“If a man likes you just a little bit, you’ll be amazed what he’ll do for you.”
-Richard L. Bush (1948-1998)
This is the simplest, boldest piece of advice I have every gotten in regards to dating and dealing with men to date. My father had the habit of telling me this type of advice on a regular basis even when I was still considering boys as gross. However, the truth of this statement? Unparalleled. Armed with this secret confidence, I began to be a constant observer of male behavior.
I began to watch how he and my mother interacted. I began to watch how he treated her, and how she responded in kind. I watched how he did things for her, just because he wanted to. Or because they needed to be done! He got her flowers because he wanted her to have them! Not because he had done something wrong.
My father loved my mother. Completely. It wasn’t until he died, and I really began dating, that I saw how completely he loved her. That kind of love, I know now, is rare. And worked for. The cooler thing is he liked my mother, as well as loved her. They still went out and did things together. They made time to talk and laugh and be a couple–independent of the three of us.
I took their marriage, their relationship, as a roux–the bare minimum that I would accept as a partner. I expected to be treated well. I expected to be listened to and respected. I expected to be valued. When I ran across a young man that couldn’t or wouldn’t? I ended the relationship.
Now, have I always gotten that formula right? Nope, not at all. I chased me that I thought like me, and it came to naught. I stayed in crazy situations longer than I should, because I gave people time to change. Hell, I stayed with my ex-husband waaaaay longer than I should have because I knew (or thought) if I was a little more patient he would change. This has been my Achilles heel: I love too hard. I give too much. And I sometimes am way too patient in anticipating a human being change. But perhaps that is the maturity in my father’s statement; I waited to see if like would surface, resurface, or how often it would surface.
On the other hand, I have been on the reciprocating end of affections of young men that I, too, was crazy about. This young men that decided to call me just to tell me ‘Good Morning.’ Who opened doors for me. That got me the flowers. Gave me money to ‘just have’. Even two of them decided they could not live without me and decided to make me a wife.
This quote gave me the awareness of what being treated well is. This portion of wisdom allowed me call crazy what it is. It allowed me to know when relationships should begin or end. It allowed me become cognizant of my time. To value my body. My skills. My talents. It allowed me to recognize what I bring to any situation. It allowed and allows me to know if those attributes are not appreciated, I don’t have to ask for permission to leave. I can just go.
The best thing my Daddy ever gave me was a sense of self. From that sense, he gave his oldest daughter to knowledge that I was special. If any man didn’t see me as that, or able to love me past the pretty, I didn’t need him.