Every romantic relationship, where both partners are committed to making things work this last time, experiences periods where you are faced with a dilemma or placed in a situation where you might need some relationship advice from other people.
You may be confused, angry, or frustrated at certain behaviors of your partner. At this point, you don’t know what to do. It feels logically right that you ask someone else who probably has had a similar experience to help you out but how do you find such people?
If you are not already aware, Reddit is a social news aggregation website and an online forum that covers a very wide array of discussion topics, including those related to relationships. At Reddit, groups are categorized into what is referred to as subreddits where members have discussions related to the purpose of the subreddit.
As a relationship enthusiast, I had joined the r/relationship_advice subreddit on Reddit so I can see some common questions people ask about their relationship and provide them with some relationship advice to help them through but I found out a couple of distressing things about relationship advice you get from Reddit.
But first, may we know a bit why people go online for relationship advice?
Why Do People Go Online For Relationship Advice?
Just because you don’t frequent Reddit for some relationship advice doesn’t mean there are no persons who do. At one point or another, people seek advice concerning their relationship with their partner from online platforms like Reddit, either directly or anonymously.
Currently, there are over 6 million participants in the r/relationship_advice subreddit. This reflects about a 100 percent increase from 3 million participants in a space of two years (from 2020), and this number is ever increasing. From extrapolations from Reddit, we can say that online help-seeking platforms are gaining more popularity as preferred means of seeking relationship help over the traditional means of consulting a physical relationship therapist.
What is the demography (age, sex, etc) of people who seek help and consequently provide help don’t the r/relationship_advice subreddit on the Reddit forum? According to a study published in the Sagepub Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the majority of users in the r/relationship advice subreddit fall within the 18–24 age bracket and of this population, 55% were men and 45% women.
These values are in contrast to what you find in traditional therapy settings with older people more in attendance comprising of more women than men. This is most likely because of the following reasons:
There is no social stigma, as you can ask questions anonymously. No one will ever say you are too young to ask relationship questions
Anonymity also protects from social repercussions. If your partner does not find out you are asking questions about their actions, they can’t get pissed off at you
However, as interesting as these would seem, there are shortcomings. In my free time, I had often offered helpful relationship advice to people in the r/relationship_advice subreddit, countless other people are doing so too but from my short cumulative stay, I will provide you with reasons why you should not follow relationship advice from Reddit. Stay with me.
Reasons You Should Not Follow Relationship Advice From Reddit
Yes, there may be some instances when Reddit may be useful in your relationship but I found that most of the relationship advice from the subreddit had reasons why they should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here are a few reasons why this is so.
1. Many of the relationship advisers are inexperienced young people
With the statistically congruent data that most Redditors in the r/relationship_advice subreddit fall between the ages of 18 to 24, it is logically reasonable that most of the advice you would get for your relationship question on the subreddit might come from young, inexperienced people too.
Understanding how men and women behave or think is often a product of years of experience and learning, and if someone is going to provide you with the best way to settle the dispute between you and your girlfriend or boyfriend, they should first be able to understand how guys and ladies think and why they behave the way they do in a relationship.
2. Popular opinion isn’t always the best opinion for you
Popular opinion is not always the best opinion. After posting your question on the platform, you might be tempted to follow the relationship advice with the most frequency and probably, with the most upvotes but that may be largely erroneous. Sometimes, some of the least popular comments are what you should follow instead.
At certain points, asking for public help in your relationship might look immature. Not everything secrets should be divulged to the public even if the public has no capability of using this information against you. It puts you in a position of dependence on the opinions of other people in living your best life. This is not to say you should not seek help from the public, but moderation is key.
According to this story of someone who had fallen victim to Reddit’s relationship advice traps, she said she had the guts to break up with his boyfriend without giving him a chance to explain and she obviously regrets it.
Responses from Reddit, according to her, look “1000% validating”, especially when you see total strangers supporting you to take a fight. It feels so right and refreshing but for the most time, such decisions may be too rash and only based on popular opinion, which may not always be the best opinion for you.
3. Most Redditors are only interested in Karma and nothing more
Karma is the currency of popularity on Reddit. The more Karma you have, the more things you can do and the more visible your posts will get on the platform. Because of this, most Redditors are only interested in getting Karma and nothing more.
Commenting seemingly wise relationship counsel that does not go well with the majority will earn you downvotes and further decrease your Karma units. Most Redditors don’t want that, so they go for the politically correct option or the “accepted” relationship advice instead of what is best for you and your relationship.
4. Relationship advice from Reddit is rather too harsh
In my time being a member and contributor on the r/relationship_advice subreddit, I have noticed that harsh responses are the most predominant relationship advice you would get when you are having issues with your partner. According to a therapist’s review of top-rated answers to some relationship questions obtained from Reddit’s r/relationship_advice subreddit, the responses were evaluated to be too harsh and sentimental.
Many distressing relationship questions the people ask on Reddit are often expressions of their rage, anger, or fear about the relationship and you can palpably feel these elements in the body of the question. If it were you, anyone would understand your rage and anger, fueled by the actions or inactions of your partner but what constitutes the right judgment and the best answer must not be based solely on aggravating you to take drastic decisions you may regret taking in the future.
The logically sound response would be to find ways to understand the situation better, make the person feel heard and understood, and by the time they are calm, they should be in a better position to make rational decisions about their relationship with their partner.
Can You Take Relationship Advice From Online Sources?
According to the study we explored previously, online relationship counseling platforms have the advantage of providing easy access to relationship advice and eliminating stigma through anonymity. Even though Reddit, and by extension, other online relationship counseling platforms, have their shortcomings in the acceptability of relationship advice obtained from them, you’d agree that we cannot fully discredit the importance of online forums as sources of relationship/dating advice.
In this article, emphasis was placed on Reddit’s r/relationship_advice subreddit but this does not invalidate the fact that there are a host of other online media for relationship and dating advice out there. The popularity of Reddit only makes it top the list.
From reasons why you should not follow relationship advice from Reddit, you see that the credibility of Reddit as a source for verifiable relationship advice is questionable. But despite these, it is still possible to get reasonable and sound relationship and dating advice from the internet, even from Reddit. In order to do so, here are some things you should observe carefully;
Ensure that the person giving you the advice has some level of experience in what they are talking about
Ensure that you think critically about the responses you get and not take them merely at face value
Do not take public opinion simply because it is popular
Discuss issues with your partner first, instead of taking them to the public
As much as possible, do not infuse your rage into the question but be as objective as possible
I will conclude by painting an arbitrary instance of a Reddit question;
You (27 M) recently started suspecting your girlfriend (23 F) of cheating with her ex (28 M). She had told you about him some time ago and she told you there was nothing left between the both of them. However, recently you saw his name with his picture on your girlfriend’s Whatsapp chat list. There are other times when you notice that she smiles to herself while chatting happily on her phone. When you ask her who it is, she tells you its nobody special.
You dismissed the thought but another thing happened that made you start suspecting her again. She told you she was going to visit her friend, that she would pass the night there. At around 7pm, you called her friend to hear from them and she told you that your girlfriend was not with her, that she has not even seen her that whole day.
Now, you are more suspicious that she is seeing someone else, probably the ex she told you about. What should you do?
Interesting question, isn’t it? Redditors would not hesitate to tell you to give her a call and call it a break instantly. Everyone seems so angry and ferocious, but what do you think would be your best decision?
Please, drop your response in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
I am a seasoned writer, not because I am some genius but thanks to many years of trials, failure, and near successes. I curate the most content on this website; all geared towards making you a better and happier audience.