My parents met in the early 80’s in the sea-side city of Vancouver, long before the age of online dating and cell phones. They left voicemails (how archaic), went disco-dancing and enjoyed the ease of dating in a less technological era.
So what dating lessons has my old-school, free-spirited Mother taught me?
LESSON #1: “TRUST YOUR GUT.”
After their first date, my parents proceeded to spend every single day together. Eventually it came to a point that they couldn’t imagine not being together.
After two months and 2 days of dating, my Father turned to my Mother and said “How about getting married?” My Mother thought “Sure, never done that before!” 30 years later and they are still happily married.
This does not mean I am procuring you to immediately marry the person you have a couple of great dates with, but I am advising you to trust your honest feelings about someone. If someone gives you a “so-so” feeling after a long dinner with lots of conversation, chances are that they will never set your world on fire. Coincidentally if you walk away from a date thinking “wow, this person feels like my perfect partner,” then don’t try and adhere to any nonsensical “wait three days before texting” rules.
It’s also very important to remember that with age comes wisdom, experience and fine wrinkles. Wisdom and experience are two excellent tools that sharpen our skills at sensing exactly what kind of person makes a great partner.
LESSON #2: “HAVE ZERO EXPECTATIONS.”
My parents met on a blind date that my Mom almost cancelled on. Her reasoning? Her girlfriend who was setting her up was a known party animal. My Mom could only imagine what kind of ‘date’ her girlfriend would bring along. Fortunately for her, my Dad was a great guy and my parents both clicked.
Even if someone sends you perfect messages, has all the same interests as you, owns their own house and is a famous, travelling yoga-guru, it doesn’t matter. They could have something about them that could turn you off when you meet them in person. Consequentially, perhaps the person who doesn’t reply to messages right away is someone who just isn’t that into computers, but after meeting… surprise!
Keeping an open mind will make dating more fun and thwart any feelings of frustration or disappointment.
LESSON #3: “DATING SHOULD BE FUN.”
I remember running home and throwing myself on my bed, sad that a certain someone wasn’t calling or answering their phone. (Looking back I see what a blessing this was.) I remember sharing a certain quote with my Mom:
“I know my heart will never be the same
But I’m telling myself I’ll be okay”
― Sara Evans
She threw me a bewildered look at said “what the hell are you going on about? You’re 18 years old. You’ll get over it”
My Mom professed that she only had one dating rule: dating had to be fun. No obsessing over someone who couldn’t be bothered to show common courtesy. No madly dialing an ex-flame from a blocked number at 2 o’clock in the morning. It doesn’t mean she didn’t experience heartbreak, just that she had the sense to buck up and move on.
Dating shouldn’t be the drudgerous task we commonly hear it described as. It should be enjoyable. It’s not going to be perfect and not every date will be a Romeo, but hopefully you’ll be able to eat some decent food and have a few shareable stories!
Don’t force yourself to date new people just to heal heartbreak, don’t desperately try to connect with people with whom you don’t share common interests and in respect to all things holy, do not force yourself to drudge through a date that isn’t buzzing in any kind of way.
LESSON #4: “YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS BEFORE MEET YOUR PRINCE.”
Ahh, the clichè of all clichès! I heard this saying so many times throughout my younger years that I’m already saying it to my unborn daughter.
“My first boyfriend had a greasy ponytail and rode a motorcycle. I think you can relax a little bit,” my Mom would tell me. (I was a very emotional 18 year-old.)
My Mom went out and fully enjoyed herself in her 20’s. She surrounded herself with great people, focused on her career and didn’t obsess about finding a mate.
“I was 23 years old! Are you crazy? There’s no way I was even close to setting down!” – My Mom’s response after I asked her why she didn’t marry any of her previous boyfriends.
This rule may not be true for everyone, (I’m looking at you, high-school sweethearts) but for the vast majority, it’s true: people change and grow, resulting in the very popular “phase-dating” among the younger crowd. Sometimes you need to date a frog to really see how wrong someone can be for you. When you have a strong concept of what doesn’t work for you, you will have a stronger sense of what will.
Don’t fret that Mr.Right Now isn’t everything you hoped he’d be, but say yes to every blind-date you’re invited to!