Last week, I was on a rather enlightening phone call with my grandmother, Lois. At 88 years old, Lo, as she is affectionately called by her six children and countless grandchildren, is still the same tell-it-like-it-is, garden lovin’ gambler she’s always been.
Recently, I’ve been trying to retain my favorite granddaughter status by calling her at least once a week to check in, catch up and feign interest in the status of her begonias.
As per usual, Lo, who has survived two husbands, is always inquiring about the status of my love life. Sometimes I have a good line up of stories to tell her, like the ad-exec with the seemingly perfect “outside,” but apparently huge drinking problem, the ridiculously attractive life coach who is only in town once a month or the Tinder date who could not get the hint that our date was over, but still insisted on following my friends and me to Flaming Saddles (think Coyote Ugly with hot, but unfortunately gay, cowboys) anyway.
Always encouraging, my conversations with my grandma consistently have some hidden gem of knowledge in them. Sometimes they are so obvious and other times, it doesn’t hit me until I am in the middle of Savasana two hours later that I realize what she meant.
This time she hit me square in the third eye. After divulging my latest dating drought—mostly due to my laziness and “lack of time,” she bypassed the fluff and came right out with it:
“Girl, ya gotta stay in circulation.”
It took every ounce of self-control to keep from laughing out loud, but I realized she was serious. Coming from a woman who wooed multiple men fighting during World War II and never turned down a date while at the Home Depot, I knew she was on to something.
I racked my brain trying to figure out how a person could “stay in circulation” when my sister, friends and I were constantly being filled with disappointment from one date to the next.
Luckily, I’ve compiled enough of Lois’ Life Lessons, and tips from other women in my life, to write a book—but here are the top six I felt could not only help me, but also other women who struggle to circumnavigate the dating world.
1. Tinder? I don’t even know her.
It’s no secret nowadays that many people (including grandmas!) are turning to websites and apps, such as Tinder, to help meet other singles in their area. In fact, according to a study conducted by Match.com, about 40 percent of Americans are using online dating services. So if you’re not ready to dive in to the dating pool face-to-face, test the waters with one of the many websites and apps available. Dating sites help you connect to people you may not meet in your area—and if you’re lucky, your Tinder date will help you concoct an intricate story of how you met to tell your friends that they’ll actually believe (shout out to Tinder Tom).
2. Go to Where the Men Are:
This piece of advice actually came from a smart and spirited sensualista I know, but was too good to pass up. I rarely hear of people who meet their significant other in a bar anymore, so where are all the good men? When thinking about the type of man I want, I usually think about my current interests or activities. For example, while training for my most recent half marathon, I joined a local running group in my town. It was a gold mine. Not to mention I was surrounded by handsome, fit, like-minded men. We were all there working towards a common goal which immediately helped to establish a connection and break the ice.
Not sure where to start? Start by taking a look at your own current interests. Go outside your comfort zone; attend a concert solo and strike up conversation with the people around you. Looking for a man who is generous and interested in helping others? Go to a charity event or volunteer at a local non-profit. Enjoy gardening? “Go to Home Depot and work the aisles,” says Lois. (For the record, that’s where Lois met husband number two, doing just that. #workit.
3. Be Emotionally Promiscuous.
Okay, these words did not come out of Lois’ mouth directly, but I interpreted her “keep your options open” speech to mean to put yourself out there and try dating a few new and different people. Don’t be afraid to switch up your “type.” In fact, throw away the notion of a “type” all together. Notice your current dating patterns, go outside your comfort zone and take a risk. Currently crushing on that hipster barista at Starbucks, but enjoy the view on the bike in front of you at Soul Cycle? Be daring, be bold and go for them both. It is perfectly acceptable to get to know more than one person at a time as long as we remain respectful of others’ feelings—as well as our own. Dating should be a fun adventure, but remember to…
4. Be Smart and Be Safe.
If you are referring to Lois’ Life Lesson Number 3, more power to you, but remember to stay safe. Take control and set boundaries and limits. Not getting the right vibe from a guy? End it. There is no need to waste time on a situation that does not feel safe or right. Believe me, I wasted too much time and energy during my last relationship constantly trying to read into “signs” and creating scenarios in my head instead of relying on how I actually felt. They don’t call it a gut feeling for nothing.
Becoming in tune with what you need and want from a partner—and what you don’t—can make all the difference when embarking on a new relationship. Having respect for yourself and others is all the rage and quite a respectable quality to possess. Most importantly, it’s not necessary to be intimate with everyone you meet, but if that’s the case: Wrap it before you tap it. (This actually did come out of Lois’ mouth, as well as the wine out of my nose).
5. Keep an Open Mind and an Open Heart.
It’s tough to not become discouraged after a breakup or a series of dates that do not amount to anything. After finally ending the relationship I spoke about earlier, I was mentally and emotionally depleted. It was difficult to open my heart up to new people and even entertain the idea of starting a new relationship. As always, Lois swooped in at the right time with another sentiment (cue sappy music): “It’s impossible to let anyone in if your heart is not open.” Sometimes (read: often) I am stubborn and have a hard time training my brain to be accepting of men who may not exactly be “my type” or don’t tick all the boxes on my non-negotiable list. But where does that leave me? By keeping an open heart, and mind, we are able to see possibilities with anyone we meet. Even if they’re not “the one,” the ability to be open could lead to new friendships which are always valuable.
6. Get up and Get out.
“You’re never going to meet anyone lying in bed.” I love my bed as much as the next girl, but Jared Leto is not going to be attracted to me while tangled up with my blankie and sporting Tawney Kitain hair. Now I, myself, am not quite ready to walk down the aisle while people throw flowers at me, but as I reflect on Lois’ Life Lessons and see the beautiful relationships that surround me on a daily basis (Happy 40th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!) I know it will happen for me eventually and it will all be worth it.
So, whether you’re post breakup, divorced or just pure lazy: get up, throw on your highest heels and lip gloss (and maybe even some clothes) and get out of the house. The world is ready for you baby!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Pixoto/Michele Richards