woman in red with roses

The Best Dating Advice I’ve Ever Received

I remember holding my great-grandmother’s hand for the last time and then driving home in the pouring rain.

Some people never meet their grandparents, let alone a great-grandparent. I was fortunate enough to have a great-grandmother for eighteen years of my life. Her health began to decline during the summer before I went to college. She never wanted to go to a nursing home, so she spent the final months of her life in her home surrounded by family. The day before I moved into college, I went to visit her one last time. I sat by her bed, and she had me play her Patsy Cline albums for us to listen to. I held her hand.

While I was sitting beside her, I decided to ask her what her best piece of advice was. I figured that the woman had lived ninety-seven years, so she definitely had some words of wisdom to give me. She told me that I should always remember, “if you don’t date him, someone else will.” At first, I didn’t really understand what she meant because I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, so I honestly thought she might be losing it a little. Then, I realized what she meant – don’t abandon things that seem too good to be true.

My great-grandparents were like those people you see in movies, those people who don’t seem like they exist in real life, very Notebook-esque people. My great-grandmother sang in a country band when she was young, and one night a member of the band was sick, so they needed a substitute member. The substitute member for the night was my great-grandfather.

As I was sitting with her, I looked around at the pictures she had displayed all over the room. By looking at the pictures, one could see that the two of them built a beautiful life together. The pictures ranged from them singing karaoke at their beach house in York, Maine, to them at a black-tie dinner with President Nixon when my great-grandfather was the President of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. If you’ve ever driven by Olsen Hall, that’s named after him.

It turns out that my great-grandmother almost missed out on this beautiful life. She told me that she almost broke up with my great-grandfather after a couple of months of dating because things just seemed too good to be true. Apparently, that is what prompted someone to tell her the now-famous piece of advice she gave me. At the end of the day, I let go of her hand, and I left, knowing that would be the last time I would see her. I cried as I drove home in the pouring rain.

Since that day, her words have continued to stay with me.

Recently, I thought that I had found the thing that seemed “too good.” I had a friend who basically acted like my boyfriend for about a year. The part that makes this a little complicated is the fact that I was pretty much oblivious to it until a couple of months ago when the entire world decided to bring it to my attention… repeatedly. When you walk around campus, and everywhere you go, people say things like “what nice couples' costumes” or “when did you two start dating?” or “wow, your Insta debut was so sweet,” you start to think, “WAIT A MINUTE. Is someone sitting right under my nose, and since I don’t wear my glasses enough, I’m just missing him?” When you have someone who drives you to Chipotle every Sunday, threatens to hurt anyone who puts you in harm’s way, and even cleans up your vomit (yes, that happened), you start to think. Even my mother suggested it would be a nice idea.

It led me to do one of the things that I thought would go down in history as one of my biggest regrets. It would be one of those things that I tell my children, “DON’T do what mom did.”

One night I met my friend for dinner, and at the end of the dinner, I suggested that we see what it would be like if we went on an actual date. Since he had paid for the whole thing, it didn’t seem like the idea was too far-fetched. He left his answer up in the air, a big old mystery. THE HORROR. I then was avoided for over a month, and even though I knew what the answer was because I’m not a dummy, I tried to reach out and extend the olive branch to give him a moment to provide the “no.” However, he did not. He let the disease fester. Over the past couple of weeks, it has felt like I am the only one trying to clean up the mess, which has been the toughest part to accept. It feels like I’m the only one who cares, which I never thought would ever happen.

Based on the way he spoke the last time I saw him, I don’t believe that he wants us to be friends. Although I would like to continue our friendship, I think he would rather proceed along through life without me. That is something I think I will learn to accept with time. I apparently miscalculated the thing that seemed “too good.”

The scariest thing is that I am about one hundred percent certain that I will miscalculate the thing that seems “too good” many more times in my life. Although my great-grandmother’s advice was about love, I think that it applies to everything in our lives. Due to this, I will never stop going after the things that seem too good to be true, even if in the end they really aren’t, and I have to get out of a car with heated seats and walk my way through the Cheesecake Factory parking lot.

When I look at pictures of my great-grandparents, I am reminded that we cannot give up on finding the good things. I want the karaoke nights, the extra jars of Pond’s Cold Cream lying around, the Jackie Kennedy outfits, the Country Curtains, and the Christmas trees that stay up for months on end. If my great-grandmother could have it all, then I want it too - and I will not give up until I find it.