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April 28, 2010

My Own Bad Advice

Listen, my son, to this instruction. Pay attention, and gain understanding.

Nah. Not really. A better way to intro this writing is to say that when I was single and interested in finding a "good" girlfriend, I got a lot of bad advice. People told me a lot of bullshit about dating while others made me plain scared of ever even thinking about maybe possibly getting married because that's foolish.

So what makes me think that I'm an expert with nonbullshit advice? Well, first, I don't (see title). There are plenty of good books out there, and I've remained committed to reading at least one good marriage/relationship book per year since I've been married. Do you read?

More importantly, I have had about 12 years of being on this side of the horrendous dating scene, literally thank God. That's 12 years of life experience, watching others while being mostly unconcerned with myself.

First, single girls don't know exactly what they want in a relationship any more than you do. On the whole, the hearts of women seem to ebb and flow in ways that defy any sort of normal human logic. Expect confusion and puzzling. Even if you could figure it out, "it" would change and you'd still be left standing there in the hallway scratching your head.

"Um, okay."

I do that at least once a week.

Second. Girls want what you want; things that transcend gender. They want a rock freakin' solid person. By that I mean things like honesty and humility, respect, integrity, and courage. Men and women carry them out in different roles, but those are what we're all looking for. We will never own any of those things over a lifetime of real effort, and so we all desperately want grace.

Girls want someone who is brave yet gentle; respectful to their parents but not a mamma's boy/girl. That sort of thing.

Be a good listener. Prompt and listen. Prompt and listen. While I seriously doubt the existence of a "good" pick-up line, having a repertoire of "good" sincere prompting questions is probably worth it. If it drains you and feels like work, drop it like it's hott. Yes, two t's.

Third. Notice something about their hair. I don't care what it is.

"Is that new?...That huge white stripe of shaved skin down the center of your head?...That reverse mohawk goes perfectly with your boots and your attitude."

For real though, it works no matter what the age or marital status or haircut. NOTICE THE HAIR, even if it's just because you'd maybe appreciate them bringing another tray of peanutbutter hershey kiss cookies into the office. Just try it.

Mutual physical attraction does count. Golden Anniversaries never happen solely by chemistry, because true love is a decision...that sort of thing. But anybody who says that looks don't matter is lying.

Fourth. Don't really try. Other than the hair thing, just don't. Go about doing what you enjoy doing (unless it's online Dungeons and Dragons) and regularly, frequently extend yourself to serve others. I personally think "singles" events just kind of smother everything in impenetrable layers of weirdness, masks, and awkwardness, even when intentions are good. Nobody makes good friends by trying really hard to make good friends.

Put yourself out there - sure. Your actions and attitudes will tell others that you're interested and available. Be the good time. But that's about it.

Fifth. Take a serious inventory of yourself to identify some area(s) where you generally suck, and seriously pray to God for help and to show you ways to change that. God - yes, 'cause trying ain't gonna cut it. Otherwise you're left with a miserable cycle of singleness and inconfidence and Saturday Night Live. No single should be regularly watching "live" SNL.

I was way inpatient and short tempered and maybe even mad before I met Amy. I had no good reason to be any of those things, and they made me more stand-offish and introverted. Without saying a word, she made me want to change them.

Sixth, confidence. This applies more to the dating scene, but I think that girls are attracted to confidence. Not bigmouth blowhard confidence, but "I really am okay with or without a girl" kind of confidence.

You are okay with or without? Really, you should be. Ugh, I know.

Now who's really confident, not false frontin' confident? I know a few folks who are, but not many. If you already error on the side of being too confident, then this entire writing is definitely not for you. But really and truly, being a big mouth and being a super shy wallflower are both renditions of self absorption. And not attractive.

During high school and college years, when I was interested in dating, I was like a baby food jar full of confidence. Infant sized. Only when I went to grad school, and said "whatever," and swore "I'm devoting the next 3 years only to getting a professional degree," was I unconcerned enough with myself and my dating life to have a genuinely enjoyable date.

That, my brother, is my own bad advice on dating.

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1 comment:

Matt said...

Yeah man! The Faces song with the chorus
"I wish
I knew what I know now...
When I was younger..."
is coming to mind.
So glad I don't have to date.

There is great confidence in not taking yourself too seriously and being brave enough to be honest.
If anyone is dating with an eye to the future, the only way to really know whether it COULD be a good fit in the long run is to BE YOURSELF in the short-run. Respect yourself and insist that others do likewise.
Be honest about what is important to you.
If you want to be with a particular someone, start telling them the things you appreciate about them. It's a good habit.
If you don't want to be with a particular someone, be gently straightforward about that too.
Don't use someone you don't care that much about, not even just to stave off mutual loneliness.