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Bad Relationship Advice: Our Top 10 List


There is a lot of relationship advice out there; friends, family, and coworkers are willing and eager to share their thoughts.

Over the years, I’ve heard and read some awful pieces of advice.

Here are the worst of them.

10. If you love her enough, you can get her to change.

  • ANY advice that has ‘change’ in it is bad news. You can’t make anyone change, and if you expect them to you’ll be met not only with resistance and frustration, but failure.

9. No one will ever love you as much as he does.

  • This is a phrase that is often used to keep an individual in an abusive relationship. Love comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It might be true that no one will ever love you exactly like someone else,  you will be loved again. Don’t allow this bad advice to keep you stuck in a harmful relationship.

8. Never go to sleep angry.

  • I’ve worked with couples who go to bed angry and wake up calmer and with a clearer mind. I’ve also known couples where one person will lay awake all night worrying if an issue doesn’t feel resolved. If you and your partner don’t agree on this, problem solve together to find a solution that works for both of you.

7. Once you’re married, your mother-in-law/brother-in-law/crazy-cousin-in-law will like you more.

  • If there is a problem with your partner’s family, it will not magically go away once rings are exchanged. Work out your issues now. Marriage is not a miracle. In fact, it can often exacerbate existing conflict.

6. He doesn’t want kids, but I’m certain once you’re married he will.

  • If there is something that you feel very strongly about, either behaviorally (smoking, drinking, gambling) or emotionally (fear of dogs, desire for children, religion), do not go into a committed relationship with someone hoping that they will see things differently, change religions, or modify their behavior in any way (see #10).

5. If she loves you, she will know what you need. You shouldn’t need to ask.

  • Love, marriage, or cohabitation does not equate with mind reading. Even people who are deeply connected may not realize that you desperately want a party for your 30th birthday, or that you are longing for her to plan a date night, or you expect her to initiate sex. It might make all the sense in the world to you, but it’s not to your partner. Asking for what you need does not lessen its importance and does not take away its meaning.

4. Distance will make his heart grow fonder.

  • It sounds nice, but it’s not true. Most couples who separate have a very hard time getting back together. Even couples who have to live apart for school or other family obligations for long periods of time find it difficult to regain connection. Long distance relationships can work, but they’re never ideal and they take a great deal of work and patience. They are not a miracle cure for a struggling relationship.

3. She will never find out about the affair/my porn addiction/that I am addicted to daytime TV, so it’s okay.

  • If you have to convince yourself of this, you’re not only wrong, but why in the world would you want to test it? A good sign of a relationship in need of help is keeping secrets, big or small ones. Consider this – do you really want to be carrying a secret for the rest of your life? Relationships require honesty and trust to work. In almost every situation, honesty is the best policy. If you believe your situation may be the exception, seek advice from a professional.

2. Well, if things don’t work out, you can always divorce. Marriage isn’t a huge deal anymore.

  • While it’s true that you can divorce, it’s not as easy or painless as people might think. While you might not view your marriage vows as important, the government takes a bit of a different view. Divorce is costly, both in terms of money and emotion. And if you’re thinking of divorce as an ‘out’ before you even marry, that’s a huge red flag.

1. You and your partner should be involved in all the same activities and hobbies.

  • My jaw nearly dropped when I read this one in a book years ago. Couples need time apart. Forcing Doug to endure round after round of golf does not mean that he will grow closer to Jane; it means he will resent Jane and golf. Have independent hobbies if you want. Enjoy your time apart from one another and appreciate your partner for whom they are independent of you.

So now I have to ask: what is the worst relationship advice you’ve ever received?


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Bad Relationship Advice: Our Top 10 List

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2013). Bad Relationship Advice: Our Top 10 List. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from


Last updated: 5 Sep 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Sep 2013
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