How did we ever come to this pass?
I know that you're growing up. It amazes me how quickly these years have passed us by, left us two different beings than we were in that once upon a time. You are my step-daughter but that's simply semantics, a way for people outside our family to define our relationship. To me, you are simply my daughter.

When I came along, you were just starting to stand and toddle about. I watched over you, stopped many of your crashes into furniture or the floor, failed to stop many others. I rode you on my knee, fed you, changed your diaper. I never begrudged any of those tasks but enjoyed being able to do them for you. I don't know how it can be that you so fully captured me, but there it is.

I know that also in the flow of time that you'll eventually choose a mate, a man to stand alongside you on your journey. That's the way of it, isn't it? In considering that eventuality, there are a few things I want to pass along. These are the musings of an old Dad, a few thoughts that might bear consideration.

Seek the best!
First and foremost, I suggest finding a man whom you honestly think is better than yourself. That sounds bizarre, I know, but there are good reasons for it. If you find such a man, rest assured he isn't as good as you think. Love is indeed blind and you'll gloss over many of his faults. Trust me, he has faults, we all do. So when you deduct the negative figure of his unseen faults from his total score, he'll hopefully be about even with you.

Secondly, if by chance you actually do find someone genuinely better than yourself, he will tend to elevate you to his level. It's a good thing in a relationship if we can find ways in which to help the other become a better person. All the time pray he does the same for you.

Ask yourself the right questions
Never ask yourself if he's a man you can live with. That is the wrong question to ask. The correct question is whether you can live without him. The answer is, of course, yes you can. But if it would be uncomfortable, something to be dreaded, something you don't even want to consider, then he is a serious candidate. People can live with many things. That doesn't mean you would want to do so. I can live with a hernia, pigeon toes, and thinning hair, but it certainly doesn't mean it's something I want to do.

Just how long is that 'forever' part again?
A lifetime can be a very long time. When a couple marry they stand in front of a minister and blithely promise 'till death do us part'. Sometimes when things go badly one wonders if that Grim Reaper couldn't perhaps get his dark-clad butt in gear, swing that scythe, and get things over with. Time is such a trickster, making the good days sail past like shooting stars while the bad times drag along like molasses in late January. A lifetime can be a dishearteningly long time if spent in misery.

I know many people think if things go poorly then divorce is always an option. There are good and valid reasons to seek a divorce. No couple marries planning for the destruction of that marriage. You both want to succeed, and that's normal and right. Sometimes obstacles present themselves to sustaining that marriage relationship. You will either overcome them or be defeated by them. I suggest that you plan for success, not failure.

But Dad, I'm lonely!
There are some things worse, much worse, than being lonely. Being alone can be bad, true enough, but even worse is being alone while in a relationship. Being lonely is a state of mind. You can be single and still not be alone. Being alone gives us time to think, reflect, decide, become, all those wonderful things that are difficult to achieve in the company of others. Loneliness is the acutely uncomfortable feeling or sense of being alone. There are ways to alleviate that condition short of being in a bad relationship.

Take your time, get to know him. Sometimes relationships develop an inertia, a momentum that carries them forward ever faster. Resist that pull. It's not easy to ride the brakes but it's worse to be out of control.

He may be good, but he's not Superman!
Realize that he can't make you happy, but he darn sure can make you miserable. Happiness is something that you find within yourself. He can help you find it and when you do, he can help you enjoy it. It's always more fun to share the good things, isn't it? Happiness is within you for the finding.

Don't expect him to be your everything. He isn't large enough to fill those shoes. There is sometimes a tendency to immerse yourselves in each other, to exclude everyone else until you are a universe of just two. Realize that this makes for a terribly small universe. Remember that the reason the stars are so beautiful is because they don't crowd each other but give one another room to shine. Keep room for some space, some time apart, separate interests.

That's all for now. I'll probably think of a million other things I want to say, and like most people I won't get around to saying them. Life is like that sometimes, we miss the chance to say the things that matter to those who mean the most to us. I've not always been the most attentive Dad, or the most communicative. For that I can only ask your forgiveness. I desire your happiness, but not yours alone. My wish is that the two of you set out on a treasure hunt that never ends. Remember that while he loves you, he's not the only one. I do too, and I always will.