I’ve been thinking about dating quite a bit lately for two main reasons, and they are called My Friends. The first group of Cheerleaders do lots of gushing and smiling, and say things like, “You’re awesome! You need to get back out there! Go date and have a blast!” Sometimes they even applaud.
I call the other group my well-intentioned Pragmatists, and they have a common habit of rolling their eyes, groaning, and saying things like, “Ugh. If I ever have to be out there again, just shoot me.”
Although I’m not exactly sure where out there is, My Friends have led me to believe that it is exciting but very dangerous, and generally uncomfortable. On the one hand, the thought of getting to know someone over intimate dinners and glasses of wine sounds amazing. But then I remember all my horrible dating stories from the ’90s – when lovely dinners turned into confusing goodbyes, overzealous suitors or disappearing prospects, and I kind of lose my nerve. Plus, today there’s the added bonus of texting angst and ghosting, which makes dating even more intimidating.
In a good-spirited attempt to be prepared, I recently asked some local experts for dating advice. And by local experts, I mean kids. They’re perfect participants, as they aren’t yet tainted by rejection or false promises. They don’t yet know what it’s like to fall in and out of love, be a dumper or dumpee, mix up signals, experience heartbreak, or play the magical dating game called What the Hell Is Going On Here?
Another point to consider: if I’m going to make smart dating choices, perhaps I should trust the opinions of those who are not emotionally invested in the outcome. Which is why I developed a highly scientific approach for data collection, consisting of a simple questionnaire, painstakingly created while sipping a glass of Merlot. Participants included a small group of my friends’ children, as well as my own two offspring. In other words, they all know me, which made the responses that much more significant.
And the results? I have to say, my instincts were right. Kids know what they’re talking about. Here’s what they had to say:
Should I start dating, and why?
- I don’t think you should start dating because that person may not love you forever and may break your heart. – Mya, age 8
- Probably, if you’re lonely and you need a man in your life to complete it. – Kaiya, age 12
- You should only start dating if you want to. If you are fine being alone, then you don’t need to, but if you are looking for someone to be with then you should date. – Zoe, age 12
- I think you should, because it’s good to try and find people you like. – Sam, age 14
- You should. Dating doesn’t necessarily mean that your only purpose is to find your husband. You can just have fun and meet new guys who might become great friends; nothing serious has to come out of it, but if it does, great! – Julia, age 16
What qualities should I look for in a date?
- You should look for someone who is nice. And someone who says good words to you. – Mya
- Smart, handsome, funny, passionate, clever, trustworthy and likes kids. – Kaiya
- You should look to see if he shares common interests, and if he is kind and helpful, because you don’t want someone rude to be around. Also, you want him to be good-looking. – Zoe
- Someone that has some similar interests, and is nice and funny and listens to you. – Sam
- A man should make you laugh hysterically. He should be liberal, like you, and also smart, loving, sensitive, passionate and affectionate but not needy. He should have confidence but not be cocky, and there should be both an emotional and physical attraction between you. Also, it’s important that you can have deep and profound conversations. – Julia
What types of activities would make the perfect first date?
- You should laugh, always. – Cameron, age 5
- He should pick you up, take you to see your favorite movie and buy you the biggest popcorn!!! – Mya
- A restaurant, walking around town, a beach, and lunch at a café. – Kaiya
- Going out to a nice dinner or doing something adventurous that neither of you have done before. He just plans a date and doesn’t tell you what you’re doing, so it’s a surprise. Going out dancing together (if he’s a good dancer) would be a blast. Going to a sports game together would also be really fun. – Julia
When should I let someone kiss me?
- Never!!!!! Well, only if you really want too. – Mya
- When you feel ready, and he’s not pushy. – Kaiya
- You should only let someone kiss you if you are okay with it, and if you know and trust the person. A kiss is an advancement in a relationship, so you should be okay and ready. – Zoe
- When you know a lot about that person and that you want to have a relationship. – Sam
What makes a man a good boyfriend?
- He will sing to her, say nice words, and be a gentleman. – Mya
- If he’s nice and you like him and he has a good background. – Kaiya
- When a man is a good boyfriend, he will compliment you and care about you. He should comfort you when you need it and hold the door, and everything else like that. But nobody is perfect, so you should remember that. – Zoe
- He isn’t flakey. He buys you things just because, and he treats you like a princess. He respects and loves who you are and never tries to change you. He is adventurous and never settles. – Julia
What should I do to be a good girlfriend?
- A girlfriend should have long hair with nice shoes. – Cameron
- You shouldn’t be nosy in his bro-time, and you shouldn’t over-read about small things. – Kaiya
- You should do the same things that you expect him to do for you. You should respect, care, and love him too. – Zoe
- Do nice things for him too, and voice your opinion if he does something you don’t like. – Sam
- Be yourself. Be open and never suppress your feelings. Challenge him and never lose your spontaneity. – Julia
What kind of man do you think would be the perfect match for me?
- Someone like my Daddy! – Mya
- He’d have to be someone who you could spend all your days with. – Kaiya
- Someone that you share most common interests with, but they should also like other things, so you can do them and then maybe you could have a new hobby. – Zoe
- Someone that’s nice, caring, has a good sense of humor, and is almost always happy. – Sam
- He is passionate about what he does. He follows through on things, and is never condescending. He is loving and tells you every day how special you are to him. – Julia
How will I know if I’m in love?
- You will get a weird feeling in your tummy. – Mya
- I’m not sure, but I just think you’ll both have to feel it. – Kaiya
- When you are glad to see him, you always want to be around him, you can’t stop thinking about him, and you feel happy around him, too. – Zoe
- If you want to spend time with him and care for him. – Sam
- You’ll have this feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you incredibly happy and you never want it to go away. You’ll just know. – Julia
How should people in love treat each other?
- You should always be kind when you are happy and sad. Never say mean words to each other or fight. -Mya
- They should treat each other like a best friend. Best friends don’t ditch each other, they don’t make fun of each other, they protect each other and they act impossibly weird with each other. – Kaiya
- They should be kind to each other, make each other happy, and always be at each other’s sides. – Zoe
- With respect and care, but they should also do fun things together. – Sam
- They should respect each other’s viewpoints but also challenge them. They should tell each other daily how much they love and mean to each other. They should spoil each other sometimes and be passionate. – Julia
Do you think I should get married again one day, and why?
- If you really want to and you think it would be right for him, you and your family. – Kaiya
- Yes, but only if you think you want to, and love the person so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. I think this because it should make you happy, and I’m sure that there is somebody that is perfect for you and you are perfect for them. – Zoe
- If getting married will make you happier, you should. – Sam
- Yes, you should. I think that you’ll want someone to share your life with, and I think it would be meaningful and symbolic for you to marry someone this time that you can’t imagine living without. Or if you don’t marry, I think you should move in together because you’ll want to share important moments with him and you’ll want to physically be with someone most of the time. – Julia
Is there anything else I should know about dating?
- Stay calm, don’t be nervous, always speak your mind. – Mya
- The last thing you should know about dating, or at least remember when you are wanting to date, is that boys or men can be very annoying and stupid sometimes. But still, we have to love them. – Zoe
- If you love someone and they just don’t want to be in a relationship, you still could be good friends! – Sam
- Have fun and be yourself. And if someone online tells you he’s a prince from Zimbabwe and asks for $1 million, he’s probably not real. – Julia
What Do You Think?
Now that you’ve read what some of our younger peers have to say about dating, what about you? Do you have any advice for me? I’d love to hear about it … please leave your comments below.
©2016 Michelle Freed