When To Stop Giving Advice
Wasting Your Breath
You know that one friend or family member that just can't ever seem to get it together? The one who is known for making poor decisions about the same thing over and over? The one who acknowledges the need for change but does nothing about it? They're called 'askholes' for the fact that they always ask for advice but never follow any of it. Ever. They are bottomless pits of despair.
Take my old college buddy for example.
My girlfriend since college had a baby with a married man. I remember the hysterical phone call I got when she found out he was married. Tthe man's wife called her. Said she found her number in his phone. She cried and swore that she wouldn't see him anymore. She kept saying she felt so betrayed and so bad for his wife. Mostly she was angry at him for lying. I was just beside myself. I hated hearing her in so much pain. I couldn't imagine what she must have been feeling. Just a few weeks later she called to tell me she was pregnant by that same married man. She was still seeing him and had no intentions on stopping. She was in love.
Gimme a break!
As true friends do, I told her she needed to kick his ass to the curb and stop the madness. She said I didn't understand and that she couldn't just turn her feelings off like a faucet. Speaking of drips, did I mention that he gave her chlamydia?
Well he never did fully committ to her (what a surprise) and he never did leave his wife for her. As a matter of fact, the harder she pressed him to make a committment, the less he dealt with her. Eventually after years of stringing her along and playing games, he left her and their daughter alone altogether. She was left feeling rejected, embarrassed and a whole lot of other things. That was nine years ago.
Recently, my friend called to tell me to that she was again talking to this man, who is now divorced. Her daughter has no relationship with him whatsoever, but she is hoping that they can be a family now. She went on and on about how she was believing that God would help her make a family with this dude. Said she had been praying for years on this. Her only complaint was that he is still an alcoholic and he is unemployed.
It was at that moment I knew I couldn't do this anymore. I couldn't care about her life more than she did. I couldn't care about her self-esteem, her future, her daughter, her self-respect more than she did. And all the advice I was giving her was for nothing because her mind was already made up. People like her like to waste people's time fishing for attention and affirmation. I stopped giving her advice and I stopped listening to her problems for the following reasons:
- She had problems that she did not really want to change.
- She had never actually done anything I advised her to do, even though she agreed the advice was great.
- She was never available to me when I needed someone to vent to.
- I began to resent her and our friendship because of the time I was spending listening to her problems.
- She only called when wanted something.
- I realized I cared more about her future than she did.
- I didn't see that anything I was doing was actually helping her.
If any of these thoughts or feelings sound familiar, you may want to reevaluate your relationship and the time you are investing in being a "good friend". Do yourself a favor and recognize when someone is just using you to vent or to tell them what they want to hear. You may be enabling a toxic relationship. People sometimes do need extra attention and TLC in difficult times, but helping people should leave you with a sense of satisfaction. If you feel empty all the time after giving to a certain person and it just begins to feel bad, then it's time to stop and have a serious talk. If they value your friendship they will hear you.