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Do Tell: Why Ask, When You Already Know the Answer?

As someone who offers a lot of advice, I’m often asked questions in which it’s clear to me that the asker already knows the answer. In fact, they’re often first to point out that they know exactly what to do, but they’re just unable to do it. I had been thinking a lot about this and then it dawned on me; they’re probably just looking for permission to do the “wrong” thing.

I could be completely mistaken, so I want to know your opinion on this. Do you ever encounter this with your friends? Are you guilty of doing this yourself? Ladies, do tell, why ask when you already know the answer?

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cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
Yes...this is the stuff that makes you wonder why you bother sometimes. My best friend and I have had a pact for over 20 years...that we would always be brutally honest WHEN ASKED...but the key was actually asking.Yes there were times we didn't ask because we already knew what the answer would be...and ultimately we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and say "You knew this!" When she called and told me she was getting married we both tip-toed around an unasked question..."Was marrying this man a mistake?" It was not asked and I offered no advice.I did ask her why she was in such a hurry and she said that she was tired of being alone and wanted the same happiness that I had found. So I asked the question, "What makes you think I am so happy?" Because for years we had "kept up appearances" of happiness for the kids...and that was faltering fast. She was shocked to learn this but it was important for her to hear.That infamous "unasked" question still haunts us both. We both knew the answer. She was in denial. She is miserable in a marriage that now has a child in the mix. Was I wrong to not simply offer her the truth? No. She knew. We all make choices we have to live with.BUT...We have become better at asking better questions. My last question for her was this, "Do you know how to get a spouse to go to AAA...because I just found out that all you have to do is call this number." Hmmmmm...A question that has the answer inside. I hope she uses that information because her husband really needs help. But then, she knows this already. I just gave her the phone number.
cheekyredhead cheekyredhead 7 years
Yes...this is the stuff that makes you wonder why you bother sometimes. My best friend and I have had a pact for over 20 years...that we would always be brutally honest WHEN ASKED...but the key was actually asking. Yes there were times we didn't ask because we already knew what the answer would be...and ultimately we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and say "You knew this!" When she called and told me she was getting married we both tip-toed around an unasked question..."Was marrying this man a mistake?" It was not asked and I offered no advice. I did ask her why she was in such a hurry and she said that she was tired of being alone and wanted the same happiness that I had found. So I asked the question, "What makes you think I am so happy?" Because for years we had "kept up appearances" of happiness for the kids...and that was faltering fast. She was shocked to learn this but it was important for her to hear. That infamous "unasked" question still haunts us both. We both knew the answer. She was in denial. She is miserable in a marriage that now has a child in the mix. Was I wrong to not simply offer her the truth? No. She knew. We all make choices we have to live with. BUT...We have become better at asking better questions. My last question for her was this, "Do you know how to get a spouse to go to AAA...because I just found out that all you have to do is call this number." Hmmmmm...A question that has the answer inside. I hope she uses that information because her husband really needs help. But then, she knows this already. I just gave her the phone number.
Rebecca14916991 Rebecca14916991 7 years
I only do this, really, when I have some idea of what the answer might be, but I'm only 75% (or less) sure that it's accurate. I usually do it because I want to make sure I'm covering all the bases before making a decision. The only other time I've done this is when I know my decision will really hurt someone else, and ask just to see if it's at all possible to solve the problem without hurting them and I've just overlooked an alternative that is crystal clear to my friend. Not usually true though. Then life sucks for a while. :(
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
i HATE when people ask questions that they already know the answer to. it doesn't make sense why they are wasting anyone's time since they obviously have no intention of listening to advice or doing anything other than what they've already figured out in their heads.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 7 years
Seriously, as I become more sure of myself, I do this less and less... but until I'm 100% sure that I'm always right (which will never happen) I'll ask about decisions I'm not sure about. How is asking a friend for assurance on a personal decision any less valid than when I ask my dad to help me make sure I'm making the right decision about the laptop I'm thinking of buying?
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 7 years
All of my friends who ask me for advice do this. It's annoying as hell. I hate when they ask,agree with what you say and then don't do anything close to it. If you know what you are going to do just come to me and say "I'm going to do this what do you think?". It's so much easier for me and there is less bullshit.
LoveSarah LoveSarah 7 years
Sometimes it helps just to talk about an issue. I usually know what I have to do, but it stresses me out to keep it all bottled up, so I will tell a friend just so I can let it out. I usually don't need advice, and I have very few friends that understand this. Thus, I don't talk to the ones that don't understand my need to just vent sometimes.
Seka21 Seka21 7 years
I think some people need reassurance that they are right.. especially when it comes to relationship matters.
OhMyDragonflys OhMyDragonflys 7 years
I do it to see if I'm wrong or have a different opinion. Or I just want Backup.
Jude-C Jude-C 7 years
I think most people just do this for validation. They just want to hear someone else say what they're already thinking but not sure about.
cubadog cubadog 7 years
I think for a lot of people it is to affirm what they already know (just a poster said above) I do not think I need to feel guilty for asking for affirmation from someone that I truly respect. Glowingmoon is also right sometimes you just need to hear it out loud and have someone LISTEN to you. If I need advice I would ask for it.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
this reminds me of something i thought of yesterday that girls dowhat's up with guys telling a girl something (ex. i am going to vegas with the boys next weekend)and the girl (pissed obviously) saying "when were you planning on telling me this?"guy: "i'm telling you now...."i am totally included in this group of girls, but why do girls insist on asking, when it's such an obvious answer!!!!
skigurl skigurl 7 years
this reminds me of something i thought of yesterday that girls do what's up with guys telling a girl something (ex. i am going to vegas with the boys next weekend) and the girl (pissed obviously) saying "when were you planning on telling me this?" guy: "i'm telling you now...." i am totally included in this group of girls, but why do girls insist on asking, when it's such an obvious answer!!!!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
"Do you ever encounter this with your friends? Are you guilty of doing this yourself? Ladies, do tell, why ask when you already know the answer?"Well, sometimes people want to express their thoughts out loud. They're NOT asking for advice. They're NOT asking for someone's judgement. They simply want a caring, supportive ear.If someone is a GOOD listener (good at perceiving what the other person is really saying or asking for), he or she would understand the real reason for the conversation.My point is that the person communicating does NOT always have the problem. In my opinion, sometimes it's the listener. The listener may not be perceiving the other person accurately. JMHO.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
"Do you ever encounter this with your friends? Are you guilty of doing this yourself? Ladies, do tell, why ask when you already know the answer?" Well, sometimes people want to express their thoughts out loud. They're NOT asking for advice. They're NOT asking for someone's judgement. They simply want a caring, supportive ear. If someone is a GOOD listener (good at perceiving what the other person is really saying or asking for), he or she would understand the real reason for the conversation. My point is that the person communicating does NOT always have the problem. In my opinion, sometimes it's the listener. The listener may not be perceiving the other person accurately. JMHO.
bluestar bluestar 7 years
If I ever do this, it's because I want the cold, hard truth straight out of my friend's mouth. Sometimes you just need to hear it from someone other than yourself! If someone does it all the time though, I think it would get really annoying!
lawchick lawchick 7 years
(oops, "your" friend)
lawchick lawchick 7 years
(oops, "your" friend)
lawchick lawchick 7 years
My best friend does this and honestly, it's starting to alienate me. I do not tell her what she wants to hear if I don't think it's the right decision for her -- and then she gets her feelings hurt. again. and again. and again. She has bad judgment. I agree with bluebell that it's different if you're friend wants affirmation that they did the right thing. that's normal.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
My best friend does this and honestly, it's starting to alienate me. I do not tell her what she wants to hear if I don't think it's the right decision for her -- and then she gets her feelings hurt. again. and again. and again. She has bad judgment. I agree with bluebell that it's different if you're friend wants affirmation that they did the right thing. that's normal.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 7 years
I think that it's to reaffirm that they are doing the "right" thing more than to get permission to do the "wrong" thing. I'm guilty of talking out my problems with my friends in hopes that they will agree with me...just to make sure that I'm not totally off base.
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