Growing up in a conservative Indian household, I never thought that I’d have a heart-to-heart conversation with my dad about my love life and relationships. Like most girls around me, I thought most of my relationship lessons would come from my friends, some romantic comedies, some social media posts, or maybe from a few conversations with my mom.
But, today as I sit in my balcony on Father’s Day, I can’t help but acknowledge that the best relationship lessons that I live by today, came from my daddy dearest. What is more interesting is that he never explicitly imparted those lessons. They just came to me naturally because he lived them every day. This Father’s Day, I simply want to share the 5 relationship lessons that have helped me handle the best and the worst relationships of my life, courtesy dad!
Don’t play dumb
I have been a straight-A student for as long as I can remember. Invariably, most of my conversations unconsciously turned fact-driven. One of the most common relationship advice that my friends had for me was to tone down my words and not display my intelligence all at one. “Nobody likes a know-it-all,” they said. And, for the sake of starting a relationship on a positive note, I decided to just go with it. On one among the many dates where I played it ‘dumb’, my dad happened to walk by and was surprised at how I was acting. Later that night, all he said was, “If that guy can’t handle an intelligent woman like you, maybe he doesn’t deserve you after all”. And that is genuinely one of the best pieces of advice I got and would like to thank my dad for, this Father’s Day.
Adjust, but don’t compromise
One thing that is common between many Bollywood movies and Indian aunties is the statement, “Girls have to compromise”. It was my dad who taught me to never compromise and settle for anything less than what I deserved. It’s funny that it was actually Father’s Day, a few years ago when I asked my dad what gift he wanted. He asked me to sit next to him and said, “All our lives, your mom and I have tried to make sure that you never have to settle for anything. Just make sure you follow the same in your relationships too.”
What came next was even more surprising. “I am not saying that you will not have differences of opinion with your partner, yes, you will have to adjust. But, do not compromise on your potential and your worth, ever.” That was the first relationship lesson that helped me value myself in a relationship.
You need a partner, not a clone
For a long time, my search was for a partner with the same interests, so we could enjoy things together. One day while I was debating with my date on where to go, because we couldn’t agree on a place, I remember mumbling, “Why can’t I find a guy who thinks like me and has similar interests”? Just then my dad said, “Because you are looking for a partner, not a clone”! Seeking someone who is 100% like you is going a bit too far and even unhealthy. Everyone needs some personal space and you can only get it when you and your partner have some unique interests that you can pursue without being together all the time. This is another relationship lesson I would like to celebrate this Father’s Day.
It’s all about the little things
More often than not we look for someone who can change the world for us or do all those things for every rom-com out there. But, in the process, we forget to cherish the little things that actually count. Father’s Day is an opportune time for me to thank daddy dearest for guiding me to cherish the little things in life. Someone who makes you soup when you are sick, or makes you laugh with a silly joke when you are upset, is the one who is worth the effort of a relationship. While big romantic gestures might take your relationship to a whole different level, the little displays of affection are what sustain the relationship through hard times.
There is no secret recipe
Finally, one of the most important lessons that comes from my dad and deserves a mention in this Father’s Day special is that building relationships does not come with instructions. There is no recipe that you can follow to have a perfect relationship. There will be ups and downs, there will be fights, arguments, disagreements and a lot more. What really matters is your love and commitment to fight through them and sticking together. You have to experiment with your own concoction of ingredients, spices and condiments to create a sweet-savory relationship.
Father’s Day: Show your gratitude
As we come to an end of my affection and gratitude for my dad on Father’s Day, take this day to acknowledge the various lessons from your dad. Pick up the phone or go to his room and just thank him for being a man who would never break your heart. Your dad might be the last person to give you direct relationship advice, but if you reflect back, you would’ve learnt some of the best lessons from him!
Previously published on Medium.com.
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