How to Give Love Advice – a Philosophical Divagation

love-doctor

from jewishnews.com

I don’t know how to give love advice. Between the need of being true to yourself, the feeling that you don’t want to hurt your friend and your empathy as you know how it is to be in their shoes there’s only a big question mark left after the question whether it’s possible to advise someone on matters of the heart and actually help them.

Similarly as parents are overprotective we’re sometimes overprotective when dealing with our friends. We’ve made our own bad choices and subsequently suffered quite a bit, therefore one of the worst things we can see is to look at someone who we care about making the same decisions. The problem is that no one learns from the mistakes of others. We can tell someone a story mirroring the one they’re dealing with in their lives and they will nod and then do what they need to do anyway. What’s more a friend can read our intentions wrong and instead of seeing our attempt to help, they may read the love advice as us taking a superior position of someone who knows better. Needless to say that the latter is the last thing we should want our friend to think. Besides, as we learn in life in all bad experiences there’s something good that comes out of it. Who knows whether by trying to protect someone from the pain, we’re not also sheltering them from the beautiful things that can come up thanks to this learning experience? My first partner broke my heart but today I know French because of the effort I put into learning the language so that we could communicate properly. Each of us has a whole list of similar actually-not-so-bad bad experiences.

Protecting a friend from a having a heart broken is one thing – you may manage to force yourself to take a step back or your friend will withdraw and you’ll be forced to do so externally. Whichever is the case trying to keep a non-judgmental attitude is probably the hardly achievable ideal. It doesn’t mean that you have to lie about what you think but it means that you have to do all to make sure that your friend feels comfortable enough with you to talk to you if things actually take the wrong turn and not be scared to approach because you were being judgy and they scared that they’ll hear “I told you so” from you. Not that it’s easy and not that I don’t make this mistake myself but one thing I’m slowly learning is that you need to let people do what they want to do. It gets easier if we remember that advice seeking is often an attempt to find someone to just listen or even to validate the fears one has and then rebel against what he or she knows is true.

The real problem appears, however, if your friend is doing something really harmful. Let’s assume that his problem is losing himself in a relationship to the extent that he spends no time whatsoever away from his partner. Maybe your friend likes guys that have addictive personalities and is being co-dependent? Or the worst of all she has an abusive partner? If you’re dealing with someone who has very serious issues just let go. Be there to listen but suggest professional advice rather than offer your own. These people are often psychologically rather unwell because of reasons you know nothing about and you’re not equipped to help. If you try, the love and drama addict that the person in a toxic relationship is, will try to drag you into their swamp and you may end up feeling hurt. They’ll turn everything you say against you and twist it around till they will make you feel like you’re the one with the problem. A person inseparable from their partner told me that if my partner was my priority I would be spending ALL my time with him. A wife of an alcoholic accused me of being a drama queen and exaggerating as apparently there’s nothing wrong with someone who gets drunk every single night as long as they go to work in the morning. The list could go on and on because I used to have a tendency to both attract broken people and try to fix them. At some point you learn to let go, though. You cannot fix a broken person, not as a friend and not as a partner but a broken person can try to break you. In other words, “and if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”.

So Dear Rinser, what do you think? Can we give people love advice or is it always pointless? Should we let people make their own decision or try to influence them when we don’t see them doing what we think they should? Is giving relationship advice not always judgmental?

 

 

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21 comments

  1. bklynboy59 · November 22

    There is nothing wrong with giving advice to a friend, some time we over think the advice we are giving and decide not to talk to a friend because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or come across too judgemental, yet if you are their friend why hold back especially if you see they are heading down a dangerous path?

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 23

      I think it’s okay to give advice and have your opinion but there’s no reason to torment your friend telling them they’re making a mistake once they didn’t listen to your advice. They need to make their own decisions even if they’re not the ones we’d like to see them doing.

      Like

  2. EnglishRosiee · November 22

    Matters of the heart are always tricky. Unlike advising your friend on how to tackle a job interview or make travel plans drawing on your own experiences to stop your friends making mistakes doesn’t always help when it comes to human relationships. While it possible to draw parallels with situations we’ve been through ourselves, no two relationships will ever be the same and although we may be able to make an educated guess about the outcome, we can’t be 100 percent certain about anything when it comes to love humans are unpredictable.

    I think you made a good point about by advising someone against something you may stop them from experiencing something good as well. Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic who had been exposed to too many sad sexless spinsters but I think relationships, even the ones that don’t end in happily ever after, are a good thing (I probably shouldn’t say that to all those people signing divorce papers or being battered by their spouse though). Human relationships (because spinster-dog encounters don’t count here) always provide experiences, both positive and negative. Imagine you successfully advised a friend on avoiding every bad relationship they were getting involved in – you might find yourself with 40 something bitter, twisted hater of men on hands and really do you want to be friends with that? I think not.

    It is tough to see your friend go down a path you don’t think is right for them but the best you can do is listen and let them know (maybe subconsciously) that you’ll be there to pick up the pieces should things not work out.

    P.S. I don’t think you are doing such a bad job ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 23

      Agreed on all you said and thanks for the sugar 😉 I had this friend once who really had low self esteem and she kept pursuing the wrong guys. When I say pursuing I mean pursuing – she was the one who would initiate a making out session at a party and start a conversation, taking charge of the whole relation. She had her heart broken one time after the other because she was being forceful, and you know guys, they’ll stick around at least till sex or keep you around afterwards for booty calls. Only a madman or a madwoman keeps making the same mistakes over and over again and expects different results from the same ingredients, but if you mentioned anything about her behavior not being great for a proper relationship building she’d go on a rant that not everyone is lucky to get good guys refusing to see there was anything wrong with her behavior and man choices. She’s still doing the same thing at the age of almost 40 and we’re not friends anymore. I know she’s an extreme example but experiences are good as long as we learn from them. Another friend who had the same problem one day surrounded herself with self-help book and started to change her behaviors improving with every new guy she dated. Today she’s in a healthy and happy long-term relationship. Relationships as learning experiences 100%.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sam1128 · November 23

        Everything in life is a learning experience if we want to see it, often we don’t! Some of the issues are about what we believe about ourselves, sometimes these beliefs are so deep in our sub conscious we are totally unaware of them , but they drive our actions. Buried beliefs that we don’t deserve love or are unlovable can cause us to behave in ways that will eventually sabotage relationships or cause us to choose abusive ones. That lady seems like one of those . The second understood she had to change the way she thought and behaved to get the relationship she deserved.

        Liked by 1 person

      • zlotybaby · November 28

        Understanding YOU need to change because the same sort of relationships keep happening to YOU is among the most difficult lessons. It’s easier to blame the world and friends unfortunately often prefer to support you in this belief rather than be honest.

        Liked by 1 person

      • sam1128 · November 28

        Yes I agree but if one is not ready, honesty doesn’t help either because the listener will reject the message and maybe the friend. All friends can do is be there to pick up the pieces.

        Liked by 1 person

      • zlotybaby · November 29

        Agreed. It doesn’t matter how much we want someone to be ready. We can force them to change. I’ve learnt this lesson with partners a long time ago but it seems that I struggle to apply it to friendships.

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  3. thelifeofasocialintrovert · November 22

    I needed to hear this months ago! An 8 year friendship ended this year because my friend didn’t like my thoughts on her and her relationship. I tried to be supportive of it, but she could tell I was struggling to do it. I learned to not give unwanted advice, but I also learned that true friends stay together even when they’re matters of opinions of disagreements. We stopped talking for 6 months and now have reconnected. It turns out that, her relationship with him came to an end. I hate to see her have to go through that pain because I saw it going happen but sometimes the best way to learn is through an unpleasant heartbreak. I would have still been there for her to go through it, if we were still friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 23

      I think a real friends is someone who’ll tell you that your shit stinks when it’s necessary but at the same time will let you do your own thing and will pick you up when necessary. It seems like you did the right thing. Your friend was so protective over a relationship that she subconsciously knew wasn’t good to her that she decided to cut a friend off… I’m sorry about your friendship but I don’t think that you did anything wrong.

      Like

  4. bexoxo · November 22

    My ex best friend was the type of girl who enjoyed serial dating. She was always on multiple dating sites/apps and constantly going on dates. I hated her addiction to blind dates. But every once in a while, one would stick long enough for her to introduce them to me; the best friend. After the initial meet, she would always want to know my feelings on Romeo… I learned that she only wanted my thoughts if they were good. The first time I told her I didn’t like a guy because I thought he was a dead-beat living with his parents and refused to get a job, she became upset with me and told me that I didn’t know him, and that I shouldn’t make snap judgement (even though he told me all of that himself). From then on, I would try and find one good thing about Romeo, and talk about that with her, whether he had a good job, or he seemed really close with his family (a big plus in the best friend’s mind). Eventually, she realized a couple weeks/months into the relationship that these guys were no good and end things. It wasn’t until she started talking about marriage with a guy who verbally assaulted her in front of me that I spoke up. She didn’t like what I had to say, but a month later, they broke up. Not sure if my input had anything to do with it, but I was very relieved once I found out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 23

      Thank you for your comment and I’m sorry for your difficult experience. You were doing everything right, it was your friend who was being immature. I think it’s the most difficult to deal with the friends who keep making the same mistakes over and over again without changing a bit. Eventually they meet this one person that matches their issues exactly and bang the next thing you know they married to someone that doesn’t make them happy but at least now they’re married which a lot of people considers the biggest life achievement. I lost a friend recently who thinks that your and your partner should literally be one. He neglected his friends entirely because who needs friends when you have your partner, right? I told him anyone in a healthy relationship and our four year long friendship ended there.

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  5. sam1128 · November 23

    I think giving advice is difficult, it is our opinion and whilst you can see the pitfalls of a situation we are on the outside. If a friend is on self destruct I think you have to be there to listen, try not to express horror or opinions too strongly. None of us likes criticism and it makes one switch off. If the friend repeats the same errors its maybe a long term issue so its the time to ask gentle questions and try to help them analyse what went wrong whilst being non judgemental. The person in the poor relationship..s..needs to get to grips with their drivers. But its scary and they might never be able to. In which case we need to be a sideline support. Ready to pick up the pieces we can see will occur. Everybody has to make their own mistakes we cant stop it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 28

      I totally agree. Also being a friend isn’t the same as being someone’s therapist. I opt for book giving rather than moralizing. I’ve managed to help someone once or twice but I also had a lot of negative reactions (I’m not so bad, I’m just unlucky). At the end of the day you can only say what you have to say and hope that it’ll find a fertile ground and at least encourage a friend to look at what they’re doing in a different light.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah Hope · November 27

    Single handedly, my rule is you never give advice to someone unless it asked of you or it often has the side effects of looking like you are being controlling and the one with more of a problem even if you are dead right about the situation. When my friends ask me for advice and I dislike their partner for reasons that I can see, I always break it down to truth without belittling going over positives and negatives and get them to talk more than I talk. If your opinion is not asked, then it can reverse the side effects making it appear that the person giving the advice is more of the culprit – if there is no friendship or relationship and such advice is given it is even less effective. I believe this is called triangulation and makes the true perpetrator look more like the victim, which is naturally, what can be intended from the perpettrator if they are manipulative OR such advice givers harbored personal motives and entered the situation with unclean hands. Friendships are not parents. If someone asks me specifically for advice or posts comments for discussion, I will give you my opinion exactly how I see it as objectively with the goal of presenting the facts and letting my friends decide how they want to proceed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • zlotybaby · November 29

      You’re very right. To be honest I’ve been always struggling with taking a step back. This is what I think attitude is a healthy one, while I do more of this is what I think therefore please behave the way I’m suggesting, otherwise I’ll be secretly upset. I don’t know how you get, where you are though.

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  7. Sarah Hope · November 29

    zlotybaby, it matters not to how many people tell me to do or not do something, all it does is slow me down on the interpretation of my own truth because I have to feel their emotions which renders a limited perspective but still have to process it – it is just how I am. But I have an ability that can feel truth, but the more “energies” the more commingled it becomes – but obviously, you can see why I would not offer advice to the contrary to a subjective personification with being as stubborn as I am and also understanding that even with the ability I have – we all must pave our own way – my voice and research and things I want to accomplish will not be limited, but I am not here to condemn but to offer a different perspective that may or may not be effective – however, I am an “energy neutralizer” which means if I am learning, others are too in most all cases as I balance that energy with my own. I watch my words very carefully as I, more than 99.9% of the planet do not understand the concept of judgment – as in what I say will be held against me in the end, but I mitigate that with the larger picture.

    I ask of you one thing, because I do not owe anyone an explanation of what I will or will not do as I do not even know that information as I am not telepathic, but a TRUE FRIEND calls a friend out on behaviors BASED ON THEIR OWN BELIEFS. If I stumble, if I fall, if I do something that you personally find to be against what I have said, tell me, call me out – I will never condemn you –

    The biggest victory is when someone does their worst against you, and you still love for them in your heart. You do not hate them and use that hatred to hurt others to provide a sense of vengeance. The most sad travesty is when anger and hate consumes someone to retaliate against who they are to fill their own void – I bring hope that it does not have to be that way. I came for that message to all – but my beliefs are my own and just another perspective in the vast perspectives of a sea of them…I am drop in a ripple, but hopefully you will be able to hold me accountable as I will you. I am here to listen to your issues and your situation if you want to share them – but that is on you – I came for anyone who cared enough for a different perspective – nothing more or less.

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    • zlotybaby · November 30

      I don’t know who an energy neutralizer is. I probably should read up more about it to appreciate fully what you say in this comment as the concept seems a bit vague.

      Like

      • Sarah Hope · November 30

        I copied this from a good article I read on the subject that explains it pretty well from an Incan perspective:

        “In the Incan way of viewing the world, we believe in a concept known as “Kawsay Pacha“, living energy. To us the world of nature is alive and responsive, and the cosmos is a vibrating field of pure energy frequencies.

        Incans once believed they were born into a world that was as conscious of them as they were of it, and that everyone could experience the energy of another living being as if it were their own. These people who could experience the energy of others had a great blessing, as they would find it much easier to cultivate a soulful connection with all living energies in nature and learn to harmonize themselves within their surroundings using “Ayni“, an energetic reciprocity that exists within all living matter.

        When two living energies first meet, their energy bubbles touch each other, which is known as “Tinkuy“. Once a person encounters another person’s energy bubble, something we call “Tupay” starts to occur, where the two people begin to experience a collision of contrasts and differences between their energies, creating a confusion.

        It’s at this point that the successful “Empath”, differentiates the type of energy of the person, whether it is “Yanantin“; a completely opposing energy, or “Masintin“, an energy similar in frequency. That is when you apply “Taqe“, an attempt to harmonize these two encountering living forces.

        The Quechua word for an Empath is a “Qawaq” which means “one who sees“. It comes from the verb “Qaway” which means “to see” the living energy.”

        It is a vague concept, but this is the best I have seen it described to date.

        Liked by 1 person

      • zlotybaby · December 1

        It’s definitely very interesting. Similar ideas appear in other cultures as well.

        Like

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