Thursday, March 1, 2012

That’s What My Mom Said: Hand-Me-Down Dating Advice

by Kristie Vosper

If you’re anything like me, you’ve grown up reflecting on the things your parents taught you. These gems of wisdom are their legacy. They’ve sewed good seeds into the soil of our lives. I can hear mine saying:

“Kristie, be nice.”
“Take turns. There is enough for everyone.”
“Say you’re sorry like you mean it.”
“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it that made me mad…”

As I grew older, their advice went deeper into the heart-and-soul matters of dating and friendship. I remember standing in the kitchen with my friend Heather Stage one summer night after youth group. We were 15 or 16, having one of our many summer slumber parties when my mom came in and heard us talking about boys. No surprise.

We were frustrated that one of our friends had fallen in love with a “bad boy.” To these gossiping girls, my mom said something I’ll never forget—a bit of wisdom that has been so useful to me as I discern and date men who ask me out. She said:

“Be careful who you date. Choose wisely while you still have your head on your shoulders. Once you’ve fallen in love, it will be very very hard to walk away.”
Simple and true. Oh-so-painfully true. It’s good to watch, listen deeply, and ask good questions before you let your heart float away and take your life down a road that isn’t best for you. Men usually tell you who they are in the first few dates. Listen for it. If they say “You’re too good for me,” they are probably telling you the truth.

The other piece of advice I remember came when I started dating one of my serious-relationship boyfriends. I didn’t think he was cool enough. I didn’t like his haircut or his clothes. These were my reasons for being unsure if I wanted to take our dating relationship to the next level. It was pretty shallow.

He was sweet, kind, a gentleman, intelligent, driven, funny, and quickly becoming my best friend; but I was 21 years old and coolness was still at the top of my list. My mom was not thrilled with my shallow musings, and she quickly put me in my place:

“Kristie, you can teach a man to do his hair and you can change a man’s style of clothes, but you cannot teach a man to love a woman or change his heart. If you find a man with a kind heart who knows how to treat you well, don’t be shallow and dismiss him because of these silly things.”

I’m not advocating that you control your man and tell him what to wear and neither is my mom (well I won’t speak for her…my dad has been known to wear some pretty odd combos). This is the truth: the most important thing to search for is a man with a kind heart. A good man is worth more than gold. He is precious and to be valued, not judged for his shoes.

What bits of wisdom do you carry with you that have been passed on from older women? Are you listening to the wise women around you?


  1. I really love the style of your writing, Kristie! Thank you for sharing this - I can relate to having some irrational and often superficial expectations in previous dating relationships. In my case, I think they were deeply rooted in my own fear and insecurities. Sheesh! It's been tough to learn these things the hard way. Ultimately, I'm learning to trust more deeply that my mistakes CANNOT sabotage the promise of the Lord; He will make all things new. Thanks again, girl!

    1. Thanks Amaris for your sweet words. Yes, we all cause pain and are's the rhythm of the human experience on this earth. I think the best thing we can learn to say is "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you."

      Why is it that the simplest words are so awkward to say? Seems epidemic. I'm trying to get good at's a struggle.

      The Lord does and will redeem. That is certainly the good news. When I look at the deep dark tangle of this world I'm SO glad to know the end of the story already...grace.

  2. I guess I should also note that these insecurities have not only led to the loss of relationship, but of have deeply wounded quality pursuers. I don't flippantly say that I cannot cause pain because HE is sovereign, but that in any shame I have brought to a brother or have seeded within myself, He will restore because He keeps His promises.

    Haha...Yay! :)

  3. LOVE this!!! I've learned that if a guy touches you in anger once, he'll do it again. If he cheats on you once, he'll do it again. If he says he'll wait for sex, but then starts pressuring, you need to break up. I've also learned every guy who says he's a christian isn't. Same goes for girls. Keep up the great posts! God bless!

    1. Glad you liked the post. Reminds me of a date I was on once where the guy pulled the line divider thing out because he was frustrated that the valet hadn't brought his car to him. It was a weird hulk move. I stood there and thought "Yeaaaa...I'm out. That anger does not look like it's been tamed at all." :)

      Peace to you!

  4. So good. That last line about the shoes makes me LOL. My husband is an amazing man who loves Jesus, me, plaid shorts, wranglers, free Tshirts and weird and shoes. He read through some of my middle school diaries with me and I was describing my "ideal man" at the time and my last line was, "And if he has weird shoes, it's over." When my ultra cool little sister met him for the first time she was unimpressed. Now we both love and respect him. My husband has become quite the stylish man but I don't think I've been controlling. There's things he likes that are stylish, and things he likes that aren't. I just help him sort through the two. All this to say, I agree, and I can relate.

    1. Oh Chelsea, that is so so funny! I am sure I have similar lists in my Jr. High journals. Your hubby sounds awesome. I bet he has great shoes since you are his wife! :) I got to outfit my ex-boyfriend (the guy in the story) and help him with a new haircut...all his request. It was as if the minute I accepted him a he was...the cowboy boots with the loud hawaiian shirt and the 10 year old faded jeans...he let me tame his style a bit and even had a budget for it.

      We can be good "sorters" I like that. :)

  5. I love this post. There's just so much wisdom from people who've walked with the Lord longer than us. The best advise I have been given in respect of guys is 'Be yourself around him and don't share your heart.' Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts because life flows from it, and I think that with guys, we can get our vision blurred to the extent where we say or do things, even small things, that we will regret saying or doing. We've all been there. If the certain someone we meet is a future husband, there will be loads of time with heart sharing in the marriage (I guess), and if he is not, well, then it's good to know that he's not walking around knowing your inner thoughts. And God is gracious, so that if we have shared/done more than we should, He has grace for that too! It's never too late to start over. :)

    Another important advise I got from my mom when I was little, was to find a devoted Christian husband. So many people have compromised on that, hoping that if they only get married, their husbands would eventually get saved. I know that it does happen sometimes, but I think it's a risky path to walk down, especially since in marriage, the husband is supposed to be the image of Christ and lead the wife. To get an un-Christian guy to do that just wouldn't work.

    Chelsea girl, I love that line you wrote in your journal "And if he has weird shoes, it's over." Hilarious!

    1. Advice, I meant to say advice! Even though English is not my mother tongue, I do actually know that advice is a noun and advise is a verb, just so you know.. Oh well:) *karoline

    2. It's a tough balance to learn to guard our hearts, but not build a fortress around them. It is a dance to be both vulnerable and guarded. I doubt the formula is every perfect.

      I agree. It is certainly easier to marry a man who matches you in many ways, especially in your faith. I see many people settle too. I've seen God move in both situations...which is the good news. I've decided that I won't marry a man who doesn't love and worship the living God. That is a deal breaker for me. I've tried it both ways and it's hard to date someone who I can't share my most intimate passion love of Jesus.

    3. I agree. Sometimes, or often, it's easier to just built up walls to hide behind to avoid getting hurt or getting into situations we'd rather not deal with. But the other way, opening up too much and let people you don't really know see your inner personal thoughts, that too can cause unnecessary pain. It is a tough balance indeed. I guess finding our identity in Christ, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made ( :) ), that Jesus loves us more than anyone, that we are pursued by God and that He desires to know us for who we are... resting in all that will help us find that balance (it's a process!)

      I come from a broken family, but praise God, I grew up as a Christian despite of that, and I am forever thankful that He has kept me. Like you, I have decided that when I get married, it will be with a man that loves Jesus. I have given my life to Christ, I can't imagine not being able to share that life or share my love for God with my husband.


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