When I was in junior high and high school, I didn’t have boyfriends. Like at all. Ever. My friends, however, were absolutely gorgeous girls who always had boyfriends. As is the way with these things, I was the one they called when they had problems. Never mind the logic involved with asking the one girl who’s never had a boyfriend to dish out advice about love. I actually did give some great advice, in my not-so-humble opinion. I like to think this is because I’m innately wise, but I’m pretty sure it’s just because I’d watched a lot of TV, read a lot of books, and skimmed a lot of advice columns, which all prepared me to deal with just about any sort of love trauma. I’d dash off a few quick lines of counsel via AIM (this was the early 2000s) or email and my friends would type back, “You’re so good at giving advice!” before going off on their Saturday night dates and leaving me home alone with my constant dates, Louder Than Bombs and my journal.
Even now that I’m an adult with my very own love life, people still come to me with their problems a lot. And you know what? I love it. I’m relatively sure it isn’t my sublime wisdom that keeps people talking to me–instead, it’s my genuine interest and concern about their problems. I can’t help but love drama–it’s the writer in me. So, naturally, when a friend asks for my advice in matters of the heart, I’m all too happy to give it. However, I’m here to tell you just how easily that can blow up in your face.
On multiple occasions, I’ve been approached by both halves of a couple or would-be couple and asked for advice. For a amateur therapist and egomaniac like myself, this is some sweet, sweet nectar. How flattering! I’m so trusted! you’ll think to yourself. And then you’ll kind of feel like God. You know everything about how two people feel about each other, but they don’t know! It’s like watching a romantic comedy that only you know about.
Well, hold your metaphorical horses, missy, because the heart bomb’s a-tickin’. Sure, everything seems great now, but when this coupling doesn’t work out (as it inevitably won’t, because if these people were truly right for each other they probably wouldn’t need your advice), you’ll be left feeling guilty, stupid, or both.
Once in high school, two friends of mine liked each other and came to me for advice. “Go for it! You’re perfect for each other!” I gleefully advised. Well, turns out they weren’t, and when they broke up, they both ended up hating me (one for a brief period, the other for a significantly longer period). One of them accused me of hacking into their emails, which is laughable for a lot of reasons, mainly that I can’t even figure out how to download albums, let alone hack into an email account.
You’d think I would learn, but I rarely learn from my own mistakes.
A couple of years ago, one of my best friends (let’s call her Rachel) realized that one of her friends (let’s call him Ross) had a thing for her. She talked to me about it and I was all set to live vicariously through her. Then I got an e-mail from Ross. Ross and I weren’t friends, per se, but we were friendly. He poured his heart out to me via Gmail, and it was like the arc of a sitcom. In my expert opinion, they were perfect for each other! I mean, yeah, sure he had a girlfriend, but big deal. This was going to work out and never have any problems, ever!
Okay, back up. Here’s where I should have pumped those breaks. It is super, super inappropriate to give romantic advice to anyone, let alone both halves of a couple.
To my credit, I steered clear of flat out telling Ross what to do. But I did tell him that he should do his girlfriend a favor and break up with her, because yikes.
Anyway, you can probably guess what happened next. Yep. His girlfriend read his email because this was, obviously, a relationship with some trust issues. And his girlfriend read all those things I said about how he should really set her free instead of emotionally cheating on her.
And this coupling did not end up working out. It was for the best. Rachel’s now engaged to a great dude, and Ross is still with that girl. You know, the one I’ve never met who probably hates me. So that’s a thing I have to feel guilty about for basically forever.
Now, when people tell me about their romantic dramas, I generally just listen and share my own experiences. And if both halves of a would-be couple ever try to talk to me again, I’m going to politely but firmly remove myself from the situation, because damn girl! Inappropriate! Sure, I love love and hearing about people falling in love and getting those heart flutterings vicariously, but it really shouldn’t go any further than listening.
And just in general, “You should probably talk to him about this,” is always good and neutral advice to give a lady friend in any relationship situation.
Playing matchmaker almost literally never works out, so just save everyone around you some heartbreak and keep your opinions to yourself. And even if it’s just one of your girlfriends asking for advice, tread carefully. You never know when she’s going to get in another argument with her dude and mention that YOU told her he’s being a total dick. That doesn’t tend to go over well. I’ve had friends’ boyfriends hate me just because they thought I was giving their girlfriends advice.
What about you guys? Have you ever been involved in a situation like this? How did you handle it? And, most importantly, did anyone ever accuse you of hacking into their email account? Let me know in the comments!
*Picture of Steve Harvey because he’s someone who can get involved in other people’s dating lives and make bank. We are not Steve Harvey, so we shouldn’t try to be Steve Harvey. We ESPECIALLY shouldn’t try to wear Steve Harvey’s suits.