How to Advise Others on Relationships

Generally, Advise Others on their Relationship

When you are planning to advise on other’s relationship problems, don’t be too hypercritical. Every relationship is different and try to avoid using your relationship or personal experience as “the right way” to do things. Sharing your experience is helpful, but stay away from being too specific or hypercritical of the other relationship simply because it is different from yours. To advise others on their relationship, stick to principles not procedures. Try and give them a solid ground that allows them to build a healthier relationship on their own. If you advise them with a “to-do” list of cookie-cutter steps to improving their relationship, you may be making the situation worse. Rather than advise them on what to do, give them some advice on how to approach the problem from a moral or principled standpoint. For example, if your friend is becoming jealous about his girlfriend’s Facebook usage, don’t tell him to “do this” or “check out that.” First of all, there may be good reason for the jealousy that you may not know about. Second, he’s not learning how to approach such problems himself in the future. Have a general discussion about jealousy and whether the Facebook account is really the issue. Help your friend identify the root cause of his frustration and advise him on that.

Listen Before You Advise Others

It’s hard, if not impossible to advise a person on their relationship problems if you don’t understand the issue. Listen carefully to the individual and wait until they have finished speaking until you offer relationship advice. It’s best to wait until you are prompted with them saying, “What do you think?” or” What would you do?” Most people just want to be listened to (it helps compose your own ideas), not spoken to in a condescending manner. If you see a problem in a friend’s relationship, advise them carefully, but listen first.

Be Sensitive when Giving Relationship Advice

Because you are on the outside of the relationship looking it, it is sometimes easier to see the flaws and immediately point them out. When you’re commenting on other’s relationships, advise with caution. You may be discussing a very sensitive subject. Try and empathize with the person you are advising, put yourself in their position and offer generic advice that is beneficial to everyone. Humor is a good tool to lighten the mood, but be careful not to lessen the importance of the topic with poorly placed jokes.

Give Helpful Relationship Advice

If you are going to advise others about their relationship, keep your comments honest and simple. Don’t over-complicate the issue or give relationship advice that you would disregard as unhelpful or wouldn’t apply if you were in their situation. Be genuine, sincere and communicate that you care for them. Always keep your advice positive. No matter how much you may dislike the other person in their relationship, avoid character assassinations or attacks on their personality. Your purpose is to help them create a healthier relationship, not tear it apart.

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