Don’t ask your favorite bloggers for relationship advice (because seriously, we have no idea)

As I’m entering my fourth year of blogging (wow, time flies) something that continues to confuse me is the sheer number of emails I get asking for relationship advice.

Part of me understands it, I guess. Relationships are tricky and it can seem easier (and less risky) to reach out to someone over the internet than to confide in a friend, family member, or therapist.

Some of the messages are from people in a long distance relationship, who found my blog through any of the articles I wrote while Ryosuke and I were doing our year and a half of long distance. They think their partner is cheating or wondering whether the pain of separation is worth it. They want me to tell them what to do, to tell them that it’s worth it, and share the “secret” of long distance relationships.

The other half come from men and women who are in a relationship (or trying to get into a relationship) with someone who is Japanese. Or women who are married to a Japanese man and experiencing a domestic violence situation, wondering what to do (and whether the abuse is something cultural and/or can be fixed). They want me to share the secret of getting Japanese people to love them, or how to solve any argument, or how to make their partner believe in their religion, or to tell them that it gets better.

These messages are… hard.

I am not qualified to give relationship advice. I am not a therapist. I am not a relationship counselor.

It blows my mind that so many people reach out to me over the internet to ask relationship advice because I’m not actually that good at relationships. My husband is the first (and only) person I’ve been in a relationship for longer than a month with. He’s the only person I’ve introduced my family to, the only partner I’ve fought with, the only person I’ve moved in with, and the only person I’ve given a piece of my heart to. He’s also the only long distance relationship I’ve done and the only Japanese person I’ve dated.

I have no basis for comparison. 

I am in a happy, healthy relationship right now not because I know everything (or magically have my act together) but because I got lucky. I took a chance on someone who happened to take a chance on me. Right place, right guy, right time.

When someone turns to you for advice, your first impulse is to make them feel better.

Agree with them, tell them that yes their boyfriend is a lying scum, or that no that doesn’t me he doesn’t love you. Or tell them I know it seems bad right now but I can tell he really loves you and he’s going to change over time.

Except comforting someone isn’t always the right thing to do.

Early on in my blogging career someone asked me to weigh in on their relationship with a Japanese man… and I gave the same advice I’d give to a friend, saying that part of it might be cultural and if they talk about it, they can reach an understanding. A couple months later I got another email from them – it turned out they omitted (and lessened) some of the details in their first email and that it was actually a highly abusive relationship. After my first email she decided to give him another chance, they talked, she stayed, it got worse, she was angry and she blamed me for telling her to talk it out with him instead of leave. I felt guilty for about a month after (even though a part of me knew it wasn’t really my fault).

That was the last time I gave relationship advice over the internet.

Shortly after I removed the “contact me” section from this blog and disabled the ability for people to send me messages via the Texan in Tokyo Facebook page because these messages were causing me so much stress. Six months later I opened messaging up again, with a clear notice that I wouldn’t answer or give relationship advice.

I’d rather give NO advice (and ignore your email) than the WRONG advice (based on an incomplete set of information, making the problem worse).

It’s more than that, though. Really it all boils down to the fact that I’m not qualified and it’s not fair to ask me to weigh in on or fix someone else’s relationship. 

Healthy relationships have more to do with the person you’re with than “magically” being some sort of relationship guru. 

I won’t skype with your girlfriend and try to talk her out of leaving you. I won’t ask Ryosuke to email your Japanese boyfriend, so he can tell him how to date an American girl.

If you want relationship advice, find a counselor or talk to a friend/family member.

Don’t ask me. I’m just a blogger. 

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

27 Comments on Don’t ask your favorite bloggers for relationship advice (because seriously, we have no idea)

  1. but elsewhere you are giving relationship advice i.e. Don’t Blame the Distance: 6 Tips for Skyping during a Long Distance Relationship

  2. Awww. That’s a tough position to be put in. I can relate, in a slightly-overlapping-venn-diagram sort of way – I’ve never had a serious relationship but am often asked relationship advice by friends and even acquaintances. I’ve also been in the situation of counselling someone who was in an unhealthy relationship (just get out was the line I went with…harsh perhaps but she did ask.) I think it has something to do with others perceiving you as an empathetic person, which is nice, but as you say, it gets super draining and it’s not our forte!

  3. Charu Sahu // 6 February, 2016 at 7:52 pm //

    hahaha I have never asked you anything lIke this :D

  4. I really enjoyed this post .. The first post I read was the emotional toll on blogging and why you love it and all that and I have been reading through the comments and on the few post that I read and looked through all the comment were positive .. And I wanna say that’s amazing to all of you who leave kind and supportive comments congratulations for being a good person . If you don’t like or agree with someone don’t make them feel bad about it unless they are abusive to their followers. I think what you do is brilliant I love it . I am married to a man from Mexico I have been with him for years we have a family and it is not always easy but my situation is different from everyone else . I married when I was 16 and stayed together we love each other and try to be kind and have each others backs and for us it works . I wish I had the insight at a young age to do what u do my life is sometimes comical and situations are just crazy . My husband is halirious and I love the way he speaks English and when he asks how to pronounce or spell things that is my fav cause it adorable. And now we have 4 teenagers in the mix 2 of them are twins so u can imagine I’m sure..anyways I love hearing about ur life I enjoy ur blogs and videos. So thanks for sharing these pieces of yourself with us it is hard to do, And I’m sorry that people feel the need to spread their own misery on you. That should never happen but trolls are an unfortunate reality .

  5. I hope you do not take this the wrong way but I found this blog a little humorous. It was well written and I love the ending. It brought a smile to my face. People shouldn’t ask advice for certain things and just experience the ride with the thought of learning from your mistakes and correcting it with what you believe is best.

  6. I assume because more women are speaking out about domestic abuse is why the numbers have risen significantly. I read an article on a study that lasted two decades (from 2013) that stated North America has the lowest domestic violence which is flabbergasting. It’s so shockingly common.

    The other day I was reading an article which was from a woman’s perspective dating in Japan noting that dating today is much harder with more men staying single. She wasn’t a gaijin either.

  7. I will have to agree with everyone: it seems you magically found the magic pot to love and financial stability.. and we all want a piece of it [why are you so selfish and not share? pfffssssht LOL] -i’m sure you realized i was in fact joking.

    NEVER feel bad for saying NO to something, especially if said thing brought troubles in the past. There is ONE single piece of advice that can be given to most couples that are faced with issues: they alone know the answer. Finding it is hard indeed.. or hard to accept. But it comes out when talking to someone else [who is not involved in the issue] :/ At times, writing to a stranger makes the situation more bearable: they removed this heavy weight from their hearts [placed it on someone else who is not affected because the problem has nothing to do with them and getting affected would make no sense] and the person can now feel once again strong enough to face whatever they are dealing with [for some time].

    Because you’re married to a guy of a different culture… i can totally understand the questions related to this type of situation.. especially since you’re supposed to see more people from said culture, and see what is the general behavior of the people [aggressive/ calm/ cheaters… not that it would be of that much help.]

    i confess i wanted to ask you something related to this blog entry.. i changed my mind because i realized each person is different and that you have way many other issues on your mind without me writing to you. now i’m glad i didnt. =P

  8. I like to think that relationships are a lot like dresses. What may work for one person maybe be a train wreck for another, and you can’t expect to just piece 1+1 together and end up with the same result. The shy/self conscious girl with body issues in the little black minidress does not feel the same as the outgoing model wearing it, and trying to match people with different personality styles/love languages to the same standard doesn’t really make for a good relationship!

  9. Aubrey Marshall // 2 February, 2016 at 12:46 am //

    What do you mean you’re not Dr. Love?

  10. Grace you’re great :). TBH everyone should work on their relationship on their own. Ask for advice is the easiest way, than they can tell “XYZ advised me like that” if something will go wrong.
    When I read your article, I thought “OMG almost like me”. I mean we were not in long distant relationship (we know each other from primary school with short break during high school :)), but my husband is my first in many things :). We struggle a lot, we fight, argue and so on. But we always come to agreement. And I don’t dream that I or he will change :P…
    In my opinion ppl asking you for advice as you have so great relationship with Ryosuke. and also you can write so beautiful about your parents in law.
    BTW I think ppl right now are making decision about breaking up/ divorcing too easily Instead to fight you relationship they tell I want divorce/ break up.. and you marriage look for them like island of happines and peace :).

    • I’m totally up for the “fight for your relationship” thing. It’s something you have to work at every day because if you slack off, things can start to build up/fall apart.
      I’m glad you liked my article, though!!

  11. Grace…
    I was so sorry when I was reading this article. Sorry because of you. I wrote you a message few months ago, but just to say how grateful I am for your materials. I have never thought to ask you for advice. You are a blogger not a counselor. People who do this, should first learn how to speak with friends, family and… beloved one.

    I’m moving to Japan in the end of February. I hope I can get to your book promotion party. I’m counting on it :)

    Best regards and smile! Maybe removing this message option wasn’t so bad? In public people think twice before they wrote something.

    Cheer up! :)

    • Thank you so much! I absolutely LOVE getting emails (I hope I replied, if not, sorry!! Sometimes things get lost in my inbox). I love being able to chat with people and bond over shared stories, but it’s hard when people want me to give them advice (or “fix things”).

  12. Yes, that would be very stressful, and, as Richard says, you are very wise to abstain from advice-giving.

    I feel fortunate no one asks me for advice. You know, if you family/ relationships were as messed up as mine, maybe no one would ask you anymore. Clearly you need in-laws like Sunny and Jay and then your problem would be solved. ;)

  13. Especially after getting married, I’m tight with advice…because there are as many different kinds of relationships as there are people in the world, who’s to say what worked for us will work for anyone else? I usually just say gut feelings! Listen to them.

    I think Grace though that your online persona makes you seem like the perfect couple, that you have “arrived”: married, living together, lots of funny/happy photos spending time together…maybe people think this makes you qualified to give advice “how I arrived here using this one simple trick and you can too!” But relationships don’t work that way…

  14. I think this is a very important thing for people to understand. Bloggers are just regular people, and are no more equipped to handle your problems than you are.
    Keep being awesome and real Grace!

    • It’s so true! And most bloggers only ever share the good parts of our lives, so it can seem like we have things figured out (or we’re in this magical, awesome relationship with zero problems) – but that’s not necessarily true.

  15. I agree with Eric that people ask you for advice because you seem trustworthy, mature, and successful in your relationship with Ryosuke. As a retired psychologist I can tell you from 30+ years of experience how hard it is ‘to advise’ people about their relationship concerns. You are VERY wise to refuse to attempt it.

    • Thank you! It’s good to hear someone (with actual experience) saying that I’m doing the right thing (or at least not the super-WRONG thing).

      • Absolutely!! As I used to tell my clients, “I did’t get these wrinkles and this grey hair for nothing. Trust me. I know what I am talking about.”

        Take care, lovely lady…..

  16. Eric Janson // 1 February, 2016 at 9:39 am //

    Well spoken, Grace! It’s a real compliment to your open writing style that so many people feel they can trust you with such important things. I would find it hard to be in your position, tough to erase a feeling of obligation. You’re wise to just not answer all those messages. The topic reminds me of an old saying: A woman marries a man hoping that he’ll change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman hoping she won’t change, but she does. Tricky, indeed!

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