If there were a time I would choose never to revisit, the dating years would be high on the list.  The night I was going on my first one-on-one date, a married friend of mine told me that she was soooo glad to be done with dating.  She was so glad that part of her life was over.  I just shook my head – I felt sorry for her because dating was exciting!  It was so much fun!

Well, that was my first date.  And it was fun!  It was sweet and perfect and everything I think a first date should be.  But fast forward a few years into the process and the whole dating thing can kind of wear a person down.  I became weary of it.  I learned that I wasn’t created for casual dating.  I’m not good at casual anything.  I’m either all in or all out.  And that doesn’t really bode well for date #2.  Where do you see yourself in five years?  Marriage?  No?  Okay, check please!

I wasn’t desperate to be married, but neither was I dating to play around.


I’m a romantic at heart and just love love.  Getting dressed up and going out was fun, but it wasn’t fun trying to decode guy signals to see if he was into me.  Or trying to analyze each text message to see if wanna hang out? meant I’m really interested in you and would like to see where this could lead or if it meant I’m bored and don’t want to look like a loser hanging out by myself on a Friday night. 

I always wanted to be one of those go-with-the-flow kind of girls, but I just wasn’t.  I wasn’t a casual dater.  I didn’t want to waste my (and his!) emotions and potentially bruise my heart dating someone if it didn’t lead to forever.  But, how could you tell if someone was the one?

One day, probably after lamenting the tragedy of a failed date or a stupid text message, my dad sat me down.  He was most likely tired of seeing me analyze everything.  And he said the words that still ring in my heart today:


If a man really likes you, if he’s really interested and invested and all-in, you’ll know it.  There’s no way you won’t know.  He’ll show it.  You won’t have to wonder.


It sounds simple, but boy, was it what I needed to hear!  I had gotten so used to being intense and trying to make things work, that I had failed to just relax and trust the process.  God had it.  I didn’t have to make someone like me.  I didn’t have to make myself like someone.  When it was right, it would happen.


And yowza, did it happen.

When a boy drove three hours just to pick me up for our second date, met my parents, took me to a restaurant that had flowers and a heartfelt letter for me waiting on the table, I didn’t have to wonder how he felt.  A few weeks later he told me he loved me, and a couple months after that he proposed, and less than a year after meeting each other we were saying “I do.”

He showed it.  He didn’t play it cool and send me impossible-to-analyze, vague text messages about hanging out.  He made it known.

And I realized that my dad was the smartest man in the world.  Ha!

Marriage kicks dating’s tail.  Marriage is awesome.  I finally understand why my married friend was so excited to be out of the dating stage.

And yet, dating is important.  It’s invaluable.  I wouldn’t go back and change those awkward second dates or those vague texts or those does-he-like-me’s.  It’s part of the process.  It’s part of learning who you are and what you want.  (Or, mainly, what you don’t want.)

So to those married to their “one,” go kiss him and thank the Lord that you don’t have to decode any more vague hang out texts.  And to those in the midst of the excitement and terror that is dating, soak it all in.  Trust God and the process.  Use this time to learn what it is you want and don’t want.  Remember my dad’s words.  Know that true love doesn’t take decoding.  When it happens, you’ll laugh at the time you previously spent wondering if you’ll be able to tell if it’s the real deal.  You’ll know.


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2 Responses to The Best Dating Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me

  1. M says:

    So true! I recently got married and I knew as soon as I met my husband that he was different from all the other guys. I never had to wonder how he felt about me – his actions showed me everytime and it was so nice to meet someone who wasn’t playing games! Your dad is a wise man and I wish more women had this message.

  2. Gillian says:

    I love this post, Whitney. I’ve been trapped in the horrible cycle of liking guys and spending weeks or months obsessing over every little word and action trying to “read” the meaning behind it and then finding out they’re not even interested in me… so the encouragement to let it go and just let the man show his interest if it’s there is freeing! (Not that I’ll probably be very good at living by this advice, but I can try, right?)