You need help with your relationship – but what if you get bad relationship advice? These 10 signs of good relationship advice will help you know if you’re getting tips that will actually save your relationship.
One of the best sources of good relationship advice (besides Ann Landers and Dear Abby’s relationship advice column of years ago!) is Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a book of good advice on relationships, family, jobs, friends, spirituality, decisions — I really enjoyed this book. It won’t give you specific advice on how to fix your relationship (or how to save your marriage), but it may help you see your situation more clearly.
Readers often ask me for relationship help here on Quips and Tips for Love and Relationships, but I can’t offer advice. I can, however, give you a few tips on how to spot the signs of bad and good advice about your relationship…
How to Recognize Good Relationship Advice
One of the most important things to remember about getting relationship advice – good or bad – is that even if it was wrong, you still could learn valuable lessons from it! “I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.” – Edna St Vincent Millay.
That said, however, you obviously want to get and follow good relationship advice as much as possible. I’m kicking these tips off with the two most likely sources of advice: family and friends.
1. Your family is giving you relationship advice for their own reasons
In When to Take Your Family’s Advice About Your Relationship, I describe how to recognize bad versus good relationship advice from your family. The most important tip for getting help with your relationship is to try to figure out if the advice giver has a hidden motive or agenda. For instance, I may tell my sister to break up with her boyfriend because I know if they stay together and get married, she’ll end up moving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and I’ll never see her again. This is a selfish reason to give advice on a relationship, but it happens surprisingly often.
2. Your friends are jealous of your relationship
This is one of the most heartbreaking and disappointing signs of bad relationship advice: jealous friends who want to destroy your relationship. They give bad advice because they want your relationship to fail for some selfish reason – and they may not even be conscious of their motives. When you ask friends for advice about your relationship, make sure they’re good friends you trust.
3. The advice giver is objective – a sign of good relationship advice
If you’re asking for relationship help from someone who doesn’t have a stake in your relationship, you’re more likely to be getting good relationship advice. That’s why couples go to relationship counseling: they get relationship advice that is objective, professional, and free of ulterior motives or hidden agendas.
4. Your gut feelings are telling you this is good or bad relationship advice
If you’re getting relationship help that is causing warning bells to ring in your heart and gut, then it’s a sign you’re getting bad relationship advice. Ignore relationship help when you have a gut feeling that it isn’t good relationship advice. Your gut instincts are there to warn you not to proceed in that particular direction. You need to be able to trust your instincts and gut feelings, even when you’re asking for help with your relationship because you feel confused and scared.
5. You know yourself – a surefire way to recognize good versus bad relationship advice
In Breakup Advice for Women Over 40, I say the best way to recognize good or bad relationship advice is for you to know yourself. When you’re thinking about the relationship help that was offered, how do you feel about it? What do you know about yourself that might change the way you think about the relationship advice?
6. The advice giver has the full picture of your relationship – the good, the bad, and the ugly
You know you’re more likely to get good relationship advice when you have fully shared everything about your relationship. You have disclosed your mistakes, weaknesses, and regrets. You’ve shared the shameful parts of your relationship, and you trust that the advice giver has the full picture of both you and your partner. You’ve been completely honest about your actions – and your partner’s actions – and you haven’t hidden anything. This helps the advice giver know what type of relationship advice to give, and even helps him or her give good relationship advice.
7. The advice giver has given you good relationship advice in the past
One of the best signs of good relationship advice is the past. If the advice giver gave you solid, healthy relationship help before, then he or she is more likely to give you good advice now. If you’re seeking relationship help from a stranger (like me, or any blogger you just met online!), how do you recognize good relationship advice? It’s much more difficult, because you don’t have a history with that person. But, you might be able to look at their past tips for relationships. I never recommend getting relationship advice online, but in some instances it might be helpful.
8. The advice giver has healthy, good relationships
Are you getting relationship advice from someone who has been divorced several times, who hasn’t been in a relationship for longer than a few months or a couple of years, and who doesn’t have good friendships or family relationships? That may be a sign of bad relationship advice.
9. The relationship advice is from a good resource
Good resources can be books, psychologists, reputable relationship websites, etc. If you’re getting relationship advice from someone who is using a solid resource as his or her base, then you may be more likely to avoid bad relationship advice. For instance, the tips I offer in Help for Codependent Relationships is a good example of relationship advice that is supported by an objective resource. If you get advice from someone you don’t know well, a sign of good relationship help is the source it’s coming from.
10. The relationship advice is honest and unbiased
You might not be surprised to learn that one of the best sources of good relationship advice might be from gay men. Research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that straight women and gay men form close relationships with one another because of the honest, unbiased relationship advice that gay men give. They have no mating motivations, no family agendas, no reason to subconsciously or consciously mislead women or give bad dating advice. Straight women and gay men don’t have hiddent dating or mating agendas, so they may be able to develop a deeper level of honesty.
If you are looking for good relationship advice from an objective reader, you might like Marriage Advice From a Wife Who Stayed Married Too Long.
What do you think of these signs of good relationship advice? I welcome your comments below – but I can’t give advice about your relationship!
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!
Source of research findings on relationship advice: University of Texas at Austin. “Trustworthy mating advice deepens bond between straight women and gay men.”