Dating And Relationship Advice: You Asked But Didn’t Listen
(Written by Jasmine Davis: Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student and educator of Human Sexuality.)
Years ago an ex-boyfriend of mine told me “Don’t ask questions that you don’t want to know the answers to. And don’t go looking for things you don’t really want to find.” He was a cheater. Still, he’s right. However, this post is not about cheating. His words apply to so many things, and they came to mind when thinking on the topic of people that seek advice for something they claim to want but are just not ready for. In particular, I want to focus on those that ask for advice on, take one guess…Dating and relationships! (Come on, it’s in the title people)
There are so many people that ask for dating and relationship advice, but when it is given to some, they don’t want to hear it. They respond with a lot of “buts” about how nothing suggested to them works. They reply with comments about how they are “unlucky,” or (my personal favorite) they make references of not being blessed or it not being God’s will for them to find love. Statements like these take the responsibility off of the individual and put it on someone or something else. Is it possible that God’s path for you is a single one? Sure, but I guess I’d like to think you have to be ready for your blessing in order to be blessed. So before jumping to thinking that its God’s will for you to never get married to your ideal partner or for you to be unfulfilled in your love life, why not take a closer look at why relationship and dating advice might not be working for you, even though you keep asking?
There is a name for people that seek advice that they are not ready to hear or are not ready to apply to their lives, yet they keep asking. They are called “askholes.” No, really. Look it up. It’s a thing. Maybe the rhyme between the term askhole and the expletive most of us hear while reading it is related to the frustration that people feel when being asked questions, taking their time to try to help someone, and then being dismissed or argued with by that person because the person asking was not ready to listen. The word also makes me think of a black hole for advice, where all of the advice offered is just sucked in to the abyss (just for a dramatic visual). You don’t have to follow all or even any advice given to you, but if you are going to ask, you should at least be open to considering the response without being defensive.
If you are an askhole this post is especially for you. Not because you are frustrating me, nor do I think you’re an a**hole for asking and asking, or a black hole for advice. Conversely, this post is for you because I recognize you want a healthy relationship, but your thinking is keeping you stagnant. You are blocking your blessings, and you don’t even know it. I’d like to help get you moving in the direction you’d like. I use the word stagnant because usually when people seek relationship advice or any advice at all, they are asking for help moving forward in some fashion. If you have made a decision comfortably, and your relationship or dating life was progressing as you would like it to, you wouldn’t be repeatedly asking for advice for the same exact thing. Don’t misunderstand me, people in healthy happy relationships can still seek relationship advice to keep their relationships prospering, but most likely those people are not repeatedly asking for advice that they are already set against following. The point is you’re stuck, and you may keep on rebutting sound advice because you think you know better or because of something deeper, like fear that if you really tried everything you still couldn’t find someone to love you, but refusing all suggestions just leaves you stagnant whatever that means for you (e.g. single, in a stale relationship, or just unfulfilled).
I have come across many askholes seeking relationship advice in person and online. If you’re an askhole it makes no difference if you’re asking bloggers, friends, or even professional relationship coaches and experts. You will rebut an expert’s opinion as if it were no different than the opinion of your bitter single friend. You know your friend that is so negative about love and underneath they are sad as hell? You will debate with someone that is trying to help you about an opinion you asked for. Why do you do this you might ask? There are several reasons why, but to some it all up my guess is, it is a defense mechanism. It’s a behavior that is meant to protect you and whatever ideas you hold about yourself and from the anxiety or worry that you may feel around the subject of relationships.
What might make you anxious about the subject of relationships? Well lots of things, especially fear about never finding the right person or fear that you will not be accepted and loved by the kind of person you’d love. Fear of having your heart broken or fear that there is no one out there that could even break your heart. Or fear that what is going on with your love life is your fault. It’s the negative self-talk that you may or may not be saying out loud. What are the negative things you think about yourself, dating, relationships, and love? That is where you will find what is blocking you.
Speaking of fear that you’re to blame for your love life, you can be accountable for your choices and mistakes without beating yourself up about it. Something that is very hard for people to do is to humble their selves enough to learn from others about how they can improve, while being accountable for how fulfilling or lackluster their love lives are. Acknowledging you need to improve something may bring on anxiety that you’re at fault, which can make you feel inadequate and attacked. However, when you humble yourself enough to learn how to improve your love life, you have to accept that you have a major hand in being single or in an unfulfilling relationship. You also have to accept that there are some people that know more than you do about finding love or making it flourish. It’s like owning your power and trusting someone to help you learn how to use it. Furthermore, although on a surface level it may seem that you have completed the things that are being suggested to you, I’m willing to bet that you missed some things.
Maybe it’s not more advice that you need. And maybe it’s not that you need someone to help you apply all the advice you’ve been given from asking and asking. Because either way, both things will require you to be strong enough to take constructive criticism and to say “I tried this, but how can I do it better? What am I doing that is not working, and what can I do about it?” When you are ready to hear that and to make changes accordingly then ask as many questions as you’d like and seek help to apply what you learn to your life. Until then, nobody wants to debate with you to help you. So “don’t ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answers to, and don’t go looking for something you don’t really want to find.” You wouldn’t be ready for it if you heard it or you found it.
Jasmine is a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student and educator of Human Sexuality. She finds that helping people with serious problems daily is rewarding, but the very interesting and sometimes comical problems come from love, sex, and relationships. She gives her take on all three. It’s not therapy, but its therapeutic, and you can even sit on your own couch.