You see a girl and a boy kissing in a movie and you both feel so embarrassed for the actors and for being witness to the scene. ‘Eww’ you say and dissolve into a mass of giggles. You are 10 and 8 and I am guessing that is a pretty typical reaction for your age. I am pretty sure those ewws will turn into curiosity and more in a few years from now, so I thought I would write to you about what I know about these mysterious creatures called Boys. I take that back. Even at the age of almost-40, I sometimes fail to understand how they function, but I do have some concept of what you should and should not expect in a relationship with one.
First and most important, you are an equal in a relationship with a boy. It does not matter if he earns more money, is more educated or has more friends. You can be completely different, opposites in fact, but your opinion matters and your voice should be heard. Don’t ever feel the need to muffle your voice or align your opinion with his. Agreeing with someone is a lazy way to get to know them. At the same time, he might know more about a certain topic and it is okay to learn from him. Make sure that goes both ways though. Stay far away from someone who dismisses your opinion, who brushes aside your knowledge, who puts you down to make himself feel bigger. A real partner can watch their partner in the spotlight, shining bright and feel proud and full of admiration. You can be opposites but know you are an equal. You have never believed girls are capable of less than boys, and a relationship with one should not make you feel any differently.
Second, the most oft repeated (and the most annoying) is Communication. Sadly, boys and men are unable to read our minds. I don’t know why because I feel certain I can read theirs. So you have to talk and tell them what you want and need. They are unable to guess. Too many hurt feelings and endless hours sulking occur because we expect them to know exactly what to do or say or give. Save yourself the bother and just tell them.
Third, observe how they treat others when they are trying to court you. Of course they are going to be so very very nice to you, but if they can’t look a valet in the eye and say a kind word, if they don’t give up their seat for an older person, if they don’t help a neighbour shovel the sidewalk then those are all indications of someone who is probably not going to stay as nice to you when the relationship is no longer new.
Fourth, words are fantastic. I use them all the time. Actions however speak much louder than words. It can be simple things like making a cup of tea, or putting away socks, or emptying the dishwasher, but watch for those. Those are the real I Love Yous.
Fifth is forgiveness. You will make mistakes. He will make mistakes. Before you go to bed, forgive yourself and forgive him for anything you said or did that you did not mean. The next morning you have a whole new opportunity to start over. And remember, an ‘I’m Sorry’ can be an action too not just words but in this case, the actual words are very important as well.
Sixth, you are not always going to like him. In fact some days you might want to leave him or even smother him in his sleep. You might wonder about the what-ifs if you were by yourself or with someone else. That is pretty normal. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship or even a One True Soulmate. I think we all muddle along, figuring it out. The experience of that makes you get closer to him, not the flowers and the dinner dates. However, sometimes you will figure out that you had it wrong and that you thought he was one kind of person but he turned out to be someone else. It is okay to leave, to end it. There is no honour in not ending something because you don’t want to hurt his feelings. He deserves the best of you as much as you deserve the best of him. On the opposite end of things, sometimes he might end things and that might feel like you cannot breathe. You can breathe. In and Out. Time will make you realize that that was just not meant to be but you have to let it go to let something else enter into your life. (Also, listen to the wisdom Depeche Mode. People are people so why should it be, that you and I should get along so awfully.)
Seventh is little difficult to put into words. Don’t be needy. Don’t expect him to complete you. You are complete, whole, fantastic and amazing. Kind of like a wonderful dinner. He is the perfect wine pairing that goes with you. You are great on your own, but with him suddenly that dinner is just more delicious. You don’t always need the wine though. Being by yourself, being independent is actually very attractive. Confidence in a man is attractive and I think it goes the other way too. Men like confident women. And if they don’t, then they probably are not the best fit for you (see first point above).
Boys (and men) can actually be very lovely people. I know you don’t think much of them now, but someday when you do, I hope this letter proves useful.
Love you bunches,
Follow the blog circle to my wonderful, globe-trotting friend, Kirsty. This time she is in Hong Kong with her family and the entire time it didn’t stop raining… her girls though… rainbows. Go read her letter and see her beautiful photos!