When you have relationship issues, who do you turn to?
Most of us tend to seek relationship advice from other people when we have problems in our love lives. We are particularly likely to ask for our friends’ opinions, since we trust them to act in our best interest. The media encourages us to turn to our closest friends too, promoting the idea that our pals are there to offer their input whenever we hit a romantic roadblock.
But is relying on your friends for guidance really the smartest option? Even though asking our friends for advice feels like a natural and sensible course of action, it may not be the best move. Here are five reasons why you probably shouldn’t value your friends’ advice over your own intuition:
1. It’s impossible for them to truly know all the details.
Even if you talk to your best friend several times a day, there are bound to be details you have overlooked or left out when talking about your relationship. There just isn’t enough time to tell your friend every little thing that has happened between you and your partner. Whereas you are processing your relationship with full knowledge of the relevant facts, your friend is working with incomplete information. Bear this in mind before accepting your friend’s assessment of the situation.
2. They have their own issues to deal with that you may not even know about, and this may color their opinion.
If you know that your friend has recently been through a bitter divorce, you might as well cross them off your list of potential relationship counselors. However, consider the possibility that even a friend you consider to be well-adjusted may have baggage that you do not know about, and that this may shape their opinion in a way that reflects their past experiences rather than your current predicament.
3. They do not have as much invested in the relationship as you do, so they won’t give their advice as much thought as you would hope.
Even your very best friend does not care about your relationship anywhere near the extent that you do. Ultimately, we all place our own concerns above those of our people. Remember that the fallout of your actions will not affect your friend, whereas you could suffer the consequences for years to come. If your friend were actually in your situation, rather than looking in from the outside, they would spend a bit more time thinking through their options. Keep in mind that the emotional investment is different, so make your decisions accordingly.
4. They may say what they think you want to hear.
Sometimes a well-meaning friend will tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. This means that their advice may be based on an overly optimistic or rose-tinted view of the situation, and they may hold back because they do not want to see you upset. Likewise, they might have feelings about the relationship that don’t match yours, but won’t let you know their true honest beliefs out of fear that it will jeopardize your friendship.
5. Their values may be different to yours.
Before you take advice from a friend, make sure that you are working from a similar set of values and assumptions about how relationships can and should work. Otherwise, you may be following advice that does not apply to someone who operates from your perspective. For instance, your friend may be working with the assumption that lots of one-on-one time is important to you in a relationship only because it is important to them. They may therefore tell you that your partner doesn’t care about you unless they want to spend a lot of time together without acknowledging that some couples prefer to lead very independent lives.
Friends can be a wonderful source of emotional support, but it’s wise to think very carefully before acting on their advice when it comes to your relationship troubles. Have the confidence to believe in your gut feelings and past experiences, and learn to balance the opinions of other people with your own.