Dating is an unavoidable journey every girl must pass through in this life—unless you’re planning on doing this life thing completely solo. If you were to ask other women their opinions on the subject,you would get all kinds of reviews—from the “loved my dating years” to the “I never want to do that again.” Dating is all about putting yourself out there, so yes, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel vulnerable—maybe even downright betrayed along the way. To completely avoid all heartache is impossible, but there are a couple things you can, and should do, to minimize the risk.
First, fixer-upper boyfriends, those with painful pasts and endless excuses for their poor behavior, aren’t worth your time. And if you’re thinking, hey it’s just dating. Remember, nothing messes with your head more than falling in love, and sadly, once we do it’s hard to break those ties—even with idiots. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life having to pull someone along? Trust me, that’ll get old—fast.
Second, honesty is always the best policy, and the easiest way to weed out non-compatibles quickly. If you’re looking for a husband and want to have six kids, say so within the first couple of dates. Even if you’re a career woman bent on climbing the corporate ladder but want companionship, share these feelings early on. And if you’re thinking those are kind of heavy topics for first dates, I say how much time do you plan to waste on someone who doesn’t share your core values? Dating is not the place to change people’s minds. I promise you will find someone compatible, so don’t fear cutting lose those that don’t feel the same way. The longer you date, the more attached you become, so it’s in your best interest anyway.
Date with your head far more than your heart. I can assure you the heart doesn’t need much prodding when it comes to emotional and physical attachments. It will jump on board with whomever you choose.
It’s hard when someone criticizes you. Some might even say those words can cut deeper than any knife. So it’s easy to see why people often try to deflect criticism by pointing out someone else fault instead. Having been hurt many times by disparaging words, I can understand the reason behind this often gut reaction to redirect harsh words on others. By slamming someone else’s behavior as worse than yours might help you feel better for a moment. But in reality, you are always responsible for your behavior. It doesn’t matter what someone says or does, you can’t be cruel in return and think their actions absolve you of yours. You will pay for your choice, just as they will pay for theirs, so choose wisely.
I have never cried over sending my kids to school. I want my kids to be independent, rational thinkers that will one day leave my house. But, now my oldest is a senior. Watching him prepare to leave for school for his last first day of secondary education this week, brought tears that even my analytical side couldn’t stop. Yes, future success requires that he leave our home to find his own way. But, holy crap, why did he have to grow up so fast?
What’s worse, I remember how adult I thought I was as a senior all those years ago. Looking back from this vantage point, I now realize how immature I really was. And my son isn’t any better in that department. Yet, here we are, careening toward graduation. The thought makes it hard for me to breathe, but I still won’t delay the inevitable when it finally comes. Life is a hard teacher, but sometimes there is no other way to gain understanding than by experience. I only hope when he does finally leave, I’ll have filled him with enough knowledge to avoid some of life’s pitfalls. Fingers crossed.
Somewhere along the path of life everyone has to learn to think for themselves. Believe me, as a parent of teenagers, I find this truth to be the scariest thing to face. But, being afraid doesn’t change the facts. Your life is yours to command. Now, before the teenagers reading this decide to toss all parental guidance aside, let me also warn you—every choice you make comes with a consequence—some good, some bad. When you are willing to fully accept those consequences, whatever they may be, then you are mature enough to think solely for yourself. Blame can no longer be a part of your vocabulary, unless you feel like directing it at yourself—because you made the choice.
Now, if you’re worried you might not be able to do that whole not blaming thing, then you’re not ready to think solely for yourself. You still need the influence of outward guidance. The test of having the ability to manage absolute control of your own life—to think for yourself—is really that simple, and yet a critical point that sometimes even adults struggle with. So, don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes quite a bit of practice to truly learn to own one’s life.
Nothing takes away the joy of youth faster than the thought of being uncool. This fear doesn’t hit every child at the same age, but the moment it does, wham—a kid will spend more time worrying about what their peers think than living their life. Why? You only get to be young once. Trust me—you’re aging at light speed as it is. Get out there and live your life—any way you see fit—without breaking laws, of course. I don’t want to see complaints from parents saying it’s my fault their kid is in jail. You have to be smart about this stuff, and you’re certainly capable of doing that.
When you look back on these short teenage years, I want you to marvel more than regret what you did. Whether or not you do will be in large part to your choices, so don’t allow yourself to be put in a box of someone else’s perceptions. Remember, there is no time machine for doing it over again.