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Getting Relationship Advice from Friends & Family

Relationship advice is not easy to come by. If you have ever been in a situation where you needed some, and heaven knows that most of us have at one point or another, you know this to be true. It only makes sense, the people that you want to help you would (generally speaking) hide behind a tree trunk or make themselves invisible. Why is that? Why is getting relationship advice from the people who we think should have our best interest in mind so difficult?

There are several different layers to the problem.

Difficulty starting the conversation about needing relationship advice

The beginning of it all is just that. You don’t know how to bring it up. Maybe you remember the last time this happened. You were on a walk with your best friend, and every time you’d start doing another circle around the lake, you’d take that breath, determined that you’d start, only to breathe out through your mouth and keep walking in silence. Can I say something? What is she/he going to think about me? What WILL this mean

It’s difficult to start having those conversation because it means that you are going to have to be vulnerable. You are going to have to admit to a few things. Sometimes, the sole idea of having to admit that you are having relationship problems to begin with is nerve-wracking enough, let along asking that person if they have any advice for you. What does that mean about me? Why CAN’T I figure it out?

Needless to say, it’s a delicate topic any way you look at it.

Asking for relationship advice brings about a new level to your special alliance

What do I mean when I say special alliance? Your friends and family have an alliance with you in that they want their desires and wants for you to align with yours. And when I say you, that directly or indirectly includes the relationship you are in – AKA the person you chose to be with. Consciously or subconsciously, our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers (insert other family members if you need to) have our best interest in mind. And, the closer the bond between you and your family member, the more pronounced this alliance is. That makes complete sense.

If you have ever tried this, it will have looked something like this. One day you tell your best friend or sister that you are really in love with this person. They agree. You smile. They smile. It’s a good day. “So good to see you happy.” The next day, you come back and say you are never wanting to see this person again (due to something that transpired, of course). They tell you, good. Whatever you want. They don’t deserve you anyway, forgetting all that happened yesterday and the lovely that he/she was.

Your family members/friends are swaying along with you and lining up to exactly match where you are at any particular moment in time, as if on a teeter-totter. They don’t want to cause any ripples to appear. Causing discord is the last thing on their agenda.

Other reasons why asking for relationship advice is complicated?

For starters:

  1. You are going to have to see them afterwards – whether at Thanksgiving and Christmas or every Sunday morning for brunch for who knows how many years.
  2. If they give advice at a time that you are not ready to receive it, it may cause a long-lasting wedge in the relationship  Рand all that for a little bit of relationship advice they took upon themselves to share
  3. We all think we know what is right and good for us during times when relationship advice might be pertinent. Many times, personal opinions get in the way particularly when they don’t align. And we dismiss those with: He/she doesn’t know what they are talking about”.
  4. We can often get very defensive when receiving unwelcome/unsolicited advice from the people we are related to, sometimes EVEN if we asked. That often creates a strange sort of dynamic really fast. Therefore, we avoid it.
  5. We worry that we will burn bridges and are afraid that the relationship will be put to test. We are deathly afraid of what that would do to us in the long run. So, we retreat and leave it alone.

Receiving relationship advice within the parameters of a therapeutic relationship therefore is free of all of the above. Plus, it frees your family and friends to be just that – Family and Friends. And it allows you to stretch & grow in a space that’s designed to do precisely that – stretch & grow.

If you are wondering how counseling with me works and you live in or around the Minneapolis area, look up this article I wrote about how marriage counseling works. If you have any questions, please CONTACT ME HERE. I