What it means to have a good Dad involved in who you're dating
I get to say I am one of the lucky ones to have been born to a great Dad. I did nothing to deserve a Dad so kind and loving so I am not trying to brag, it just happens to be the lucky hand I was dealt. Besides being a great Dad, the kind that always made time for his kids and showed an unprecedented amount of patience and creativity, he continues to be one of my best friends.
Anyone that knows either of us knows my Father and I share a very special bond. That bond manifests itself in a lot of unique ways. We can drive around making fun of each other for hours. We have a ton of inside jokes and stories. Yes, we are adults and we have serious conversations too. He always listens without judgment and with complete attention. He wants to know what’s going on in my life but is completely respectful that we don’t need to be Facebook friends.
I love my Dad a lot and always want him to be proud of me. In fact, I love my Dad so much, I never liked to tell him my dating stories. For years in my early twenties I kept my dating life completely private from him, to spare him the agony of experiencing modern dating through his little girl. That’s how my sister was able to start some really funny lesbian rumors about me. At the time, I thought I was protecting him. And then I thought to myself, this is my problem. My Dad doesn’t expect me to be alone all my life, he knows I should be dating… If I’m not dating men that I can be proud to tell my Dad about, maybe I’m dating the wrong men.
So I changed that. Now homeboy (dad) gets to hear my dating stories. They can be edited in terms of detail but the emotions are not. He knows when I’m excited about someone I’ve met. He’ll ask if a guy deserves a second date. He politely asks all the facts about my dates until he can find something to make fun of him about. My Dad will then check-in to make sure things are going well. And it doesn’t always go well. I won’t usually tell him specifics but I’ll tell him when some guy messes up or does something that hurts me.
He knows to ask me if the mess up is something I’m able to forgive and if I tell him no, he encourages me to be strong.
Once while out with the guy I had been dating for several months, we ran into his exgirlfriend and my date was visibly unnerved afterward. I offered to let him have some time alone that night, but I wasn’t comfortable with his acceptance of my offer. I told my Dad about it the next day and he was aghast. “If she’s in his past, what does he need time away from you for?? I know what my decision would be.” And I couldn’t ignore the implication and truth of the situation; any guy really into me would have been more interested in making sure I was ok with that event. Our next discussion confirmed that and was our last. Dad was the beacon of truth I couldn't ignore.
I think my Dad’s confused by modern guys. He always doles out advice like “How does everyone expect to know what’s at the end of the finish line before they’ve even started to run,” implying that going into a relationship is a journey that requires some leaps of faith without any guarantees. And “Pick a date fit for a mate.” Which means don’t even get started dating someone if you know things about them that are things you don’t want in a mate. Save yourself the heartache. And finally, “Gina, it doesn’t matter who you end up with, it’s going to take work. You’re going to fall in and out of love with the same person a million times. Pick someone who isn’t going to be afraid to work at it through the times when things aren’t perfect.”
It doesn’t sound like a happily ever after fairy tail advice but maybe it’s the shot of relationship realities that we’re missing from The Bachelor. The dude has been married nearly 45 years and my parents are actually happy, so I choose to listen. I’m not anywhere near marriage yet but being accountable to tell my Dad about who I’m dating holds me accountable to dating men that are actually worth dating. Until then as my Dad once thoughtfully expressed to me, he’ll “always be the man in my life until someone comes a long that can take his place.”
Even if you don’t have a Dad in your life like mine, the idea of accountability to someone who knows that you deserve something good is important. If you feel embarrassed to tell your friends or mother or sister about what your guy tells you, how he treats you or how he behaves, take it as a signal that maybe you shouldn’t be dating him. Because if he’s quality, there should be transparency. You don’t have to hide who he is from the people who really care about you.
I think my Dad is right, that it’s worth being single until the right one comes along. If you want to use his advice for your own love life or someone to make fun of your dates, let me know, he’s happy to give it.