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The Dating Game

I don’t want to say Ruby has gotten increasingly private as she’s gotten older as that is not strictly true.

She has, in fact, started to develop her own social media presence, albeit in a very limited, locked-down way, as I’ve allowed her to get an Instagram account and join the online Google groups and group chats for her fifth grade class.

(I check all of these things frequently. The other day, she indignantly asked me why I got to read her texts but she didn’t get to read my texts, and I immediately responded, “Because I pay the cell phone bill, that’s why.” I have become that mom.)

But what she has become more critical of – which I understand and support – is her privacy via what I share about her here and on my own social media accounts.

I’ve always tried to be aware of that, even before she was able to read any of it. I never wanted to post anything too personal or embarrassing about her. Now that she is old enough to care, I get her approval before I write a single word, post a single picture.

And so I am not going to disclose whether she is starting to go to dances or out to the movies with boys … but I am finding myself revisiting some of the old dating advice I was given – both by my parents and by my friends – only to find some of it still spot-on and some of it completely antiquated.

Among these dating rules:

  • Never take too long to do your hair and makeup. Boys love a girl who can be ready to go in 10 minutes.
  • Eat two crackers before you go out to stop your stomach from growling.
  • If the boy opens your car door, make sure to lean over and open his for him.
  • Never order either the most expensive or least expensive item on the menu.
  • Always bring along your own money, including a quarter for the pay phone.
  • Be sure you have cab fare.
  • Don’t order anything too messy – pasta or soup – or garlicky or that might get caught in your teeth.
  • Leave at least one bite of food on your plate, even if you’re still hungry.
  • Keep an eye on how much you’re drinking.
  • Be yourself – and if it’s awkward, just acknowledge it and joke about it.

As I said, some of this is obsolete now – remote unlocking doors and cell phones have rendered a lot of the list moot – and some is sort of sexist – who cares if your stomach growls or if you get spaghetti sauce on your chin! Order what you like, and eat until you’re full! Some of it is still good advice, like having your own money and your own way home, like not drinking too much with someone you don’t know that well (Ruby is not drinking yet at all, of course, but as those PSAs tell me, it’s never too young to start talking about it.) Some advice I’d give Ruby now wasn’t relevant at all when I was first dating – I would certainly advise her that being on her phone texting constantly is rude and not acceptable, which would have seemed like gibberish to me back in 1993.

The basic principles are the same, though: Be nice, be courteous, be careful, be independent.

Those are the things that I hope always apply, no matter how much technology changes.


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