Throwback Tuesday – The Problem with Friends and Advice

Welcome to Throwback Tuesday. Since Google Analytics tells me that most of you are new visitors, I thought I’d repost all the good ish you missed before you got on board the max-logic train.

I dated a guy once who was a complete asshole. I knew it at the time, but somehow allowed myself to get sucked into his vortex and it took just over two years to get myself out. The whole experience was completely soul-crushing, but there is one thing he taught me that made the whole debacle worthwhile: be very careful about taking advice from your friends. Granted, he probably told me this in response to my friends’ collective opinions that I should leave him, but it still holds water.

If you’re as lucky as I am, you have a handful of friends who love you. But that doesn’t mean they get you and it doesn’t always mean they want the best for you. It’s a sad fact of life that some people find joy in other people’s pain, and that miserable people always want someone along for the ride. Which is not to say that your friends will set out to ruin your life, only just that you should take their advice with a grain of salt. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

All of the above begs the question of whether I a) give advice and b) follow my friend’s advice. And the answer to both is mostly yes. I give advice but I try very hard to wait until I’m asked for it. When I am, I usually ask ‘do you want to know what I would do in this situation? Or do you want to know what I think you should do?’. Sometimes I say ‘do you want me to be nice or do you want me to tell the truth?’. But that’s just me. 

In terms of whether I follow advice, it really depends. Besides my sister, I only have one friend whose advice I would follow without first seriously examining her motivations for giving it. Everyone else’s advice has to go through a screening process before I’ll follow it.

Which leads me right back to where I left off – taking advice with a grain of salt. I think that before you follow your friend’s advice, there are a few things you have to consider:

1. Where they are in their life
If you are taking dating/relationship advice from your girl who can’t keep a man, you might want to think twice. You know the expression ‘the blind leading the blind’? it applies here. If you see your girl do shit with a man that makes you cringe, why would you trust her judgment over your own? If you’re taking career advice from your frequently-fired friend, you might wanna reconsider that. Just like you want your doctor to have a medical degree, you should want your friend to have some kind of expertise in a matter before you go following their suggestions.

2. Does the advice make sense for you?
Unless I specifically say ‘tell me what you would do in my situation’, I want my friend to give me advice that’s based on, well, me. I want her to use what she knows about the kind of person I am and the situation I’m in to help me make a decision about how to proceed. We all know that people are different and what is normal behaviour to one person is completely unacceptable to another. I want my advice tailored to my realm of possibility.

3. How did she arrive at the advice?
Please don’t tell me to do something unless you have thought it through. Because when I ask you ‘why, why do you think i should do that?’ you need to have an answer. Reflexive, unsupported, unilateral advice has little to do with you, your situation, or what is best for you, most of the time it’s your friend just saying what she thinks is the right thing to say at the time.

4. Would she do it?
If a friend advises me to do something that I know for sure she would never do herself, it raises a red flag for me. Is she saying that because she recognizes that we are different, or does she just want to live vicariously through me? Or does she just want to see me crash and burn?

5. did i ask for this advice? – it makes me very nervous when i call a friend to tell them a story and they start telling me what to do about it. when i need advice i ask for it and if i don’t then please assume i’ve already figured it out. in my experience, unsolicited advice is rarely worth listening and usually is less about me than it is about the person who is giving it.

Advice isn’t an exact science. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface – for both the asker and the giver – and we need to remember that. Just because you ask for advice, doesn’t mean you have to follow it to the letter (although it gets annoying as shit when someone constantly asks you for advice and never fucking listens to it). Advice should be a conversation, not a proclamation.

Where you guys stand on taking advice from your friends? Giving advice? Have you ever had to cut someone off from giving/receiving advice from you?

bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

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