Inspired by some poor choices by several of my close friends, I’ve decided to start a list of dating advice I’d like to share with my daughter. Dating, you’d say? Anna is only 4! Well, it’s probably a bit early, but you have to start introducing and modeling these values to kids early so it becomes natural to them.
For the purposes of this post I will assume Anna will date guys, but she is free to choose her own love life and these points will be applicable to either sex, so just switch up the pronouns when necessary.
- What is love? Love is an emotion we feel when there is a strong attraction and/or personal attachment. As your relationship evolves, you will fall in and out of love/infatuation with one another. That’s why it is important to find a friend you enjoy spending time with. With a best friend as partner you will continually find traits of their character to love and respect.
- The friend test. Meet his friends. Their behavior will tell you a lot about the person you are dating. Be careful with a person who has no friends… Introduce him to your own friends and see how well he blends in. Ideally, you don’t want to make sacrifices and choose between your partner or friends.
- Meet his parents. The relationship he has with his own parents will tell you a lot about your future union. See how the parents interact with each other. We all learn behaviors from our parents and environment in which we grow up.
- Kids and animals. Test out your partner around animals and children. Babysit or petsit together with him. His attitude towards someone else’s babies will show you how they are likely to behave with their own kids and family.
- Observe behavior rather than listen to the words. Many people say great things about their intentions but never actiually act on them. You really need a partner who will walk the talk, someone you can trust.
- Benefit of the doubt. It is important to remember that no one is perfect. Not even you! It is silly to expect it from others and vice versa. If something doesn’t work out don’t rush to make judgements, start by asking your partner for their side of the story. Often enough our minds come to the scariest conslusions based on the limited information we have. Allowing someone to explain their actions may defeat your fears and save a healthy relationship. Of course, if you are not convinced by their story, you can seriously consider the benefits of staying in such relationship.
- Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. Everyone will agree that relationships are a lot of work. However, if after putting in a lot of time and effort you are still not happy with the result, pull the plug! Take charge of your life and go find someone who will make you happy. Don’t waste your time being unhappy.
- “Must haves” list. It’s not what you’re thinking! Not the skin, hair or eye color; not the body type or clothing style; not thefinancial status, etc. It’s the list of things that matter to you the most. For me it was my partner’s stand on politics, religion, family, ethics, abuse, and understanding or at the very minimum interest towards my culture. These are the things that shape our life together and I would not compromise on.
- Ask the tough questions to check-off your “must have” list. And do it soon! Before your relationship becomes too involved ask everything that matters to you the most. Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself. Afterall, you have nothing to lose, you’ve only known him for a few dates…
- Build trust. Openly state to your wisely chosen partner that you trust him with your heart and ask him to protect it. In return promise to protect his heart from breaking. If two people care about each other there is no room for jealousy. If you feel jealous or threatened by your partner’s behavior, communicate it in a calm manner. He may not be aware he is causing you pain and allow him to correct his behavior. If it happens again or he is ignoring your feelings by trying to convince you that it’s all in your head… pull the plug! This relationship is not worth your time… It is impossible to trust someone who does not respect your feelings.
- Zero tolerance for any kind of abuse. There are many forms of abuse: physical, mental or substance, etc.; and in our family we don’t tolerate either. Be straight and open about it in the beginning before any signs show. Most likely, anyone not acting in good faith will disappear on their own. Or else, pull the plug! Life is too short to live in misery.
- Trust your gut. You have a beautiful gift of intuition. It will guide you through life and love, often very discretely. If you’re still unsure, ask opinions of your best friends and family who will always have the best intentions for you. Regardless of all our opinions, the decision is yours. We will support you no matter what, because we love you and we are your family!
This will be an ongoing list, but hope to have some solid advice for Anna when she grows up and begins to date. As parents we will not be able to protect her from kissing frogs; however, this list will set a good foundation for her to start making wise decisions on her own.
I value your opinions. Please share if you have anything to add to this list?