How much should your friends and family influence your relationships?
There is a famous saying in Portuguese: “Em assuntos de homem e mulher, nao se mete a colher”. In a loose translation, it means: “When it comes to couples business, don’t stick your spoon there”.
It is often not wise to tell your distressed friend things like: “dump that B**”. While it is good to hold your friends’ hand when they are going through hard times, one should be careful about meddling too much between couples. Often times couples resolve their issues or reconcile, leaving you, the friend, in a bad light with your friend’s partner. But who can resist offering advice when your friends ask for your opinion? In that case, the distressed friend should not make the mistake of telling their partner what their friends said. Otherwise, that friend will be forever on the sh** list.
On the other hand, should we always listen to what family and friends say about our relationships? Do they really know everything that goes on between a couple? That is a hard question to answer. Normally, those closest to you know you well. They can sometimes see objectively what we cannot when we are in the throes of love. And love and lust can be very blinding, especially in its initial stages.
So what do we do? Listen to our friends and family or listen to our own heart? I think we need to analyze what is the motivation behind the advice and what is the person who is giving you advice experiencing in their lives now. Ask yourself:
1) Is that friend giving you advice having difficulty in finding a partner themselves and therefore letting a tiny bit of jealousy interfere?
2) Are your Mom and Dad influenced by old ideas and prejudices (for example, racism, ageism, physical appearance or class consciousness)?
3) Is your best friend giving you advice on your love life while he or she just had a bitter break up and has a negative view of the opposite sex?
4) Is your best buddy telling you to leave your partner because he or she wants to have someone available to party with?
5) Is your friend negative about your partner because they are simply jealous?
6) Is your friend saying negative things about your partner or warning you about them because they want to keep you as a “back-up” in case they don’t find anyone more suitable?
Some people say that the best people to ask for advice are those who are happily married themselves. That might be true, but I think the best person to give you advice (besides a professional therapist) is actually yourself. How does your partner make you feel? What is the percentage of conflict versus peaceful and amorous times? Do you feel respected? How is conflict resolution between the two of you? Do you see improvement when you communicate your desires and feelings? Do you see signs of abuse? In any circumstance, your friends’ opinion about your relationship should serve as a way to make you think, but you need to very careful about its motivations.
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