Erika Ettin: Three Love Lessons I Learned From My Dad

By Erika Ettin
Tribune News Service.

I can’t say my dad gives me a lot of unsolicited love advice. In fact, quite the opposite. So when he does decide to share his wisdom in the love arena, I’m inclined to listen. (Don’t tell him that, OK?)

I remember the first time my dad shed some light on a dating situation. It was freshman year of college, and I had just come back to school from winter break. The guy…ahem…boy I was seeing at the time had gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend (also named Erika!) over the break and somehow had neglected to share this pertinent information with me.

I called my parents’ house in tears. My dad answered. “Where’s Mom?” I sobbed. He told me she wasn’t home, so I guess I was stuck talking to him. I don’t even remember what exactly he told me that day, but I do remember that I felt better afterwards.

Don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to beat this guy up, but at least I knew I could get through the first day of sadness.

In the wake of Father’s Day, I’d like to share three lessons in love that I learned from my dad:

1. All men go bald… and have earwax.
I once got a voice mail message from my dad when he thought I was being too picky about dating. I had told my parents that I didn’t care for bald men. That was a mistake! (My dad, as were both grandpas, is bald.) He said, “Hi Eri. I love you. Don’t forget that all men go bald, OK? And you know what else? All men have earwax.” Then something to the effect of, “So go out with them.”

Now, my dad jokes around a lot, so he was just being silly about the earwax. Was he right, though? If you like someone, you may be able to overlook things that normally would not attract you. Back in 2008, I met a guy, at jury duty, of all places, who I really liked for his outgoing personality, and because of that, I actually thought his bald spot was kind of cute. But would I have given him a chance if I met him online? Maybe not. What my dad was trying to say was that you might as well open more doors at the outset even if you see some obstacles…because hiding behind them may be a great person worth giving a shot. So, try to forget for a minute if he’s bald… and buy him some darn Q-tips!

2. It’s all about receptivity.
This is a piece of wisdom my dad says a lot. What does he mean? You may really like someone, but is he or she receptive to what you have to offer? If not, then while you may think this person is a good fit, your ultimate partner will be receptive to you, and vice versa.

It happens all the time: You like someone, so everything he does is cute. In other words, you’re receptive. You don’t like someone, and everything he does is annoying…even if he’s doing the same things as in the first scenario! You’re not receptive. In order for a relationship to work, there has to be mutual receptivity.

3. Men are like fine wine…they get better with age.
Okay, I’ll admit this is what my mom says all the time about my dad. They have been married for 35 years, and my mom constantly notes my dad has mellowed out over the years, much like wine. (Except that they refrigerate red wine…the horror!) While this isn’t necessarily love advice, per se, I always think it’s fun to note how my parents’ marriage has evolved over the years. They went from being neighbors to being partners to being in a long and loving marriage.

Happy (belated) Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for all the advice.
(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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