Monday, June 8, 2015

to give advice or not to give advice? That is the question.

Blake, a 42-year-old acquaintance, recently told me that he’s dating a 23-year-old woman whose culture restricts her ability to date. Apparently she can only date men who are seriously courting her for marriage. She lives with her parents, so she absconds to his house in secret when they want to spend time together. He doesn’t see marriage in their future due to their cultural differences, so it’s really a “dead end” (in his own words).

This is not the type of relationship I would be interested in pursuing for myself, but I told him that I trusted that he knew what was best for him and that he knew what he was doing. His response: “But what if I don’t know what I’m doing?”

It’s great that Blake is open to the possibility that he doesn't have all the answers. Too often, people forge ahead without questioning their decisions. We’ve all heard the excuses, ranging from “We have so many common interests!” and “Our chemistry is SO strong!” to “I don’t care if she’s married to a convicted felon—it’s just fate, okay?” But if Blake feels he doesn’t know what he’s doing, can or should anyone tell him what he should do?

It would be one thing if he had asked “Andrea, what would you do in my situation?” But he didn’t, and my relationship goals and priorities may be very different from his—not everyone is looking for the same things in a partner. Plus, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” relationship. While I’m never going to support a friend spinning helplessly into a delusion, Blake is (1) not at that point and (2) complicated in his own way, just like everyone else. Each of us has our own fears, desires, neuroses, needs, and past experiences; our relationships follow suit.

My advice to Blake: No one knows what you need more than you do. If you feel unsure, take a step back and define your dating goals and priorities.You have to start with trust in yourself and your own decision-making abilities before involving anyone else. If investing your time and energy into something that is a “dead end” is aligned with your dating goals and you’re upfront with the 23-year-old woman than it won’t turn into more than secret rendezvous, then I support your pursuit completely.

Would you have interjected your personal opinion in this situation? Have you ever wished your friends, co-workers, siblings, etc. were more forthcoming with advice? Comment below!

1 comment:

  1. this is so tricky! I think unsolicited advice is probably never a good idea and that it should always come from a place of love. I've definitely pissed off a couple of friends after lecturing them about their relationships and now i just wish i had kept my mouth shut.