If you want to be truly happy, it helps to stop caring about other people’s opinions.
Say you start dating someone new. Many people will introduce this new lover to some of their friends so that they can get one or more “second opinions.”
Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to integrate your new lover into your life, and that would involve getting to know your friends.
But seeking out other people’s opinions isn’t really helpful in evaluating whether or not you want to be with someone. You don’t need to know what they think. You need to know what you think. And even if your opinion isn’t totally conscious or clear, you still can feel it in your gut.
On the other hand, listening to other people’s opinions can be hugely insightful — not in terms of how to live your life, but in terms of understanding where those other people are coming from.
For instance, a friend of mine recently met the new boyfriend of a woman we both know. When asked what she thought of the man, my friend said, “He seems respectful.”
Another friend described the same man as being very conscientious and attentive in making sure the woman’s needs were taken care of.
I found these comments very interesting. They were quite different from what I had been thinking about the same man. Not that the comments were untrue.
Rather, they helped me realize just how much other people’s opinions are a reflection of what’s important to them.
Take my friend who deemed the man “respectful.” She has been in some relationships where she felt enormously disrespected. So respect is very important to her. From her perspective, deeming someone respectful is a big deal. It’s both a serious compliment and a deal-breaker.
As for my other friend, well, she’s been in relationships in which she felt her needs were not considered important by her partner, if he even noticed them at all. So, in her case, it’s very important that a man notice and attend to a woman’s needs.
If you take a step back during your conversations in the next day or two and observe them, even as you’re participating in them, I suspect you’ll gain some interesting insights into the people you’re talking to. I suspect they’ll tell you — through their comments, opinions and observations — just what matters to them at this point in their lives.
These kinds of insights can really enhance your relationships, and ease some tension in challenging relationships, too.