7 Dating Lessons I’m Thankful My Mother Taught Me
By: Anna Wickham |
My mother was always ahead of her time when it came to dating advice. Before the wise advice of He’s Just Not That Into You, my mom was telling me that some guy just wasn’t that into me. Before Sex and the City made it okay for women to date a lot of men in order to discover what they are really interested in, my mom was encouraging me to date around to learn my preferences and not just settle for the first guy that I liked who liked me too. And before Laura Schessinger was exhorting women not to make stupid mistakes with men, my mom was helping me avoid missteps that would cause me heartache.
It’s true that over the years, I’ve made my fair share of dating mistakes. But thanks to the advice of my mother, I’ve made far, far fewer than I would have otherwise. Everything I know I learned from her. Here are my mother’s greatest hits.
1. Date a lot of men.
Most moms of teenagers would prefer their daughters dated no young men at all. If they just had to, they could date one. One nice boy. That’s all any mom wants. Not my mom.
My mom was intent that I did not date my highschool sweetheart for approximately 2 years then get engaged before the age of 20. She knew that the best chance I had of being happy in a relationship was to get to know a lot of different men, and to find out what worked well with my strengths and weaknesses and what made me happiest and healthiest in a relationship.
2. He can’t miss you if you’re always around.
When you’re really into someone, it’s easy to want to spend all your time with them. Part of you may wonder why you should leave his house when you don’t want to. In fact, he may not even want you to leave. But occasionally, you need to leave anyway.
Just like you don’t appreciate someone until they are out of your life, you don’t fully appreciate how great it is to have someone around until…well, they aren’t around. Make a conscious effort to have some time apart each week instead of spending every waking moment with one another. This will allow your guy time to reflect on how great you are and how much he likes having you around. It’s likely you’ll do the same, and this will make the relationship better for both of you.
3. Don’t call boys. Let boys call you.
I remember the first time my mom told me that I shouldn’t call boys. I was probably in junior high and wanted to call a boy from my class whom I had a crush on. I needed the details of a homework assignment, and while I could have asked anyone, I wanted to ask him.
So I mentioned to my mom that I was going to call him, and was taken aback when she said that I should call a female classmate instead. It wasn’t because she was my mom and she was being protective of me. It’s because she knew that if this boy was interested in me, he would be calling me. And if he wasn’t interested in me, I shouldn’t be wasting my time with him anyway. That’s right: my mother was a “he’s just not that into you” pioneer.
I went on to implement that advice into everything. Not only did I not call boys, but I didn’t ask boys out, I didn’t text them, I didn’t make the first move. And do you know what happened? Guys called me. Guys asked me out. While some of my friends were making attempt after attempt with the object of their affection and wondering about “mixed signals,” I was going on dates without hardly lifting a finger.
To this day, I don’t tend to make the first move. If a guy is thinking of me, he’s sure to let me know. I haven’t been at a loss for a date yet.
4. Getting over your fear of being alone is a key component of making good relationship decisions.
We have all been there: you’re dating a guy whom you had very high hopes for. This guy was going to be “it.” He was going to end your 2-year single streak once and for all. And dammit, being single is hard. It feels so good to have someone there to help take care of you for once. To listen to you bitch about work at the end of the day, maybe even to cook a meal or two each week.
But there’s something deep inside that’s constantly nudging, and you can’t seem to shake it. The truth is that this relationship is not going to work out. It’s not a good relationship, for whatever reason. You have to end it. And the only way you’re going to be able to do that is by getting over your fear of being alone.
Fear of being alone is the prime culprit in many bad relationships. Yes, being alone is sometimes difficult, and it may not be what you want right now. But it is always preferable to being in a bad relationship. Therefore, learning to be alone may be the single most important skill for young women to learn. Women who know how to be alone are happier when they are in a relationship.
5. If a man won’t help you move, he’s not worth your time.
For my mom, moving is a great way to judge whether a guy is really committed to you. If you’ve ever moved in your life, you know why. It’s an enormous amount of work. It seems to never end. In short, it’s a huge pain in the ass. Every time I move, I swear I’ll never do it again.
That’s why moving is the perfect way to know whether or not a guy is a keeper. He’ll help you haul that overstuffed couch down 3 flights of stairs and barely complain? Hold on to that one, ladies.
6. The guy who makes you happy may not be the one you pictured in your mind.
Being happy in a relationship or in marriage is not about finding the partner who fits the imaginary man that you had in mind for years. Neither is it about finding a partner who fits what someone else had in mind for you.
This may seem somewhat obvious, but I see it all the time: women think that the only way they will be happy is by finding the picture they have in their mind. This could apply to appearance, but more often it’s something else: a man who comes from a bourgeois background, has a good job that pays a high salary, or who has interests that align with what society deems normal.
Even you might be surprised by the kind of guy that fits the best with you (which is why it’s usually best to meet a lot of different men before settling down). In the end, you’re the one who is going to be with this person til death do you part (hopefully). So when you date, don’t try to complete the pretty picture you may have been imagining. Instead, look for the person who makes you happy, no matter how different he may be from who you expected.
7. Don’t postpone your life until you meet “the one.”
In college, I noticed among many of my female friends a tendency to make plans for later in life. I wondered why they couldn’t just do those things now: things like going traveling, moving to their dream city, or buying a home. I finally realized that what they were waiting for was the right guy to do those things with.
Waiting for “the one” to turn up before living your life is like waiting to order dinner at a restaurant when you’re waiting for that friend of yours who is always late. Not only are you going to be hungry and resentful if you wait for her, but she almost certainly won’t mind if you ordered without her.
The same is true of postponing your dreams until you meet someone. Go ahead, do everything you’ve always wanted to do. See the world. Move to your dream city and buy a home. Not only will it make you a more interesting and desirable partner when you do finally meet a great guy, but you won’t have to live with the regret of never following your dreams.
I see now that all of my mom’s advice combined has been the main factor in my best dating decisions. Over the years, my female friends have been doubtful of some of these pieces of advice. While it may not always be conventional, it has always helped me to make better decisions and be in healthier, happier relationships (or many times, in no relationship at all). Thanks, mom, for your awesome advice!
What dating advice are you thankful to have received from your mom?