The Local Voice

The View from the Balcony: Advice vs. Badvice, The Therapist Is In


Sitting on The Balcony as I do, people talk to me. They tell me things, personal things, private things. I don’t know why they do it; they just do. And they ask for advice. I’m not all that fond of giving advice. If I give it and it works, I’m a sage. If I give it and it doesn’t work, I’m a crackpot.

Against my grossly underutilized better judgement, I’m going to address a few questions I’ve gotten on more than one occasion:

“I just found out that my boyfriend/girlfriend cheated on me and I’m gonna get even! I’m gonna sleep with his/her best friend. Sounds great, right?”

Badvice: By all means, you should definitely sleep with your ex’s best friend! While you’re at it, sleep with three or four other friends of theirs. And if you really want to get even, take pictures. Hell, video the stuff and send it to them. Put it on the net so your parents and future children can see your great triumph. That’ll teach your special someone to step out on you!

Advice: Wrong! It’s normal to be angry as wet hen when you find out you’ve been betrayed by someone you love. But to screw around to get back at them? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Go knock the crap out of some golf balls. Go driving in the county with your windows down and yell at the top of your lungs. Go kickboxing. Pee on their picture. Trash talk about your ex with a confidant, but stop there.

Don’t cheapen yourself. You can get even with numbers, but not in relationships. Promise yourself that you’re going to get through this garbage and still be able to see a person of integrity when you look in the mirror. A lot of couples go through a cheating incident and get back together. If you love that person, playing tit-for-tat is going to make it harder to fix things. And if you stay split up, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you respected yourself and took the high ground. Long-term that’s the best revenge anyone could have.

“My son/daughter is a student at Ole Miss. When I try to call them, 90% of the time they won’t answer or call us back. And we pay all their bills. What can we do?”

Badvice: Cut ‘em off. Period. No discussion. Cut off their phone service, repossess their Mercedes, cancel the credit cards, and take them off your Spotify account. Make them dependent on you for the very air they breathe. They’re sure to call you then (if they can find a phone!).

Advice: Before you go ballistic and cut them off, ask yourself: what is the goal of your response? Most parents simply want a reply in a reasonable amount of time.

Try the old “Let’s-have-a-talk” thing. But don’t wag your finger in their face. That’ll guarantee failure. Be clear about what you want and what you need. Be specific. Have your child repeat that information to you so you can make certain you’ve been heard and understood. Listen to them and make sure you’re understanding them.

Negotiate for a win-win. For example, when you call your student, if you have to leave a voicemail, tell them whether your call’s urgent or not. Let them know how soon you need to hear from them. Reinforce that with a text and have them acknowledge it. Then, if there’s no cooperation, once you have all the information as to why and you know you’re in the right, you can start the cut-off—one thing at a time.

Then there was this:

“We’re planning a family vacation. I want to go to Las Vegas, my spouse wants to see the replica of Noah’s Ark, and the children want to go to Disneyland. What should we do?”

Badvice: Lock the kids in the basement (with plenty to eat and drink, of course). Go to Vegas. Spend every penny you have. Noah’s Ark ain’t worth the drive. Believe me. I’ve seen it. Didn’t float my boat, if you catch my drift.

Advice: Go to an ashram and commit yourself to prayer and fasting until your family goes away. That, my child, is the path to true contentment and peace. Om.

And that’s the View from The Balcony.

(Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor. For real. This has not been a shameless plug for business.)
Editor’s Note: If you want to ask Randy for his advice on something, send your question to, attention: “Badvice,” then watch TLV for a reply.

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