With Love and Gratitude

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3 Dangers of Love Advice

The first love advice rule is to consider the source.

Thomas Kaufman for Les Cardes de Belville
Love is fraught with hidden agendas both conscious and unconscious.  In the world of love advice, it takes a bit of confidence and clear thinking to sort out advice that is valid from advice that is self-serving.  The first love advice rule is to consider the source! Doing so will spare you the anxiety of wondering if you are making a thoughtful decision.

Since the New Year, I have I found myself lost in translation trying to decipher for others the meaning of unsolicited advice that their friends all too readily offered.  

However, sometimes we feel the need for advice from friends particularly if we are in a love quandary.

Advice oftentimes comes in three wrappers and each carries an inherent danger

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  • If I were you -- Keep in mind that this type of advice is usually tailored to what they would do if they were you, but they are not!
  • In my case --  Oftentimes people who give advice do so based on personal circumstances, which may or may not be relevant to your own situation.
  • What you want to hear -- This group dishes out advice that they think you want to hear even if they would not necessarily follow the advice for themselves.

Despite warnings you might receive about a man in your life from women friends, ask yourself this: Are they in a positive relationship?

Here is just one example of how advice can impact a situation

The young woman dating a twice-divorced older man had her heart set on marriage before her biological clock stopped ticking. Despite warnings from friends, she believed "three is the charm."

At a dinner party one evening, a women said to her: "That guy of yours is some flirt!"

She responded:  "If he finds a woman who loves to laugh with him more than I do, who loves loving him more than I do, and who adores him more than I do - he should marry her."

Her overhead good-natured response triggered two bits of unsolicited advice.  One woman said: "Honey, look what happened to me.  I kept thinking my man was too old and tired to even look at another woman.  Now she has a diamond as big as the Ritz and I'm stuck with teenagers in a big drafty house.  If you want this guy, fight for him."

Then her beau's tennis partner chimed in:  "Don't worry about his flirting.  He's with you and is not going anywhere.  And he sure isn't going to marry again."  (Those words left her in tears.)

The Don'ts of advice

Never ask or listen to advice from those who have an answer for everything.  This category includes:

  1. The inflexible -- my way or no way.
  2. The know-it-alls. Sometimes they are committed to a decision because they  made a wrong decision and misery loves company.
  3. Those who go to the phone, dial a number and say, "Here talk to my lawyer.  You need help getting out of your marriage."
  4. Those whose minds are made up who will cajole you into abandoning your own intuition.

The best advice on advice

  • Do evaluate advice; that is consider the source.
  • Do ask advice from friends whose decision making skills you respect and who have made wise, even forgiving choices in tough situations.
  • Be open - some advice is given because a friend sees you falling into a love trap and the stars in your eyes are preventing you from seeing the truth.

The upside of unconditional love

With regard to relationships, keep in mind that each of us can change a man's attitude - not as in "change the man"  but rather his interaction in a relationship. 

If you are a person of love and trust, you are likely to find yourself in a happier place than women who are admittedly jealous types,  who are never quite satisfied, or who relish in documenting the faults and foibles of men. The gift of unconditional love can work relationship miracles.

But the downside to a Pollyanna attitude  - men might not realize that deep inside your feelings are fragile. As such, you may need to take a chance on articulating your needs rather than expecting a man in your life to be a mind-reader.

The best advice to follow?  Your instincts. Women who look to their heart of hearts know, they instinctively know.  

From the Art of Decision-Making: 20 Winning Strategies for Women by Rita Watson

Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

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Rita Watson, MPH, is an Associate Fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College and a columnist for The Providence Journal.

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