Saturday, 28 April 2012

Why I won't be giving relationship advice to my daughters

Stop press: my daughters are growing up.
No news there, I know, but when your kids grow up their interests also change.

So long gone are the days of dolls, colouring-in and baking fairy cakes,  and in their place? Boys. And in the Teenager's case, a boyfriend. And a very nice boy he is too.

But what happens when your children turn to you for advice about relationships? Do you dish out your knowledge gained from years of your own experience of dating, marriage, relationships, etc?

You see my problem is this: I'm really bad at relationships. I've said it before and nothing has changed since then - I just seem to have the gene missing for forming and maintaining happy, stable relationships with men.  Just can't do it. My track record is littered with relationships that for one reason went wrong. So I'm reluctant to give my girls relationship advice when I'm clearly not great at it myself. It's like giving singing lessons to someone when you can't hold a tune. (And have you heard me sing?)

Of course I want them to be happy, and I will listen, sympathise and cheer when needed, but giving them advice about situations I clearly have no clue about?'s not going to happen.
So I've decided for all our sakes to offer my daughters only two pieces of advice. And these are my cast-iron, don't-even-think-of-ignoring-them rules.

1. Never marry a man who doesn't respect his mother.

Pretty straightforward I think. The way a man treats his mother is pretty much his blueprint for how he treats women generally, and that includes you. Even if he treats you well at first, given time he will fall back into his default setting for women.

The only opt out for this is if his mother is a complete nut-job and you have witnessed it with your own eyes.

2.  'He's just not that into you'.

No, not the film because that wasn't great. I refer to the revelation from Sex and the City episode 'Pick a little, talk a little' when Carrie's boyfriend Berger tells Miranda that the reason a man doesn't call isn't because they're 'busy' it's because he's just not that into you. If he want's to see you, he'll call.

So simple and so true, and yet it has taken me many years of waiting by phones and making excuses (and accepting his) to realise that this is good advice. Take it, because if he really likes you he will make the effort to call/visit/see you.  If I'd accepted this in my early 20s it would have saved me a lot of heartache.

And here's Miranda passing on the dating gospel to some other women.