Human beings love giving unsolicited advice about everything, but especially relationships. We presume that because we’ve done it before, we know how to do it right. But what do you listen to, and what do you ignore? Read more about navigating the world of human connection in How to Fall in Love with Anyone.
Most advice is given for the same reason homeowners tell you to buy and renters tell you to rent. The goal is not to make someone else’s life better, but rather to assure the advice giver of her own choices. And if you show even the slightest insecurity about your own relationship, advice will arrive often and unsolicited.
When I began to question my relationship with Kevin, I found the world was full of people just waiting to give me advice.
Don’t go to bed angry, they say. Never fake an orgasm. Keep date night sacred. Communicate more, react less. Buy flowers. You will hear this and wonder how you fell for someone who never once bought you flowers even though you hadn’t thought to want them until that day. You will become self-conscious during sex. You will think, He never says, “Okay, honey.” You will think you are doomed.
Love advice is inherently destabilizing. But it is difficult to resist others’ prescriptions for love—they are like ads for diet pills, showing you two images: Your insecurity is the “before”; their self-assurance is the “after.”
Sometimes, the best advice is no advice.