by Gina B.
When it comes to your relationship, everyone has opinions and advice to offer. You undoubtedly have friends or family members who are anxious to lend ears when you're having relationship issues. But here's the thing to remember - all advice is not created equal.
I'm not an advocate of soliciting third-party opinions, but if you must get an outside impression of the inner-workings of your relationship, be selective about whose counsel you seek.
To put things in perspective, if you're looking for a job, would you consult someone who has been unemployed for two years? Probably not. If you're buying a home, are you going to seek the advice of a lifetime renter? Not if you're smart.
If you're aspiring to a good relationship, choose a confidante who is in a good, healthy pairing and has an interest in helping you achieve the same.
Honestly, most of the people you know are probably not qualified to provide good direction. Specifically, avoid any counsel offered from the following:
The biased. If your friend/family member has something to gain from the success or demise of your relationship, you should expect a skewed opinion. For example, the friend who would love to have her party partner back in operation could be pushing you toward a breakup. Likewise, the dear aunt who wants you married off might encourage you to ignore serious problems and remain in a relationship that doesn't suit you.
Drama-seekers. This buddy has stories of relationship mayhem that could include public fighting, restraining orders, stalking, on-and-off toxic trysts, etc. This person is NOT qualified to provide proper guidance. In fact, I would go so far as to propose that you do the exact opposite of what this person suggests.
Single friends who have had limited long-term relationships. Generally, this person knows all about being single and potentially nothing about sustaining a real relationship. For the record, resist the urge to discuss your intimate issues with a large group of single friends. They are empowered in masses, and often ready to discuss "what they won't deal with," and "what they would do." Their attitudes can be contagious, and pretty soon you will be counted among the single and opinionated. Don't do it.
Friends who are recovering from fresh breakups. This person either believes that all members of the opposite sex are demonic, or he/she is trying to break the Guiness Book world record for number of hookups in a short amount of time. Be there for your friend, but realize that there's no good advice forthcoming from this source in the near future.
Newlyweds. This might sound crazy, but stay away from newlyweds. They're giddy and profess to know everything about love. They're card-carrying marriage advocates who rigorously encourage everyone in their midst to take the plunge. Talk to them in two years when they're more realistic.
Personally, I don't seek outside opinions about my relationship. Outsiders might take their limited views and make suppositions on what they see (or what I allow them to see), but the only ones who really know what's going on are me and my guy. And I plan to keep it that way.
Having said that, if there's any advice that I actively seek, it's that of seasoned couples who have been together for 30+ years. They know the ups-and-downs, ins-and-outs, and ultimately, how to be successful. If nothing else, I believe in setting myself up for success.
But, hey . . . don't take my advice. I'm just a relationship columnist.
Have you ever taken advice that has led you astray? Tell us about it.