Guys, I have one piece of dating advice, and I wish someone would have told me this ten years ago:
Stop looking for a girl, start looking for a dog.
First of all, if you get a fairly young dog and take care of him, you'll probably have him for ten years or more, provided he doesn't get sick, run away, or get hit by a car. That means long-term commitment. Getting a dog is like a mini-marriage. Don't get a cat, fish, reptile, rodent, or anything else, as these tend to be mostly independent and largely limited to your house. A dog, however, you can take hunting, camping, hiking, for a walk, or just to play out in the yard. Yes, there are certain types of dogs that will be as domicile-based as any of the above, but you're missing the point.
First thing in the morning, whenever I come home from work, and any other time I see her, I've got a little wagging tail waiting on me, tongue hanging out, ready to pounce as soon as I walk out the back door. She expects me, and she enjoys spending time with me. It seems like I can never spend enough time with her, either. When we get in the car to take a short trip, she's all over, excited to be going somewhere. On long trips, she does that number for a few minutes and then lays down in my lap. It's the sweetest thing ever, and beats the heck out of all those trips I made by myself.
So here's what you do. Don't just walk out the door today and buy/rescue/kidnap a dog. Do your homework.
- What personality type fits you best? Do you like to chill, or are you bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy fun fun fun fun fun? Do you want to do things outside like hunting and camping, or do you want to stay home and watch movies?
- What breed of dog do you like best? Not only in appearance, but in temperament and function (see above). But seriously, if you get a dog that even you think is ugly, the price will be having to claim it.
- What problems or challenges are associated with your particular breed? Is it a small yappy dog or a large drooly dog? Are they likely to tear your house apart or cost you more than your cell phone bill in dog food? Are you gonna have to visit Cledus at the feed store to nourish this animal properly? Is there a fence that can contain them (from above or below)?
Bottom line, saying "I want a dog" and going straight to the pound is like saying, "I want ice cream" and busting up inside of Marble Slab. Make your decision before hand so you know what you want, so you don't have an underpaid ice cream server screaming "NO YOU CANNOT TRY A SAMPLE OF EVERY SINGLE FLAVOR!" as the line backs up behind you. And if you think that analogy falls apart, just try it at your local animal shelter.
So where do I get off saying getting a dog is like a mini-marriage?
- I've lived by the "I'll marry just any girl, as long as she'll marry me" theory before. Then I saw some of the "just any girl" type, and revised my standards a little. Then I asked one to marry me, she broke it off a month later, and after putting myself back together, I revised my standards a lot.
- Some things look good on a floor model but get on your nerves down the line. There was a line from The Simpsons where they were trying to come up with a name for their bowling team. One of them said, "Hey, let's name it something that's really funny the first time you hear it, then sorta funny for a little while after that, then never funny again!" This is why my dad told me long ago, "Never bring home a giggler or a whistler...just trust me on this one."
- Some things seem like they might be really hot on a girl, and that you'd stand out, but there's a reason they don't generally work out. So she's a foot taller than you, or ten years older, or makes thrice your salary (you're welcome, Conan). Insurmountable? Absolutely not! Unchangeable facts that need to be addressed? Indubitably! (I'm getting paid by the syllable tonight). The fact is that, for the most part, women tend to look to men for strength; hence why they generally go for men who are taller, older, and richer. If you're none of these, there needs to be something you bring to the table for her to submit to, or else you're just her plaything along for the ride. Trust me, I've watched it happen before. Then again, all of the above could be true and she could have the most humble spirit and completely submit to you without any problems ever. Hey, it could happen.
- Be aware of the legitimate issues she brings to the table. See Sharideth Smith's Glossary of Girls for further information.
- You want to marry her? That's gonna take commitment. You both have to be more committed to the idea of staying in a married relationship than you are committed to each other. Your feelings for each other will wax and wane on a daily basis, but your commitment has to be set higher than that. Why are there worldly couples who can stay together - even unmarried - for life, so why do Christians jump in and jump out a year or two later? Because they're not committed. The commitment to the other person has to go above and beyond even that other person to whom you're committed.
- Lastly, figuring out which woman you'll marry isn't as simple as getting your aggravated ice cream server to let you try every single flavor. There's baggage when you get too deep into a relationship and break it off. If anyone tells you that you can't really know a person unless you live with them, they're wrong. Living with the person will make it happen faster, but if you spend any reasonable amount of time around a person in their home (not cohabiting), you'll be able to pick up signs of what they're like. If nothing else, step back, take off the luvvy-duvvy blinders and take absolutely everything at face value. You'll never be enough to change them, and they'll never change themselves until they want to change for their own sake.