As I sent Journey out the door this morning with a box of Valentine’s for her classmates, I realized that it won’t be long before I’m sending her out the door on her first date. There are so many things I want to tell her about the beauty, the heartbreak, the romance, and the many complexities of dating and relationships. So I put a list of things I want my daughter to know about love.
1. Your first love will probably not be your last
As much as I would love to spare you the pain of heartbreak, the truth is it will happen (probably more than once). It will hurt like hell. You will feel like you can’t go on without him. Like the worst has happened. But slowly you will realize that it didn’t kill you. You will pick yourself up. You will realize your strength. You will love again. I promise.
2. Don’t get lost in it
There is nothing like the feeling of being in love. You could eat, sleep and breathe it. While it’s okay to hide in your love cocoon for a while, make sure you come up for air every now and then. Don’t be one of those women who forgets she had a life, friends, and other interests before she had a man. It’s really annoying.
3. If it’s real, it will go the distance
Don’t ever let your relationship be the deciding factor in where you go to college or get a job. Make your decisions based on what’s best for you and your future. If your love is real, it will last well beyond the miles that are between you.
4. You cannot love someone into the person you want him to be
Let me be very clear on this one—the only thing you can change about a man is his clothes! There is NOTHING that you can give him—not your love, not your money, not your cooking, not even the best sex on the planet—to make him morph into the man you want him to be. He is not a challenge that you can conquer. He is not a project for you to complete. Your love cannot save him. If and when he makes any change, it will be because HE has decided to evolve into a better man. But yes, you can probably talk him into a makeover.
5. It shouldn’t hurt
It’s absolutely normal to have hurt feelings in a relationship. But feelings are the only thing that should ever hurt. It is NEVER okay for a man to abuse you physically or emotionally. When you ignore or forgive unacceptable behavior in a relationship, you are giving him permission to do it again. The moment you feel like you are being disrespected or abused in any manner RUN. Then read number one again.
6. Always be yourself
Do not compromise on this one! The worst thing you can do is go into a relationship pretending to be someone you are not. It’s deceitful and it’s exhausting. No matter how quirky or silly your personality, how overweight or unattractive you think you are (but you know you’re beautiful, right?), or how intimidating your intelligence and success may be, never dim your light to make someone else shine. There will always be someone who will love you exactly as you are.
7. It’s Complicated
Forget about any sappy, silly love story that you have ever seen in the movies. It’s great entertainment, but it’s not real! These movies have created generations of women who think that falling in love should happen like a fairytale. But contrary to what you see in the movies, you will not lock eyes with him from across the room. He will not run after you in the rain. He will not look at you and know what your thinking. And the sexy shower scene? Ha! Try that without a shower cap and see how it goes. Real love is messy. It’s complicated. It’s challenging. It’s beautiful. Just like life.
8. It will not complete you
Never look outside of yourself to fill a hole inside of you. If you feel like something is missing in your life, I can assure you it’s not a man. Do not hobble your broken self into a relationship looking for it to make you happy. Instead, take time to search your soul and figure out what you need to find joy within yourself. And when you are truly whole, instead of looking for someone to complete you, you will seek a healthy relationship that complements you.
9. Go for the nice guy
At some point, like every woman before you, you will fall in love with a bad boy. He doesn’t call when he says he will. He doesn’t show up for you when you need him. He’s unattentive, unattainable and emotionally unavailable. The man who deserves your love is a man of his word. He will protect you and provide for you. He’s sweet and supportive. He’s not afraid to show his love for you. Eh, I’m probably wasting my time with this one. You’re going to fall for him anyway. And you’ll have to learn it the hard way like the rest of us.
Ok, what did I miss? Any other tips about what I should tell my daughter about love?