This semester, Jackie will be answering reader queries on love, sex, and relationships. Visit askjackie.berkleybeacon.com to ask, anonymously or not, to submit a question.
I have spent almost two years at Emerson, twenty years walking the earth, and three summers mentoring young women. With the help of my friends, and through the knowledge I have gained in my mistakes, I have learned a great deal of lessons in my life. And now, I’d like to teach them.
This column will cover a wide array of topics pertaining to sex, school, friendship, romance, etc. Through this medium, I intend to pass some of the lessons I have leaned on to the reader. However, I do also want to acknowledge that I am a straight, white, cisgender woman, so some of my advice may be skewed toward my perspective.
Looking back, the most valuable lessons I have learned can all be attributed to my mother, without whom I would not have the insight to create this column. She’s a clever, hilarious, hard-working hippie who has made me into the woman I am. I cannot think of a better way to start off this series than to share some of my favorite pieces of advice that she has given me.
Try all the types of ice cream
I distinctly remember one day when my sister and I were caught up in traffic with my mother in the car. We were young, around 10 years old, and my sister asked my mother how many people she had dated before marrying my father. She estimated that it was somewhere in the 20s, an amount that seemed very large to me at the time. When my mom noticed me and my sister’s reactions to her guess, she began to explain a strange, but helpful metaphor: men are like different flavors of ice cream.
She told us that if we had never tried rocky road or bubblegum ice cream, we would never really know if it was our favorite or not. If we only dated one person, or one type of person, for our whole lives, we would never know if the one we end up choosing is the best “flavor” for us. For two young women whose lives revolved around ice cream, the analogy made perfect sense.
This can be especially relevant to people who feel like they’re stuck in a relationship or want to branch out more. I often hear my friends talking about wanting to “keep their number down,” and, at one point, I felt the same way. But if you only try four types of ice cream in life, you might get stuck with chocolate without ever having tried fudge ripple.
If you love someone, let them go
My parents first began dating as undergraduates at Boston University. After two years, they were forced to make a decision about their relationship when my mother graduated and moved to Oregon for the winter to teach skiing. This situation is not unfamiliar for college couples who are separated due to summer breaks, studying abroad, or post-college plans. Though some may want to make long-distance relationships work, this can be extremely emotionally straining and unrealistic for some people. My mother, knowing that the distance would be too hard, made the decision to break up with my father.
She did this based on the cliche: if you love someone, let them go. If they leave, they were never yours to begin with; if they come back, it was meant to be. Though this seems optimistic, it ended up working for them. Not only did it give my parents time to grow as individuals, it helped them decide whether or not they wanted to make a long term commitment to one another. My father flew out a few months later to visit her and my she followed him back. Now they’ve been together for over 30 years.
There’s no reason to go through the unnecessary stress of trying to make something happen that geographically can’t. If a relationship is strong enough and circumstances later in life change, two people will find their way back to one another the way my parents did.
Never eat chicken wings on a first date
This one is pretty self explanatory. In the words of my mother, “No one looks attractive eating chicken wings.”