Dear Daughter,

So you're going on your first date. Don't worry. I won't be like all those other dads who try to intimidate your date when I meet him. I won't tell him stories that embarrass you, either. In fact, I'm going to take a whole 'nother approach. I'll acknowledge him politely and wish you the best. I don't want to give him too much attention because, the truth is, there's already too much attention on him and not enough on you.

As a girl, society has taught you from an early age that the boy you date is important. As a girl, people judge you based off of whom you date. Whom you date determines your popularity. It is some kind of social status that shows the quality of person you are. This is exactly why I won't be focusing too much on your date. Dating isn't about him. It's about you.

You are your own person. You're beautiful, smart, funny, witty and you have a warm sarcasm about life that shows you don't take things too seriously yet still understand life's complexities. You can also quote movies like no one else I know. You don't need a boy to tell you that you're wonderful. You already are, and you don't need a boy to prove it. No boy can prove it. It's already within you. You just radiate it.

As you go on your first date, you're going to worry about whether your date likes you. You're going to worry about whether you're doing and saying the right things. This is normal. But don't let these things worry you too much. The truth is, they're not really that important.

The purpose of dating isn't to get a boy to like you. In fact, if you're doing it for that reason, you're going to have a pretty miserable time dating. The purpose of dating is to get to know your date better and see if he will like you for who you are. If you have to be fake for him to like you, he doesn't really like you - he just likes who you're pretending to be. Save your time and kisses for somebody who knows the real you and cares about the real you, and save them for someone who you care so genuinely about that you can be the real you with.

Don't let others' expectations drive who you are. This includes your sexuality, too. You don't have to look too far to see that girls are expected to be cute and sexy - not too much so or you'll be branded a slut, but not too little, either, or you'll be branded a "frumpy prude." Don't let either of these labels get to you. You're a fantastic person and you don't need to ascribe to some external standard of sexuality to verify that.

Most importantly, I hope you have a lot of fun on your date. Don't take one date too seriously. You're at a stage in your life that you'll one day look back on and have all sorts of memories about. The last thing you want is to have bad memories. You have a long time ahead of you before you need to think of "getting serious" or settling down with someone, so make the best of your dating days and enjoy them. If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

I'm here to answer any questions you have while you're making your way through the dating world. And, no matter how hard I try not to, I might still embarrass you along the way. OK, sometimes it may still be intentional.

All by best,



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