Dating Amelia: Everyone’s Got Advice

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of advice. Solicited, unsolicited, much of it from female friends, most of it contradictory. Many of my female friends are in relationships, including my four closest girl friends, two of whom are married and two who are headed in that direction. They all are living vicariously through my “dating adventures,” though I’ve tried to tell them that it’s about as exciting as a bowl of oatmeal.

People give advice based on their own experiences. What works for them has got to work for you too, right? Like following a cake recipe, if you follow the right steps, you’ll get the end result you want. Except dating is nothing like baking and there’s no “right” way when it comes to matters of the heart. I watched “He’s Just Not That Into You” this weekend (out tomorrow on DVD) and if there’s a takeaway from that movies it’s this: everyone has a dating tale that is an exception to another person’s rule. Which is why all of the advice I’ve been getting has been making my head spin.ADVICE: Don’t Hook Up Casually

My friend Lindsay is a bit old-fashioned. After hearing about my first date with the Sneakerhead, she said, “I think you should stop inviting guys up to your apartment. Wait until the second date to kiss — outside on the street — and then at least the fourth date to invite them up to your place.” She thinks this will allow a guy to get to know me personally first, rather than physically, and that it will build respect. After all, this has worked for her.

My friend Eva* agreed. She didn’t sleep with her husband until, like, a month into their relationship and after they’d said the L word. She said that if they had had sex earlier, they probably wouldn’t be married. See! Waiting to hook up WORKS.

ADVICE: Hook Up Whenever You Want

“F**k that s**t,” said my other friend Kellie*. “Hook up, have sex whenever you want, including on the first date. If a guy likes you, he’ll want to keep seeing you whether you screw him right away or not.” Kellie*, you see, has always had boyfriends and has never paid attention to dating rules. She said her relaxed attitude about dating is the reason why she’s been so successful with men. She doesn’t need or expect to be wooed.

ADVICE: Just Don’t Give A Crap

Like Justin Long’s character in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” my friend Lori* doesn’t let herself get attached when she’s dating. If a guy likes her, great, but if not, there’s plenty of other guys like him out there. When you don’t care that much, you can’t project any kind of vibe that might scare a dude off, she said. Sure, they still may not end up being interested in you, but at least your feelings won’t be hurt.

ADVICE: Be Upfront About Your Feelings

Lindsay once told a prospective boyfriend point blank that she wanted to wait to have sex until she was sure they were both on the same page and felt the same about each other. He told her later — after they were in a full-on relationship — that this made him respect her even more. “Being honest about my feelings, while still taking things slow physically, really made him interested,” Lindsay said. “Trust me. It works.”

ADVICE: Don’t Be That Upfront About Your Feelings

“Yeah, I wouldn’t tell a guy that much about how I was feeling,” said Eva, upon hearing Lindsay’s advice.

See what I mean about this advice getting confusing?

ADVICE: Don’t Listen To Us. We Don’t Know What We’re Talking About.

My friend Elle* been married for two years and with her husband for over seven. “Amelia,” she said, “Don’t listen to what anyone says. I haven’t dated in years. I don’t know what it’s like to date now, and even if I did, what works for me, may not work for you. Just do what feels right.”

She did have one piece of advice that finally made sense. “Dating is tough,” she said. “When things don’t work out, don’t put the blame on yourself.” Now those are some wise words that apply to both the exceptions and the rules.

*Name has been changed.