Things My Daddy Said About Dating (What Every Girl Should Know)

My daddy looked like James Dean. Seriously. There is a very old photo of our family at the Outer Banks, taken when I was about 5, so that would have been about 1965. Daddy is standing next to the swimming pool, and he looks just like James Dean. Plus, my Daddy was way cool. Ask anyone who knew him. They’ll tell you. Gerald Milner was way cool. Even with that name.

Daddy loved his girls, though he did want a boy, he had four daughters. The first three of us were 2 1/2 years apart, then came the baby, when I was 13. He taught us how to make a fist the right way–thumb outside of knuckles, knuckles flat for more punch–because he wanted us to level some guy if we needed too. I never needed too, but I did teach my granddaughter the same thing, when I saw her make a “girl fist.”

Daddy was my first date. When I turned ten, he took me to Buck’s Restaurant, the swankiest place in Asheville at the time, on Tunnel Road. It was my birthday present. Just the two of us, no mom and sisters involved. He treated me like a princess. I got to order the biggest dessert. The waiters and waitresses were especially nice to us because they knew it was a big night. Daddy pretended it was a real date. He told me, “How I am treating you tonight is how every man should treat you.” Geez. I cry just typing that. Who on earth could treat me as good as you did, Daddy? I was your favorite princess (as were each of my sisters). He also said that date would be the best date I ever had. He was right. Nothing has ever compared.

He did the same for my sisters on their 10th birthdays (or thereabouts). When he died, the pastor asked us, individually, what we remembered about him most. All of us said, “The night he took me on my first date.”

Every Daddy should do that for his little girl. She’ll never forget it.

Daddy taught me about boys. He was one of 7 boys (and three sisters) and he knew. Boys aren’t always going to treat you like a princess. So, he gave me some tips. I’ll list a few.

It isn’t about whether the boy chooses you or not. Its about whether you choose him. That statement revolutionized my thinking about dating, men and relationships. So many women are trying to be pleasing, beautiful and charming, all so the guy will choose her. Daddy told me to decide if I wanted the guy before the guy ever had the chance to decide anything. That statement has been a game changer on many a guy in my life.

When a guy says, I’m not the marrying type, he just means he doesn’t want to marry you, so don’t waste anymore time on him. Oh my gosh. When the first guy said that to me, while we were discussing our future (or not, as it turned out), I gasped out loud and said, “My Daddy said you would say that.” Of course, Daddy didn’t know that guy would say it, but he knew some guy would, and sure enough he was right, The guy got married six months later to another girl.

If a guy ever tries to hurt you, tell me. and I’ll go kick his ass. Aww, Daddy, you were already in heaven when that guy hurt me. Going through my divorce, I kept telling my ex, if my Daddy were here, he’d kick your ass. My ex knew my dad, and he concurred. An ass whooping is exactly what he would have gotten.

Men can be casual with sex. Women can’t do that, because sex is about feelings and emotion for them. That’s why its the girl’s job to say no. She has something to protect, her heart. Would every girl who is trying to act like a man sexually please read that statement like 20 times? Men aren’t women and women aren’t men, no matter how gender neutral we try to make things these days. The sexes respond differently to many things, and I’d say sex is one of the biggest. Men can be casual about it. Women rarely.

Daddy never let men curse in front of my mother, or his daughters. He would say, “Ladies are present.” Now, it makes me sad that women are worse than men with their foul mouths. When we were little, instead of saying hell, we said h-e-double toothpicks. My how things have changed.

Daddy died when my youngest was 5 but both my boys like the memories of him. He was a golfer, an athlete, a champion of the poor. He loved my mama, and made her feel beautiful. He loved his four girls and made us feel beautiful. He was the first man to tell me I was pretty. I was 14 and awkward, and feeling it. He told me I was going to be the prettiest girl in the school that day. And, you know what? I was.