10 Things My Addiction To Self-Help Books Has Taught Me About Love & Dating

Self-help books used to be my occasional guilty pleasure… until I started reading them more carefully and noticed patterns in my own dating life reflected back at me. I realized then that they actually make a lot of sense.  Here are a few things I’ve learned.

  1. Some things are cliches for a reason. “Time heals all wounds,” “Actions speak louder than words,” and “Timing is everything” are just a few cliches that you never believe until they apply to you. When you’re in love, you think it’s one of a kind, that you and your partner can’t be stereotyped or understood. Then you hear a song on the radio and you could swear it was written about you or you read a tired saying and it describes your reality perfectly. Cliches exist because they apply to most people, and chances are, they apply to you too.
  2. There’s no way around self-love. Speaking of cliches, “We accept the love we think we deserve” is probably the truest of them all. When my boyfriend and I had just started dating, we got into a huge fight and I remember him asking, “How do you think it makes me feel that you have no respect or love for the person I adore most in this world?” He was talking about me, of course, and was absolutely right. You can’t expect people to love you unless you know exactly why they should.
  3. There’s no single definition of a “good relationship.” Some people dream of stability, some of adventure; some people express love through grand gestures, others through patience and time. There are many, many different kinds of love, and you’re the only person who can decide what kind you’re looking for. Just because your parents or your friends have one ideal doesn’t mean that you have to feel the same. Do you and the rest will fall into place.
  4. Taking time for yourself pays off. Even in the most intimate and wildly romantic relationships, alone time is a must. Both partners need to have independent lives in order to bring their best selves to the relationship. After all, you need to ensure that you’re responsible for your own happiness.
  5. Your comfort zone can’t save you. If you’re always playing it safe with romance, chances are you believe that your comfort zone has your back and will always keep you from getting hurt. But love is heartless (go figure), and choosing to date only the safest of options isn’t going to protect you. Heartbreak is par for the course, and sometimes taking risks will give you the greatest rewards while playing it safe will ensure perpetual disappointment.
  6. Sometimes it’s good to take a break. Even self-help books about dating will tell you that sometimes the best option is to not date. If you’ve gone through a particularly difficult breakup or simply feel that you’re in a dating rut, take some time to be single for awhile. There’s a lot of pressure to be coupled all the time, but you can learn a lot about yourself when you choose to be alone, and it will help you with dating and life in general.
  7. Love isn’t the answer to your problems. Problems are problems wherever you go and with anyone you meet. Falling in love isn’t going to cure them, whether they’re emotional, psychological, physical, whatever. Unless your only problem in life is that you don’t have a partner and really want one, romance isn’t going to be the miracle cure for all your ills. You’re the only one who can do that.
  8. You really are your own worst enemy. When it comes to self-esteem, especially in the context of dating, your inner monologue can be your nemesis. Negative thoughts, premature disappointment and embarrassment, and crippling self-doubt are only the beginning, and all of it can really prevent you from meeting the right person or recognizing them when they come along. Learn to talk to yourself with encouragement, or don’t talk at all.
  9. It’s important to remind yourself why you’re beautiful. Loving your body is not an easy process, especially when people around you make it look effortless, but it can develop over time. You have to start small. Find one thing every day to appreciate, even if it’s just your feet or how strong you feel after a workout or opening a particularly tricky jar of peanut butter. Eventually, the things you dislike will be so outnumbered by the things you love that you won’t even notice them anymore.
  10. Love isn’t everything. There’s so much hype about romance, which is probably the most obvious statement ever written, but think about it: so much of what we read, listen to, and watch, revolves around finding, keeping, or losing “your other half.” But love isn’t everything, and believe it or not, you are actually two halves making a whole already. You are a complete person on your own. If you feel incomplete, I can pretty much guarantee that falling in love with someone won’t change that. Love is just a part of life, not the whole shebang. So cherish it, respect it, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the entire world.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.