Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If you had a daughter, would you want her to date your boyfriend?

In the past three weeks I've had more than a few conversations with women currently dating difficult men (note: I'm trying to use "women" and "men" vs. "girls" and "guys" because most of the people I refer to are almost 30...). They don't text back. They don't keep plans. They treat them differently in private than they do in public. It's the typical list of grievances against lack-luster dudes.

I always meet these complaints with the same response, "so then why are you still dating him?"

To which I tend to get one of the following reactions:
  • We have this amazing, amazing sex. Like I've never, ever had before. That must mean something, right?
  • Because when he's good, we're really good. He gets me, and that's hard to find. 
  • All guys have issues, right? It's not like I'm going to find some perfect man out there. My situation isn't any worse than any of my friends.
At which point I think, but usually don't say:
  • If you're in a relationship exclusively for the sex then you're getting what you deserve.
  • Does he really "get you" if he frustrates you at every turn?
  • Not all guys have those issues, and you obviously need some new friends. 
But upon the most recent conversation of the above variety, I got to thinking about what it would take to snap a woman out of the pattern of dating shitty guy after shitty guy. What brain exercise could she do to take herself out of her own mind and place herself into the mind of someone who wants better for her?

Which is how I got to the question in the title of this post: If you had a daughter, would you want her to date your boyfriend?

We often get the, "how would your mother feel about this guy?" or, "is this guy someone you'd be willing to introduce to your Mom?" But I understand that some people have challenged relationships with their parents, plus some people's parents aren't exactly the best role model for relationships.

This exercise isn't about your mother; it's about you as a mother.

Someday you may have a daughter, and I promise (as a childless person, but still) that you will love that little girl like you have never loved any human prior. And you will want the absolute best for her, in every area of her life, but especially in her relationships. You'll want someone to respect her. You'll want someone to be honest with her. You'll want someone to make life better for her in every way.

Imagine if that future daughter of yours came home for a visit. She sat down with you on the couch for a Pinot Grigio and microwave popcorn session (just my house?), and in that session she shared all the awful, confusing, miserable things her boyfriend had done in the past few weeks. What would you say to her?

Sometimes we don't care about ourselves as much as we should, but I guarantee we'll never have that problem with our future children. Let's start practicing that kind of love now by applying it to ourselves, okay?


  1. I'm sending this post to several of my friends. Brilliant!

  2. Overall I would completely agree and I hate watching friends go through this. But there can be some other things going on here too. It's funny, because I read this list (doesn't text back, acts differently in public than in private) and actually see some traits that I, as a woman, exhibit toward new guys in my life when - when I like the guy but he is coming on way too strong. Often I want to get to know a guy, slowly, but don't want to have long phone conversations, text 10 times a day, or have a lot of PDA going on until I know that I want to be in a realtionship with him. Ie I want to actually date and get to know each other, not say hi nice to meet you now we're exclusive all in one breath. Sure the behaviors you list could be an indicator that the guy is "lackluster" - but it could be an indicator that the girl needs to slow down, enjoy the getting to know you part, and not rush into the we're an item and everybody needs to see that you are mine part.

    It's funny because we dislike guys who are "players" - partly because they are treating women as though they are interchangeable - they want one thing (a hookup) and don't really care who the girl is or what's special about her. In the same way though, guys (or girls) who are trying to rush into a relationship treat women (or guys) the same way - it's about getting what they want (a relationship/partner) and whoever can fill that role is interchangeable, it's not about really falling for that particular woman.

  3. I tell my younger sister all the time that I went through all the stupid stuff so that she could learn from my mistakes and avoid the same situations. Win-win for her!

  4. I loved this post. Makes absolute sense!

  5. I never considered this perspective. Wow! I think I'll make it my new litmus test. :)

  6. This is a brilliant idea. I never thought of this as a question to ask myself when dating someone and it is something I will most definitely do from here on out.