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No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

Imagine that after an extremely difficult day at the office, a man comes home to his significant other. All he wants to do is relax and get some of the stress off his chest. When he’s finished talking, however, his partner starts going on and on about what he should or shouldn’t have done throughout the day.

Or what about the situation where a woman buys herself a new outfit that she loves. She took a lot of time picking it out and feels really good about the way she looks with it on. So, she wears it out one day with her family. Her significant other notices the new dress and offers this critique: “It makes you look fat.”

Both of these situations happen far more frequently than they should and neither one is healthy for relationships. You can only imagine how the rest of those stories went, and all because of some unsolicited advice.

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Most of the time, your significant other just wants someone to listen to them.

As you go about your daily life, try to avoid giving criticisms or offering feedback to people that haven’t asked for it. Especially with your romantic partner. Looking for some relationship advice? Unless they specifically ask for your opinion, they probably just want you to listen to them. Most of the time, your partner turns to your for comfort.

Giving unsolicited advice can be damaging to your relationship.

How do you think it feels to be hit in the face with criticisms when all you really wanted was some understanding? Not good, right? Every time you offer up your advice without being asked, it’s called giving “unauthorized feedback”. All of those moments of unauthorized feedback between the two of you is slowly eating away at the solid foundation of your relationship.

Giving advice is hard, even with the best intentions.

The problem is, giving feedback to our loved ones is hard. We think we can be direct with our friends, family, and romantic partners because we share really close relationships with them. So with all of the confidence in the world, we go about our days making small comments and offering our opinions about the things they have done, the things they are doing, and the things they will do.

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We don’t mean anything by it, we’re just trying to help the people we love. Instead, our little comments and opinions can actually end up hurting other people. This hurt may not be in a big way, not at first. But over time, all the little pieces of unsolicited advice and all the little feelings of hurt that they cause start to add up, chipping away at the relationship little by little. Before long, we’ve created a big ball of pain – an obstacle to happiness in our relationship.

The way you give advice always matters.

Does this mean you should stop giving advice and keep your opinions to yourself? Absolutely not. Every bit of relationship advice out there tells us that clear and honest communication is the key to a healthy and happy relationship.

What’s important is how you talk to your partner and give your opinions. Advice should be given so that it gives each person the opportunity to grow. The last thing you want is to cause disturbances between you and your partner.

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Before giving feedback to your partner, ask for permission.

You can change the vicious cycle of unauthorized feedback by simply asking for permission first. According to relationship advice from Margie Warrell, one question can make all the difference in the world: “Can I share some feedback with you that I hope will be helpful?”[1]

Think about when your partner talks to you about a difficult professional relationship with one of their coworkers. While you’re listening, they tell you about something they said or did to their coworker and you think it may be the cause of their problem.

Now, imagine you just come right out and say, “Well, you shouldn’t have said ___.” What did you just do? That’s right, you instigated an argument by putting your partner on the defense or making them feel bad. Now take that same situation and imagine you say, “You know what, I noticed something about what you said. Do you mind if I give you my opinion on the matter?” Once you have your partner’s consent, you can proceed with your feedback. You’ve opened up the lines of communication in your relationship.

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Don’t focus on what “should have” happened, focus on what should happen.

Remember this relationship advice: When giving your partner feedback, don’t focus on what you think they should have done. Instead, offer feedback about what they could do in the future. This way, you’re giving your partner more than just an emotional opinion that could damage your relationship. You’re giving them information that could help them become a better person in the future. And that’s what romantic relationships are about, helping each other grow.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

What Makes a Relationship Boring and How to Avoid It How to Know If You’re Really in Love or Not (Yes It Can Be Confusing) Why You and Your Partner Don’t Need to Speak the Same Love Language to Stay Together Why Worrying About Losing a Friend Is Unnecessary No.1 Relationship Killer: Your Good Intention to Advise Your Partner When They’re Upset

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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