TV & Movies

7 Times Carrie Gave Questionable Dating Advice On Sex And The City

Now that the series is on Netflix, it’s time to revisit Carrie’s words of wisdom.

Big and Carrie on 'Sex and the City.' Photo via HBO

Every time Carrie Bradshaw sat down at her little computer and couldn’t help but wonder something, you knew you were in for a memorable inner-monologue moment. Sometimes, the Sex and the City dating columnist could arrive at truly poignant conclusions, as many fans will be revisiting now that the series is streaming on Netflix.

But for every sweet SATC maxim, there are a dozen that are questionable at best. Damona Hoffman, dating coach and author of F the Fairy Tale, points to Carrie and her friends’ discussion of the three-date rule — which is about waiting just long enough to sleep with someone, but not too long that you progress without determining chemistry — as especially iffy advice because you shouldn’t feel the need to follow such a specific timeline.

“Most of my clients, especially today, are looking for reasons to say no over reasons to say yes,” Hoffman tells Bustle. “We’re so tuned in for the red flags. So my three-date rule is to wait three dates before eliminating someone as a potential match. There’s too much emphasis in today’s dating culture on the first time you have sex with someone being mind-blowing, or there’s nothing there.”


Here are seven more questionable Carrie-isms that I asked Hoffman about — and spoiler alert, they’re not all quite as bad as they seem.

Men Are Like... Drugs?


“Maybe all men are a drug. Sometimes they bring you down. And sometimes, like now, they get you so high.”

Carrie says this early into her connection with Mr. Big, and it would come to define their relationship for decades. But, no, your partner probably shouldn’t feel like a drug. “Highs and lows can become very exhausting,” Hoffman says. But she explains that technology’s role in modern dating (the messages, the Instagram likes and views) can certainly feel addictive.

“It’s not something that we should be chasing or expecting in a relationship,” she says. “Especially if you’re looking for a long-term relationship — which most of my clients are — you have to be able to hit stasis.”

Settling Because You’re Tired Of Dating


“In a city of infinite options, sometimes there’s no better feeling than knowing you only have one.”

In Season 1, after finding out that Big isn’t exclusively seeing her, Carrie tries to date other people. But she ultimately retreats to Big, deciding that it’s easier than dating around.

“I hear this a lot from people that will write into my podcast, and say all the things that are wrong about the relationship — but then they’re like, Oh, I just don’t want to have to go back on the apps. I don’t want to have to go back to the pool,” Hoffman says. “And that’s never a reason to stay in a relationship.”

Carrie’s “I Love You” Rule


“I figured everything before ‘I love you’ just doesn't count.”

In Season 2, Carrie’s first “I love you” to Big isn’t immediately reciprocated. She thinks it’s the beginning of the end, and spends the night with someone else — only for Big to say he loves her the next day.

She resolves not to tell him about her one-time fling, on account of her (just-made-up) “I love you” rule. However, Hoffman says that there are no hard-and-fast guidelines about this kind of misstep. Rather, “it’s all about agreements and expectations.” Plus, the thought process behind Carrie’s rule was flawed in the first place.

“Our brains like to complete stories,” Hoffman says. “She completed the story of, He didn’t say ‘I love you’ back, therefore we are not in the place I think we are in the relationship, therefore I’m going to get my needs met elsewhere. So as Carrie often does, she retroactively adjusts the rules to fit the situation that she’s gotten herself into.”

No Therapy


“I don’t need therapy, I need new friends … Therapy is just so self-indulgent.”

For someone who ostensibly knows a lot about dating, Carrie shouldn’t be so quick to rule out therapy’s role in relationships. Of course, SATC aired at a time when therapy was much more stigmatized, Hoffman notes. She added that the practice can be a helpful tool for self-reflection and thinking about the way you approach relationships.

Dating Deal-Breakers


“It’s like me with smoking. It’s too bad that Aidan had a problem with it, but you have to accept people for who they are.”

Aidan says he can’t date a smoker, and Carrie bristles at the deal-breaker. While Hoffman agrees that people shouldn’t be expected to change for their partners, she says it’s worth getting to the bottom of a deal-breaker to find out what it’s really about.

Instead of Carrie’s blanket statement about acceptance, she could have a conversation with Aidan about the root of his distaste. “And then she can make the decision: Do I want to change?” Hoffman says. “Maybe he’s right, that this isn’t good for my health, and he sees a long-term future with me. But if I’m smoking, that long-term future may be cut short. So maybe it is worth changing.” It’s all about digging deeper.

Bright Lights, Date City


“All these men are right outside your door. So the next time you step out in the morning with your shoes, your tote, and your traveling cappuccino, take a look around. Because I’m telling you, our little metropolis, it is stacked with men. You never know who you’re gonna run into. You can turn a corner, and boom: Bright Lights Date City.”

When Carrie teaches a dating seminar called Bright Lights Date City, her audience isn’t thrilled by her advice on how to meet a partner — which essentially is: Put yourself out there! You’ll meet someone when you least expect it. But at its heart, Hoffman says that this Carrie-ism isn’t all that bad for modern daters. “It’s not super specific, but I actually think it is advice that people need to hear right now,” she says, adding that frustration with dating-app prospects can make people unwilling (or unsure how) to seek out connections offline.

Carrie’s audience, in a pre-app world, is already putting themselves out there, which explains why they didn’t find much value in her advice. But today? “If you’re feeling stuck in the digital space, it’s really the only antidote,” Hoffman says.

A Whirlwind Romance


“Maybe I was living in a fantasy. But I found a man who could make it a reality — and I wasn’t going to question any of it.”

Before Carrie moves to Paris with Aleksandr Petrovsky, she has a big fight with Miranda, who accuses her of living a fantasy and uprooting her life to fit into her boyfriend’s. Hoffman agrees, saying Carrie’s self-imposed advice is her “playing out a script” of what she thinks love should look like, instead of assessing compatibility based on goals and values.

“Long term, there are moments where your relationship may also align with your goals — like if she had a goal of moving somewhere else and experiencing another city? That, to me, is an alignment,” Hoffman says. “[But] if you are living in this fantasy and expecting the other person to guide that fantasy, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.”