It's not all sugar and spice, y'all.
Though I've lived in New York for five years and consider myself some sort of a hybrid of the East Coast, the truth is: I'm a born and raised Southerner.
I may not have an accent (sorry, dudes, I know it's apparently sexy) and I take my tea unsweetened, but when it comes to chivalry and the importance of gestures in dating, my North Carolina roots always shine through.
If you're lucky enough to be graced with the presence of a Southern lady, here's a few things you need to know about dating these so-called belles (ahem, never call me that):
1. We don't mind a little dirt.
I grew up next to a farm where I happily retrieved eggs from the hens for my neighbor every day after school. My dad taught me to drive a tractor when I was 1-year-old, and I learned how to ride a bike on a gravel road (I have the scars on my knee to prove it).
I spent more time outside than inside, and though I might rock stilettos and Calvin Klein dresses, I don't mind a little dirt.
2. We need you to open doors.
I make a decent living and I'm rather independent (almost to a fault), so I don't expect to be taken care of, especially by someone I just met. Even so, I grew up around gentlemen who didn't think twice about extending their hand to help me get out of a car or stepping aside to let me walk first.
When I'm down South I never open my own door. So if we're out and you don't do that, Lord knows I'm going to notice.
3. It's rude to call me a Southern Belle.
Some ladies don't mind, and that's just fine ... but I do. The origin of the term dates back to the plantation era in the deep South. Southern Belles were upper class and often had slaves to tend to them.
I vote democratically and believe in same-sex marriage, so anything that paints me in a prejudiced light ... well, that's a turn-off. You can just call me Lindsay, okay, y'all?
4. Frankly, my dear, we do give a damn.
There's this misconception about Southern women that we're all sugar and spice. While my friends from NYC will say I'm one of the sweetest people they've met (that's true), all Southern women I know and love are incredibly sassy.
We aren't afraid to speak our mind and say what we want. Why? We know we're worth it.
5. We're looking for a simple kind of love.
When I visit my hometown, there's nothing I look forward to more than a glass of wine on our big, wrap-around porch at sunset, while I watch the fireflies come out and hear the tree frogs start to sing.
I'm calmed and soothed by the simplest of things, and being able to just relax outside with someone on a hot summer day? Well, that's gravy.
6. We like being barefoot ... all the time.
Like at the office, or at home, or when I have to walk downstairs in my building to do laundry. Get used to me never wearing shoes, unless I have to.
7. Our idea of a great second date is a picnic.
Of all the things I miss about big open green spaces, it's being outside in the warm Southern summer sun. If you want to impress me (duh), plan something that's part of nature and I might just be smoother than my grandmother's homemade grits.
8. Hey! Southern doesn't mean dumb, buddy.
Far from it, actually. And if you try to patronize me, talk down to me or treat me like a doll to hang in your china cabinet, you will quickly experience the temper that comes from a Southern family.
9. A sailor's mouth won't go a long way with us.
Do I care if you slip a curse word every once in a while when you're upset or it fits the mood? Nope. But if you throw one into every other word, I might start to wonder if we're a match.
I was raised to have manners, be polite and watch my language, so I'd like you to follow suit. Please and thanks.
10. Don't hate on the country music.
You might just like my "Carolina Vibe" playlist I have on Spotify. I listen to it when I miss home. It also sometimes gets me in the mood. (Pssst: that means put on some country when I'm feeling down and you get major brownie points!)
11. We will talk to anyone and everyone.
Let's say you suggest we grab a drink and bite on our first date. I'll smile and thank the hostess for seating us. I'll also ask the waitress about her day. I'll thank the busboy for clearing our plates and I might even strike up conversation in the ladies room.
Southern ladies love to talk, so either join in, or smile and nod.
12. Skip the sweets and give us fried food.
Seriously. There's nothing like a big ol' plate of mashed potatoes and butter with a biscuit and fried chicken when I need to indulge. It's stereotypical, but honey bun, it's amazing.
13. At our hearts, we're lovers.
I'm kind-hearted, pretty gentle, sensitive, and full of a LOT of love. It comes with the upbringing. Just don't go steppin' on my heart or you know exactly what I'll do with those boots.