Sometimes we all need a little fatherly advice, and I’m lucky enough to have a father who I can talk to about mostly everything.
But talking to your dad about your love life can be tricky.
There’s a certain please don’t go there vibe, a certain mutual awkwardness. Yet despite these sticky spots, I’ve really come to value these conversations.
Not to say my dad and I have always been so open with one another.
I remember coming home from the 6th grade dance, giddy from the fact that I had just attended with my first “boyfriend” (blissfully unaware that my “relationship” would last 6 short weeks, while the dry spell that followed lasted nearly 4 long years) and presenting my family with a Polaroid of me and my beau at the dance. I wore a tiny t-shirt, over-sized jeans and braces. He wore a flannel, beaded choker and a bowl cut. More importantly he had his arm around me. My sister and my mom both made the appropriate “aww” sounds, but my dad just turned away, snarling, “What is his arm doing there?”
His attitude didn’t change much as I progressed through high school. When I was seventeen, I had my first serious boyfriend (complete with dramatic break-ups and make-ups) and we were always hanging at my house. For the first few months my dad didn’t even acknowledge his existence. He would just come into the living room where we watched TV, say hello to me, ignore him and walk directly out.
It wasn’t until college that we turned a corner.
I was sitting in my empty apartment the night before I was supposed to drive from Providence (where I went to school) to my home in Ohio. But due to a recent heartbreak, the last thing I wanted to do was spend 12 hours alone in the car (don’t worry, ladies, I’m a lot tougher now). So I called my dad at 11 pm and greeted him with a small whimpering voice of sadness. He flew out the next day and we drove home together. But before we left, we went out for Thai food: drinking beer, eating curry, talking about life & love. Because I was a bit unhinged, I didn’t even try to hide my feelings, and because I was nearly grown up my dad stomached the conversation.
That’s when he laid it on me – a truism if I ever heard one:
“Guys under 25 are just straight assh***s. Try not to bother with them so much.”
And while maybe this isn’t completely true, we all know that it’s mostly true.
After that dinner I began to speak openly to him about my relationships. Not that we gossip or I tell him everything(thank God) but I do share when I’m curious, or concerned, or in search of advice. I like to think of him as a sage cultural warrior, one who has been on this earth for 70 years and still believes in the power of two over one. I even called him last week, temporarily concerned about my latest relationship venture. He quickly quelled my fears like he only he can do, reminding me that my sitch wasn’t so bad – it was actually quite good. He even added this gem:
“Listen, you’re not pregnant and you’re not married, so you’re doing okay in my book.”
Now those are standards I can live by.
Photo via listverse