Isn’t it strange how we want friends to physically admire our partners? We send screenshots from dating profiles to ask if we’re talking to someone good looking. We go to friends for all sorts of random dating and relationship queries – from what to text and when, to if we have a right to be angry with our partner. But usually, these chats still leave us confused. You shouldn’t take relationship advice from friends if you want to make clear decisions.
As a relationship blogger, it’s taken time to figure out what people want when they ask for my help. If their message has countless positives, I know they’re desperate for me to offer hope for their broken relationship. But if their message reads as a countless nag against their partner, they usually want me to tell them it’s okay to breakup.
I like to analyse and find the gaps that people feel unable to reach. And I can use coaching techniques to draw out what they’re hiding or ignoring. Because we have the answers within ourselves – it’s just a case of getting to them.
Most friends though don’t use coaching tactics that can help you find answers. In fact, most of us love to openly share our opinion without questioning our perspective. Advice from friends typically stems from their individual values, experiences and fear.
It reminds me of an old friend with a history of dating terrible men. Guys who cheat, lie and show zero commitment. Her advice is cut-throat – every guy is suddenly in the wrong and deserves maximum punishment.
I’m just as guilty as speaking without thinking. When Becky (let’s call her) asked what I thought about her new guy, I didn’t hold back from admitting he seemed like a loser. It was an unfair summary based on a brief analysis. Of course, with everything there are exceptions. When you’re in an abusive relationship, friends can be a lifeline. But here is why you should question friends and family’s relationship advice.
Research proves relationship advice from friends is not the best
The dating app Hinge created a study that found 54% of Gen Z singles regret listening to their friends’ dating advice. The survey participants ‘felt like they made the wrong decision in the end’.
When our decisions don’t receive the outcome we want, we can accept our choice and hopefully learn a lesson. But when we listen to someone else’s advice, there is no lesson or knowledge to absorb. We’re left with what ifs and emotional pain – wondering why we didn’t trust ourselves enough to prioritise our thoughts.
Friends have an edited, biased view
Another reason why we shouldn’t ask friends for relationship advice – they rarely receive the full picture.
During the first few months, we can’t wait to rave about our partner. We share juicy date details, discuss romantic surprises and possibly intimate titbits. But as the excitement wears off and regular dates become normal, conversation on our amazing partners can decrease.
Your friends may not judge your partner based on your feedback. However, if you discuss problematic issues about your partner more than their loving traits, their opinions may turn negative.
Equally, friends can be biased due to opposite values. Some research suggests we’re less trusting of people who look physically dissimilar. Evidence also proposes that opposites don’t actually attract. If your partner is completely opposite to your friend, this can sway opinion.
Additionally, unfair judgment can occur if you and your friend hold different values. If a friend values ambition, wealth and success over romance and fun, this will impact their judgment – and vice versa. It’s difficult to keep a clear head on what you prioritise and care about when people are discussing separate ideas.
It’s hard for loved ones to be objective
As I shared in a recent TikTok video, friends and family don’t always hold you accountable. I used to repeatedly date and go for men who didn’t seek commitment. My low self-esteem screamed I was desperate for attention and had low standards – no wonder I was treated so poorly.
Of course, my loving friends didn’t tell me to stop using men for validation. They insisted I could do better and just needed to keep searching. If I had listened, I probably wouldn’t have changed and wouldn’t be in my current relationship.
Friends can struggle with change
The Journal of Nonverbal Behaviour published a study in 1981 that shows how seamlessly we can influence each other. With the amount of time we spend with our partners, it makes sense that their behaviour and thoughts can inspire or disempower us.
Let’s say you dislike the gym. You’ve turned your nose up at the idea of training and eating more nutritionally balanced food, but then you fall for a ‘gym addict’. Before you know it, his passion has inspired you to start exercising weekly.
But friends and family see your sudden gym desire as a sign that your partner is trying to change who you are, and possibly encourage you to lose weight. Again, it goes back to remaining objective.
We tend to use our perception of people as well as our own experiences to make judgments. Depending on how your friends and family believe you’re changing or acting based on how they perceive you can impact their relationship advice.
So, should you ever take relationship advice from friends?
I understand you’re probably reading this and thinking – yes, this makes sense, but I’m still not going to give up relationship conversations with friends. After all, what’s better than a glass of wine and good natter about dating and love.
With that said, before you ask for advice, consider the following:
What am I looking to gain and why?
When people ask for advice, they’re asking for reassurance. Sometimes we want our friends to encourage us to follow our choices, but they instead share different ideas. Be clear with what you’re after.
And why? Do you really need to ask whether your date is good looking enough? Or if it’s okay to forgive them for something? Why are you doubting your decision-making ability, and what makes you think your friends have better wisdom over your situation?
Are they objective?
Do your friends quickly jump in with their thoughts, or do they try to put themselves in your shoes? Look for advice from people who can see things from your perspective.
Do they provide different points of view?
Asking questions is one of the best ways to help someone gain clarity. Rather than saying, ‘they’re not treating you right’, you can ask, ‘How would you describe a healthy relationship? How does your partner compare to your description?’
You want loved ones to help you reach an answer, without just telling you what to do. Otherwise, we can easily end up with regret and confusion.
Have you ever regretted listening to relationship advice from friends?
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