Why You Should Always Take Your BFF’s Love Advice With a Grain of Salt
In every Sex and the City episode, thereâ€™s a standard anecdote reel that leads into the story: Carrie and her party of four reunite at some fancy restaurant for expensive drinks and dump all of their relationship issues and sexcapades onto each other.
As they play an adult game of Ring Around the Rosie with their stories, one womanâ€™s issues seem to be highlighted, as that will be the lesson for Carrieâ€™s latest sex and love column. Then, after the drinks start kicking in, the girls candidly dish out their own advice or reactions, usually drawn from past experiences or belief systems. Needless to say, the one in the hot seat either eats her friendsâ€™ comments alive or brushes them off, while subconsciously internalizing every word of it.
This anecdote has often found its way into my girlsâ€™ nights. We love to give advice to our girlfriends when it comes to just about anything. The only problem is, thereâ€™s a good chance our friends donâ€™t know what the hell theyâ€™re talking about, and taking their advice will only lead to disastrous outcomes, especially when it comes to relationships.
This past Valentineâ€™s Day, one of my closest friends and I were swapping V-day plans over the phone when she revealed that she and her boyfriend at the time decided they werenâ€™t going to do anything this year because he had a busy work schedule. Instead, the two were saving the romance for the following week. On the phone, she seemed totally okay with that plan, even after I shared mine. But after the holiday came and went, I checked back in with her and she and her BF had broken up. They had gotten into an explosive fight that involved my friend throwingÂ a major bitch fit.
Valentineâ€™s Day, of course.
My friend began telling me about how she had gone out with some of her other girlfriends and when she told them she had no Valentineâ€™s plans, they basically said her man was no good and that he didnâ€™t deserve her.
My friend has since moved on from that guy for other reasons, but that sequence of events still seems so relevant. Maybe that relationship wasÂ doomed from the start, but I couldnâ€™t help think that her friends played a significant role in ending it prematurely.
â€œYou can ruin a friendâ€™s relationship with bad advice,â€ Dr. Jenn Mann, lead therapist of VH1â€™s Couples Therapy and author of The Relationship Fix, said. â€œA lot of the times, itâ€™s not intentional. There are times that your friend is dating someone who is bad news, and you want to get them out for your friendâ€™s wellbeing. But there are a lot of times where good intentioned friends give bad advice and it is harmful to the relationship.â€
We often have a pretty high standard for our friendsâ€™ significant others, so we’re always ready to kick a friend’s new guy to the curb off when we think he’s done something wrong.
â€œWhen a friend tells a story about a fight they had with their boyfriend, it pushes our buttons. It may or may not be insecurities, but it triggers us,â€ says Dr. Jenn.
Most of the time, we imagine what we would do in that situation. But thatâ€™s just it: we arenâ€™t in that situation.
While itâ€™s always fun to compare stories or complain about similar issues, itâ€™s difficult to give advice to someoneÂ when you may not know both sides of the issue or the relationship. Yet, for some reason, we continue to thrust our own opinions on each other, thinking we have the perfect remedy to handle any situation.
â€œThe problem is that our friends donâ€™t see the bigger picture,” explains Dr. Jenn. “Itâ€™s really easy to take a simplistic view, but itâ€™s really important that friends try to not just look at one side of it.â€
At 24, I havenâ€™t mastered the art of combing through my friendsâ€™ advice or even censoring the advice I give to others. Truthfully, I love being a part of the conversation, but Iâ€™m starting to learn that it comes with consequences.
â€œWe have a tendency to share too much information and when we do, to not set boundaries,â€ Dr. Jenn says. “You do it with caution, with the understanding that your friend is not a licensed professional, that this is someone who probably feels super protective of you, and also has their own agenda,â€ she adds.
This is not to say that girlsâ€™ time will ever be erased from our weekly routines though.
In my own version of Sex and the City, at home with a few friends and a bottle of wine, I still welcome the comments of my friends and equally offer words of wisdom. But now, when it comes to extreme advice on my relationship, I have no problem telling them to STFU â€“ nicely, of course.