Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dad and Dating

I think I’m a pretty lucky girl to have a dad like mine. Sure, he does all the things you expect a typical dad to do, such as teaching me how to drive a car and having patience when I back it into the side of the house. Or helping me move more times than I can count, co-signing student loans without batting an eye, and coaching me through several exhaustive and expensive career changes.

And then there are the unexpected, extra special things my dad does, such as sending a care package consisting of random nuts and bolts, screwdrivers, an assortment of pens missing their caps, hot pink fuzzy dice, a can of Hamm’s beer, and a hand-written note saying:

My Dearest Vanessa,
The love a father has for his daughter is a special one. It’s high up on a shelf somewhere that can’t be touched, and any guy who comes into your life is going to have to be pretty damn special to reach that high.
All my love,
P.S. I know this care package isn’t like the ones Mom sends, but there are just some practical things people need around the house. You don’t know when you’ll need what’s in this box, but you will.

A unique relationship
As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized the relationship I have with my dad is not your standard variety father-daughter bond. I can talk with him about almost anything, he’s one of my best friends, and he understands me better than almost anyone I know.

In our many conversations about life, the subject of dating and love has come up more than once. My dad’s perspective on this topic is always interesting to hear, and no matter how broken of a heart I have or how frustrated I am, I always feel better after talking with him.

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked with my dad about this subject. Mostly because my schedule is much busier than it used to be, which means we don’t get to talk as often. Then, out the blue, he emails me today with an uplifting message as if he had a sixth sense about how frustrated I’ve become with guys and the whole dating scene lately. I won’t go into those details right now, but what I will share is an exchange my father had about me with his best friend from high school.

The dating game
Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to a blog post titled “5 things you should know before dating a journalist.” While I’m no longer a journalist, I still hold many of the same qualities. Once you’ve been in the trenches as a reporter, your outlook on life is never the same.

My dad decided to share this link with his friend whom I’ve never met, but I gather knows a great deal about me. He tells his friend the blog post does a great job in describing the type of person I am, then adds, “Which probably explains why she has had about 30 boyfriends and most of them have broke it off with her.” (Yes, I inherited my unabashed bluntness from my father, but I digress.)

This past week I’ve pondered the topic of why guys and I just don’t have staying power. The reflection came after a remark an older, wiser woman made to me at a wedding when she learned I was 30, single, and have never had a serious relationship that’s lasted longer than six months.

“I can tell you’re a girl with standards,” she said. “Perhaps, without realizing it, you’re the one pushing the guys away because you know they don’t measure up.”

The words hit me like a Mack Truck. Me? Push guys away? That’s laughable.

Then all of the sudden previous conversations with other older, wiser women in my life washed over me. I could hear echoes of the same sentiments in all of them.

With my perspective of dating completely flipped on its head, I started re-examining some of my more recent relationships. I became unsettled in the truth I was seeing. I do have standards. Pretty high standards in fact.

Not settling for second-best
In the last two years, I’ve become much more discerning about the guys I choose to date. Perhaps it’s because I’ve learned from my past, but I think a lot of it also has to do with knowing that for the first time in my life I’m ready for a long-term commitment (despite my hands trembling a bit as I type those words).

This re-examination of my dating life had been going fine, but then I started second-guessing myself thinking perhaps I might have set my standards too high. That’s until I received my dad’s email today, which included the following response from his best friend (my translations from French are in brackets).

Père [Father] Casavant,
Very entertaining — the article on dating a journalist. And well written!!
However, I would offer the following:
Daughter Vanessa had a mind of her own LOOONG before she first took up the pen of a scribe.
Her insistence in high school that she settle for nothing less than going to New York to study theater, right out of high school, took incredible courage and determination. Staying there, FOR SEVEN YEARS, once she arrived, is yet another HUGE accomplishment and testament to perseverance. Finding a way, enduring one audition after another after another and not being called back tests the ego of the best of any who make that journey. Dealing with the dining customers of New York will certainly give one an opportunity to stand one's ground — with a smile!
She has every good reason to feel good about herself. She succeeded and chose — on her terms — when to leave the city. She was not thrown out, replaced, chewed up and spat off the stage scene.
Taking that type of personal success to an occupation in which she is given the freedom to chase down "just the facts ma'am" must be an exhilarating challenge each day. Making the story factual, actual, verified and passing muster of an editor or two must be a genuine sense of "nailing it" when seen in print.
Yes, mon amie [my friend], she would try the patience of any man of thin skin and a lack of convictions. But, oh, happy is the man who is strong in his sense of self and happily, gainfully employed and can wait for Miss Vanessa!

So there you have it. My standards and I are just fine!

Miles ran: 2.5
Time: 34.08

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