Dear darling daughter,
Tonight I gave you a kiss, placed you gently in your crib, and stood there for a moment knowing that in the blink of an eye years will fly by and you will grow into a beautiful young woman with loads of life ahead of you. One morning you’ll wake up (although I will have been up all night) and the day will have finally arrived when your father and I will drive you to college. We’ll most likely bicker as we move you into your dorm room during the hottest month of the year, and I’ll do everything in my power to procrastinate and delay the dreaded goodbye. It is in this very moment that I plan to hand you one of my most favorite books of all time. You’ll probably roll your eyes and most likely put it on a shelf or deep in a drawer somewhere, as you’ll be waaayyy too busy to read Mom’s recommendations anytime soon…and that’s OK. It won’t be the right time to read it just then, but I can promise you one day it will be. This book is no Pulitzer prize-winning novel, but I’m telling you: it changed my life.
To understand my love and appreciation for the book, you’ll have to take a little journey back with me to my ol’ college days at The University of Oklahoma, where you will probably someday attend (just sayin’). College was the best four+ years of my life, and I have no doubt in my mind you’ll have the same experience. Don’t get me wrong: you’ll be super “stressed” with exams and late-night study sessions, but for four amazing years you’ll be surrounded by some of the most incredible people and nurture life-long friendships. You will probably have a drink or two (of sweet tea or water), and an early morning phone call from your mother will do little to alleviate that awesome headache or your memory of the night before. Enjoy it while it lasts. We all do it once (or twice).
The guys are going to seem a lot hotter in college, too, but I urge you to tread lightly. This is where I learned some real lessons about who I really was as a woman and what it was that I needed from a man. After ending a relationship with a guy I had dated for a couple of years in college, I thought it would be good to just “date” and “have some fun.” I was a junior at the time and had just experienced a series of not-so-fun dates with guys who were, frankly, just not that into me. I was certain the reason they didn’t work out was all because of things I could have done better. Maybe I came on too strong, or maybe I said too much? Maybe I should lose a few pounds, or maybe I should change who I am altogether? I didn’t know it at the time, but changing who I was wouldn’t have changed a thing when it comes to dating the wrong guy.
My favorite story goes a little something like this… I walked into a fraternity party late one Thursday night with a couple of friends and across the room I saw a guy looking at me. We moved closer toward each other and ended up chatting, drinking, and having a great time. He seemed TOTALLY into me—TOTALLY. He was so into me that he asked me to be his date for his fraternity’s formal party coming up on Saturday. Mind you, it was Thursday, so the invitation came a bit late, but dammit, I was available! We exchanged numbers, and he said, “I’ll see ya Saturday.” No details, because, well, a girl going to a formal party doesn’t need details—just be ready, right? I woke up the next morning thinking I had just met the man of my dreams. It was Friday, and I thought for sure he would call me to continue our conversation and talk details about the romantic evening he had planned. I imagined he would pick me up for an amazing dinner, and we would gaze into each other’s eyes as we sipped our wine. We would walk into the party hand in hand, and I would smile as he introduced me to all of his friends. We would dance until dawn, and the next day, because he surely would miss me, he would call and we would plan our next date. Wake up, sister…that’s all a dream.
Here’s how the story really went down. I did go to that party Thursday night, and I did talk to this guy who stumbled up and apparently fooled me into thinking he wasn’t in a drunken state. I believed him when he complimented me, and I held him to his word when he invited me to the party. In fact, I took it a step further. I woke up Friday and continued to stare at my cell phone for the remaining 15 hours I was awake. I scrambled to find a dress, get my nails done, and flat-iron the heck out of my hair. I remember telling myself, Oh, he’s probably just busy with class and other stressful things that college guys do. That’s why I haven’t heard from him. He’ll call. Turns out he was busy—so busy, in fact, that he couldn’t even call me until 5:30 P.M. on Saturday, just hours before this party I had spent the last 48 hours dreaming about. I was sitting alone in my room, in a floor-length formal gown, camera-ready. My heart raced thinking he was probably right outside waiting for me, and he had probably been so busy getting ready that he just hadn’t had a single second to call. Our phone conversation sounded something like this:
“Hey! Um, is it cool if I pick you up around 9:00 P.M.?”
I was beyond frustrated but cheerily said, “Yeah, sounds great!” I mean, yeah, I’ve got tons of stuff to do for the next three-and-a-half hours…sure! See ya then!
When my Prince Charming finally arrived around 9:45 P.M., I got in his car and felt as though I were meeting him for the first time. Once again, the female in me continued to make excuses for him: He’s probably just tired after a long week. Yes, perhaps that would explain the silence that ensued as we drove to the bus pick-up location for the party. (It gets better.) We boarded the bus, and I started to notice a few stares as we headed to the back. I sat down and watched as he immediately got up and started talking to his two roommates a few seats ahead of us. I knew in that moment I was there as the result of a guy who, in a not-so-sober state, made the mistake of asking me to a party and now was left to deal with the consequences for the rest of the night. I was crushed.
I remember this moment so vividly because for the first time in my life I felt so low, so stupid, so ugly, and so out of place. The bus ride to the party was silent. He walked in ahead of me and headed to our table. By the grace of God, an acquaintance of mine who was also in the same fraternity happened to be sitting at our table with his girlfriend. My date stood there as I sat down and then announced he was going to get a drink. He didn’t ask if I wanted anything, just wanted to let me know he was leaving. Let’s just say I didn’t see him the rest of the night. I sat at the table with my friend and his girlfriend, who, thank God, could see how horrible I was feeling; and they waited with me so that I would not be alone. A short while later I somehow mustered up the courage to walk out of the party alone and out of the corner of my eye I saw my date dancing with a girl I later found out had broken up with him a week earlier. I guess he was into her.
That night after I got home I started reading a book that I had purchased a few weeks earlier, called He’s Just Not That Into You. I literally could not put it down. The two authors, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, consulted and wrote for the popular HBO series Sex and the City. Together they share some of their own experiences and some of the questions they’ve been asked from women in situations many of us can relate to when it comes to dating.
He’s just not that into you if he’s not asking you out (no way!), He’s just not that into you if he’s not calling you (come on, he takes his phone to the bathroom—it’s not broken), and my personal college favorite, He’s just not that into you if he only wants to see you when he’s drunk (see above story). It’s not rocket science, and it’s nothing new; but for some reason I found this book to be liberating. Misery loves company, and when you read the lengths some women will go to to try to force a relationship to work, you realize that you should NEVER have to force anyone to like you. I repeat: You should never have to force anyone to like you.
So when the time is right and that guy you thought might be the exception to the rule stops calling you, I hope you’ll pick up the book your mama gave you and dive in. Heck, sometimes you may even need to read it a second time just to remind yourself that you’re not alone in this crazy dating game. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I hope it helps you to find the humor in dating. Guys are simple beings, so don’t ever feel like you have to “figure them out”—they are who they are, and that’s what I love about them. Just be yourself and enjoy the ride. I hope you’ll take a little piece of what you do need in a man from all the relationships you experience. You’ll realize that one day all those qualities you need actually do exist in the man with whom you’re meant to share your life.
Society glamorizes the idea of dating and falling in love, but you must know that 9 times out of 10 it isn’t like it is in the movies. I think young women create this magical idea that a man will catch their eye from across the room and they will kiss under the full moon and live happily ever after. Life and love just don’t happen this way. In fact, love doesn’t just “happen”—it evolves and grows into something even I have yet to fully experience. I have been married to your father for seven short years, and we have created two beautiful children together, but my love for him continues to grow. Every. Single. Day.
If you remember one thing, my love, remember this: If he’s just not into you, someone else will be. Sadly, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. But he’s out there—I guarantee it. It may take a while to find him, and in the meantime he may meet and “fall in love” with a lot of chicks whom he thinks are pretty great. But when he meets you and comes to know your soul, he won’t want to spend a moment without you. You are beautiful and smart, my darling, and he will be worth the wait. I love you, and I know he will too.