When we have a problem with our partner, the person we usually turn to is a good friend. We call them, we meet up, and we end up talking about the issues that we are having with our partner.
Talking about your problem or fight can help you gain some perspective on the situation and release your anger. This in turn can help you solve the problem with your partner. And maybe your friends even have some good advice on how to handle the situation!
There are however some pitfalls you have to be aware of:
One sided advice:
Your friends are your friends for a reason. They know you and they like you. They do not have this same bond with your partner and therefore might be more likely to blame them for anything that is going wrong, especially because they are only hearing one side of the story.
Although it is possible that the problem you were having is completely your partners fault… chances are that where 2 people are having a problem, both persons are responsible for at least part of that problem.
When your friend sympathizes with you, tells you “you are right” and helps you lay the blame on your partner, that can give you a false sense of superiority. Going back home with that feeling and trying to work out the problem will not have a high chance of success.
If you want to solve the situation (after you are done simply unwinding about the issue) you can ask your friends to play Devil’s Advocate. Ask them to be completely honest with you, about where they see you being responsible for this problem and how you can improve.
They will stop liking your partner:
Good friends can also be very protective. That is a good thing of course because it means that they care about you and only want the best for you.
It may also mean that when you come to them with problems about your partner often, they will only see the problem side of your relationship. Since they aren’t there for the making up part (usually ) they won’t know until you see them next that things are good again. It is human nature to always talk more about the things that are bothering us and less about the things that are great. So even if you might give them a call to let them know that “things are solved”, it will not have the same energy as an entire night of complaining about your partner.
When this happens over time, your friends may not understand why you are still with this person. They may even see your partner in a different light, and treat him or her differently. In the end, this can put you in a difficult spot between your partner and your friends.
You can avoid this by not only talking about the negative sides of your partner, but making a point to talk about the good as well.
Bad relationship advice:
Of course your friends will want what is best for you and they would never give you bad advice on purpose.
However, our experiences color our judgments and the advice that might work for them, may not be the right thing for you.
For example; a friend who has recently gone through a divorce might be more inclined to give advice on leaving your partner, instead of working on it.
A friend who is happily married might get you to forgive him, while that may not be in your best interest.
The only person who knows what is best for you, is you. Keep that in mind when your friends are giving you relationship advice and filter their advice through your own values and intentions.
Relationship advice from friends; good idea or not?
It is definitely a good idea to talk to your friends about your relationship, as long as you keep the following things in mind:
- Be honest about both your responsibility as well as your partners in a problem
- Talk about good things just as enthusiastically as you do complaining about the bad things.
- Keep in mind that relationship advice that might work for them doesn’t have to work for you.
If you have recurring relationship problems with your partner that you haven’t managed to work out yourself, I would suggest finding a relationship coach or counselor. Even if this problem is not a huge problem, if it is persistent, it will become a huge problem sooner or later.
A relationship coach is trained to see both sides of an argument and help you find a solution that will work for you. A good relationship coach will not join you in the blame game, but instead will help you see where you are responsible for this and how you can change it.