Do you take dating advice from friends? It often goes like this:
You have met a new guy that you really like. You’ve gone on a second date and you’re pretty excited about him. You call your girlfriend who has been receiving ongoing reports since you first connected with him online. She knows everything that’s actually transpired between you as well as what’s been going on in your mind since the first email.
You tell her all the good stuff: he was on time and picked a great restaurant, he listened intently and asked questions about your life, and he told you of his dream to return to Paris with a “special woman.” (Woohoo!) He also told you that you looked beautiful, and asked where you wanted to go on your next date.
Then you tell her about that one thing he said that kinda bugged you. It didn’t seem big, but you want her take on it. You tell her verbatim (of course), you hear silence, and then she finally says:
“Damn. He seemed so great. I guess he’s just like the rest.”
By the end of the call you’re thanking her for helping you see the light, and composing how you will tell him that you don’t want to see him again.
After advice from your friend, another one bites the dust.
This Can Be the Road to Love and Dating Hell
You know the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well, here’s my version: The road to dating and love hell is paved with good intentions, particularly those of your friends and family.
That’s right: Even though your friends and family probably want the best for you, they may be sabotaging your love life in various ways, and neither you nor they have any idea it’s happening.
Does your sister instantly dismiss every man you meet based on some set of undefined rules?
Does your best pal at work seem to relish your relationship drama a tad too much?
Does your so-called good friend constantly remind you that you’re better off single?
Does your mother or father let you know that you’re not married because there is something wrong with YOU?
If any of this rings remotely true, here is my advice (and it’s not the sabotaging kind): You are a grownup now, not a 16-year-old girl who needs her friends and family to approve of whom she dates or whom she loves.
The feelings around romance and love can be fragile and, if you allow it, can get very complicated. I advise that you proceed with some caution when it comes to baring your soul about your dates or relationship.
You don’t need to call up your bestie after each date and give her a blow by blow. You don’t owe your co-worker or anyone else who will listen a weekly status report on what your dating coach says or the details of every contact you make online. And you definitely don’t need to share details about your quest for love with your parents or children.
YOU Should Be Your Best Advisor
The best perk of being a mature dater is that you finally value who you are and what you want. You are your own best friend and you know what is right (and wrong) for you. You have a better understanding and appreciation of yourself and men, and know what you must have in order to have a fun and fulfilling relationship with a man.
(You do know these…right? You’re here, so I’m assuming you’re at least working on this for yourself. It can take some time. If any of this still eludes you, here is a great place to start to figure all this out and prepare to be your own best advisor. Most of the time you don’t need dating advice from friends.)
As a grownup with the right experience and information, you can tune into your own thoughts and feelings with clarity. You can inform yourself if you are feeling joyful, adored and valued when you are with the man you are spending time with.
You already have the advice of a smart, compassionate truth teller: yourself! My advice is to always check in with her before you go to someone else. This self-trust has to come first.
Now, I’m not saying that when it comes to decisions about love and romance you should only rely on yourself. I’m saying that first and foremost you should trust yourself. Then, when you do reach out for help, be very judicious in selecting whom else to trust.
(As a note, if you don’t feel you have any clarity about how you should feel and how you feel about yourself, then stepping back from dating and devising a plan to get help creating this self-trust is the next step you should take.)
You are selective with whom you choose to support you with other big life decisions, right? Would you ask your banker about which dress to wear? Or your dog-walker for investment tips? So maybe listening to your spinster aunt or man-hating girlfriend isn’t the best way to get you closer to finding true love?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to carefully choose who to rely on for support as you date and enjoy a relationship. Seek advice from someone who:
- Is in a happy, healthy relationship or is, herself, trying to achieve one.
- Sees and appreciates you for who you are today. (Not like your parents who may still see you as that silly 16 year old.)
- Truly likes and understands men (or at least, like you, is trying to).
- Doesn’t get vicarious thrills from others’ sadness or disappointment.
- Understands exactly what YOU want and supports you based on that. (Rather than what s/he thinks you should have.)
- Can truly share in your happiness without competition or jealousy.
And then, assuming these things:
- Can be honest with you; even if it’s not in agreement with your point of view. (Sometimes you need to hear the truth…even if you won’t like it or it may hurt a little. A real friend won’t always blame the guy just to make you feel better.)
Bring Him Around at the Right Time with the Right Folks
Think about this also in terms of how you integrate him into your life. In the early stages of a relationship do not bring your guy around your family or friends until the two of you are on steady ground. (That happened with my husband, Larry, almost instantly. For you that may take a couple months.)
Maybe your friends are so used to you being single it will be an adjustment to see you as part of a couple. (That’s pretty common when you’re dating after 40.) You never know what “hilarious” story they may decide to tell or how seeing you in love might bring out some jealousy or envy. The green-eyed monster can make the best of us a little snarky at times. (Not pretty, but human and true.)
Your family and friends love you and want to see you happy. I certainly want to see you happy and am here for you. But YOU are the one who wants it most of all.
So get in a place where you can trust yourself and be your own confidant. Check in without yourself first and then be discriminating with who you set up for the next round of input. Pay attention to how your friends and family try to support and advise you. Make sure their selfish or uninformed advice isn’t masquerading as good intentions.
If you find that you have been seeking (or getting unsolicited) advice from someone who is not in a position to support you in a positive and productive way…just tell her “No thank you. I appreciate your support but I find it’s best for me to take my own advice right now.” Yes…this may upset her. But if she’s a real friend she will understand the importance of getting this part of your life right. (And if she doesn’t, I question her commitment to your friendship.)
The road to love and dating hell is paved with all kinds of good intentions from people who have no business giving their two cents. Avoid taking it, or you may find yourself with much more time to spend with that friend since you won’t be dating anyone!