A clear benefit of the Information Age that we find ourselves in, is the fact that relationship advice for ANY issue is available online. The down-side is that most of this advice is unvetted and – often – highly conflicting, making it confusing to know what to make of it! The reality is that everyone has a different perspective on relationships, and it can be difficult to remove our own filter and see things for how they really are.
Websites such as Reddit have huge communities of members providing free advice on a number of topics – and their /r/relationship_advice is a popular resource for people who are needing some advice about their relationship. This can be a valuable resource for people who aren’t able to afford relationship counselling or coaching, or who aren’t quite ready to seek out help in person – but there are also some potential downfalls with this approach. As noted, often the people with the strongest opinion are also those who are least able to recognize their bias – and they may project the issues from their past relationships onto your situation.
Projection and transference are normal human responses – we all do them to some extent – but these can be somewhat harmful when we’re talking to people about relationships. For example, a person who has experienced an abusive relationship might advise another member to leave their relationship if their partner is displaying some ‘red flags’ of controlling behavior – without necessarily understanding the dynamics or personalities in the relationship. This is why therapists, Coaches and counsellors are encouraged to do their own therapy before working in this field – because it is very easy to project our own experiences onto others’, especially when it comes to relationships. Here are some things to consider if you’re using resources such as r/relationship_advice.
Sometimes people have unfinished business themselves – as noted, we all have our baggage – even the most together people. Everyone has emotional scars that they are dealing with, and unfortunately these are triggered when we hear about situations that remind us of our own pain (especially in an anonymous forum where someone is asking for advice!). There might be some valuable advice there, but it is important to remember that it might be coming from someone who is still dealing with their own experience – so it might not be best suited to your situation. It might be helpful to get some ideas from the forum, and then talk these through with a trusted friend or Relationship coach or therapist.
We might not like what we hear if we post something – You might also want to be prepared for negative reactions if you post about a situation with your partner – after all, we all have different ideas of boundaries when it comes to trust and communication. Consider to yourself whether you are looking for validation or advice with your post – and whether you will be okay if you receive negative feedback or criticism.
A trusted friend might be a better option than a public forum – We also need to remember that Reddit is a public forum, searchable by Google, and you may be identified from your post – either by your partner, or by others. Putting a private matter to a public forum, even if you believe you are de-identified, is something that needs to be carefully considered – particularly since this is not just about your privacy.
It can be hard to sort through good advice from bad – As noted, there is likely great advice in this forum – but it can be hard to tell the difference between the great advice and not-so-great advice. You might risk reading through the advice and choosing the one that suits you the best – which is not necessarily the best option. As noted, getting some inspiration from this forum is a good idea – and then discussing in further detail with a friend, therapist or Relationship Coach is the best way of managing a sensitive matter like this.
As you can see, there are several considerations when you’re using a public forum such as Reddit – and balancing the benefits with the risks can be a challenge. If you’re interested in getting some support for your relationship, but aren’t financially able to right now, you can try Relationship Coaching app Relish for free for 7 days – this will give you the opportunity to read through the lessons on communication, trust, intimacy and security, as well as speak to a trained relationship coach. Relish is a great option for people who are hoping to improve their relationships and resolve common issues such as communication and trust – so try it today!