Clearly, We Have a Problem
I sat down at my computer and typed “relationship advice” into Google. Over three million websites contain this phrase. Too much at once. Way too much.
I’m 21 years old and a junior at the University of Washington. For the past four years, I’ve helped young women leave abusive relationships, so you wouldn’t think I’d need Google to help me figure out how to have a healthy relationship. But, alas, I’m clueless. The longest relationship I’ve ever been in lasted four months. I thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend but in the end, found out he thought we were “casually dating.”
I knew I wasn’t the only one experiencing relationship woes, so I turned to some popular magazines.
First, I went to Cosmopolitan’s website and looked for the word “relationship” on the front page. Nothing. But I did see “Sex and Love.” Scrolling down that page, I learned 10 new things about kissing and “8 New Ways to Deal with Guy Drama.” Not the advice I needed.
I kept searching the site and discovered something called “Relationship Advice.” A click took me to “The Good Girlfriend Behavior Cheat Sheet.” This told me how to do everything and anything to please the guy I was with, like what kind of lingerie I should wear, how I should buy him tickets to see his favorite team or band, and not send texts more than a sentence long. Okay Cosmo, I’m still confused.
Maybe Marie Claire could enlighten me. Yes! The word “relationship” was right in the center of the website. “Is a Bad First Kiss a Relationship Killer?” Apparently so. Great, even if the guy is amazing but a bad kisser, it’s over. That eliminates half of my dating prospects.
I learned “How to Flirt” on Marie Claire. But, I wondered, why the heck is flirting part of the relationship section? My friends have praised me for my flirting skills, and while flirting has certainly gotten me several dates, it has not led to a relationship. I received insight on the site about whether or not a romper (a weird jumpsuit) is attractive to men. I learned the art of seduction to “Attract Hot Guys Like Crazy.” Apparently, the way a girl holds a drink at a bar tells a guy whether he wants to talk to her.
I ran into the same problems with Allure magazine and quickly concluded that these magazines were prolific in their ability to advise women on how to “lure men” in, get dates, and have hot sex, but had little to offer about relationships.
Perhaps this was the advice I was supposed to receive. Maybe I didn’t know how to make my “man feel like he’s king.” Maybe my desire to find a man who would call, or at least text, after I slept with him revealed signs of too much neediness. Maybe the perfume I wore drove him away. Maybe I needed to change.
Then, I realized something. I don’t smell bad. I’m funny, and smart. I’ve had a lot of sex with guys I’ve dated, and not even hot sex kept us together. I’m basically all the things that Cosmo and other magazines tell me I need to be for a guy. So what is it that keeps me from having a relationship?
The “advice” from the mainstream media that women receive troubles me. Numerous articles that I came across discussed how women could please their boyfriend, how to get attention, how to look sexy, how to flirt, and how to hookup. But, I hardly came across an article that discussed the heart of love and the importance of feeling confident in the direction one’s life is going.
What I love about twodaymag are the inspiring articles about self-fulfillment in relationships, healthy boundaries, and mutual sexual gratification. Why doesn’t this exist in mainstream media? Where are the articles that discussed the importance of having self-confidence in the internal-self in order to have healthy relationships?
Bell Hooks, author of All About Love: New Visions, provides one of the best accounts on love and culture stating, “Our nation is equally driven by sexual obsession. There is no aspect of sexuality that is not studied, talked about or demonstrated. How-to classes exist for every dimension of sexuality, even masturbation. Yet schools for love do not exist. Everyone assumes that we will know how to love instinctively.”
The question remains: what direction are women allowing themselves to be steered into concerning relationships?
Our ideas on love have gotten mixed up in entertainment. The book, He’s Just Not That Into You, brings a humorous side to why men don’t pursue women but also provides misleading advice, such as, “He’s just not that into you if he’s not sleeping with you.”
Not only does advice like this make women feel like a man has to sleep with her in order to show his interest, women are then forced into a position of having to sell themselves short of a man who will pursue them for an actual meaningful relationship not based solely on physical gratification.
Love is not a simple task. Maintaining a healthy relationship with a partner presents its own set of challenges as well. Women all over the country know this. That’s why we desperately seek advice.
I believe in order to achieve the quality advice we seek we have to fight for it. This means that we have to stop purchasing magazines that continuously fall short of providing healthy advice and demand those in charge of giving us advice to steer us in the right direction. We deserve to know what it means to love, how to love and also how to receive love into our lives. Your love life is banking on it.