Every time she hung out with her single female friends, the same gripes surfaced. Enough already with the how-to-snag-a-guy advice streaming from anyone and everyone as soon as status single was announced, they said.
Suddenly, Karin Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Concordia University Chicago, found herself keeping track of what these single women were saying, replacing the strict academic research techniques she was used to with more informal polling.
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What she found was a deluge of well-meaning advice being issued to singles that, while offered with the best of intentions, not only wasn't working but was making singles' skin crawl.
"The message to singles tends to be that they're doing something wrong, 'You're too this' or 'You're not enough that.' Being single is treated as this problem that needs to be solved," says Anderson. "That's really bogus. We should be telling single women, 'You're fine. There's nothing wrong. Enjoy your life.'"
These five snippets of well-meaning advice to singles top Anderson's list of worst offenses. Here's why.
1) What's Said: MAYBE YOU'RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH.
What's Heard: "This can come off sounding like you're passing judgment on effort," says Anderson. "It's better to encourage a single person to explore new relationships to the extent they are comfortable and to extend themselves in ways that feel natural and not forced."
2) What's Said: WEAR MORE MAKEUP.
What's Heard: More than implying that the search for Mr. Right is as easy as brushing a spot of color onto the cheeks, this comment offends further by actually attacking a person's core identity. "A woman presents herself according to what she defines as meaningful. Whether her style is glamorous belle or au naturelle, every woman should be allowed to be herself. There's a man out there who is going to be attracted to her style, whatever it is. If she's presenting herself as anyone other than who she really is, that's false advertising and that's going to backfire."
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Next: Three more choice pieces of "well-meaning" advice...
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