Dating and daughters… it’s a delicate subject, especially between moms and our girls. The thought of our daughters being in the game can make us feel like throwing up in our mouths. And just mentioning it to our girls can make them feel like slamming doors in our faces because they’re sure they know it all.
So it’s a tricky one, this whole relationship thing. Because, as women who have already played the game when we were young, we want to save our daughters from the heartbreak and perils of dating, and they want us to butt the @$&! out. And therein lies the challenge.
As moms, we need to give our girls the knowledge to navigate relationships in a way that respects their boundaries and ensures they have all the tools they need to avoid getting hurt. And that’s not exactly easy, but it is doable because all it takes is prioritizing the super-important stuff and reinforcing it repeatedly (with our fingers crossed behind our backs that they’re listening).
See, imparting wisdom is just what we do as moms because there’s so much we need our daughters to know and remember and do. And even though we wish they’d just let us ride shotgun on every date and be part of every relationship decision, that’s never going to happen.
So, we do the next best thing: to talk all the talk and give our girls as much of our knowledge as we can before they ever even leave the house. We distill all the important dos and don’ts and pass down our field guide for how to survive in the dating world.
And while the list of advice we want to give our daughters could go on forever, some highlights show up pretty regularly on every mom’s list, including mine:
Essential Dating Advice for Teenage Girls
- First and foremost, be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be authentic to who you are, so there’s zero confusion about who you are.
- Set boundaries, so you don’t do something you’re not ready to do.
- Stay away from drama. No one wants to be caught in a stressful, dramatic situation, so keep things open and honest.
- Never give up your independence. Make sure you’re as good being on your own as you are together.
- Don’t compromise who you are or what you want, no matter what.
- You’ll get your heart broken, but the pain won’t last forever. And while it may take a while for the hurt to fade, time does heal most heart wounds.
- Make sure the person you’re with brings out the best in you.
- Breakups suck, but they’ll show you what kind of a person you want to be and what you want to avoid.
- Don’t have sex until you’re ready. You get to decide the pace that works for you, so don’t ever let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with.
- Never compare anyone to your ex, it’s just bad form. Plus, no two people are the same, so comparing is a waste of time.
- Show gratitude when your partner does something special for you. Few things mean more than letting someone know you’re grateful for an act of kindness.
- Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Relationships work in two directions, so if you’re not getting back some version of what you’re putting in, it’s time to move on.
- Never assume you know what your partner is thinking. Ask for yourself, so there’s no confusion.
- Avoid talking smack about your partner because it’ll always make its way back to you as the source, and that’s a guaranteed relationship-ender.
- Don’t play head games. Say what you mean and what you say so that everyone’s always on the same page.
- Remember to talk to each other. Because relationships are always a work in progress, you need to keep the lines of communication open.
- Never kiss and tell. Keep what you and your partner do to yourself because it’ll always bite you on the ** if you start blabbing.
- If you’re breaking up with someone, be kind. There’s no easy way to tell someone they’re not The One, so just do it thoughtfully.
- Moms are always there in the wings to help when you need us. This isn’t a complete list, and I could go on for days, but these tips proved to be the most important bits of dating advice I shared with my teen daughters over the years. So use this as a jumping-off point and just start the conversation.
Add your advice and the opinions of the people you trust, and then just keep talking. Because the sooner you start the dialogue, the better equipped your girls will be to handle themselves when they’re out on their own. And even though we have to back out of the picture eventually and let them make their own decisions, we can still ensure that all of our advice is safely tucked inside their metaphorical wristlet every time they head out the door.
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Practical Dating Advice for Guys