Your friends mean well. They want you to be happy. That being said, they're also probably not relationship experts, no matter how many times they've watched The Notebook. Sometimes advice given with the best of intentions is still advice from your friends that you need to ignore. But then again, sometimes they're dead on. They know you better than anyone, and they can be objective about a situation when you're too fogged by feels and boxed wine to see the forest for the trees. So what do you do?
When I worked with couples as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I had to undo a lot of "well my friends said..." No disrespect to your friends, but we all come from different places. But a lot of times, friend advice was smart and sound. The only way to know which is which is to understand healthy relationships, and to understand yourself. Your gut is a better guide than any article on the Internet, I promise. But just in case your gut needs more specific examples to help get it calibrated, here are some examples of terrible advice from you friends versus solid advice from your friends.
As always, no relationship advice is one-size-fits-all, but rather, more of a guiding principle.
1. Getting Past A Breakup
Bad Advice: You Need To Get Under Someone To Get Over Someone
I'm not against one night stands at all. I think your sexuality is yours to own. That being said, there's often a lot of pressure from friends to go out and get with someone new right after a breakup. If that's what you want to do, by all means, do it. But if you're not ready, don't let your friends pressure you into it. It can be fun, but it can also be painful. Plus, it can lead to drama you don't need.
Good Advice: You Need To Do Something To Get Your Mind Off Of Your Ex
This is much better advice. Keeping busy is one of the healthiest ways to get past the roughest parts of a breakup. You should definitely find some work, schooling, social activities, or hobbies to keep you occupied. It keeps you from wallowing and dwelling too much. It gives you a sense of purpose, and it's a way to full up your time. Plus, you have to shower and get out of bed, which also helps.
2. Dealing With Cheating
Bad Advice: You Need To Go Through Their Phone And Identify These Side People
Side people are not part of life. You don't have to accept the advice that all partners cheat, and position their side people as your competition. You don't have to (and shouldn't) violate trust in your relationship by going through your partner's phone. What you can do is have a frank conversation about your cheating concerns, and work on improving your trust.
Good Advice: You Can't Be With Someone You Can't Trust
Preach. This is up there with advice like "look both ways before you cross the street" and "never get between a mama bear and her cubs." Trust is the bedrock of all healthy relationships. If you don't have it, your relationship won't survive. Counseling and communication can help you if you're struggling with trust, but ultimately, if you just can't bring yourself to trust them, you can't be with them.
3. Getting Down And Dirty
Bad Advice: You Need To Be Sophistocated In The Streets And A Freak In The Sheets
There's a lot of advice coming at us about how to keep our partners, and a lot of that advice involves using our sexuality. Sex should be a conversation between two people who want to please each other. It shouldn't be one person doing anything they aren't comfortable doing in order to prevent their partner from getting it elsewhere. You never have to degrade yourself, or have any kind of sex you don't want to have. And you certainly don't have to be anything but yourself in the streets.
Good Advice: You Need To Tell Them What You Want
Sex is a two-way street. It's about giving but it's also about receiving. Instead of sex being about you pleasing and keeping your partner with your sexuality, it should be about bonding with your partner, and gently communicating what each of you need in order to be satisfied. You don't have to fake orgasms, have sex as a chore, or suffer through anything you don't like. You also have the right to expect your partner to only have sex with you.
4. Playing The Field
Bad Advice: You Have To Wait Three Days To Contact Them, And No Double Texting, And...
Each of your friends will have their own theories about what will make you desirable to your crush. The truth is, it's all nonsense. If you went out on a date with someone (or are hoping to) then the best way to take it to the next level is to be yourself. Boring advice, right? Just chat. Don't be afraid to hit them up first, or make the first move. Forget about any rules you've been told. There's no recipe for love.
Good Advice: Go After What You Want
If you like someone, see if they're interested in going out. If you had a good time, and feel like texting them, then text them. If that entails the infamous double text, so what? Most of the time we're too busy playing games and trying to interpret what our crushes want when could just be asking them. Clear and direct communication isn't the plague. It's refreshing. And healthy.
5. Settling Disagreements
Bad Advice: You Need To Lay Down The Law
Is there ever a time when we need our friends more than when we're fighting with our partners? Most of the time, they'll probably take your side (because they love you) and assume you're right and your partner is wrong. Unfortunately, it's usually more complicated than that. So if your friends are telling you that you need to put down an ultimatum or make some big demands, it's worth giving that advice a second thought to see where their motives lie. They're probably more concerned with being supportive than being right.
Good Advice: You Need to Meet In The Middle
This is such grown up advice, and it's so true. Often when people in relationships have disagreements, the only solution is to meet in the middle. There is no winning. The point shouldn't be to win. It should be to create solutions. That means a lot of the time, neither of you will get exactly what you want. That's not settling. It's compromising. And it's what people in healthy relationships do.
Just remember, go with your gut, and keep in mind that advice from your squad might be a little one-sided.
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