I am still in deep cringe mode from a moment that happened six years ago. I was a freshman in college and had been dating my boyfriend for a few months when my dad came to town for the weekend and took me out for sushi. Over spicy tuna rolls, he awkwardly explained that he understood I sometimes slept over at my boyfriend's apartment, and that — I quote — I was not "a little girl anymore," but that he would always be there if I wanted to talk to him about relationships. But honestly, asking your dad for dating advice can actually be really useful.
There's a weird myth out there that you should not, under any circumstances, clue your dad in on any facet of your dating life. We've all heard of the stereotype of an aggressively protective dad polishing his shotgun on the front porch while waiting for his daughter to come home from a date, right?
But unless you think your dad will actually shoot someone (in which case, um, please call 911 immediately), involving your dad in conversations about your personal life can be pretty rewarding. He probably has a different perspective than you do, which can be illuminating in all sorts of helpful ways. Plus, everybody knows that dad jokes make everything better.
Don't Be Afraid To Have The Conversation
Your first instinct might be to turn to your mom. And that's fine — but don't automatically assume your dad isn't down to talking about dating.
"I've seen a gender bias where girls are conditioned that they can't talk to their dad about sex or sexuality, but your dad might be able to give you some perspectives that your mom can't — such as qualities to look for in a boy to make sure that he will be attentive and responsive," says Dr. Gary Brown, a Los Angeles-based therapist who specializes in individual, family, and marriage counseling.
Also, game recognizes game. Your dad can see right through your suitors' antics and recognize which ones are worth his daughter's time.
"Dad might also have tips about guys to avoid," Dr. Brown says.
Honestly, I'll take any advice I can get.
Ask How Dating Has Changed
Unless your dad is a recent divorcé, he's probably pretty clueless about what dating is like these days. Back in his heyday, people met through personal ads in the newspaper — or, I don't know, while at hair metal shows or whatever people did in the '80s?
"Acknowledge that things are different now, and engage your parent in conversation by asking, 'Is there something that I can learn from your generation?'" Dr. Brown says. "Then you can say, 'Let me tell you what's happening in my generation so you can understand."
Personally, I think these conversations are the most interesting way to approach the subject, because you wind up learning tons about your dad's life before he met your mom (did you know about all those girlfriends?!) and you get to hear about the early days of your parents' relationship. It's v cute.
If They're Freaking Out About You Dating, Get Sappy
Here's what you say, according to Dr. Brown (his daughter said it to him right before she walked down the aisle!): "No matter if there's another man in my life, you're always my dad."
Cue the waterworks. Or at the very least, he'll put down the gun.
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