In today’s world, it seems that relationship advice is never in short supply. Whether it be from friends, a trusted family member, a celebrity’s social media page, someone on TikTok, a religious leader, a television program, or even memes, there is always someone or something readily offering advice on your relationship or relationships in general.
But how do you know if this can be trusted advice? It might be coming from a good place, a caring place, but is the advice sound advice? Would you even know the difference between good advice or bad advice?
Most of the time when we are looking for advice, we are so lost, that we are looking to grab onto anything that we can. Then we allow emotions to creep into it, and our perception of the person giving the advice tends to sway whether we think the advice should be trusted or not.
Which brings us to the question … where do you go to get relationship advice?
Look at the Person’s Credentials:
The best place to begin when seeking relationship advice is from an expert in the field as this represents someone with the education and training to be able to dispense such advice. Of course, if I am being completely honest, someone who is trained in this discipline, and is competent, will not be telling you what to do in your relationship. It is your life and your relationship and ultimately you must be responsible for the decisions that you make in your relationship. If anyone is telling you what to do in your relationship, you have every right to treat such advice with some skepticism. The exception is if any type of abuse is prevalent or suspected in the relationship, or the threat of harm is great.
So, if a trained professional does not offer advice, then how will they help when it comes to your relationship? They will help illuminate destructive patterns in the relationship and offer tools and techniques to break these patterns. They will help educate by citing research in the area, and they will guide and teach. But they won’t tell you what decision to arrive at.
A trained professional takes many forms. It could be a religious leader with the necessary training in this area, it could be a relationship coach, a therapist, or a relationship consultant like those at un•think. I would suggest sticking with someone who specializes in relationships. This is not a must, something to think about. Much like you would prefer to go to a doctor who specializes in hands for your serious hand injury, going to a professional who only works with relationships tends to be more specialized in that area. This should not be a deal breaker, the more important point is that you choose someone who has the necessary training.
Other than a trained professional where else can I get relationship advice?
Honestly, my list begins and ends with a trained professional. That does not mean that other people cannot be helpful, but the best place to go is to a trained professional.
How about friends and family?
Speaking with parents and friends can be very comforting, and you should utilize them for that very reason … for comfort. They love and care about you and offer support which is always very helpful. You should never underestimate the roll that support plays with regards to relationships or life in general. Where it can become unhelpful is when those close to you start acting like trained professionals because they care about you.
How about another married couple?
Often individuals or couples are given the advice to go speak with another couple about their issues because that couple has been married “X” number of years. Too frequently, relationships are judged to be successful or not from outside appearances. Success is also measured by how long that couple has been together. These are both terrible markers to use. A couple may have been married for 40 years until one partner dies, but that marriage may have been rife with abuse, whether physical or emotional. The relationship may have appeared to be a successful one from the outside, and even from the inside by one partner. What if the other partner has never voiced his/her unhappiness?
Also, these individuals or couples tend to speak from their experience. There is nothing wrong with listening to the experience of others when searching for relationship advice. There is much comfort to be taken from the fact that others have gone through the same struggles that you have or are currently going through. However, experience and even successful experience does not mean that the path taken leads to success. It could have been successful despite the actions taken, not because of them.
A simple example is that if I wanted to lose weight and starved myself for weeks. In turn, I did not get the proper nutrition and forced myself to throw up. I could very well still achieve the goal of losing weight. However, I think we can agree that this is not a method that one should take, nor should this advice be dispensed to others. Regardless of the result, this method has probably caused more harm than good, even if that harm is not visible to others at this time.
Surely experience matters!
The idea that someone who has gone through something would be a better help than someone who has does not apply in this area. If I bring back the hand specialist example, you would not only seek help for your broken hand from someone else who has broken their hand. You would go to a doctor regardless of if he/she had ever broken a bone in their life. You are trusting in the doctor’s education and training to help get you through that injury.
The same should hold true for help with your relationship. It does not matter if the person is married or not, if they have the proper education and training, you should feel comfortable in their hands.
So, when thinking about where to get relationship advice, think about what outcome you are looking for. If you are looking for support, then utilize your friends and your family. If you are looking to feel less alone and find comfort in knowing what you are experiencing others experience as well, then speak with others in long-term relationships to hear about their experiences.
However, if you are looking for someone to help increase your knowledge and understanding of relationships, some of the patterns that you are your partner fall into, and how to have a happier, healthier, and more successful relationship, then a trained professional is your best bet!