Before Taking Relationship Advice, Ask Yourself This

November 30, 2018  |  
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relationship advice

Source: Getty.com/Thomas Barwick / Getty

When friends get together, they talk about their relationships. It’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Your romantic relationship is a rather prominent part of your life, so it only makes sense that it takes up a large chunk of the conversation. Analyzing our relationships with our friends can be healthy, and it can be an important part of ensuring we’re all in healthy, loving relationships. Comparing and contrasting, sharing notes, and telling stories are the ways we learn what is “normal” for a relationship. That being said, eventually you go through enough relationships and learn enough hard lessons that you have the basics of what is “good” and “bad” in a relationship, and you don’t really need anyone else’s opinion. Your intuition grows stronger. You have a big backlog of hard-learned wisdom to turn to. But, once in a while, you still want a friend’s advice. Just be careful: not all advice is pure and unbiased. And not all advisors know what they’re talking about. Here are questions to ask yourself, before accepting relationship advice.

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Does this person complain a lot?

If this person constantly complains about her own relationships, then, newsflash: she doesn’t really know how to be happy in a relationship or how to pick the right partner for herself. Don’t take advice from someone who isn’t happy in her love life.

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Has this person been in a long-term relationship?

Has this person ever been in a relationship that lasted more than…three months? Alright, how about a year? Has this person been in a multi-year relationship? Try to take advice from people who’ve carried out successful, long-term relationships.

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Have her relationships been peaceful?

An addendum to that last note is this: take advice from people who have been in healthy long-term relationships. Some couples may be together for years but their entire relationship is tumultuous and full of drama. They don’t really, um, count.

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Has this person been single?

Maybe this friend has been in plenty of long-term relationships but she has never been single. She has jumped into one relationship immediately after ending another. That means she may be a relationship addict, and her advice can’t be entirely trusted.

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Is she on good terms with exes?

Is this individual on decent terms with her exes? Don’t take advice from someone who has restraining orders out against, or from, most exes, or who has burned bridges in some dramatic way with every ex. She may not exactly be stable.

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Is she settling?

Be honest: is this person advising you settling in her relationship? Can you see that her relationship isn’t the best possible one but, good enough? She’s perhaps afraid to be alone, she’s getting older, and she’s marrying the guy who happened to be around. You don’t want that for yourself. So don’t take advice from someone who has that.

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Is she honest with her partners?

Is this person honest with her partners? Or, does she tell a lot of lies of omission? Does she hide a lot about her life from her partners? Has she perhaps even cheated—even if just emotionally? This may not be the best advisor for you, if you want a relationship that is honest and open.

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Has she shown impulsive behavior?

Has this person been impulsive? Maybe she’s been engaged several times, lived with every boyfriend she’s ever had, or even already been married and divorced a couple of times? If she generally moves too fast and makes big decisions without enough information, don’t take her advice.

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Does she ever admit fault?

Does this friend ever admit when she’s wrong? In her relationship or in her friendship with you? You should take advice from people who are humble, and who reflect on their mistakes. Don’t take advice from somebody who never admits fault.

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Has she experienced a tragedy?

If this friend has experienced something very difficult, like a recent divorce or death of a loved one, understand that her judgment may be clouded by grief right now.

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Is she combative with you?

Is this person generally combative? Does she pick every fight and hold grudges? If so, then her advice will steer you into that behavior. Don’t take it.

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Is she in a relationship fight now?

Even if your friend is in a generally happy relationship, if she’s in a major fight with her partner now, then she won’t be the best advisor. All of her advice will be jaded by her current strong and negative emotions.

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Does her advice vary?

Does this friend give case-by-case advice, specific to every relationship and situation? Or does she generally give the same advice—something like, “Forget him” or “Just dump him?” If her advice is always the same then, she doesn’t really pay attention.

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Is she jealous of your time?

Your friend may be jealous of your time. She might not want you to be in a relationship at all, because she’s single and she wants your attention. If you think that could be at work, be wary of her advice.

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Does she have your best interests at heart?

Do you feel, in your gut, that this friend has your best interests at heart? That she knows you well enough to tell when a man is right for you, and genuinely wants you to be happy? Only take advice from someone about whom you feel that way.

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