A lot of people ask me for advice on dating - what to say, how to write a profile, how to read a guy. I suppose this is because I've been dating for almost four years.
I'm also asked for advice on singlehood - again, I suppose because in between my brief relationships over the last few years, I've become somewhat of an expert at being single.
I'm rarely (if ever) asked for advice about marriage. I suppose that makes sense. I mean - I'm divorced. By default, I'm not really qualified to give advice on how to have a "successful" marriage.
It's a little funny to me that people think of me as an "expert" in something at which I'm relatively new, and a complete failure at something I did for most of my adult life. After all, I was cohabitating/married a lot longer than I've been divorced and living on my own.
I think maybe it's less about how long you did what, and more about what you've done most recently.
Things change as you go through life. When you're in your twenties, never married, and no kids - "single" looks much different than it does when you're divorced in your thirties and raising kids on your own. In your twenties, it's new and exciting. In your thirties, it's a failure, and something you never thought you'd have to figure out.
So the thirty-year-old single woman can't really offer a lot of guidance to the twenty-year-old. After all - she's not dealing with the same things. It's possible she never did; but even if she's been where her friend is, things are different and the rules have changed.
Longevity means very little, too. There are a ton of couples out there who have been married for a long time. Does that automatically qualify them to give advice on how to have a good marriage? I don't think so. Many of them are married only because they don't believe in divorce.
No one really needs advice on how to not get divorced - just don't. By the same token, no one really needs advice on how to find a date and/or a mate. Find someone devoted to you, and stick with him.
When people want advice, what they're looking for is advice on how to do something right. How do I make my marriage good and satisfying and healthy so that neither of us wants a divorce? How do I go about finding the person who best fits my life, and what I want and need from a relationship?
There's so much relationship advice out there. If you're not careful, it will chase you around every corner. Books, blogs, magazines...movies, television...you name it, someone is looking to share her "expert" advice.
Around these parts, I'm the expert (Ha - you're all screwed!). Want to know what I think?
No one can give you the perfect advice. At best, she can offer an objective, constructive opinion based on what she's learned about herself, and what she knows about you. She can share her own experiences, and tell you what worked for her and what didn't.
In the end, it's up to you to sift through the information and figure out what will work best for you. In order to do that - you need to really know yourself.
That is the best advice I have to offer to anyone.