You’ve just had an upsetting event happen, let’s say a huge fight with your boyfriend. He stormed and now he’s not answering your calls. You’re upset hurt…mad ass hell and quite confused. Flooded with emotions you set in motion a barrage of phone calls to every BFFL on your fav’s list.
So you call your friends, and as expected they have a barrage of advice ranging from take “immediate” action to “hang in there”. After an evening of emotional outbursts and calm rationalization you realize you more upset and confused than ever. And as you dissect their “advice” you realize that instead of taking care by listening and hearing what your issues are and console you accordingly, each person provided advice based upon their own personal biases and, among other things, the state of their relationships and how well they’re managing with winning or losing at love.
You noted that while speaking with your friends that were dissatisfied in the present relationships essentially pleaded with you to leave your lover and cited reasons why you need to sever ties immediately. They spoke of men with ghastly distain as if they are a kin to some hybrid disease that should be eradicated the bane of their existence. At times you jumped on the “men are assholes” party bus; this was in part because you were in a very emotion state when the calls were placed. But even during the man bashing stage of the conversation, deep down you really didn’t feel as if your guy belonged in that category. In their sincerest moments they offered “you deserve better” and “I don’t know how you put up with him”. During the conversations they managed to touch on some general points that you agreed with but you realized nothing that was expressed was germane to your specific issue. They went on to inform you of “how beautiful you are” and “you can have any man in the world.” It’s clear to you that they are right about one thing: You can have any man in the world. You do have any man in the world. And he’s the man you want.
Conversely the friends that were in fulfilling relationships took a more optimistic approach, highlighting what they perceived to be, rewarding and beneficial to being in a loving relationship. They go through their list of “have you considered this” or “have you tried that?” They encourage you to hang in there, perhaps seek third-party counseling. They share with you some of the challenges that they’ve fought through in their relationships, even revealing very intimate details of past infidelities, financial challenges and nights spent in separate bedrooms. You were astonished at the events, some of which, you had no idea had taken placed in their lives. The resounding message was “Look at all I’ve been through and I am still in a loving, thriving relationship.” Even though this groups’ message had been dripping in optimism you got the sense that, at least from a few conversations, there were undertones of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of losing at love. Fear of being judge for yet another failed relationship. After ending up that round of conversations you felt admittedly encouraged that you can work out your issues. But as with the less than romantically confident friends your hopeless romantic friends were focused on their personal triumphs and failures in love, not your immediate need for comfort and counsel.
The challenge with speaking with others about matters of the heart is just as with the instance from above most people find it difficult to leave their personal experiences, past and present, away from the conversation. In fact most people are not even aware that they have transferred the conversation away from you in their direction. If you’re a better listener in some instances you may find yourself reversing roles, if you sense the focused has shifted from you, send a gentle message to redirect the conversation back to you.
When receiving relationship advice it’s important to keep in mind that no one you will ever confide in is as emotionally tied your situation as you. It might be a good practice if when seeking advice from others to begin the conversation with the request that you are only seeking a sounding board. Sometimes simply letting things out is all you really needed. It is important to understand that the decision to follow up on anyone’s advice is a decision not to be taken lightly. If you don’t understand the true nature of the advice given to you it could possibly do more harm than good, thus creating an unhealthy cycle of seeking out others to govern your relationships. Keep in mind, before reaching out to anyone take a moment to consider if your audience truly has the capacity to help you. If you need someone to bounce your issues off, always seek advice from someone who is objectively unbiased and can that examine the situation in black and white terms. It’s your life and no one has to live with the consequences of your decisions, good or bad, but you.