Grandma’s Dating Advice
By Tina B. Tessina, PhD LMFT
While fashions, fads, and technology change, the basic skills of human communication, cooperation and commitment don’t. A healthy, happy, lasting relationship needs the same abilities to share thoughts and feelings with each other, to work through problems with the intent of reaching a solution rather than just browbeating each other about who’s right or wrong, and to hang in there, through good times and bad. What was true in Grandma’s day is often still true today. Here’s some old advice that still is valuable today.
Grandma would say: “Why should he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?” In other words, don’t be too quick to have sex. This sounds arcane today, but there is a certain truth to it. When you have sex too soon, the power of that connection overshadows all other aspects. When you wait a while and get to know the person you’re about to be intimate with, see that person in a variety of settings, observe him or her interacting with other people, you’ll learn more about the character of the person, and not be quite so susceptible to the surface attributes. This will result in a deeper and more meaningful connection that is more likely to last.
Grandma would ask: “Who are his/her family?” We are no longer so concerned with class status, but it remains important to know your intended’s background. Observing the way your date’s family interacts will show you what good and bad relating habits your date learned from the cradle. While these habits can be good or bad, and the bad ones can be overcome, understanding family dynamics and traditions will give you insight into a lot of behavior that otherwise wouldn’t make sense
Grandma would ask: “What kind of job does he/she have?” Many younger people don’t realize that having significant work experience and holding down a job indicates a person has life skills. If your date is out of school and doesn’t have a reliable income, it could be an indication that he or she isn’t mature enough for a responsible relationship. If you just want a temporary playmate, this is fine, but if you want a partner you can build a life with, including savings, a family, and a future, take a look at the date’s financial habits and achievements.
Grandma would say: “Never let the sun go down on an argument” I see so many couples who have long-standing resentment from arguments they haven’t resolved for months or years. While it can be useful to take a break and give both of you time to calm down so you can reach an agreement, it is not helpful to avoid talking about things that are upsetting to one or both of you. Resolve things as timely as you can. Learn negotiation skills so you can solve problems together. If a problem is hanging around and not getting solved, or an argument keeps recurring, make a therapy appointment to get an objective opinion on what’s blocking your connection.
Grandma would say: “Don’t give up. Fix whatever is broken.” This is advice that I think is sorely needed in relationships today. The seemingly easy availability of other people to date through apps makes it seem simple to let go and do something else. Keep in mind no relationship is perfect, and most issues can be fixed. By working on whatever is not going well in your current relationship, you will learn critical skills, and if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you need for the next relationship.
Grandma’s advice comes from long-life experience, so heeding it can increase your happiness.
Author Bio: Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (www.tinatessina.com) is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 40 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 15 books in 17 languages, including Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today; It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty; Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, The Real 13th Step , How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog (drromance.typepad.com), and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” and offers courses at GenerousMarriage.com. Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, TV, video and podcasts. She tweets @tinatessina