I’m glad that my son is dating. No, really, I am. He has traveled a long, challenging, carefully crafted road toward young adulthood, and we didn’t work this hard just to freak out and get possessive and controlling at the moment he dares to carve out a personal life of his own. We didn’t raise this fine young man just to pretend that he’s on a high shelf for no one else but parents and family members to appreciate and admire.
But if it were up to me, the girl who chooses to be with my son won’t be just anyone. She needs to have her act together. She can’t rely on her beauty, education, intellect or social status in order to win my vote.
I know I have no business making a list. But a mom can be hopeful, right? So this is a list for any young woman who is interested in a relationship with my son.
To any young woman who wants to date my son, here’s what I hope you will be:
Yourself: Be comfortable enough to be exactly who you are. Whoever you are around your closest friends should be the same when you’re around him. Do not feel the need to act differently when you’re with him—whether it’s more mature, more bubbly, more intellectual, more adventurous or more reserved. You don’t need to change for anyone.
Honest: About everything that matters–what you feel, what you like, what you don’t like, what you want. Honesty really is the best policy, and I don’t mean with just him. Be honest with yourself, more importantly.
Self-Confident: You did not get his attention with your fashion sense or makeup artistry, so stop by in your sweatpants. Be the girl who can go out without makeup on. Let him see you after an exhausting day at work or school when you cannot be bothered to primp. Your inner beauty outshines your best efforts to be pretty, hot or sexy, and you know this.
Self-Aware: Know yourself better than you know anyone else. Recognize what upsets you, what makes you happy, what you’re bad at, what you’re great at and what you’re still learning (about yourself). Don’t let this relationship define you. Let it enhance and inspire who you already are.
Responsible: Be grateful and excited that you live in an era when a woman can unabashedly do her thing. If you feel stifled, stuck or discontented in this relationship, you are the only one who can change that. Your happiness and comfort are your highest priorities. Do not ever forget that, no matter how deeply you care for him.
Realistic: You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t make this relationship the center of your life. Do live in the moment. Revel and dwell in the joy that a new relationship brings. But make space for the friends, interests and priorities you both had before you knew each other.
Patient: You’re both young. There’s no guidebook or precise formula for the perfect relationship. You’re both going to fall short of each other’s expectations sometimes, and you’re going to continually learn so many things about yourself. Twenty years from now, you will remember this advice and think, hmm, that’s still true today (well, maybe except for the part about being young).
I wish someone told me these things when I started dating. All too often, a girl’s world gets wrapped around her adoration for a boy, and before she realizes it, she loses so much of herself. Don’t lose yourself to gain the attention of a boy. You are far too precious. If you don’t believe me, ask the people who love you the most. They’ll say I’m right, and they adore you for who you are right now, just like my son does.