TALKING TO FRIENDS ABOUT RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS
Asking for help with your relationships can be really difficult.
Sharing your relationship problems can feel like a very personal thing. Many of us get embarrassed being open about something that is so closely linked with our emotions. And some people grow up with the idea that asking for help with relationships is somehow shameful or just something you shouldn’t do.
But talking to your friends or family about your relationships can be really important. It can give you new perspectives on what you’re dealing with, help you realise that other people have been through similar things and – perhaps most importantly – can help you feel less alone.
Who should I talk to?
Friends and family are a great place to start.
You may worry people won’t want to hear about your relationship problems or just feel really vulnerable opening up, but try to be optimistic. You may actually be surprised by how receptive people are to being asked to help. People often appreciate the trust you’re showing in them by talking about your relationship. They may also have been through something similar themselves, and appreciate the chance to share it.
They may also be in a position to tell you things you didn’t know – especially if it’s about a specific issue like dealing with finances, parenting, difficulties with physical or mental health or infidelity.
Talking to friends and family is particularly important if you’re facing physical or emotional abuse. In cases like this, you can begin to feel really isolated – as if there’s no-one who can help them. This may be something your partner is doing on purpose. Talking to others can be a real lifeline.
If you’re looking to talk to people who have been through similar issues problems forums such as reddit relationships, the couple connection or mumsnet all offer the opportunity to anonymously share what you’re going through or read about other people’s issues.
Finding out more about the problem you’re going through can also help you feel less confused and more able to make a decision about what to do next. There’s lots of helpful information on our site
Taking advice with a pinch of salt
Of course, getting help from others can come with its own risks.
People are often fairly biased in the kind of support they give – especially if they’re a friend or family member. Because you’re giving your friends a one-sided account it may be your friends will simply agree with and reinforce your take on the problem. This can help you feel validated but may create more distance between you and your partner.
Also, even if they have been through something similar, it’s worth bearing in mind that everyone’s lives and experiences are different, so what worked for them may not work for you.
Ultimately, your relationship may benefit from you and your partner finding the patience and strength to have some difficult or tense conversations to resolve what you feel is causing issues. If you think you need help with this, you might like to look at our three communication tips to try with your partner.
Getting professional help
Sometimes, getting professional help can be the best way of getting a truly objective picture of what’s going on.
Relationship counsellors are trained to be neutral. The process of counselling often involves looking at the bigger picture – thinking about all the things that have led up to the issue, examining the relationship as a whole, considering the various different perspectives involved.
This puts you in a position where you can start to understand how and why problems have developed in the long term.
In couples counselling, the counsellor will give both people the chance to speak and be heard. And in individual counselling, they will invite you to consider different ways of looking at what’s going on.
It can be a really useful way of thinking about any issues without emotions or pre-conceived notions about things getting in the way.