Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


6 Things Single People Don't Want to Be Told

1. "Stop being so picky."

Key points

  • Despite their good intentions, family and friends often give harmful advice to single people.
  • It's important for daters not to get so overwhelmed that they ignore their own values.
  • Relationships can progress at different speeds and intensities and still grow into lasting love.

We are in an age when the answer to most questions is available at our fingertips. If you’re struggling with a dating or relationship concern, having access to different perspectives and advice can feel relieving, but it can also come with a price. If you are getting a lot of input from outside sources, it can start to feel overwhelming, and you may be tempted to follow advice that doesn’t align with your values.

Sometimes the toughest part about being single can be the well-meaning advice from friends and loved ones that can cause you to question your decisions and experience self-doubt. While it’s great to have extra support when you’re dating, it’s helpful to check in with yourself before taking this advice to heart and reflect on whether it’s applicable to your situation.

Below are some of the common pieces of dating advice single people are given and the reasons why listening to some of this advice may be getting in your way:

1. "Stop being so picky." When someone hears this advice, they may start to say yes to dates they feel unsettled about and ignore initial misgivings because they fear being too picky. Having standards is important, as are non-negotiables.

If you are expecting a supermodel with six-pack abs who lives in a mansion—those are not realistic expectations—but having standards about how someone treats you and the values you share is essential for finding the right match for you.

If you hear this piece of advice, it’s helpful to remind yourself that it’s important to have standards and not get into a relationship that compromises your values.

2. "When you know, you know." This advice does a disservice to single people because while it can be true in some cases, there are also many cases where intimacy and attraction can grow over time. If you walk into every date assuming that “when you know, you’ll know,” you may decline a connection that could have grown into so much more because you’re not convinced that this person is your soulmate. That is way too much pressure for most people.

Research has shown that your attraction to others can grow over time. The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon that indicates the more exposed you are to something or someone you feel neutral about, the more likely you are to have positive feelings towards that thing or person.

Think of all the couples you know. Chances are some of them fall into the “I just knew” category while others fall into the “I wasn’t sure, and then they grew on me and surprised me” category.

In an ideal world, we would be on the same page as the person we’re dating, but real life isn’t that simple. Some people lead with their emotions when dating and are more prone to “just knowing” that someone is the right match for them from the beginning. Others may be more analytical and approach love from a more cerebral perspective.

If you fall in the latter category, you may be more prone to experiencing attraction in a “slow-burn” type of manner and may not easily feel an initial spark during the first few dates.

Sometimes you might just know, and other times, your attraction to someone can grow significantly over time.

3. "If you’re not feeling sparks on the first date, they’re not the one." For some people, this initial spark may turn into a relationship, but the mistake that many people make is thinking that if there isn’t an initial spark, then this person must not be a good match—when, in fact, the opposite could be true since attraction and intimacy can often take time to grow.

Sometimes sparks, fireworks, and butterflies are an indicator that some part of you is feeling anxious or on edge, but you’re interpreting it as having strong chemistry. This can be especially true if you’re used to dating the same types of partners without success.

When you’re feeling sparks with someone you have recently started seeing, there is typically an adrenaline rush during which you may experience a rapid heart rate, butterflies in your stomach, and shortness of breath.

These are the same types of physical symptoms that you would experience if there was a threat in your environment. When these types of physical reactions occur in a dating context, they may be mistakenly perceived as romantic attraction—a phenomenon referred to as a misattribution of arousal. Research has shown that a heightened level of anxiety may lead to someone feeling more attracted to a potential partner than they would have otherwise.

4. "It will happen when you least expect it." It can definitely happen when you least expect it; however, assuming that this is always the case can cause you to miss out on valuable opportunities to meet someone new. Your ideal partner isn’t going to just drop out of the sky; it’s usually going to require some thoughtful intention and action on your part to meet new people.

Viewing dating from this perspective can be empowering because you’re not leaving everything to chance—which you have no control over. Instead of thinking that it will happen when you least expect it, consider that sometimes it will happen unexpectedly, and other times, it will happen when you’re intentional and open to meeting someone new.

5. "You can’t love anyone until you love yourself." This is a common misconception that gets tossed around a lot. While it’s true that you cannot have a healthy relationship if you expect your partner to make you happy and depend on them for everything, you can work on your relationship with yourself while being in one with someone else.

Allowing yourself to be fully seen and accepted for who you are with the right person can be an incredible experience that helps you improve your relationship with yourself, but it does not take the place of working on your relationship with yourself on your own as well.

6. "People can change; just give them a chance." If you have misgivings about someone, allow yourself space to explore where they are coming from. Is there something about this person that makes you uncomfortable? Do they remind you of someone else? Are you sensing red flags?

Starting a relationship with the hope that someone will change is similar to accepting crumbs and hoping for a meal that never arrives. While people can change over time, you are dating the person in front of you and not their potential, so if you’re concerned about what you’re observing, it’s important to pay attention to your feelings.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.

Facebook image: ViDI Studio/Shutterstock

More from Roxy Zarrabi Psy.D.
More from Psychology Today