All I Really Need to Know (About Dating) I Learned in Kindergarten

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Love doesn’t have to be that complicated—if you think back to those basic principles you learned as a kid.

1. Be Nice
In 1986, Robert Fulghum wrote a brilliant bestseller called All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. His gift was to remind us that successful living is not complex at all—once you recall the simple truths that have been there all along.

The first piece of advice? To be nice. We all remember hearing these words as children: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Good advice. Dating is all about getting acquainted with someone new, and that happens mostly through what we communicate. Since saying nothing at all is not an option on a date, at least refrain from hurtful gossip, offensive humor, trash-talking your ex, or criticizing the waitress because she brought you the wrong appetizer. Got something nice to say? Let the words flow. Got something negative to say? Turn off the spigot.

2. Take Turns
Preschool kids don’t yet know the meaning of the phrase, “It’s not all about you.” What could be better than being line leader on the way to music class? Doing it every day, of course! Adults should know better, yet it is a common dating no-no for one person to dominate the other from the get-go. Some people rarely allow an edgewise word from their partner over dinner, and only listen long enough to map out what to say next. Taking turns means showing genuine interest in your date—an extremely attractive trait in a potential partner, by the way.

3. Walk, Don’t Run
This bit of wisdom is just as true in dating as it was in the school hallways: Being in too big of a hurry is a good way to hurt somebody, including yourself. Finding someone you think may be right for you is exciting. It is tempting to skip and jump and run ahead of yourself without looking where you are going. Prudence and patience at such times can feel like a downer. But it’s a lot more fun to arrive at your destination in one piece than to wind up in the nurse’s office with an ice pack on your head. 

4. Clean up Your Messes
Everyone spills the milk once in a while. But preschool children have to be taught not to simply walk away and pretend it didn’t happen. The best-foot-forward way to handle your spills (blunders and mistakes) in a new relationship is to remember what you learned years ago: fess up, take responsibility and make amends. 

5. Share
Whether it’s sharing your toys or your life with someone, a generous and giving nature will help you every step of the way. 

Get more dating advice about what we’ve learned as kids – and should remember now! Plus, dating advice for women and our favorite first date questions.

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