Seriously guys, he just wants a name. July 2, 2007 12:50 PM   Subscribe

The poster of this question has clearly stated, "I'm not trying to solve their problems, I'm looking for specific recommendations for a marriage counselor. You know, like a name. If I wanted advice about 'how do I deal with my friends' psychotic marriage problems,' that's the question I'd have asked." I've flagged the responses that judged the poster rather than answering the question, and several of those comments were deleted, but many of them remain. I'm curious about where that line was drawn. Also, if people really feel the need to question the poster's judgment, hopefully they can do it here and leave the thread with less noise.
posted by vytae to Etiquette/Policy at 12:50 PM (59 comments total)

Also, I didn't want to add noise to the original thread, but I think his question is perfectly valid. In some dysfunctional relationships, winning is more important than . . . well, anything. It's no stretch to think that both of these people would see the effort to find a couples therapist as a power issue - neither one wants to do it, because that means the other person didn't have to do the work.

If a friend is willing to find a recommendation for the troubled couple, then nobody loses, and the couple may be able to go to therapy and learn to interact in a more healthy manner. Maybe they'll stop trying to "win" all the time. But they might need help getting to someone who can teach them to interact in a different way. As long as the original poster offers the suggestion of a counselor, rather than trying to force anything, I think he's doing this couple a favor.
posted by vytae at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2007


I totally agree. If I had a name, I would certainly provide it. The question wasn't "Should I try to give my friends the name of a marriage counselor?"
posted by sweetkid at 12:57 PM on July 2, 2007


Seriously, what's with the "none of your business" comments? That's just noise.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2007


I agree, though bigdog asks for trouble by providing too much information.
posted by phearlez at 1:00 PM on July 2, 2007


Male answer syndrome.
posted by puke & cry at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2007


Metafilter: In some dysfunctional relationships, winning is more important than . . . well, anything.
posted by ND¢ at 1:07 PM on July 2, 2007


Male answer syndrome.

Yea, exactly. bigbigdog's friends want to vent, they don't want help.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:07 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


The best and worst thing about AskMe is that you get answers to the questions you didn't ask. He asked for a marriage counselor to recommend. He didn't ask "does it make any sense for me to recommend a counselor". But if people believe the answer to the second question is "no" then they think they are helping the poster by saying so.

This sort of thing can be very aggravating if you're the poster, especially if commenters start making erroneous assumptions and getting judgemental. However, a lot of the time this effect is helpful in preventing the poster from doing something inappropriate without realizing it (see here).

Many people evidently believe it is not the friend's place to recommend a counselor. If a lot of people believe it, the couple might feel the same way. I think this is valuable information for the friend.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:08 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


If occhiblu is correct (and she has experience in this field) that marriage counselors simply don't "say authoritatively, 'You guys are a trainwreck,'or 'I see potential for saving this marriage'" then it is a valid answer to say that a counselor would not indeed solve the problem the poster wishes to solve.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2007


Well, I mean, the thing is, most counselors are going to say "I see some potential here" because seeing potential is the therapist's job. The whole point of couples counseling is to try to find whatever potential remains and help fan it into something sustainable.

Which, if you're a couple that's interested in doing that work, is great. And sometimes it's possible when only one half of a couple is interested in making things work to use that motivation to get the other partner on board, at least for a while. But the obstacles facing a counseling relationship in which neither partner wants to be there seem more or less insurmountable, even if the relationship wasn't necessarily doomed.

The poster is trying to make a weird, possibly counter-productive intervention here, and he doesn't seem to have any realization of that fact. I don't think it's out of line to alert him (politely, of course).
posted by occhiblu at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2007


The whole point of couples counseling is to try to find whatever potential remains and help fan it into something sustainable.

Er, unless, of course, the couple coming in is specifically looking for help sorting through a break-up. But in that case, too, the members of the couple need to have some idea of what they want to do, or at least a strong willingness to work with a counselor to figure out what they want to do.
posted by occhiblu at 1:19 PM on July 2, 2007


The poster should have asked "Can anyone recommend a good marriage counselor in NYC. Period."

Putting any more information in shows that they haven't been reading Ask Mefi at all...ever.
posted by vacapinta at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2007


Look chumps, whatever I have to say is intrinsically worth saying because I have to say it. I thought of it. In my brain. Therefore it is inherently important and must be said and listened to. By many many people. Cause I thought of it. The poster can ask about the best place to take his wife to dinner in Minneapolis and I can tell him to dump his wife because she is a Minneapolis restaurant loving slut and it will still be the right answer, because I said it. Not just anybody said it. I did. And the poster shouldn't complain about me staying on topic. He should just do what I said. His only response should be 'thank you'. And you shouldn't take it to MeTa. You should just favorite my answer and dump your wife the next time she wants to go out to dinner in Minneapolis. Or the next time you see her. You work hard all day and what does she do? Sit around wanting to go out to dinner in Minneapolis. "Ooh Maybe Prince will be there." Maybe he won't bitch!
posted by ND¢ at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2007 [7 favorites]


I removed some of the noise-y "give up!" comments.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2007


From the OP:

"...or ask their therapists". God, I love New York.
posted by phaedon at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2007


I read Ask Mefi all the time. Several times a day.

My friends asked me to help find a marriage counselor for them. Since I don't live in New York, and don't know any counselors there, I figured Ask Me would be a great place to get a good answer. There are tons of threads with recommendations for good restaurants, things to do, clubs to join, etc.

The extra detail I provided was an attempt to prevent the "should the poster attempt to help his friends in the first place"-type answers. I've seen enough trainwreck DTMFA threads.

My biggest mistake was not specifying that they asked me to help them.
posted by bigbigdog at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2007


But the obstacles facing a counseling relationship in which neither partner wants to be there seem more or less insurmountable

He never actually said that they're unwilling to see a therapist, only that "neither seems willing to sit down and go through the phone book, or ask their therapists for a recommendation". Of course it could be that they really don't want to go, in which case bigbigdog's recommendation of a therapist isn't likely to help. But in my experience, at least, the issue is more likely to be that neither wants to "lose" by being the one to initiate the therapy, even though they probably both know at some level that it would be for the best.
posted by vytae at 1:27 PM on July 2, 2007


posted by bigbigdog I know I can't solve their problems -- especially long distance

That statement, right there, says it all. bigbigdog should not be providing anything to this couple except the phrase, "Ask your therapist."

-- but neither seems willing to sit down and go through the phone book, or ask their therapists for a recommendation (they're each seeing a separate therapist).

Unless they asked you to find them a marriage counselor, they can, should, and will ask their therapists for a recommendation if they want one. If they can't, won't, or don't want to do that, well, that's their business, not yours.

I've given all the advice I can (including "decide if you want to DTMFA, and if you don't, then start talking about "us" instead of "me"), but they need professional help.

Then you need to butt out. Now.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2007


My biggest mistake was not specifying that they asked me to help them.

You can add that in a comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2007


posted by bigbigdog My friends asked me to help find a marriage counselor for them.

Tell them to ask their therapists. It's that simple.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2007


Unless they asked you to find them a marriage counselor...

They did.
posted by rtha at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2007


You can add that in a comment.

Oh god, yes please. That makes it a completely different situation than just you deciding, on your own, that they need professional help and you're the person to orchestrate that.
posted by occhiblu at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2007


Yeah, I want no part of being in the middle of their crap. I'm sick of it. I'm just glad they've finally agreed that maybe seeing someone trained in the arts is a good idea.
posted by bigbigdog at 1:48 PM on July 2, 2007


seeing someone trained in the arts is a good idea.

Also, I know a good kung fu school. If it helps.
posted by hermitosis at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2007


Another case of people immediately leaping to conclusions on the assumption that they know much more than the poster. Perhaps we need a 'worst answer' feedback mechanism so the asker can fight back without submitting to the dogpile. And who knows people might adjust and actually answer the question one of these days.
posted by nixerman at 1:53 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by bigbigdog Yeah, I want no part of being in the middle of their crap. I'm sick of it. I'm just glad they've finally agreed that maybe seeing someone trained in the arts is a good idea.

Oh, good. Then the next time he or she calls, you can say,

"I'm sorry, I don't know of any marriage counselors in New York, but I have no doubt one or both of your therapists can recommend a counselor best suited for the type of therapy of which you and your wife/husband are in need. And your therapist is the best person to ask, since he/she is most familiar with your current situation. I'm sorry I can't provide a name, but your therapist can, and that's the best advice I can offer. Hope to see you both at (INSERT HOLIDAY HERE). Goodbye."
posted by fandango_matt at 1:58 PM on July 2, 2007


I would LOOOOOOOVE a worst answer function. It would require people to take themselves a little less seriously. And would be fun as hell to use.
posted by hermitosis at 1:59 PM on July 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Can't all the people who answer with "mind your own business" or similar responses just stay out of a thread?

Some of us LIKE TO HELP other people. Yes, a lot of those people are adults and should know how to take care of themselves, but it's come to a point where it seems like no one should ever want to change something about someone else.


Example from today (not a callout).

Seriously? We can't even try to help our parents? Yeah, they're adults, but hey, trying is not BAD.

I just got my mom a new computer to get her into the 21ist century and to give her brain some work. Isn't this the same as wanting to get her a treadmill if I saw her get too sedentary for her own good?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:00 PM on July 2, 2007


/me labels everyone as a worst answer
posted by Stynxno at 2:01 PM on July 2, 2007


My biggest mistake was not specifying that they asked me to help them.

Yeah, that totally changes things, because it seemed like the exact opposite from the original post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:04 PM on July 2, 2007


Some of us LIKE TO HELP other people. Yes, a lot of those people are adults and should know how to take care of themselves, but it's come to a point where it seems like no one should ever want to change something about someone else.

Remember when we talked about Ask. vs. Guess culture? I think there's another split in the world- the I Wish You'd Help Me vs. the I Wish You'd Leave Me Alone culture. Based on genetics, upbringing, and personal circumstances. These two sides are forever at war, and it plays out everyday on AskMetafilter. I, myself, generally Wish You'd Leave Me Alone. I don't want unsolicited help, and I certainly don't want unwanted help, which is what I imagine advice on my marriage or exercise routine would be. I think a lot of Mefites are like me, which is why questions of the "How can I make X do Y?" variety bug us so much. Especially since you generally CAN'T make X do Y, and we'll have to hear about it again when your genius plan fails.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by CrazyLemonade Can't all the people who answer with "mind your own business" or similar responses just stay out of a thread?

No, because sometimes that's the best answer.

Some of us LIKE TO HELP other people. Yes, a lot of those people are adults and should know how to take care of themselves, but it's come to a point where it seems like no one should ever want to change something about someone else.

Sometimes the best help you can give people is telling them to help themselves.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:15 PM on July 2, 2007


Yeah, that totally changes things, because it seemed like the exact opposite from the original post.

Yes, and lord knows simply shutting the fuck up or simply providing a name which would later be ignored/unused would have been a tragedy of the highest order.

There's definitely questions in AskMe that demand some additional information or steering, or perhaps a "this path will end badly for you" but the name of a good counselor?

Lotta jerk in that thread.
posted by phearlez at 2:22 PM on July 2, 2007


I don't want unsolicited help, and I certainly don't want unwanted help, which is what I imagine advice on my marriage or exercise routine would be.

I would think that this mindset would preclude an answer of the form, "I know you didn't ask for this advice, but I think you should leave them alone."
posted by vytae at 2:24 PM on July 2, 2007


Hell, if I could edit my question, it would read thusly:
My friends live in Manhattan and would like recommendations for a good marriage counselor. Thanks!
I should have thought for a few more minutes and previewed a couple more times before hitting the post button.

But the longer I think about posting something, the more I add on to it. Like this paragraph here. Totally useless. I just can't help myself.

As the saying goes, "omit needless words sentences.

Gah!! I did it again.
posted by bigbigdog at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2007


"Seriously, what's with the "none of your business" comments? That's just noise."

I think you are referring to my comment. I posted what I thought was legitimate advice. The last I checked two others had favorited it.

I am irritated that my comment was deleted.
posted by greasy_skillet at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2007


There's a fine line, and a fine whine. If you asked for the best Italian restaurant in NYC, and someone answers, "Have you considered Japanese food," you'd be appropriately tee'd off.

But if someone asks a non-specific, like, "I want to lose weight, and I'm thinking about yoga," then it's entirely appropriate to provide a range of non-yoga answers. Have you tried an exercise bike?

The problem here is the mixed message. "I want the name of a marriage counselor" is mixed in with the "Dr. Phil" and "I've given all the advice I can" messaging, which somewhat naturally leads to additional offers of advice that the poster might not have thought of.

If the question itself is unclear, it's difficult to divine an answer. Solve the problem of bad questions, and you'll solve the problem of bad answers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:27 PM on July 2, 2007


I can see your point ThePinkSuperhero, but I think not helping anybody by saying "this person might be a leave-me-alone person" would leave me and many others missing out on a lot of unasked for help that can do a lot of good. Specially if it's for my mom, sister, friend, next-door neighbor, etc. I'd rather they deny my help themselves, and not limiting myself just because i heard on metafilter that some people just want to be left alone.

Of course, if I come up on Askme with a question like "help me euthanize my friend's pet without her knowing", by all means, tell me not to. But there has to be a line between that and "help me give my sister advice on baking because her cakes are always flat".
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:36 PM on July 2, 2007


Also, I'd like to point out that I posted before bigbigdog's friends changed their minds and decided they wanted to find a therapist.
posted by greasy_skillet at 2:39 PM on July 2, 2007


I would think that this mindset would preclude an answer of the form, "I know you didn't ask for this advice, but I think you should leave them alone."

I think what you're leaving out is the idea of forcing help on people who haven't asked for it. Presumably, someone posting a question on AskMe is actively, explicitly seeking advice on problem X. It seems like giving good-faith advice on problem X, even if it's not exactly within the guidelines of what the poster asked for, is still trying to be helpful.

Someone posting a question in order to help someone else, however, if that someone else hasn't explicitly asked for help, is a different story; the people answering such a query are not really being asked to help the poster but being asked to help an unknown third party who has not actively, explicitly stated that they are seeking advice.
posted by occhiblu at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2007


Should have concluded that with: Therefore, on a lot of the "How do I change someone else?" questions, the only realistic answer is, "You can't." Good realistic answers might then go you to say, "You can change yourself, however, and here's how."
posted by occhiblu at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2007


"go on to say." I'll stop typing now.
posted by occhiblu at 2:58 PM on July 2, 2007


It's pretty clear BBD didn't realize what question he should have been asking.
posted by Nabubrush at 3:06 PM on July 2, 2007


I was over-emotional and pretty upset after long conversations with both my friends over the past few days. I vented where I should have just kept my big fat fingers quiet, and just asked the question I was supposed to ask.

I hereby apologize to everyone here for starting a trainwreck thread. I thought I knew better than that. (Heck, I've even learned to stop posting while drinking!)
posted by bigbigdog at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


It ended well and BBD got the answer he needed. Yah! On to the next outrage!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:20 PM on July 2, 2007


"Heck, I've even learned to stop posting while drinking."

Can you give me the name of someone who could help me with that?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:24 PM on July 2, 2007


Ask your therapist.
posted by occhiblu at 3:26 PM on July 2, 2007


bigbigdog, you (and the folks who've said as much here) are exactly right about the short, revised version of the question. Don't sweat it—this is surely not a trainwreck by metatalk standards, regardless.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:30 PM on July 2, 2007


Therefore, on a lot of the "How do I change someone else?" questions, the only realistic answer is, "You can't."

I definitely agree with that, but to me this didn't seem like a "How do I change someone else?" question. It wasn't "How do I fix their marriage," it was "Who's a good marriage therapist?" I would have thought the guidelines would give some pretty clear restrictions on what kind of answers were warranted.

Still, I can see how others might view it in another light, and I'm really not here to pick any fights. I was just frustrated that bigbigdog hadn't gotten a single useful response to his real question in the midst of the "don't do it!" reactions. I'm glad he found an answer that worked.
posted by vytae at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2007


surely not a trainwreck by metatalk standards

But we have thirty days to make it so, mister. Don't get cocky.
posted by cgc373 at 3:39 PM on July 2, 2007


I suppose I could flame out or something, but I really, really like it here.
posted by bigbigdog at 3:52 PM on July 2, 2007


"Heck, I've even learned to stop posting while drinking."

Can you give me the name of someone who could help me with that?
posted by mr_crash_davis


Percocet has zero calories.
posted by The Deej at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2007


Where'd you talk about Ask vs. Guess Culture? That sounds interesting.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 5:01 PM on July 2, 2007


Ask vs. Guess

And the secret to not posting while drinking? Before hitting post, look to see if there's an open beer sitting on the table. If there is, you're about to make an ass of yourself.

(Though as I've shown here, it's entirely possible to screw up a simple question with nary a beer in sight.)
posted by bigbigdog at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2007


Is this the right place for me to complain about getting "Be an adult," in response to 'appliances that were supposed to work do not, what should I do' or...?
posted by kmennie at 8:41 PM on July 2, 2007


*crickets*
posted by The Deej at 10:11 PM on July 2, 2007


*Crickets*
posted by cgc373 at 5:46 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Male answer syndrome

It may be confirmation bias, but I'd *swear* I see more female-designated IDs than male-designated IDs chiming in to answer useless, noisy chatfiltery relationship non-questions. And of course, that goes for questions about cats as well.
posted by meehawl at 7:03 AM on July 3, 2007


Anyone can catch Male Answer Syndrome. Be sure to wash your hands after you touch the flag button.

But MAS isn't about chiming in on useless, noisy chatfiltery relationship non-questions. It's about making sure you helpfully answer every question that comes along, regardless of whether you have a shred of qualifying perspective.
posted by hermitosis at 7:10 AM on July 3, 2007


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