Ah, relationship struggles. Everybody goes through these types of situations. Your best friend comes at you, unleashing a torrent of issues that have built up and swelled inside them. You are their release valve now. You like this person, for whatever reason, and so you want to help them. You want to steer their life in a positive direction, because they’ve given you the wheel. Regardless of if you are a capable driver, you are here nonetheless. So what do you do when a friend needs relationship advice? Well, I have three little tips to give that might help you in your little dilemma.
First, you got to listen intently. I know this sounds obvious but nothing is more demoralizing to someone who is dumping out their soul than to see that the person they’ve trusted has not been listening. If you for some reason get lost while they are talking to you, it’s okay, it happens, you can ask them a question but make sure that it includes details that prove you were listening. It can be a person’s name or an emotional anchor point.
Reference a friend or a situation that you did hear, and ask them to explain. Be careful with this, it’s like a Millionaire lifeline for these types of situations. You’ve got two, or maybe three max. Otherwise, you don’t need to have a complete photographic memory, and friends will give you some leeway, that’s why the whole lifeline thing works.
2. Don't Be That Guy
Second, don’t be that person who responds to every bit of relational strife with “break up with them”. Listen. I get it. Sometimes it seems as if there is no way for a relationship to work, but you got to work your way into that. You can ratchet up the pressure later. Now, when they are baring their souls to you, is not the time to go on the offensive.
It’s important to realize that, even if you don’t understand why they are together, there is often a reason why they are together. You need to respect that when giving advice. Even in the event that you do think that this couple is toxic and should split, you cannot be the person to propose that idea. You have to let them come to that information on their own time.
Third and finally, you have to empathize. Your friend is obviously going through a lot of pain and they are looking for someone to shoulder the load with. It’s like moving furniture, much easier when you have a friend there with you.
You have to embrace this role as an emotional conduit, embrace their pain as your own. If this does not come naturally to you, it might be a difficult adjustment to make. If someone is in pain, you have to feel the pain as well. Someone is sad. You have to take that sadness upon yourself and mold it into a more palatable bit of emotion for them to handle. It’s a stressful job, but there’s a reason why you have been tasked with it.
Your friend believes in your ability to perform this task for them.