Dear Future Children,
We haven’t met yet, but I’ve thought about you…my whole life. When I was flying back from Europe for the first time (with your grandma), I wrote you a letter about why I hope you travel, and that you take more advantage of your passport than I did in college. There’s so much world to see, and while you’re out there having grand, exciting adventures, you might meet a boy or girl that you’re interested in.
Your mom sure has met plenty of boys along the way.
And though I’d like to meet your father, I haven’t yet. I think of him often, and everyone tells me (like your aunts and uncles and grandparents who you’ll love) that once I fall in love with your dad, I will be amazed that I worried about finding love. It’s a comforting thought, and at times, it helps me power through another date, but it’s also impossible to hear when you’re in the middle of what feels like a neverending revolving door of men you don’t want to date. You’ll understand one day, love.
But, just in case everyone is right, and your dad erases all of my terrible dating memories – and the really fun ones – I want you to know a few things about the search for love, straight from your mom who has learned quite a lot:
Love yourself first.
You’re a mere figment of my imagination and your parents haven’t gone on their first date yet, but my little loves, you’re already beautiful. You’re already special. You’re brilliant and passionate, kind and courageous. As you get older, you’re going to forget these things, both because you let other people tell you otherwise and because you let your doubts overrule your heart. It’s normal and it’s part of growing up.
But before you can really love anyone with your whole heart, you have to let yourself in, first. You have to find faith in who you are, strength on those two feet that’ll help you from your first steps until you march across the stage to accept your college diploma.
The big secret is that you’ll spend most of your life learning to love yourself and figuring out what you need to be happy and what you can do without. And one day (as I’m told and as I’m telling you), someone will love you almost as much as I do. They’ll appreciate you for everything you are and aren’t, for what you have and what you don’t. That’s how you’ll know when it’s right. (And definitely when it’s wrong.)
You may be single, but you’re not alone.
When you’re lonely (which you will be from time to time), take a moment to look around you. At your amazing friends, at your siblings, at your family, at your father, and at me. You will always have a cheering section and you will always have support, and more than anything, you will always be loved. You don’t need the attention of a mate to make you loved – you already are.
Don’t spend all of your dates wondering what’s next.
It’s a mistake your mom has made more times than I’d care to admit, but it’s a lesson you might not have to learn, if you can let go and live a little. Sure, the ultimate point of dating is to eventually find someone to be with. But, children of mine, dating can also be a lot of fun.
Some of my favorite nights in New York City (where I currently live – and where I hope your dad does, too!) have been with total strangers on our first dates. There’s something magical and mysterious about getting to know someone who could be the someone. (Red wine or margaritas also help to make it interesting.)
And even if the dates aren’t all that great – they are a chance to meet people from all different walks of life, ethnicities, countries, backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes. If you can look at it as a few hours of your time, it’ll make it a lot easier and enjoyable – instead of putting pressure on yourself to make something official. Ask questions. Be curious. Be attentive. Have another round. Or three. Go dancing. Wake up the city at sunrise with your laughter. Live!
Everyone has their own timeline.
Some of your friends – and maybe even your siblings – will pair up earlier in life. While there are a lot of things that you can somewhat control, like your career path, your savings account, your hobbies, and the company you keep, when it comes to love… fate has it’s own plan.
You’ll meet your aunts and uncles one day (also known as my best friends) and you’ll hear all of their stories. What amazes me is how we’ve all gone about this love thing so differently: some met young and married, others dated for years and lived together before getting hitched, others played the dating game (like me) for most of their 20s. You’ll probably experience the same thing – and you might feel the same pangs of jealousy and anxiety – but there is no perfect timing for love.
It happens when it happens, and that doesn’t make their relationship or your future one any better or less. (It does mean, however, that you better start saving from preschool to pay to be in all of those weddings one day!)
Remember that you are more than enough.
Everyone doubts themselves…as much as I’ll try my best to make you realize how unique you are, you will ultimately compare yourself to other people. You’ll think your friends are more attractive than you are, you’ll wonder if you’re as funny or as interesting or as successful.
And if you date for a while, without meeting much of a match, you might wonder if you’re just not good enough.
My heart hurts even thinking about that kind of pain and how that type of thinking may bruise your confidence. I want you to repeat this after every single terrible breakup (you’ll have a few), every disappointing date (you might have a 100 of those) and every night you’re trying to fall asleep, questioning if you’ll ever be happy in love: ‘I am enough!’ Because you are. And you always will be.
Never settle for less.
Being brave will be programmed into your DNA – especially since I’m your mom. But there will be times when you’re afraid that everything you hoped for yourself won’t come true. You’ll feel like giving up – on finding a dream job, on meeting someone who makes you happy – because it’d be easier to have anything rather than the right thing.
And that’s when you’ll lift your chin, shake it off, and take a deep breath in. That’s what I do every single time I wonder where the hell your father is – and so far, it has worked. There are many, many worse things than not finding the love of your life exactly when you want to – and one of those is settling for second (or third) best. Choose being single over being in a bad, dead-end relationship. Trust your mother.
Don’t follow all the rules. (Not even these, if you don’t want to.)
You’re going to be fed so much advice – I’ll try my best to not persuade you to believe what I do – but it’s important for you to make your own rules. If you want to kiss on the first date, do. If you want to split the bill, do (though sons, I highly recommend you at least pay for the first, it’s a gentlemanly act. And daughters, never make the man always pay for everything – you’re independent, ya got this).
If you want to be single until you’re 35 and go explore what you really want out of life and the world without considering someone else, I’ll fully support you (and tag along on a trip or two). When it comes to love and dating, there is no right answer or no solution that fixes everything. There’s no answer that completes all of the questions swirling in your mind. You just have to follow your heart – and keep it open – and the rest works itself out.
I promise. And I love you. Let’s get drinks in a few decades and talk about all this, k?
This post was originally published on eHarmony.