One of the most important people in my life happens to be 7. I’ve known her since she was still in her mother’s tummy. She has chosen to call me her big brother, a role I’m honored to serve. And a role I take very seriously. We go on trips to the zoo, out for ice cream, and to the movies. I hop her up on all kinds of sugar and then drop her back off with her parents. (I’m sure they love this.)
Because she and her family play such an important role in my life (and I hope I play an important role in theirs), she has observed over the years that I am chronically single. She has also decided she is going to help “fix” that.
She has decided her role in my life is to be the person most invested in my love life and the one providing the obvious help I need to improve it. From a very young age, she has, without prompting, offered advice to me about love and dating. These little nuggets of wisdom are often hilarious — and always better than the advice my awful adult friends give me (also unprompted) about my dating life. She’s been giving me advice, and I’ve been writing said advice down, since she was just 4. Some people pay a lot of money to get professional advice from a life coach — I walk to the park with a silly 7-year-old and get put in my place every single time.
Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice she’s given me:
1. Kid: Always say you’re sorry.
Me: What if I didn’t do anything wrong?
Kid: Hmm. You did. So just start with saying you’re sorry. You’ll make it much easier on yourself — trust me!
2. Kid: Focus on her instead of anything. You’re not dating your job! You’re dating her.
3. Kid: Find someone who likes the things you like so you can like them together.
4. Kid: Are you going to marry her?!
Me: I don’t know. Do you think I should marry her?
Kid: No! I do not like her with you. Me: What don’t you like about her? Kid: I don’t want her to be my sister! She’s mean to you. And you shouldn’t love someone who is mean to you. (The kid’s insight on this one was spot on. I don’t know how she got to be so insightful, but this relationship was an abusive one. The kid was the only one to comment on it.)
5. Kid: You gotta find someone to love.
Me: And why is that?
Kid: Because everyone needs somebody! Me: How do I know whom to love? Kid: Love someone because they’re special, okay? Me: Okay.
6. Kid: How come you never have a girlfriend?!
Me: I don’t know. What do you think?
Kid: (looking me up and down) Maybe because you like Star Wars and they don’t. Me: So The Force is not strong with them? Kid: (rolls eyes) What am I going to do with you?
7. Kid: You need a girlfriend!
Kid: Because you don’t have one, silly!
8. Kid: I know you aren’t ever going to get married, but ifff you did, I’d have a sister-in-law, right?
Me: Who said I wasn’t ever getting married?!
Kid: You! Answer my question! Me: Yes, if I got married, you would have a sister-in-law. Kid: (groan) But I want a brother-in-law. So can you just marry a boy?
9. Me: How do I know which emojis to send or what she means by them?
Kid: You should always show them to me, I’ll know.
10. Kid: Are you dating the girl who gave me a lemon bar?
Me: You mean Nicole?
Kid: Yeah, Nicole. Are you dating her? Me: No, Nicole is a friend. Kid: You should marry Nicole. She loves you. And you love her. And she’s nice. Me: Is that so? Kid: Yeah. Tell her you love her and marry her! Or you’re going to miss out.
The kid gives me this type of advice almost every time she sees me. She also brings up Nicole almost every time I visit. And while the kid might be a little overeager (probably influenced by the delicious lemon bar that she has yet to forget in over three years) about jumping right to marrying Nicole, she is right — I often let amazing connections slip past me because I’m too paralyzed by fear to make my feelings known. When I have a crush on someone, I never take a risky leap by putting myself out there. This is out of 1) fear of vulnerability, and 2) a fear of losing a friendship.
Maybe the 7-year-old is right. Maybe I should put myself out there more. Heck, maybe we all should. And not just with dating, but with life as a whole. After all, you can’t get anywhere without a leap or two.
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