Two Steps to Better Friendships

Almost all of us at some point or another have had to deal with an unsupportive friend. When I was younger, I was guilty of giving friends advice and then getting frustrated with them when they didn’t meet my expectations.

Situation : Your friend is involved in something toxic. Be it a bad relationship, poor career choices, bad money decisions *cough cough; the situations are endless. You see the bad situation unfolding, and attempt to try to help your friend through it by giving good advice and pushing them in the right direction. Your friend then ends up doing something else, and you get frustrated that they aren’t fixing the problem.

If it happens enough, you start to get angry and frustrated that they are stuck in the same cycles of negativity.

Your friend gets frustrated that you keep pushing her to do something other than what she wants to do, and your relationship suffers.

You will of course always think that your instincts about your friend’s situation is the best thing for her. Chances are you are operating on your own personal bias, and that could mean you are just plain wrong about the entire situation. Maybe, you are right. Sometimes your friend’s boyfriend really IS cheating on her, or she shouldn’t buy a $500 pair of shoes using her student loan money.

Friends do often ask for and offer advice to one another. It makes sense that when you see a friend hurting, you want her to make the right decisions in order for her to be happy and successful. The are two things you should consider when doling out advice to a friend:

  1. Make sure the input is wanted, and warranted. Before you start spouting off ideas about what your friend should do, check to see if she is genuinely asking you for help or just venting. If she isn’t asking or wanting advice, she’s not going to be open to anything you offer up.
  1. Provide unrelenting love and support. You know who needs support? People that are going through tough situations. Sure, your friend should probably leave her terrible partner behind, but if she is not ready to she is NOT GOING TO, no matter how much you tell her she should. Period. People need to come to decisions on their own, not with intense pressure from others. Getting openly angry and frustrated when your friend doesn’t follow your advice is not going to help her, and you may damage or lose your friendship.

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Friendships don’t consist of two people with identical thoughts and opinions. Otherwise, we’d all be robots. The best parts of a friendship are the lessons and experiences that these differences can create. I have learned that letting go of my own wishes for my friend and letting them find their own way has made my relationships stronger and happier. By creating a positive, supportive environment you will be helping your friend to the right decision better than any unwanted, negative criticism ever could.

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Comments

  1. This is great advice. I have a friend who regularly vents to me. I sometimes make the mistake of offering her advice to which she gets offended over or ignores. Unless I am 100% sure she is ready for advice, I do not give her my opinions. I just listen.

  2. These are great steps to keep two people happy. Is there ever a point when you cut the friendship for fear of the negative influence? No, right?

    • Thank you! As I’ve gotten older I have cut some friendships loose, but the ones that count can always be worked on, even when it gets tough!

  3. I’ve found as I’ve gotten older my friendships have gotten seriously messy.. I had no idea how to handle some situations (like a close friend of mine cheating on her husband). It’s tough to offer support without feeling like your encouraging bad behaviour. Good tips!

  4. It’s definitely hard to give advice and have your friends not follow it. But sometimes I think if a friend changes too much and goes down the dark path, it’s hard to remain friends. Your interest are extremely different.

  5. I would also add that it’s important to make an effort. Don’t get comfortable in your friend always turning to you, making plans with you, and reaching out to you. Eventually (s)he is going to see that it’s one sided.

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