How to Deal When Friends Ask for Advice but Don’t Follow it

If you’ve ever had a friend ask your advice and then doggedly go out of the way to do the exact opposite of what you said, then you know that it can be super frustrating.

It’s not that we don’t want to give our friends advice. I, for one, am always happy to do so because it makes me feel like they value my opinion. And sometimes, a friend takes your advice, everything works out well and everyone goes home happy. But what about when your friend with serial issues constantly asks for your advice, only to self-sabotage at the last second? Or what if you’re the one asking for advice? How do you know what is the best choice for you and if you should ask for outside input?

This can be a tricky aspect of friendship to navigate. Here are a few ideas on how to handle the dilemma:

First, understand that people will do what they want, and just because they don’t listen to you doesn’t mean it was bad advice.

People’s actions revolve around their own desires. Ultimately, in many cases, it does not matter if they hear they should or should not do something, if they have already made up their mind about it. For example, if your friend knows deep down she really shouldn’t go back out with Josh the Fuckboy, she might ask your advice or try to get you to convince her to stay away from him. But in the end, she’s going to do what she wants, and some girls can’t resist the siren call of ye old fuckboy. You’re not a failure just because somebody doesn’t listen to your advice, and you can’t expect people to always follow it.

That said, if you have a serial advice-denier on your hands, you should speak up.

It’s not fair to you, as a friend, to give candid advice time after time to somebody who never takes it. Not only is it a complete waste of your time, but your friend is using you as a soundboard for possibly bad decisions that they might already know they shouldn’t make. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to gently tell your friend next time she asks for your opinion that you’re sitting this one out. If she asks why, tell the truth: “In the past, my advice hasn’t been taken and I don’t want to keep sharing my opinion with you if it’s not really what you want to hear.” It sounds rough, I know, but your friend needs to realize that her behavior is an attempt to ease some of her indecision off on you, and that’s not cool.

If you’re the one asking for advice, ask yourself WHY. 

Do you really want an honest opinion to begin with? Are you actually open to hearing something you may not want to hear? Or are you just seeking validation? You’re obviously, as stated above, not required to take the advice of anyone, even a best friend. We’re all big girls here. But if you’re asking for advice, it should be done with an open mind. Otherwise, why are you even asking for advice if you’ve already made your mind up? You know if your decision is a bad or good one, and dragging a friend into the mess isn’t helping you, her, or anyone else.

In the end, it’s all about becoming better individuals, so that we may become better friends. You’re not crazy if you ask for advice and don’t follow it; not everyone can give good advice 100% of the time and maybe something just doesn’t speak to you. But if a friend’s pleas for advice are a way for her to just chat through her guilt for making bad decisions, that’s not a problem you can fix for her. And you shouldn’t feel obligated to.

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