The dating world has changed a lot since most of us millennial’s parents were young. In case you haven’t heard, dating barely exists anymore. We just browse through potential partners on our phones or computers until someone catches our eye. Calling us the “digital generation” could not be more accurate.
Once you make it through the dating site and social media madness, the actual “date” typically consists of meeting up to drink and hooking up at the end of the night. Girls these days consider themselves lucky if they ever hear from the person again. Sound familiar? No, it probably doesn’t. I’m sure it sounds awful.
That said, I’m recently single again and back in the dating sphere and there is some new age dating advice that I wish I had learned years ago.
1. No need to rush, no one wants to be tied down anyways
Growing up, your mothers might have pushed you to approach dating with haste, not wasting any time to find your future husband. But please don’t encourage your daughters to do the same, because they will quickly be disappointed. People nowadays are not looking to settle down long term so quickly, no matter how great they are. If your daughter finds herself in a healthy, satisfying relationship, then that’s great. But don’t even bring up the thought of marriage until they’ve made it through college and settled into the real world, because I can guarantee not many couples will make it through that period to move on to marriage. Ensure your daughter that there is absolutely no need to worry if she hasn’t found the one yet, and don’t add stress to her already-complicated dating world by pressuring monogamy too soon.
2. Fall in love with yourself first
Although I’m sure you were no stranger to body image issues and low self-esteem when you were young, this has only gotten more intense for our generation. Constantly bombarded with traditional media as well as the ever-present social media now, the focus on appearances and perfection is at a record high. Couple that pressure with the unstable, painful hookup culture, and you’ve got a big batch of self-conscious, self-doubting girls struggling to muddle through and find happiness.
Instill in your daughter the confidence she needs to face this world before even introducing dating to the mix. If she can be proud of her appearance and demand what she wants emotionally, she is way less susceptible to hurt. Teach her to demand respect and proper treatment, and not let those standards fall when she’s ready to find someone. The strength to do that lies within a solid foundation of healthy praise and motivation early in life from a loving mother.
3. These are new times, so experiment
One of the most important pieces of advice you can impart on your daughter today is that it is OK to not be heterosexual. The world has become much more accepting of all types of people and all types of sexual orientations. Don’t assume that your daughter is interested in men, or interested in dating at all. If your daughter feels comfortable to share her preferences with you and you find they are less-than-traditional, accept it. Actually, don’t just accept it. Encourage it. Girls are not told enough by society that we are free to experiment with our sexuality — that freedom is typically only granted to boys. Hearing it from our moms would be a cool confidence-booster and reassurance that it is 100 percent OK to find out what we like and be different.
4. Be careful with dating apps
This is one thing your daughter might not want to hear, but she needs to. While your first instinct may be to tell your daughter to stay off all sites or apps completely, instead just encourage safe practices and classy profiles. We are so accessible now, and willingly so. We want people to find us, know us and like us. But warn your daughter to not reveal too much to avoid danger, and keep a fair balance between fun and class in their pictures and bios. This is where your motherly influence comes in handy the most, because who else is going to tell us to take down that awesome spring break pic that might get us fired?
5. Teach sex safety earlier than you’d think
I say this with a heavy heart, but it’s true. It really is never too early to talk to your daughter about safe sex, because kids are having it younger and younger. Having a little sister as well, I’ve seen how sex and sexuality has seeped down all the way to even the youngest generations.
Now, don’t be alarmed though. If you have already instilled the whole “love yourself first” mindset in your daughter, hopefully she won’t be engaging in sexual activity so ridiculously young, but rather has found other ways to boost her confidence. It is a good idea, however, to teach them young about safety, what’s consensual vs. what’s not, and what to expect emotionally after sleeping with someone. These are things that young girls typically have to find out for themselves and are too scared to ask for help with, so address the issue before your little girl gets hurt.
6. Be glad to be single
Our generation is really big on goals. Whether its life goals, body goals or relationship goals, the standards have been set high and we are faced with them each day on our social media outlets. This can leave us feeling inadequate a lot of the time, or lonely because we have no relationship to boast about across social media.
Remind your daughter how OK it is to be single. Not everything in life has to revolve around finding their next relationship, so emphasize the benefits of being single in their teens and 20s. We get to live college life to its full extent, travel uninhibited, spend more time with our best friends or even just eat a whole ice cream cone without someone judging us. Whether it’s the big things or the tiny triumphs, being young and single is not embarrassing, it’s an amazing opportunity to grow and thrive with no one holding us back.
Even the most closed-off or private daughter wants to hear these things when it comes to dating. I know personally as a newly-single and, therefore, newly-freaked-out college student that I could have used some of these pieces of advice from my mom.
I have friends that receive the perfect advice from their mothers, open-minded and optimistic, yet honest and straight-forward. Others, however, have difficulty with dating because they were not given the same advantage of an awesome mom cheerleader. Be that person for your little girl, and watch her grow into an amazing woman with amazing taste in romantic partners.