’re a dude”, meaning you try to act like a man, pursuing the opposite sex, or “you’re Godless”, meaning you’re not spiritual enough to be able to open yourself to the idea of truly loving someone.

She says she’s not trying to be mean. She’s just telling it like it is, and “after you’re done cussing [her] out, you’ll see that all [she’s] really talking about here is how to be a better person. Because being a better person is how to get the relationship you want.”

Thanks Tracy…

See…the Internet has provided literally thousands, if not millions, of soapboxes.

This plethora of advice creates a magnified version of anxiety about relationships. Do I think relationship advice helps? Sure, it helps to reinforce some things you already knew, opens your eyes to a different perspective, or gives you temporary clarity. But the question behind this is…are we replacing our own ability to make our own deductions and decisions with what a blogger, or Steve Harvey tells us?

Yes, talking to someone about your problems, or getting advice can be helpful, but some of us can’t make a move, until someone assures us that we’re doing the right thing. But you have to trust your gut. It works.

Some people get more anxious about being single, when they see friends or the girl who was mean to them in secondary school happily coupled up on Facebook. Then there are those who display their anxiety via emo status updates about getting old, and not having a man or woman yet…in their 20s.

So what if your single relationship status hasn’t changed since you first signed up for Facebook? Good things come, when you least expect them. And, if they don’t, just find a way to adapt.

Social networks give us something to do, when we’re bored. For the broken hearted, those who are navigating single life, with some smatterings of complicated, could-be relationships, and even those in relationships, they also give us coping mechanisms.

So…in between religiously reading relationship pieces, some of us feed into the Tumblr photos with quotes from Rihanna or Wiz Khalifa, retweet The Single Woman’s tweets, or join Facebook pages like “If he was stupid enough to walk away, be smart enough to let him go”. I’m not judging you for this. I’ve done the first two at least twice.

I’ve pledged to stop reading relationship blogs though…except for Black Girls Are Easy, which is beyond entertaining. Why? Like I said, I want to become more versed at making my own decisions, and trusting my intuition. (Don’t be surprised if you see me write a relationship piece in the future though; I did say they attract lots of hits, right?)

I’m not dissing the advice columns themselves. I’m just saying that we should trust ourselves more than people who tell us to act like a woman, but think like a man.

Act like an adult. Think like one. Yes, talking to someone about your problems, or reading advice can be helpful, but don’t let advice overload make you unsure.

You don’t need to consult an online oracle to navigate love and relationships. Sure…read all the advice you want. Essentially, there isn’t anything wrong with it. But don’t ever let it make you think that you absolutely need to follow someone else’s advice to feel confident about how and why you make decisions. You’re the only one who has the power to act in a way that determines your sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

4 Comments

  1. N'Delamiko Hashim Bey

    June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Steve Harvey can kiss my ass…. nitwit. He irritating me more and more with every passing year. Him and his bullshit ‘behave yaself women’ advice. : steupse :

  2. N'Delamiko Hashim Bey

    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    (I know this is not exactly the topic, but there…) Self-help books are for lazy people who can’t think for themselves. AVOID.

  3. La Mantia

    June 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Not Really
    lol

  4. OUTLISH Magazine

    June 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Lol La Mantia. N’Delamiko Hashim Bey not too sure if it’s lazy. May be more of a natural curiousity and sometimes people end up clinging to that because they’re confused. But it’s better to make sense of it yourself at times, since, ultimately, it’s your decision to make. – Karel.

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