The Sex Files with Emily Morse

Good Friends, Terrible Dating Advice

Why you should be careful taking guy advice from your girlfriends

There are certain things you can always count on from your girlfriends: You know that no matter what outfit you’re putting together, they will have the shoes to match that top. They understand the healing power of a latte. If you need feminine supplies, they will not rest until the correct product is slipped discreetly into your hand. And most importantly, if you are experiencing relationship troubles, they will be there at the drop of a hat to listen, analyze and give advice. Even it is three in the morning and you’re freaking out over a mixed text message, you know that all you need to do is put out the bat signal and they will materialize, wine in hand, to help you sort through the mess.

Women are great at giving relationship advice in theory. Why? Because we are masters in the art of speculation. Get a group of us together and we turn into a mini task force of relationship archaeologists, prepared to dig and dissect until we get to the bottom of any relationship predicament. However, once you have reached the issue’s epicenter and the advice starts flying, this is where the trouble really starts. Mistake a friend’s opinion for expertise, and you could end up making some terrible dating decisions based on some seriously misguided guidance.

Taking relationship advice from friends is like accepting spiritual counseling from your barista at Starbucks – It may feel good at first and go well with the latte, but will generally leave you with more questions than answers. No matter how helpful your friends may be, relationship advice should not be taken as blindly as a tampon passed under a bathroom stall.

Here are 5 reasons why:

#1: They tell you what you want to hear

Women by nature are nurturers – We mend the wounds, we comfort, we say things to keep your spirits up and help you fight the good fight. Unfortunately, the things we want to hear aren’t always the things we need to hear, and this becomes doubly true when it comes to guy advice. That’s why the book “He’s Just Not That Into You” was so groundbreaking – Women had seriously never heard anything like it before!

When we ask a friend to give their honest opinion about a dating predicament, we have a tendency to ask it like a lawyer leading a witness: “He’s probably just really busy with work, RIGHT?” “Doesn’t it seem like HE is being passive aggressive?” “TELL me I’m not totally crazy for thinking this.” It becomes clear that we are looking for validation, not the cold hard truth, and so that is what our friends provide.

Aside from that brutally honest girlfriend we’ve all got stashed somewhere to talk us out of radical outfit choices, your friends do not want to be the bearers of bad news. They do not want to say anything that might taint your view of the situation, or even worse, say anything that could boomerang back later and affect the friendship, so they stick with the safe route.

#2: They are biased (In your favor, but still)

It goes without saying that your friends think that you are awesome – They’re your friends, after all. Of course they think that you’re a catch and that you can do no wrong. The problem is, because they are so firmly on your side in all things, they might not be able to call you out on your bad behaviors or patterns, which doesn’t do much to help you grow as a dater. Plus, they’re really only hearing one side of the situation, which makes it hard to give a clear objective reading. They are team YOU all the way, without really having all the facts.

So you sit and you analyze and you go over every word spoken, typed and texted together, and they give you your final verdict: Not guilty. It’s all HIM, he is in the wrong, and you are better off. This may feel good at first, to have all your friends rallying behind you, but it could also stop your from seeing the big picture. Who knows what you may walk away from, without considering all perspectives and possible outcomes?

#3: They have mixed motives

Of course, your friends want you to be happy. But they are also human people, who have their own feelings and desires that may interfere with their ability to remain objective. I’m not saying that they don’t want you to be in a relationship until they are (although this is sadly sometimes the case). However, they may start to feel a little territorial with your free time, and these worries may start to manifest in some anti-relationship advice. You’ve heard it before: “Who needs a guy in their life? This is the BEST TIME to be single! Just do you!”

It’s like, yes they want you to find love, but they also want you to be available every Friday night for girls night out. They want you to lose yourself in relationship bliss, but they don’t want to lose their go-to wingwoman, what with summer coming up and all. Even if it’s tucked away deep down in their subconscious, it’s possible that your friends’ fear of losing their partner-in-crime could cloud their advice-giving ability.

#4: They haven’t had the best experiences to go off of

When we hit a snag in the course of a relationship, we immediately run to our friends for help, assuming they will have all the answers. But like Samantha said in one episode of Sex and the City, “We’re just as (messed) up as you. It’s like the blind leading the blind.”

It’s completely natural to turn to our fellow single friends who are stuck in the dating trenches as well, mainly because they know what we’re going through – They can commiserate! Unfortunately, if the friend you are turning to for guy advice has a string of unhealthy relationships under her belt.. Chances are, her advice is not going to lead you into a steady situation. It’s harsh, but it’s true. Would you take personal training advice from a person who never hits the gym themselves? Probably not. The saying “Do as I say, not as I do” does not translate when it comes to dating advice. Get yourself a second opinion.

#5: They think their experience is your experience

Maybe it’s the fault of women’s magazines, or perhaps romantic comedies have led us astray, but women have a tendency to believe that all men, not to mention all relationships, are the same. How many times have you opened up the latest Cosmo to see “5 Ways to Tell If Your Guy Is Cheating” or “10 Things Every Boyfriend Wants to Hear”? It creates this idea in our heads that one dating strategy applies to all men. This “group think” tends to bleed right off the page and into our personal lives, which leads me to my final and most important tip: Relationship advice is NOT one size fits all.

We’ve all got those friends who have had success in their love lives, and therefore think that they know it all. So when you go to them asking for guidance, they give you advice based on their experiences, communication styles, and dating types.. Which unfortunately might be completely opposite to yours. Perhaps the “hard to get” method worked with your friend’s last beau, but that doesn’t mean it will get you want YOU want. Maybe her awful ex was a cheater and a liar, it doesn’t mean that your dude is following suit. Don’t allow your friends’ pasts to influence your present decisions – Different strokes for different folks.

In no way am I saying that your female friends are not to be trusted, or that they do not have your best intentions at heart. Your girlfriends absolutely want the best for you. They want to you to get everything that you want, and more importantly, everything that you deserve – They just don’t know how to help you get there. You can’t expect anyone else to be an expert on your love life, because only YOU know what is right for you.

Instead of turning to your friends for relationship advice, treat them as a sounding board, a way to externally process your thoughts and feelings. You may be surprised to find that simply verbalizing these emotions and experiences can bring you the clarity you need. And sure, your friends may offer unsolicited advice from time to time, but you can treat any outside opinions as just that: Opinions. Trust your gut and know that, no matter what decisions you make, your friends will be there to support you and catch you if you fall. After all, THAT is what they’re really there for.

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