“Dad, how can you spend that much on shoes?” my pre-teen self asked, as I watched my father try on deerskin dress shoes on my first shopping trip to Nordstrom. One had finally opened an hour away from our small rural town.

“Because I’m worth it,” my dad replied. And that’s how it all began. He would later give me $300 to shop for prom attire and laugh when I returned with a $40 sale dress and $260 Stuart Weitzman wedges, applauding me for staying within budget.

It’s no secret that, while my mom and I are the inseparable giggle duo, I’m a Daddy’s Girl. He’s my shoe shopping sidekick, gun shooting partner, workout buddy and one of the only people who can talk me into tequila shots. He’s also the reason I’m in Arizona pursuing my dreams and loving the single life, without any pressure to settle down – or settle.

My dad grew up in the same small town where I was raised in Southern Illinois, the oldest boy of 10 kids. He paid his own way through private high school and college, then packed up all of his belongings in the back of his car and headed West, first to Reno and then to Orange County. He pursued startups and dated until meeting my mom at the age of 30. We often joke that he had to move across the country just to date someone unrelated. Yes, in tiny towns accidental incest is a real thing.

I love how he broke the mold. While his friends and family were in Illinois marrying their high school sweethearts and starting families – the only thing they had ever known – he was in L.A. enjoying daily afternoon cocktails, playing tennis and sporting stylish short-shorts. Though he wishes I was with him in Illinois right now, it’s the reason why he understood my desire to discover new places from the moment I showed him the Arizona State undergrad brochure.

With 15 years of solid dating experience before meeting my mom, I thought we could all learn a thing or two from the guy who puts the ‘Stud’ in Stud Muffin.

Dating Advice from My Dad

What is the one thing guys should not do when dating a girl? 

Never pass gas.

What is one thing guys should do when dating a girl?

Make sure they feel like they are the center of attention and share the conversation. And the guy should always pick up the check.

What is the best gift to give a girl?

Flowers and perfume

What advice would you give your younger dating self?

Date more and be less critical of individual traits initially.

What is a piece of dating advice you would give me?

Be happy with yourself. Have fun and be less critical.

And then, when my mom wasn’t hovering over his shoulder, he sent a follow-up email:

Who to date:

  1. Homeowner
  2. Auto owner
  3. $150k starting salary
  4. Must work at least 12 hours a day so it does not interfere with your workouts and nail appointments.
  5. If he orders white wine, leave immediately.
  6. If he orders tofu, he is also wearing a man bag. Run quickly.
  7. If he does not own a weapon, goodbye.
  8. Be concerned about his shoe size, not the fashion.
  9. Must have season tickets to some sporting event, preferably Diamondbacks.
  10. If he is Christian, make sure he is Catholic. No Christian Lites.

Love, Dad