Should you ever give dating advice to your friends?
Relationships don’t come with a manual and many people feel themselves floundering around in the messy bog of emotions, uncertain of what to do or how to interpret someone else’s behaviour. Our love life is also at the front of our mind especially when there are problems. It is natural that friends will turn to each other for support, encouragement and advice.
This is the kind of advice that you should avoid giving. Sometimes your friend will just need a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on and some tea (or wine) and sympathy. The temptation, when you see someone you care about in pain is to try and jump in and fix the problem for them.
They may want your advice but wait until they ask for it. Let them talk and share what is going on for them and (even if it means biting your tongue) keep your opinions to yourself while listening and giving them encouragement to continue.
Share your experience
While you’re listening to them some of what they are telling you may remind you of situations you have encountered. If you found ways to successfully overcome similar difficulties then share that with them.
For example, if someone is having problems getting past a first date and you went through a similar period when you first started dating tell them how it changed and what you did to move on. Maybe you changed your attitude, worked on your self confidence or started dating a wider age group – whatever it is, share your experience with your friend. Your friend is then free to try some of the strategies you used or to go their own way. This is very different from saying ‘What you need to do is….’
What do you know?
The world seems to be full of experts on things they have no actual experience of. Many people have opinions but fewer have direct experience and useful knowledge. When it comes to the world of dating your friend may have turned to you because they see that you’re being successful in that field and they want to know how you are doing it and whether you can help them. If that is the case then by all means impart your secrets.
On the other hand they might have turned to you because you’re in the same boat and struggling with the same issues. They have come to you because they know you’ll empathise and understand. In this case you could devise a strategy together and draw strength and encouragement from each other.
Point them in the right direction
There’s a wealth of information online and in the media about dating and relationships. You may not be the right person to give advice to your friend but you can point them in the right direction.
The honourable friend
A real friend will tell the truth. If a friend has come to you for advice about dating and you can see an obvious reason why they are struggling, something they are unaware of, ask first before you give them the benefit of your insight.
Love without truth is mush. Truth without love is cruelty.
Be very gentle, especially if it is something personal. They might not appreciate your honesty initially, especially if it hits a nerve, but if it is a true friendship they will come to see that you are trying to give them what they asked for, helpful advice and true friendship. Nothing will be achieved by you denying the problem too.
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