The dating world can be brutal for us grown-ups, let alone for young people just starting out! There's so much drama and uncertainty and weirdness! If you're not a confident person, it can really take its toll. But even for the most confident people, it can be hard to navigate. Do you guys remember what it was like when we were in our teens and early 20's, dipping our toes into the dating pool for the first time? It was equal parts exciting and nauseating, to be honest. And in this day and age of social media and internet dating, it's only gotten worse. We love the convenience of swiping on potential partners, but we hate dealing with things like ghosting and body part pictures. If you have a daughter, there are definitely some ways you can prepare her. This dating advice for daughters is a good place to start.
Listen, we've been there. We know (somewhat) what to expect. So who better than parents to dispense dating advice for daughters? Moms AND dads have some pearls of wisdom that can help her navigate the uncertain dating world. From knowing your own worth and feeling confident, to not being afraid to advocate for yourself, there's so much we can teach our daughters. They're going to be the people they're meant to be, and find the person (or people!) they're meant to find. It's up to us to make sure they have the right tools to carry with them on their journey.
Or woman's love! Any person's love, really. The point is, we need to make sure our daughters know that their self-worth is not tied to who loves them, or stops loving them, or how many people they've loved. But rejection can make you feel like you're not good enough or worthy of that person's affections. It's trite, but true: it's not you, it's them! Make sure your daughter knows that she is always good enough, no matter who or what tries to convince of to the contrary. We should never look to others to confirm how we feel about ourselves, and this is so important when it comes to dating.
Dating advice for daughters should include a healthy dose of reality! Heartbreak is real, and yes it does hurt. But everyone, and we mean EVERYONE, goes through it. We're not all going to be everyone's cup of tea! Rejection will come during dating, during relationships, even when they meet someone for the very first time. It's important to have a thick skin, and teach our daughters not to take it personally. For every potential partner who turns them down, there's someone waiting out there who will be tickled by their fancy, for sure. And she'll do her fair share of rejecting, too! It's all part of the process.
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Ugh, if we could spare our kids the pain of their first (and second and third and so on) heartbreak, we'd do it in a ... well, in a heartbeat. Getting your heart broken is one of the most painful things we go through in relationships. But, alas, it is inevitable. Your daughter may fall in love with someone who doesn't feel the same way. Or she may have her trust violated and learn the hard way that some people just aren't very good people. It's going to happen, and you can't really prepare for it. But we can teach them that it's temporary, the pain won't last forever, and it is possible to pick up the broken pieces and move on again.
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It's going to happen at some point. She'll meet someone, and things will be going great, and then little by little, they may start to chip away at her identity. Want her to dress differently. Change her physical appearance. Maybe they'll ask her to stop seeing certain friends, stop going out, or change jobs. This is a big red flag, and we need to make sure our daughters can spot it. It's one thing for someone to ask them to stop, say, eating oranges in bed. But when they ask them to change who they are as a person? Not OK. Likewise, dating advice for daughters should include some warnings about their own behavior, like never asking or expecting someone to change who they are to please them. If you have to change someone, they aren't the person for you.
Image: The Next Step
A lot of dating advice for daughters applies to so many aspects of their lives. And this is one of them! Never, ever tolerate abuse, of any kind. So many people think abuse is just physical, but many of us have experienced abuse in relationships without a hand ever being laid on us. Verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse are very common, and equally as damaging as being hit. If someone tries to control their life, berates them, calls them names, treats them like less than an equal, or generally makes them feel bad about themselves, they are abusive. Full stop. She needs to run away from that person as fast as she can, and look to her friends and family for support as she ends the relationship.
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Sure, they may be nice and respectful to your daughter, but that could be them just trying to make a good impression. It's how they treat other people that's the best indicator of how she'll be treated. Particularly people who work in the service industry, this is huge! You can tell SO MUCH about a person by how they treat wait staff, baristas, or retail workers. Also, pay attention to how they treat and talk to their family. Are they disrespectful to their parents or siblings? That's a tell. How this person treats the world around them is indicative of how they will eventually treat you. And never date someone who doesn't tip, it's just gross.
For this one, you should totally just rewatch Shrek! For an animated kids movies, it sure imparts a lot of wisdom (don't they all?). Sure, sure, we raise our kids to not judge a book by its cover. But it can be hard not to be swayed by a pretty face or a nice body when you're just dating around. The thing is, the wrapping paper is only part of the whole package. Imagine opening a gift in Christmas that was wrapped beautifully, but had an empty box inside. It would be disappointing, right? We need to make sure our daughters know that a person's character is far more important than their physical appearance. This is not to say that good-looking people can't be GOOD people, or that conventionally unattractive people can't be assholes. But take the time to find out before writing them off.
Because it should be! This stage of her life should be a blast. Sure, it's a bit stressful, and can be confusing and even depressing at times. But meeting new people, trying new things, and learning about herself can be incredibly entertaining. It helps not to take it all too seriously most of the time. There are a lot of fish in the sea, and they're all just trying to catch a bite. So make sure she knows not to get too bogged down with the competitiveness of dating, and just focus on the fun of it. Even really bad dates can be fun, in hindsight.
Usually something about herself! Every person we interact with in our lives gives us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. And dating is no different. It's a chance to figure out what she wants or doesn't want, who she is or isn't compatible with, what she does or doesn't like. Some lessons are silly and funny, while others will be more serious and might even cause her pain. And it's totally fine to not fall in love with most of the people she dates - in fact, that's probably the safest way to go about it! Not every paramour has to be THE ONE, or even a serious relationships. Flings and casual dating definitely have their perks.
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Yep, THAT'S RIGHT. Plenty of parents follow the school of sex-positive parenting now, and we are not going to tell our kids (especially our daughters) that their virginity or chasteness is something to revere. Sex is natural, it's nothing to be ashamed of, and it can be a vibrant and exciting part of her life. What we should be focusing on is practicing safe sex, consent, and body safety. Does that mean we should teach our daughters to go out and sleep with every person they come across? Well, not exactly. But it does mean accepting that they will one day be sexual beings, and giving them the tools to be safe and satisfied.
Yes, it's important to find someone with whom you connect and agree on all the important stuff. You can't really sustain a long-term relationship with someone if you don't agree on stuff like marriage, kids, religion, or morals. There's definitely some compromise involved in relationships, but she should never compromise who she is or what she wants to make someone else happy. BUT, sometimes the little stuff matters just as much as the big stuff. Not necessarily in a "you won't be compatible with someone who doesn't cheese" kind of way. But the little stuff, like enjoying the same genre of film or being obsessed with a certain author, can strengthen and deepen a bond.
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Our generation and those who came before us were told one thing about dating: you did it to find a spouse. And for some people, that still rings true! If your daughter wants to get married one day, then yes, dating is most likely how she's going to find her partner. But she doesn't HAVE to date toward an end game. Marriage can be great, but it's not for everyone! She doesn't need to look at every partner or casual fling and try to see a future with them. Some dates and flings are going to be just that - dates and flings. And that is perfectly OK.
Not only is it OK, it can be pretty freaking awesome. There's nothing wrong with being single. Being single past a certain age doesn't make someone a spinster or undesirable or desperate. Some people enjoy being single, and wish to stay single! Relationships can be messy and dramatic and painful. And some people, let's be honest, just don't do well in a relationship. They do better on their own, and are far happier single than they have ever been in a relationship. Does that mean they'll never find someone they want to actually be with? No, of course not. But it does mean that we should teach our daughters that it is absolutely fine for to NOT want that.
We do our kids a real disservice by telling them that if a relationship is good, it will be easy. That couldn't be farther from the truth. The truth is a relationship is good because you work hard at it! Some stuff will come naturally, yes. It should be easy to love someone (if it's not and you have to be convinced you should love them, red flag!). Having fun with someone should be natural and easy. Respecting someone who is worthy of respect is natural. Being compatible with someone? Ehhhhh, not so much. It takes work, everyday, and until she's ready to do the work, there's no shame in telling your daughter that she can pass on taking the job for now.
Always, no matter what. No matter what mistakes she makes, how badly she screws something up, or how far from your wishes for her that she strays. Our girls need to know that we are 100% supportive of them leading their own lives, and that we will be there whenever and wherever they need us to be. It's just that simple! As parents, we have certain dreams for our own kids, it's only natural. But whether or not they follow the path we wish for them, it can't take away from our support of them. Dating is hard, and it's about finding out who she is and what she wants. And that is her journey, and hers alone. Just make sure you're waiting in the wings when she needs some advice or love.