A few years back, I was driving back to my apartment, phone in my lap. My Dad was on speaker.
We were talking about my relationship.
“Yeah, it’s over,” I say simply, shrugging, although obviously, he couldn’t see me. “It’s just over.”
“Well, that’s it,then.” he said.
He told me that I take on a certain tone when I’m finished with something, and he could hear the certainty and stubbornness in my voice.
“Once you’re done, you’re done. I know I can’t change your mind,” he says.
Though, he admits that my independence is one of his favorite things about me.
For the past 10 years, my Dad has been one of my closest, and most trusted confidants. When I decided to write a post about relationships in time for Valentine’s Day, I really struggled with a concept.
Then I realized that I could share a fantastic perspective about dating….his.
He doesn’t sugarcoat things. He really wants the best for me, so he doesn’t put out false hope in situations that probably weren’t meant to work out.
And he’s really good at calling out bullshit.
So, this Valentine’s Day, I give you the best relationship advice I’ve ever received, from one of the most important people in my life.
My Dad, Rick.
If you can’t get a straight answer, then the real answer is no.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my Dad, “what do you think he meant by that?” In almost every scenario, my Dad has reinforced this advice – if a guy can’t give you a straight answer, you already have it.
Pay attention to the intent, not the flirting.
Guys flirt. Girls flirt. It’s our nature. But just because a someone is flirting with you, doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is interested in dating. Not too long ago, I met a seemingly nice guy at a bar, who became a little too eager to head home with me. Doesn’t mean he was a bad guy, but the intent was clear, and I wasn’t interested. I left him there, and went home alone.
Be the dog.
“Dating starts as a cat and mouse game. Don’t be either,” my Dad advises. “Be the dog.”
What does that mean, exactly? My Dad has always encouraged me to be persistent in who I am, and what I’m looking for. Being meek, or withholding your needs just to make someone else happy, is just a short-term solution to a variety of long-term issues. Be aggressive and confident. Don’t waste your time.
The big things will always be there.
The main issues in all of my relationships never went away. Despite all the long, drawn out talks with the guy involved, or strategies to make positive change, the same issues continued to come up. Every couple of months, I’d call my Dad, talk out the same problems, and get the same answer from him: “Do you still want to be in this situation six months from now?”
In both cases, I didn’t still want to be “there” in six months… but in both instances, I was. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but it’s important to. Some issues just can’t be resolved, no longer how long you try to wait them out.
Don’t be afraid to be alone.
One of the most heartbreaking things my Dad has ever said to me, was that he was disappointed I was so fixated on one of my relationships. He actually said to me, “Are you afraid that you won’t meet someone else? Are you afraid of being alone?” The answer was yes to both, but I just couldn’t admit it. “You’re a kind, ambitious, adventurous, pretty girl,” he told me. “You don’t ever have to worry about ending up alone.”
I really took that advice to heart, and hey – I actually love being single. I don’t feel compelled to date someone just so I won’t be by myself. If I wanted to date someone, I would, but in the meantime, I’m good.
Sleep on it.
I’m not good in the moment. After arguments or fights, I always need time to process how I’m feeling. I get this from my Dad. “Know when you partner is frustrated, and leave it be, until they can process it all and make a good choice,” my Dad says. “Impulsive decisions usually have the poorest results.”
Look for enthusiasm.
One of the most important things my Dad ever taught me, was to look for enthusiasm. Whenever a guy has seemed uninterested, on the fence about dating, or hesitant to make a commitment, my Dad has always made the same point – “if he really wanted to do [X], you’d know it.”
And you know, he’s right. When have you ever not known when you really, truly wanted to do something?
Because I always have.
That last bit of advice is probably the most valuable. Don’t settle for someone that’s wishy washy about things you truly want, or care about. Wait for a patient, trustworthy partner who will know, without a doubt, that he intends to have a future with you.
And then, almost thirty years later, that partner will answer your daughter’s ridiculous questions about dating for her blog.
Because that’s what the good ones do.