Every summer, I volunteer for a week as a camp counselor for kids with cancer and their siblings. It's by far my favorite week of the year, and it's not depressing-it's fun. For that one week, the kids aren't sick, they're kids, and I love being in charge of a group of high-energy, high-drama twelve and thirteen year olds.
Anyway, as I'm planning this year and looking through old pics from previous summers on this rainy and cold April day, I'm remembering one of our cabin convos that devolved into a discussion about dating. And I realized, even though my own dating life sometimes seems like a trainwreck, deep down, I have some good advice. I just have to remember it.
Here's what I told my 12-year-old campers as they took their first wobbly steps toward romance-and I realized, all of these rules still hold true for me, as a twentysomething looking for love. Do you have any other back-to-basics rules? If so, I'd love to hear them.
Friends are more important than boys. Bottom line, end of story. You don't ignore a girlfriend when a guy comes into your life, and you don't steal her boyfriend. No boy (no matter how much he looks like Zac Efron/James Franco/George Clooney/whoever the idol of your age demographic is) is worth losing a friend.
Be nice to all guys (this is one I'm still struggling with!) That means not just hanging out with the three popular guys from cabin ten and ignoring the other seven. Besides, being nice doesn't mean that you're flirting-it just means that you're friendly, which is a huge turn on for other guys.
You have plenty of time! There's no need to rush into a relationship, whether you're 13 or 33. Romance comes when you least expect it, and even if you feel like you're the last person on earth to get asked out/married (again, depending on the demographic!), you're not.
Don't do anything you're not comfortable doing and trust yourself. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Don't discount the geeky, shy boys. They're really nice, and they'll probably have amazing jobs when they grow up. Catch 'em before he blossoms and he's yours for life.
Men really aren't that complicated. This was one that was so obvious at camp-at least to me, if not to my campers. I was amazed at the boys' to act like six-year-olds, especially when they're in a group. We're talking rock throwing, grunting, caveman like behavior. This is compared to 12-year-old girls, who are huddled in a corner, trying to analyze their behavior. Sometimes, rock throwing is just rock throwing. Just like two decades later, football-watching and Guitar-Hero playing is just that.
Remember that you're great. Always. It means not being someone you're not in front of guys and also knowing when you're 13 that your quirks are going to be what gives you spark when you're older. This is one I really do believe in. Because I was an awkward teenager-and, quite honestly, I'm still a pretty awkward adult (one time, on my way to a date, the zippers on my boots caught together and I fell on the pavement-who does that besides Liz Lemon, who is FICTIONAL?) But, that aside, I've learned to embrace my awkwardness.
And-BONUS rule to remember!-M&M's and Haagen-Daz can always ease heartache-at least for a little!
What about you? Any old-but-good tips to remember in the dating field?
RELATED LINKS FROM REDBOOK:
How to Make a Relationship Last
8 Truths No One Tells You About Marriage
12 Things Men Find Really Romantic
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