There is one kind of advice that we constantly here, whether concerning dating or many other interpersonal matters, that is as common as it is useless or even harmful –
“Just be yourself”
We love saying this to others. It’s so easy. It doesn’t require any deep thought or analysis of one’s behavior. It doesn’t lead to any criticism or conflict. It simply encourages you to be what you already are. In essence – it says absolutely nothing. I am sure that whoever tells you to just be yourself doesn’t have any ill will toward you, yet these words inevitably carry more than what they say. “Just be yourself” – means don’t try to change anything despite the issues you have. If you are shy and insecure, stay that way. It’s you being yourself. If you are overweight or have bad style, don’t change for anyone. Just stay the unattractive you and keep waiting for better results. Never mind that they will never come. Stay jealous and don’t worry about overcoming jealousy. Never mind that you keep getting dumped.
As a society, at least here in the US, we like the be-yourself advice because of our aversion to being judged or being encouraged to change. Somehow, it became axiomatic that you have to be God in order to judge humans, when in fact all you need to be able to both judge and admire is just one thing that most of us have – a functioning brain. After all, that’s why it was given to us – to form opinions and to try to change and improve things. We would have benefited so much more if we criticized each other half as much as we criticize politicians. We would benefits even more so if we learned how to accept constructive feedback from each other and not consider suggestions of concerned friends and relatives as an attack on our freedom to choose the kind of life we want to live.
Too many people use the excuse of “don’t change me… let me be myself” as a justification for their weaknesses, laziness and lack of proactive attitude toward improving themselves and their lives. Believing that they should “remain true to who they are” gives them permission to not learn, work or put any other efforts into improving who they are socially, professionally, physically and otherwise.
However, A far better advice when it comes to dating issues or anything else would be “Don’t be yourself. Here is a list of things you should consider changing in order to improve your dating life or any other aspect of your life”. This doesn’t mean that you should betray your value or principles or you have to be fake. There are plenty of ways to change and improve all kinds of aspects of your personality, body, and behavior without betraying any of your values and principles.
I don’t know why we are so afraid of tough love, and I truly believe that we are missing out. An advice can’t hurt you. But it can help a lot. The worst case scenario is that it’s useless. You can always reject and ignore the advice you don’t like or don’t find helpful, and enjoy the “Aha” moment from the kind of advice you find to be useful and relevant to your own issues. So, the next time someone makes a suggestion about your dating life choices or any other choices, don’t rush to defend yourself with “Why are you judging me?” or “I know what I am doing”. Instead, listen and take a few moments to think about what you hear. There might be a dose of truth in what the other person sees in you and your behavior.