As a teen I was the sympathetic ear or just the one everyone went to when they had a problem. I didn't necessarily volunteer but I didn't turn folks away either. One friend said it was because I was approachable and people could feel safe telling me things. Well sure, okay.
Well as a result of this I got a lot of the "woe is me" tales from friends who were dealing with irritating parents, but most often it was boyfriends. "Why won't he call?" "He doesn't spend much time with me/he spends too much time with me/ditches me for his friends."
Eventually I got a little tired of being asked what to do and then my advice being ignored. For what it's worth, I didn't even date until I went to college and my first relationship
was with DH so my experience in the boyfriend department was nil and my advice was basically gleaned from what I read in advice columns of teen magazines and sometimes tweaked to what I thought made more sense. Girls would say "What do you think I should do" and when I gave them advice they didn't like they said "Oh what would you know, you've never had a boyfriend!" Then why are you asking me for advice if you don't think I'm qualified to give it?
Course as you can imagine, couple weeks later they were back venting about the same issue and asking for advice they wouldn't accept.
So once while on a bike ride with two of my aunts that I respected, I asked one of them what to say when these girls would suggest. And she said "Well you can either give them a time frame you'll listen to them vent, say 5-10 minutes, or you can listen for a bit and then say "What are you going to do about it?"
I did use the technique and well, I have to admit that the result meant I got confided in less than before, though not really a loss.
And it was used again when another friend in college wouldn't stop whining about her boyfriend's mistreatment of her. I'd give advice, she'd snap "Oh you've only had one relationship
, how would you know how they work?" Instead of pointing out that my one relationship
was already past the one year point, we were managing a long distance relationship
just fine, I said "Well if you don't like how it's going, what are you going to do about it?"
I have found people that does work with these days, though on the other hand, most adults I spend my time talking to thankfully aren't the type to not take charge of their own situations.