Posted on January 19, 2012


 ‘Mr Right could be sitting just below this ad’…. words on the tube this week travelling to a conference to give a speech about ‘enduring love’. The seat below the advert was empty. The small print afterwards read ‘if he isn’t… contact’ (a dating agency), because of course Mr Right is out there somewhere – you just have to find him.

 Romance may be delicious, electric escapism. But the reality is that you have to form a relationship with a real person, another normal human being with weaknesses, irritating habits and obsessions just like you. It’s hard enough coming to terms with that fact as an adult woman. Harder still when you are a 15 year old girl with no experience of a relationship and have learnt everything you know from either watching Hollyoaks or the supreme example of your own parents. All the boys your age seem to have a developmental age of 13 and to anyone older you are just ‘jailbait’.

 I felt nothing but sympathy for the mother I sat behind on a bus when her teenage daughter shouted back at her, ‘He is a nice boy. Why else would he be doing 200 hours community service?’ We want the best for our daughters, understandably. Only Prince Harry will do now that William is no longer available and Hugh Grant is too old. But the truth is that our daughters have to learn how to understand, love and stand up to boys for themselves. That doesn’t mean though that we can’t give them a little helping hand with some old fashioned wisdom. So here are my top five tips gathered from four years work researching modern relationships – the pressures and the pitfalls – in COUPLES – How We Make Love Last. I think the romantic pressures are now so great that we bear a responsibility as parents to make sure our children get a more honest picture as they grow up.

  • The ‘One’ does not exist. There is no soul mate out there who fits like hand in glove. There are lots of people you could form a lasting, loving relationship with, if you refuse to buy into the myth that it has to be perfect or always make you happy.
  • Romantic Love is great while it lasts but real love grows with time, trust and mutual respect for each other’s autonomy. It’s the differences between us that make life interesting and there will be lots of those.
  • Treat each other with the same courtesies, tolerance and respect you would expect to receive and give to anyone else you care for. You cannot change someone or expect them to fit in entirely with your own expectations of what a relationship should be – but with time people often can and do change.
  • Arguments can be healthy if it means you are expressing your desires or a need to change the way you do things.
  • We cannot expect complete safety in love. Love cannot be risk free. In the best relationships, lovers build such a deep bond of friendship and loyalty to each other that they see difficulties as challenges to work on and not the beginning of the end. That’s the essence of commitment.

So come on mums….. what would you add to this list?

Posted in: boys