14 Pieces of Practical Dating Advice I Got from My 85-Year Old Grandmother

My grandparents were married for 59 years. I can only hope to find a love like theirs.
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Publish date:
May 13, 2015
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grandmothers, Dating, dating advice, Marriage Advice

Dating these days can be frustrating and confusing. With all of the technology, dating apps and hook-up culture, things can get complicated.

My friends and I usually try to help each other out when it comes to crushes, but at 22-23 years old, we are all relatively new to the dating world. We all have different opinions on how to approach it. That’s why I decided to take a step back and talk to someone with a little more wisdom: my 85-year-old grandmother.

I am extremely fortunate to have two healthy and loving grandmothers that are still alive today. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own life that I forget to call, or more importantly, forget to listen to the people who always have time to call and listen to me.

I’ve come to realize by talking with my grandmothers that older people are often more than willing to give great advice if we are willing to listen.

While visiting home recently, I had the time to sit down with my grandmother, Kitty, and hear her stories about dating and seek her advice. She was in Pi Phi at the University of Ohio and has tons of interesting stories. She said that because of the time period, there were tons of young men coming home from World War II and she had four or five dates a week.

Eventually, Kitty met my grandfather at a sorority mixer, and after he spent a year trying to get her to accept a date with him, she said yes. They were married for 59 years until my grandfather passed away. I can only hope to find a love like theirs. Maybe with her advice, we all can.

1. “Look for someone who is compassionate.”

The first things people seem to look for in a date (whether they know it or not) is how good-looking they are or what kind of job they have. While you can’t completely ignore these factors, it is also important to look for qualities such as whether or not they are polite to the waiter at a restaurant. Look for little signs that show they are a compassionate person.

2. “If you get involved in something you like, then you might meet someone who likes the same things as you.”

It’s hard to meet people. My grandmother met her husband when she was in college at Ohio State during a sorority and fraternity mixer. When I asked her about how to meet someone, she said to worry about yourself first. Don’t go looking for someone, but rather join clubs or groups that you are interested in and make connections through that.

She does not recommend trying to meet people at bars.“I think it’s sort of crazy you think you have to go to a bar to meet somebody. Sometimes you meet the wrong people there anyway.”

3. “Usually the boy should initiate the first date, but I think sometimes the girl can subtly initiate it by flirting.”

Well, there you have it boys, don’t be nervous -- just ask her. And girls, help a guy out by dropping a couple of hints; you don’t just have to sit back and wait for him, but let him know you are interested.

My grandmother said she used to ‘flirt’ or ‘drop hints’ by making sure she was where he was and had the opportunity to talk to him. She also said to smile a lot.

4. “I think being ‘official’ or not, and labels and all that crap are too much of a worry. It should be just sort of something that happens between you and the guy or girl you like.”

Communication is key, and figuring out where you stand with the person you are dating is important. Talking about whether or not you can call someone your boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t be a point of stress.

Grandma says, “It just happens. You know you don’t want to go out with someone else—you are happy with the person you are with. But you don’t have to figure it out right away.”

5. “I remember a fun date I went on when we just went to dinner and then we played ‘Fox and Geese’ in the snow (Google it), and decided to come back to the house and put music on and we were trying different dances. And acting just silly. It was spontaneous.”

A first date doesn’t have to be at a fancy restaurant or expensive place, it just has to be fun. Maybe try and find out what the person you are taking out is interested in and do something along those lines.

Do they like music? Find a bar that has a live band to grab a drink. Google has plenty of date ideas. Just remember, too, that not everything has to be planned out but some of the best dates are spontaneous.

8. “If a guy asked me on a date over text, I would text back, 'Let’s meet for a coke or something and we’ll talk about it.'"

I laughed out loud when my grandmother said this because I can totally see her doing it, but her words have some truth in them. She told me she would meet that person for a coke and then make them ask her on a date in person.

While maybe this isn’t always realistic in lives that are dominated by technology, we need to remember how much better it is to speak face to face than over text message. Grandma says, “Technology has changed things because you don’t hear someone’s voice anymore. Hearing someone’s voice and the feeling or tone of it on the phone is better than a text because then you can kind of feel what’s going on.”

9. “Why can’t your friends introduce you personally?”

When I asked her about dating apps, she just didn’t understand why people have to meet virtually instead of introducing one another. It’s okay to play matchmaker if you’ve got a bunch of single friends.

She says, “I know dating apps happen and they work. I just don’t like that stuff. But if you are sitting around and you haven’t met anybody and that might be something you could do.”

10. “Even though I married at 21, I think it’s alright to wait, especially in today’s dating world. You don’t get together half the time to date so no wonder it takes a while.”

Marriage is huge, so there is no need to rush into it until you’ve found the right one. When you do find the right one, don’t lose them!

11. “I think that you don’t have to see someone and say ‘Oh gosh, he or she is not very good looking, I don't think I’m going to have fun with that person.’ Don’t rule people out so soon.”

With Facebook, dating apps and so much information readily available before you even go on a first date or meet the person, it is easy to rule people out.

Don’t be judgmental and be open to different people. You’ll never know what a person is really like until you give them a chance.

12. “Relationships are compromise and that’s kind of tough sometimes. Especially for me because I’m bossy.”

Perfection doesn’t exist. I hate to be a pessimist, but everyone you date will have something that eventually will bother you. They say you don’t know if you have a good relationship or not until you survive your first fight.

You just have to learn to work together to build a relationship; the long lasting ones don’t just build themselves.

13. “If you are in love with someone I think you just know that is the person you want to be with, you want to share things with and you know you are happy with them.”

I asked my grandmother, "What does love feel like?" and thought I would get a romantic answer of something along the lines of "flying" or "Your heart beats a million miles per hour." But according to my grandma, the real kind of love is simple.

You know in your heart that you want to be with that person. It just feels right. Love makes you happy. She says, “There are different kinds of love—when you first get married there is a big romantic passionate kind of love, and then there’s a different kind of love, almost a deeper love. Love is something you have to work on.”


14. “Do what you feel in their heart is right and keep their head on straight. Be true to yourself, and don’t try and be someone else or fit the mold of who you think that person might like.”

Sometimes we are so desperate to find someone that we try and change who we are. This never works.

Besides, you don’t want someone to date you or fall in love with you who doesn’t know the real you.

And keep your head on straight; I guess that means don’t go out of your mind searching for love, it will find a way.