How you conduct yourself dictates whom you’ll date ― and eventually end up with ― so, act wisely, my son.

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Dearest Andreas,

Do you know what the best part of my day is? It’s when I’m putting you to bed in the evenings. Part of it is because I know that once you’re in bed, I will spend the rest of the night dancing around naked, drinking wine and binge-watching Netflix while cuddling up to papa.

On a serious note though, it’s also because I love your ritual of smothering me with wet, sloppy kisses, hugging me tightly and telling me repeatedly how much you love me, even as I close the door behind me.

Your papa is a very affectionate man, but nothing makes me feel as loved as the way you show your love for me, my dear boy. I know, at 2½ years, that I am the queen of your heart and will enjoy it for as long as you’ll let me. But there will soon come a time, probably in a blink of an eye, when you will focus your attention on girls your own age and find your soulmate eventually.

Even as I'll reluctantly relinquish my role as the most important woman in your life, I look forward to meeting these lovely ladies you will bring home for family dinners and gatherings.

Dating is fun, but it’s also tricky and one of the most important things you will ever do. After all, whom you date says a lot about who you are. More importantly, how you date will decide who will eventually become your wife, should you choose to get married. The woman you handpick to be your wife will determine your future success as a husband, father, friend and son. Hey, no pressure!

Since I only want the best for you (and have kissed my fair share of frogs when I was dating) here’s my two cents on how to navigate the world of dating like a pro…and make sure you don’t let the love of your life slip through your fingers…

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Dress up

A man in dark jeans and a T-shirt is cute. The same guy in a crisp shirt and trousers and trendy oxfords is well, George Clooney. Bring a blazer for good measure (I’ll explain later), make sure you shower before and spritz (don’t bathe) yourself with perfume. Never underestimate the power of being well put-together, it’s a sign that you’re taking yourself, the date ― and most importantly ― her, seriously.

If they give you both a curfew, make sure you stick to it. Should this relationship take off, you are laying the groundwork for a successful relationship with her family.

Have a plan

No “let’s hang out at my place, order in and watch a movie” nonsense, please. When you ask a girl out on a date, make sure you have a plan in place. There’s no need to go over the top, but making reservations at a trendy café and booking tickets for a movie shows her that you’re a reliable person. It gives her a sense of security. By the way, think of a fun way to end the date, maybe going to a gaming arcade and winning a soft toy for her or taking her on a reverse bungee ride. Not only would you have made it memorable, but a person you can have fun with now is also a person you can have fun with in 40 years.

Be courteous and respectful to her parents

If you’re picking her up at her place, don’t lurk under her block or wait at the end of the street to her house like a creep. Walk up to her front door, knock or ring the bell, and if her parents answer, shake their hands and introduce yourself. Be pleasant and composed (however much you might be freaking out on the inside) and answer any questions they might have about you and the date. As parents to a daughter, they also want reassurance that their little girl is in good hands. If they give you both a curfew, make sure you stick to it. Should this relationship take off, you are laying the groundwork for a successful relationship with her family.

Four more golden rules to dating, coming right up!

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Ask great questions

Don’t just rely on your boyish charm and sense of humour. Yes, girls are looking for a guy who can make them laugh, but we also want someone who takes a genuine interest in us. We want a guy who thinks we look stunning in that outfit we put together so meticulously, as much as we want that same man to show interest in what we think and say. Don’t just ask about her favourite food and colour, get her take on animal cruelty or where she sees herself in 10 years. This is an easy way to learn about her as a person and to figure out how compatible you both are in terms of life goals, hopes and dreams.

Know that chivalry is not dead

Beyoncé has made that very clear ― it’s the era of the independent woman, but that doesn’t mean you should stop being a man. Sure, your date can open her own doors, pull out her own chair and pretend that her halter top is keeping her warm in a cold restaurant. Still, what do you have to lose by opening doors for her, pulling out her chair and offering her your blazer (aren’t you glad I told you to take one along?). When you do these things, you’re not undermining her or treating her like she’s too weak. You’re just letting her know that you care enough to notice even small things about her, and that you’ve got it covered. One more thing, always pay on the first date, no questions asked. And chip in on all future dates or go Dutch. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do and it will make a positive impression on her, however much of a feminist she is. If you need cash, my car needs washing.

Women are strong, yet delicate. It’s a beautiful combination ― never ruin that. Don’t be responsible for hardening a woman’s heart.

Handle her heart with care

Women are strong, yet delicate. It’s a beautiful combination ― never ruin that. Don’t be responsible for hardening a woman’s heart. Don’t play emotional and mental games with her. If you decide she’s not the one for you, don’t string her along. It might be easier to ghost her (stop answering her calls, e-mail, texts and “vanish” from her life until she gets the hint), but I hope you take the honourable route and are honest with her. She will appreciate you for it. Oh, and I feel the need to say this, especially since you’re growing up in the social media era. DO NOT end a relationship via WhatsApp, e-mail or, worse, Twitter or Facebook ― you are just adding insult to the injury. By the way, you have the right to keep your dating options open until you find someone you want to be serious with. But make sure you are upfront with your dates, in case they’re under the impression you guys are exclusive. Mummy likes her sleep, she doesn’t want to be woken up at 2am by a phone call from your “crazy ex-girlfriend”.

Show affection respectfully

Touch her arm lightly, put your hand on her knee, hold hands, let your arms rest around her shoulders or waist and kiss her ever-so-softly. These sweet gestures are important as they speak volumes as to how much you care for this girl. But only do it if she seems comfortable with the contact. Go the extra mile and ask her permission first when you’re doing it for the first time. She will think it’s sweet and cute that you did. If she’s not ready, don’t take physical affection too far and always remember, when she says “no”, then it means “no” ― end of story.

Papa and I do our best to instil good values in you daily, so that you’ll grow up to be the gentleman we know you can be. At the end of the day, we trust you will do right by the women you date and make us proud. We’ll love you now and forever. Bring home the love of your life and we will do the same.



Jassmin Peter-Berntzen, 35, SmartParents assistant editor, is mum to Andreas Dhiraj, 2.

Photo: Melanie Ng & Jassmin Peter-Berntzen

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