Recently I got into a small exchange of words with a previous friend. During the conversation, the comment was made that I needed to get in a relationship before I give relationship advice. This comment struck my creative juices because I know this is the thinking of many people. Many people believe that a person who is not currently in a relationship cannot give accurate or beneficial relationship advice. I thought this would be a good time to explore some of the issues with this mentality.
I think the first thing we have to be careful with is not assuming what people know or don’t know. Because relationships are a major part of society, most people have some type of reference of good or bad relationships. You don’t have to have ever been in a relationship and you will have some basic knowledge of the concept. Most adults though have indeed been in relationships at some point in their lives. Therefore, you know something about them. Just because a person is not currently in a relationship, does not mean they can’t pull from the one’s they were in previously. Also, never underestimate the knowledge gained through witnessing the lives of others. Most of us have seen a lot of things through the relationships of other people. We’ve even learned some lessons from other people without ever having talked to them about it. People can learn a lot through the observation of someone else. Lastly, you don’t know what advice that person has been given from someone else. They may simply have felt it was great advice and wanted to pass it on to you.
The key to taking advice from anyone, needs to be predicated on who the person is, not what they’ve experienced directly. Most of us know the people well whom we choose to go to for advice or offer advice to us. You know whether or not they are capable of giving sound advice. I’m sure we all know one person who gives great advice on practically everything. Even if they have never experienced it, it seems they always have the answer. On the contrary, we all know that one person who has been through everything and you would never ask them advice for anything. I have had friends that even when they are in relationships I would never ask them for relationship advice. No shade towards them but I just know advice giving is not their strongest attribute.
The problem is, you can find yourself missing out on great advice if you focus too much on the situation of the person who is giving it. A homeless person can give amazing financial advice. A child can teach you a lesson about being an adult. Sometimes great wisdom can come from least expected places. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it because you feel their situation does not lend them to be qualified to give you that advice. You may be missing out on advice that can help you tremendously because you are judging. The truth is the circumstances can be misleading. Just because someone has been married for 10 years doesn’t mean they are qualified to give advice. They seem qualified until they give you the advice to stop tripping about your significant other not coming home or disappearing for a few days because their spouse has been doing it for years and they’ve learned to deal with it. Don’t let societal illusions be your measuring stick for advice.
Also, be careful to not discredit the advice of someone because they are telling you something you don’t want to hear. Most of us when seeking advice are really seeking validation of OUR feelings, not advice on the situation. So as long as someone says something we want to hear, we praise the advice they give, regardless of who is giving it. As soon as someone says something we don’t like, now we are ready to question their authority and merit of advice giving. Make sure when you are seeking advice, that it is actually advice you are seeking and be open enough to receive whatever is offered.
Lastly, I’ve noticed we tend to mainly if not only question the advice of the single woman. Single men give relationship advice all the time and no one ever questions their validity because they’re men. A single woman gives advice and we’re checking her relationship status before we listen to anything she says. Take Derrick Jaxn for example. We (women) love Derrick. We buy his books and clothing, watch his video’s religiously, yet never question his relationship status other than to see if we have a chance. Men don’t really care for him because Derrick has a way of calling men out or as they say “giving women false hopes.” Yet again, they never question his relationship status. Yet if a single, attractive woman was to try to build a brand giving relationship advice, no one would want to hear what she has to say. Why? Because she hasn’t accomplished what society has deemed as the ultimate feet, which is to get a man or in a relationship. Making that the only thing that qualifies her to give advice.
Now the main reason for the gender bias is, quite frankly, men aren’t really into relationship advice. Most men don’t really care what anyone has to say as long as they aren’t saying anything about their relationship. As soon as someone says something about their relationship, and that person happens to be single, they chime in and politely (or not) let that person know that single people can’t give them or their significant other advice. Unless it’s their single homeboy whose advice they always seem to take, knowing it is going to get him in trouble but does anyway because they’re boys. But we won’t dig into that. Women on the other hand, flock to relationship advice. We read books, blogs, magazines, and everything in between if we think it will help our relationship or lack thereof. So the reason single women giving advice doesn’t seem profitable to a another single women is that she appears to not have mastered the issue. How can she help me get a man or keep the one I got if she doesn’t have one?
While on the surface this may seem completely logical. The problem though becomes, no one really knows why this woman doesn’t have a man. She may be taking time to work on herself or lives in an area where men are scarce. The truth is, a person can do absolutely nothing wrong and still be single. I know it seems impossible, right? No one wants to tell people that because the relationship industry is predicated off the notion that someone has to be doing something wrong to be single. So here, read my book “10 ways to not be single” or “3 ways to make him love you” to “fix” your problem. Well I hate to break it to you, but you can do all of that and still be single. Especially as an African American woman. The numbers just aren’t in our favor. So with all that said, a woman’s relationship status does not mean she is more or less qualified to give advice on relationships. Her relationship status really only shows just that, her relationship status.
So can we please leave the back handed comments like “how are you going to give relationship advice and you’re not in one” in the past? We need not invalidate the advice of others because we feel they don’t meet the standard of expertise of advice giving. Meanwhile you are missing out on the advice that could really help bring clarity or change your situation around because you’re focused on the wrong stuff. I’m not saying take advice from anyone, but use your clearheaded, objective judgement of whether it is good advice. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.