We couldn’t keep our eyes off of each other as we sat across the dinner table. I followed her lead and began shamelessly flirting. We had just met, and all I knew about her was that the chemical attraction to her was real, and thick.
Was this what “love at first sight” feels like?
At one point in the evening, my buddy Rob took me aside, looked at me straight-faced and said… “Don’t.”
I was put back on my heels with his military-style order tone to his voice. “Don’t go after her. She’s trouble. She’ll never be loyal to you. She’ll use you, and toss you aside. She never dates guys for more than a couple of weeks, and never is monogamous. Just…don’t.”
I took my friend’s advice, backed-off, and moved on. When a friend gives you dating advice, you take it. Right? Love can create momentary blindness when it comes to rational thought, and we must rely on our friend’s clear thinking to help us through the emotional mind fields. Right?
I quickly forgot about the girl, and went on about my life, until one day when I saw on Facebook that my friends (including Rob) were at her wedding. And a few months later, at her baby shower. It seemed she just might be not as much “trouble” as Rob had made her out to be. It seems that his friendly advice might have been wrong, and a little bit tainted.
It turns out that Rob’s advice was biased, based on his own experiences with the girl. She had dated him once or twice, and then she lost interest, and started dating another friend of his. He was hurt by her rejection, and projected his pain back on her as a venom-laced thought as “a woman who toyed with men’s emotions,” –it made him feel a little better about the rejection.
Of course, in reality, she was just trying to find the “right” guy to fall in love with.
And it wasn’t Rob.
And now, because of Rob’s biased and tainted advice, it wasn’t going to be me either.
You see, friends often give advice that’s good for them, but not necessarily good for you. I find that few people have the capacity to truly put themselves in another person’s shoes to give advice. Instead of “If I were in your shoes, I’d…” they are really delivering advice as “If this was happening to me, this is what I would do.”
And it is important for all of us to know the differences between those types of advice.
If a friend is truly putting themselves in your shoes, they are trying their best to be the rationally-focused doppelganger to your emotionally twisted self.
If a friend is thinking how they would respond to a situation if it were happening to them, they are placing their own emotional-baggage atop the scenario—not yours. The reality is, they’re giving you advice that’s good for them, not necessarily advice that’s good for you.
But don’t get me wrong. My advice is not to take any advice from friends, just know what type of advice you are getting—are they placing themselves in your shoes, or are they advising you based on “If it were me…”
And at the end of the day, take your friend’s counsel, but make your own decisions.
You could be married with a couple of kids by now.
But that’s just my own advice for what’s good for me.
Author Jack Reid is a relationship expert and author of the “Jack Knows” column on FIVE THôT.