By Laura Lifshitz
It’s not unusual to get bad advice from well, just about anyone. The worst, though, might be getting advice from someone who has no idea what you’re talking about. If you’re divorced, you know what I mean. Everyone has a piece of advice about how you should live, date, breathe and exist as a divorced person, even if they’re happily married. It’s like the hottest topic and everyone thinks he or she is a guru worthy of spitting out advice like Dr. Phil or Oprah. If you just recently separated, be prepared. The unsolicited advice is going to hit you like a bout of diarrhea after eating Pizza Hut. No disrespect to the “Hut,” but girlfriend is lactose intolerant and there is no hell worse than diarrhea, minus vomiting. That’s the worst.
So, batter up kids: the constant self-help and psychobabble is about to be unleashed because everyone knows how to handle your divorce better than you do. (Kidding).
1. Remember, People Like to Hear Themselves Speak
We are all guilty of this but some are more guilty than others. Sometimes, people just want to hear themselves speak. They want to feel important and relevant. Even if they’ve never been married before and know nothing about divorce, they want to hop in on the conversation. Just ignore and take any advice with a grain of salt.
2. Remember, People Care And Don’t Want to See You Down
Your friends may not have the best advice, but they dole out what they’ve got in their own collective toolkits based on their childhood, culture, religion, and lifestyle. It may be the worst advice you’ve ever heard or good advice with positive intentions, just misguided. Your people love you and want you to be happy. They will advise you in a way that could (in that person’s eyes) steer you towards happiness, even if it’s not something that would make you personally happy. Watching people you love go through a divorce and heartache – especially if that person comes with children who may also be hurt – is really tough. The advice comes from a desire to heal you and help you.
3. Remember, Everyone Wants to Be an Expert
Almost everyone knows someone who is divorced. You know how you know? Because they’ll tell you how their cousin’s brother’s uncle got divorced … how it all went down and how now, you should do exactly what that uncle didn’t do.
People want to feel knowledgeable in a crisis. Most often, they are not. You can always tell this person if you’re close enough that you don’t need advice, but you do need support, friendship and some fun as a distraction from the heartbreak. Chances are the person will be happy to help.
4. Remember, Since Everyone Wants to Be an Expert, Avoid Talking to Certain People
Don’t talk to coworkers or nosy neighbors about your marital blowup unless you want to have them talk about your divorce, or get really bad advice.
Sometimes, it’s best to keep your mouth shut or at the very least, don’t say much at all. It will only backfire if you do.
5. Remember, People Are Bored and Divorce Is Juicy
Let’s face it – adulthood can get pretty boring. Office life can get pretty dry and stale.
Your divorce might be the most interesting piece of gossip to come down the pipeline since someone in the neighborhood got a boob job, or some man in town shacked up with his best friend’s wife.
People will talk because they’re bored. Even your friends may find the divorce intriguing simply because they may be bored, married and wondering what your dating life will be like now that you’re divorced.
In general, your loved ones don’t mean harm. Neighborhood gossips do mean harm, but friends don’t.
Still, your divorce may be a whole new era of life for all around you. It’s like when all your friends start getting married or start having kids … life around you changes.
6. Remember That Many People Have Been Stung by Divorce
Your neighbor may be a child of divorce and now, seeing you go down the road just brings up old memories. Your best friend may have had a wicked stepmom or stepdad and she may want to heed you a ton of warnings. A friend may have had a partner cheat but after some time, they may have decided not to get a divorce.
Divorce touches many of us and therefore, our advice often carries personal feelings. While some people are very objective, others aren’t and divorce is laden with emotion.
No matter what, don’t get upset over unsolicited advice. Otherwise, you’ll be upset all the time. People like to add in their two cents. Let it roll off your back and keep in mind the person feeding you his or her wisdom. And not only that, more often than not, people mean well and want to help, even if it doesn’t feel that way. At the end of the day, you need to do what you feel is best for you in your life. If you really need guidance, seek a therapist, religious leader, close family member, or mentor for support.
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.