When to Give -- and Withhold -- Friendly Advice

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

My best friend just found out that her husband of five years has gotten some other girl pregnant. The girl is eight months pregnant. My friend plans on staying with her husband and trying to work it out. How can I be a good friend without telling her what I think she should do?



Dear Friend:

I think you nailed the solution. Most people shoot the messenger when it comes to unwanted advice. Being supportive doesn't mean agreeing all the time. What it means is not passing judgment. So just be there for her.

And although this situation must be consuming your friend's every waking thought, don't make it the central focus of your friendship right now. What she's dealing with is a huge blow to her self-esteem and confidence. Your job is to make her secure in the fact that she needn't endure this alone. Be a kind ear and a willing shoulder. Cheer her up, reminding her of her good points. Do it both directly and indirectly. For example, if she says something funny, you can respond with, "Good point. I've always envied your wit." In other words, reinforce her good points.

You might also do some homework about counseling in the event that she brings the subject up. Getting her to seek professional help would be a great gift.

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