Dear Son: 8 Relationship Tips From Your Mom

Dear Son,

When you were a baby, I imagined you growing up to become “all things boy.”

I envisioned mud pies and frogs in my bathtub, wrestling in the living room, and playing football in the yard. I thought of the broken bones from falling out of trees, the constant smell of dirty socks and aftershave, snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, because “that’s what little boys are made of.”

As you grew, most of my premonitions came true, along with the sweet stuff I never expected—like picking flowers and wanting to brush my hair, baking really messy surprise breakfasts, and of course, the compliments and promises of a child (like you saying, “You’re so pretty, Mommy! I want to marry a girl just like you someday!”).

Wouldn’t that be amazing? … Yes! I want you to marry a girl just like me, too, because then I just might like her.

But more importantly, a girl just like me will unconditionally love you … just like I do.

Unfortunately, there is no one “just like me,” just as there will be no one else “just like” the woman you fall in love with; we are all unique individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses (although clearlyshe will have more weaknesses than me).

So instead of locking you in your room with a bag of Doritos and your PS3 until you are 30—which was my original plan—I want to share some dating advice with you that I hope you’ll always remember when searching for the love of your life:

1. Let yourself fall in love.

We always hear about “love at first sight” and “soul mates”, but the truth is that love has levels. The love you feel today will sweep you off your feet and you will believe you can’t live without that person who holds your heart.

But, kind of like how you have to tear a muscle to grow it, each time your heart tears a little, it will grow back stronger and capable of expanding and experiencing even more. Who knows, you may find your “forever love” in high school (like your dad and I did), but don’t make that a requirement of the people you date.

Dating isn’t meant to break you. If your first, second, or twelfth loves don’t work out, it will hurt … but it’s not the end of the world. Let each relationship teach you and remind you that no matter what, you are worthy of BIG love.

2. Dance, even if you suck at it.

Everything about relationships is a dance. We move, we trip, we laugh, we connect, we let loose, we embrace, we touch and we feel. The guys acting all cool at the side of the dance floor aren’t experiencing life and they aren’t being seen.

Let yourself be seen and let the person you’re with know that you see them, too. Besides, there’s nothing hotter than a guy who is so comfortable in his own skin that he is willing to dance and laugh at himself just to get close to you and see you smile.

3. Laugh at yourself.

Dating is better if you don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously. The world is full of drama and tragedy and heartache, so don’t create more of it in your relationships.

You’ll make mistakes and you’ll probably get into disagreements, because that’s what happens in the real world. The most important thing is to know that no one can make us angry without our permission, and we don’t have to participate in every argument we’re invited to.

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