Good morning, Mamma! Happy Friday! Are you ready for the weekend? Me too.
I watched a video called “Fish Love” with my daughter last night. She has been asking me about relationships lately, how you “know” a person is the right person for you. The video was part of a much longer conversation she and I have been having for years.
We had six hours in the car on a college visit earlier this week, just she and I. It was wonderful. Epic. I loved it so much.
A little background: We don’t let our kids date till they’re sixteen. Our son chose to date a bit in high school; our daughter has not dated yet (she’s a senior now, eighteen.) She hasn’t taken any kind of dramatic vow, and it’s not that she hasn’t been asked, she’s had a number of very sweet and respectful what-are-you-doing-this-weekends from half a dozen boys and one girl (that was an interesting conversation).
She and her friends go out – swing dancing, movies, museums. They get together to run, to play Frisbee, to play board games at home with mom bringing snacks to them by the plateful.
I wish I had been so smart.
My daughter, to her credit, doesn’t want to date for the sake of dating. She has decided to wait until she finds someone she can imagine being with for the long run. She has started thinking very seriously about this recently so the depth and intensity of our conversations has ramped up.
You need to respect each other, I told her, that’s a must-have. You don’t want someone you need to walk behind, nor someone you have to drag along, you want someone who will stand side-by-side with you and pull the plow together.
And it helps if you have that playful thing going; life gets hard, play will help to get you through those times. You have to be able to communicate, even when it’s hard; if you’re afraid to talk to him, the relationship won’t work. And you have to have trust, that’s another must-have. It’s not that neither of you will make mistakes, in fact, I guarantee both of you will make mistakes, it’s just that you need to know in your core that your man will choose to be there for the long-haul, even when it’s hard. I told her that it helps if you have similar taste – not that you have to like all the same things, but you have to have some kind of shared interest. (And I-want-to-kiss-you is important, but it isn’t enough of a shared interest.)
Whomever you pick, no matter how wonderful they are, they will be imperfect, and they will eventually do something to hurt you, and you, by the way, aren’t perfect either, you will do something at some point that will hurt them too. You just have to look at the balance, the good and the difficult, the supports and the hurts, and ideally choose someone who will bring more joy than pain into the relationship.
Whomever you pick, it will be work. Everything in life takes work. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a garden, a baseball mitt or a relationship, if you want something to last, you have to take care of it.
You can have a great life with more than one person, that is, there is no One Perfect Person For Me out there, waiting to be found. Your life will look different depending on which person you pick, but there are a number of people you could have a good life with. When you do choose, that act of commitment, that trust, that forsaking all others, is part of what makes your relationship strong. That choice, that act of choosing, that choosing every day, brings something beautiful to that relationship. To choose to be there, even when you meet a new someone you are attracted to, because you will meet another someone you are attracted to, you’re still human, so be ready for that too.
I’m-with-you-as-long-as-you-make-me-happy is not a relationship to be aspired to.
…This morning, my husband and I decided to carve Sunday afternoon out for ourselves. Date-Day. All that talking with my daughter reminded me that I need to curate and nurture my own relationship. Too easy to get too busy.
What do you think, Mamma? How did I do? Anything else you think I should have told my girl? We’re going to have another long ride tomorrow; I expect it’ll come up again.