From time to time, most of us find ourselves with relationship questions we feel too nervous or embarrassed to ask even our closest friends. Maybe we fear judgment for making questionable decisions, or perhaps we know in our gut that there's trouble in paradise and we don't want to have to face the painful truth. Either way, it's inevitable that at some point we'll need answers but don't know where to turn.
In times like these, it's good to have a backup plan. That's why I've compiled this list of ten relationship resources you may never have thought of before.
1. Online advice columns
Once upon a time, you could find free advice by opening a newspaper and turning to Dear Abby or Ann Landers. But nowadays, curious readers in need of relationship advice have a huge wealth of alternatives to these old standbys. In recent years, online advice columns have surged in popularity, which means you have more to choose from than ever before. Some popular columns include Captain Awkward, who specializes in creating scripts for difficult conversations; Ask Polly, who delivers pull-no-punches advice about everything from career troubles to domestic strife; and Dear Coquette, who serves up some brutal honesty with a salty bite. But these are just a few of the many brilliant and hilarious advice columns out there. I encourage you to explore until you find one that's the right fit for you.
2. Your guy friends
For most women, when we think of the people we know we can rely on to field our toughest relationship questions, the first few individuals who leap to mind are probably not men. We take for granted that women are better at picking up the nuances and subtext in interpersonal interactions in ways that men often can't -- and frequently that's true! But sometimes there's no better substitute for gaining insight into how a man thinks than by asking a man. Sure, some men are too out of touch with their own feelings to be reliable sources on what other men are probably thinking and feeling, but if you give your male friends a chance, they may very well surprise you.
Many use Reddit at least occasionally for their daily fill of cute cat pictures or a dose of weird news. But there are also numerous subreddits devoted exclusively to relationship issues. These sites allow anonymous users to ask their most personal questions and other anonymous users to sound off with their opinions. Keep in mind that most Redditors aren't qualified mental health professionals or relationship experts, and the range of ages and life experience vary greatly, so not all the advice you'll receive will be of equal quality. However, the comments with the highest scores (as rated by fellow users) frequently yield useful insights and practical advice.
Okay, I know how this probably sounds, but hear me out. There are a lot of sham psychics out there, and lots of videos of them being publicly debunked. But there's something to be said for an industry that continues to survive and thrive in spite of the massive amount of criticism psychic readers endure on a daily basis. There's also something to be said for spiritual wisdom that isn't easy to come by from some of the other sources I've mentioned here. If you decide to visit a psychic -- whether a clairvoyant, palm, or tarot card reader -- I recommend that you vet them ahead of time. Choose those who are highly rated with a lot of positive customer feedback, and you're likelier to have a more fulfilling experience.
5. Your parents or grandparents
Some of you are probably shrieking in horror right now, and I don't blame you. The older folks in our lives often dish out advice that's just no longer current, or sometimes straight-up offensive. But elders can also be a wonderful repository of timeless wisdom, and if your peers are stuck and can't give you a useful solution, you should consider turning to them for some guidance.
6. Self-help books
Self-help has a sometimes undeservedly bad reputation. Yes, there are a lot of ridiculous self-help books out there, and a lot of authors who are clearly looking to make a fast buck rather than help people. However, there are also plenty of pop psychology self-help books written by credentialed professionals, and many of these books can be invaluable resources when navigating rocky relationship terrain.
7. A therapist
In 2018, there's still a stigma attached to seeking therapy. A lot of people misguidedly think that therapy is for crazy people, or that seeing a therapist means you're failing. In reality, therapy is just getting a second opinion on your life, and when that opinion comes from somebody trained in understanding the human condition, it can yield incredible insights that you can't always get from well-meaning friends or popular books.
Did you think I was done talking about new age resources? Well, think again! No matter what you believe about the supernatural, divination is a proven way for people to gain insight into their own subconscious minds. Whether you're reading tea leaves or tarot cards, consulting the I Ching or runes, divination offers a way for you to impose a symbolic language on whatever's going on in your life, and the free-association you do can help lead you to powerful conclusions.
Getting your body moving isn't just important for the physical benefits. It's also an underrated way for you to tune out the noise of the day and get in touch with your own mind. Lots of creative individuals report that they get their best ideas during a vigorous cardio session, and the same can apply to your personal life. It’s also a wonderful way to de-stress!
It's not just for teenage girls! Sometimes, especially when emotions are running high, getting your thoughts out of your head and onto the page can be a great way of processing your feelings and seeing a situation more clearly.