Think twice before playing the love guru


Laura Formisano Mug August 28, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

by [email protected]”>Laura Formisano

Often in life, especially concerning relationships, we dole out “sage,” often unsolicited advice. I know I’ve been guilty of it countless times – practically shouting my infinite wisdom from the rooftops, feeling quite self satisfied and superior (What do you think I’m doing now?).

And think about it, how many times do you start off a conversation with the words, “If I were him/her … ” We launch into our prescribed sequence of events detailing our every move if we were thrust into said position.

I have often concluded if I were in a situation,  I would act a certain way.

“If a guy ever put his hands on me, I would say goodbye before he could bat an eyelash.” Or maybe, “If some girl ever cheated on me, the relationship would definitely be over.” We all imagine our preferred reaction to these stereotypical situations and  voice our opinions to our friends who the oh-so-lucky recipients of our wise counsel. If I may add my two cents to this situation, I think constantly offering unsolicited advice  is wrong.

We like to think we’d act a certain way,  and want our friends to do the same. But we don’t honestly know how we’d react to these situations until we are in the middle of it. You can hope and pray you will say certain things, but until you’re in the thick of it, experiencing it and immersed in all the messy feelings going along with it, you don’t really know.

For the tough subjects in love there is no rulebook on how to proceed, generally because those bad things are “supposed” to happen. When scary, sad things happen, you can attempt to do all the disaster planning you want, but until you are working through the things, we should resist that tempting urge to judge.

We all make poor choices and mistakes. It’s what makes us human and the tie that binds. It can be argued our best and most valuable lessons are learned in those trying times.

That said, its frustrating to watch our friends agonize over decisions, make the “wrong” ones, date the wrong people, etc. Yet, we should resist passing extreme judgment with every conviction (yet no experience).

I’m not suggesting don’t give advice – especially when it is asked for – but tread carefully. Be gentle. Acknowledge you don’t know what it may be like, but based on what it is that you do know, perhaps choice “C” is better than “A” or “B.” I am working on this myself.

We know relationships, romantic or otherwise, are messy. Cliche, yes, but the reason it’s a cliche is because it rings true. Don’t make things more complicated by adding your imagined, seemingly well intentioned, yet overpowering “prescription.” Cautiously advise, closely listen, and above all, give love.