Monday, July 18, 2011

How do I Love Thee? by Diane Kelly

My 15-year old son recently began his first romantic relationship. Well, technically, it’s not his first. Back in kindergarten, he was in love with a cute little red-haired girl from his class and she returned the sentiment. They shared their Twinkies at lunch and drew crayon pictures of each other with smiling suns over their heads. It was adorable. Unfortunately, the relationship ended abruptly when he accidentally stepped on her foot as they took their places in line to go out to recess. No matter how many times he apologized, she wouldn’t forgive him. But who needs a high-strung girl like that anyway? He quickly moved on to share his Twinkies with an adorable Asian girl who was much sweeter.

Back then, I felt no need to offer advice. But now, as he’s putting his toe in the water of love, I wonder whether to give him some advice, to tell him what to expect, to prepare him for the crazy world of dating. Should I share some of the female perspective, tell him some of our trade secrets? Or should I let him learn on his own? And do any of the rules that applied back when I was dating twenty-three years ago even apply in today’s world? As a romance writer, I feel like I should be an expert on this topic. But I feel woefully inadequate!

Some things about the male-female relationship seem so instinctual that they don’t change. Men will always enjoy a conquest. They don’t tend to value a woman who’s too easily won over. Women seek a man whom they can trust to stick around, through good times and bad. The best relationships are those in which the two partners bring out the best in each other. It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

But where emotions are involved, nothing is ever simple.

My mother offered me only two pieces of dating advice. One, it’s just as easy to love a rich man. And, two, when a relationship has run its course, don’t embarrass the guy by telling him outright that it’s over. It’ll die a natural death on its own.

As to the first piece of advice, she was probably right. On the second, though, I think it would have been better for me to be honest with some of the guys I dated when I felt it was time to move on. Pretending to be busy and subtly rejecting them didn’t go over too well and probably only caused more confusion and hurt. On the other hand, a guy I was dating once showed up at my house with a hickey on his neck - from another girl! I’m assuming he came to the door to break up with me, though I never found out for sure since I simply slammed the door in his face. Maybe there’s something to be said for subtlety after all. : )

I need your help! Do I give my son advice and, if so, what advice do I give? What is the best and worst dating advice that you received? What dating advice did you pass on to your children?

Thanks for your input!!!

Diane Kelly's debut romantic mystery novel - Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure - will be released on November 1st by St. Martin's Press. Visit for details.


Christie Craig said...


This is a hard one. Love is hard.

I say talk to him. Just be prepared for him to look at you like you're crazy. What would you know about love.


Diane Kelly said...

Haha. Yeah, kids dont want to think about their parents being in love. Its too icky. : )

Terri Osburn said...

I feel for you on this one. My daughter just turned 12 and had her first boyfriend this past school year. It lasted less than 2wks and only meant he walked her to the bus. I dread the day it goes beyond something so innocent and simple.

Considering I'm eternally single and the few times I haven't been didn't go well, I'm the last person who should be giving advice. Maybe we'll check some books out at the library that will help us both. :)

Mary G said...

Yes yes yes - give advice but in the form of a discussion. My son is now 22 & says that he heard & thought about every thing we ever said even if it didn't seem like it. I figure if they tell us stuff, there's a reason. They're feeling us out.

Love this:
The best relationships are those in which the two partners bring out the best in each other.

We told him that good relationships bring out the best in you and good people don't play mind games etc. The right person will put him first just as he would if she was the right person.