When You’re Fed Up With The Friend Who Always Wants Relationship Advice–But Won’t Take It
I am a damn good listener. Sometimes I wish I could exchange my platinum-grade listening skills for equally brilliant creative skills of any kind – singing, dancing, Shonda Rhimes-ing. I ain’t picky. While the skill typically serves me well, there’s one instance in which it works against me: When I’m listening to a friend go on and on…and on and on and on about a dude who isn’t worth her time. An immature guy who disappears and reappears as he sees fit; who continues to disappoint her over and over again. An emotionally unavailable dude who made her chocolate chip pancakes one morning and in one fell swoop wiped her memory clean of the long list of offensive strikes he racked up. Got her singing Case’s “Happily Ever After” despite the fact that he introduces her to people as a mere friend and thinks she magically “caught feelings” much like one catches a common cold.
But depending on the friend, I can’t tell them what they need to hear without it falling on deaf ears or without suffering through an accusatory lecture about how I need to be more supportive. It can be a slippery slope. The one time I give it to them straight – no chaser, no sugarcoating, no traces of make ‘em feel better BS whatsoever – suddenly overrules all the times I listened intently, doled out positive advice they chose to ignore and consoled them when the relationship went south.
Now, I know what it’s like to be smitten beyond belief and fully gone – mesmerized by the “D,” hopeful about the future you want to build with a man who seems to have everything you’re looking for in a partner. But both rationale and receipts have to be factored into that lovey-dovey equation. When they’re not, you can fixate on the wrong things (see: chocolate chip pancakes) and fall into a downward spiral despite the obvious signs and straight up verbal cues a man gives you.
For example, if a man says, “I don’t want a relationship right now,” that means – wait for it – he doesn’t want to be in a relationship. It can also mean that he does wish to be in a relationship, just not with you. But all you heard was the “right now” part, which turned up your hope dial and set you on a mission to change his mind. You interpreted his words as a challenge and willingly took him on. He played along, of course, but when he reminded you that he doesn’t want a relationship, you acted as though you heard this for the first time and took serious offense. Both parties are to blame in this instance.
For me, the friend who has been listening and offering advice that has been turned down this entire time, it’s really difficult to continue to be supportive when this happens. I’m not saying my advice is the cure-all. Lord knows I’m no relationship expert. But I know what you want. You’ve told me many times. I know what you’re looking for, I know how you feel, I know how upset and unhappy you are. And I know that you deserve better. But if you ask for my advice and then repeatedly ignore it while expecting that what you’ve been doing all along is finally going to get you somewhere, what exactly is the point? And then to complain to me afterwards about how he did this and that…that’s when I’m out of everything – interest, patience and time to give to this sad but perfectly amenable situation. Sorry, not sorry.
People have long referred to love as a drug. If that’s the case, every addict has to want better for themselves. They have to recognize their worth as well as the underlying issues that influenced their bad habits and poor choices. And then they have to make the necessary changes to make healthier decisions moving forward. So, as a friend, at what point do you say, “Girl, I love you and I’m here for you, but I can no longer participate in this back-and-forth drama. You deserve better, and I can’t continue to support you in this manner”? I understand that sometimes we don’t want to be alone (though it’s always better to be alone than in an awful situation) and that we hold onto the belief that one day the guy we’re dealing with will wake up and see how great of a woman we are. But nah, girl. Wake up. Stop trying to make a bad thing work. It’s time to move on.
Have you experienced any of these situations with a treasured friend? What did you do to help them see the light?