Universal Confidant: The Struggles Of Being The One Everyone Talks To

by Dan Scotti

It’s hard to say to no when someone asks you for advice.

When someone comes to you for advice, it shows this person genuinely respects your perspective enough to apply it to his or her own life.

Whether that advice pertains to more trivial things, like the current state of someone’s relationship, or heavier issues, like dealing with the passing of a loved one, when people reach out to you, it’s hard to turn them down.

That said, the more you make yourself available to certain people, the more you make yourself a target for future advice giving down the road, which, for the most part, isn’t really a bad thing.

If you’re dealing with your friends, the notion of being able to give -- and take -- advice is sort of par for the course.

And sometimes it’s not even advice, per se. Perhaps it’s a secret or something that they’ve been wanting to vent about or get off their chest.

Regardless, you should make yourself available to the people closest to you.

When advice-giving becomes something of a more persistent habit, however, it’s usually a matter of time before the whole process begins to grow old.

And when you’re good at giving advice, it always seems like word spreads like wildfire, with respect to your abilities.

One day, you might be helping one friend out with one of his or her problems, and, the next thing you know, you’re the universal confidant for your entire group of friends.

Suddenly, whenever any of your friends are going through something, they come straight to you -- regardless of whatever you may have on your own plate.

Being the universal confidant may appear to be a prestigious title to carry, but at the same time, it’s a heavy load to bear.

People think just because you’re willing to help them with whatever problems they might be dealing with, it’s okay to use you as their own off-the-books therapist. And that’s not always fair.

There’s a difference between a willingness to help the idea of finding enjoyment in it. While there are many universal confidants out there, I truly question how many of them enjoy their role -- or simply earned it out of politeness.

People don’t realize you have your own problems.

When people are so caught up in their own lives and their own problems, they usually can’t help but be short-sighted with regard to the things around them -- like your own life and your own problems, for instance.

Although you might habitually give advice to those around you, those same people you’re trying to help rarely have the presence of mind to understand you have problems of your own, too.

And although you might be good at solving other people’s problems, it’s a lot harder when they pertain to your own life.

This only becomes increasingly difficult when you barely have any time to hash out whatever you might be dealing with yourself, on behalf of the problems of others.

People take advantage of you.

It’s human nature to be given an inch, only to go ahead and take a mile.

Just because you decided to help one of your friends through one particular tough time, it’s unfair for them to consume you with all of the trials and tribulations they’re going through.

There’s a difference between being a friend in need and a needy friend, and this distinction will oftentimes get blurred when in the presence of universal confidants.

There are people -- therapists, psychologists, spiritual coaches -- who get paid to be everyone’s listening ears.

It doesn’t make you a bad friend for not being enthusiastic about having to sort out all of your friends’ problems, but it reflects poorly on them if they begin to take advantage of your empathetic ways.

People don’t reciprocate the favor.

The most frustrating part about being the universal confidant is when you need a confidant, there’s never anyone around.

At times, it feels like you spend all of your day sorting out the lives of others, yet when it comes to your own, it’s seemingly in shambles.

It’s a catch-22, really -- the people who listen the most typically don’t have anyone to hear them when they want to speak.

In today’s society, all we care about is instant gratification. If there’s something we want to talk about it -- we expect to talk about it now.

If there’s a problem we’re coping with -- we want it solved now. And we almost feel like we’re entitled to it.

Although universal confidants will usually make themselves available, out of kindness -- the people you help will tend to have a short memory, once they get what they want.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re not just operating as a one-way advice service.

To avoid this, make sure you’re only giving time to the people whom you know will do the same for you. If you do this, you’ll ensure you’re not the universal confidant -- you’re just the good friend.