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Courtesy of Sara Watkins
Sara Watkins with her son Mylo.

Sometimes I write blog posts specifically to my sons for future reference. They are thoughts I have now that I don't want to forget to share with them later.

Dating is a tricky thing, and doing it right is difficult. But it is honestly the most important thing you will ever do because how you date will dictate who you date, and who you date who determine who will become your wife, and who your wife is will determine your future family and so forth and so on. So date wisely. Here are a few expectations I have for you when it comes to dating.

1. Always ask a girl on a date, straight forward and direct. And always ask in person. If that just isn't possible, then ask over the phone. Never, I mean never, ask a girl on a date through a text, instant message or email.

2. Always take a girl out on a date. None of this, "Let's hang out at my place and watch a movie" nonsense. I expect you to pick her up and take her somewhere. It doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate or immensely creative. Sometimes the best dates are simple, like a picnic in the park. You should always make sure you take her somewhere that she will feel comfortable at and enjoy.

3. Open the car door for your date. Open all doors for your date.

4. Pay for your date. No questions asked. Your father and I will make sure that you always have money for your dates. Do not ever split the bill.

5. Walk to the door to pick your date up. Never text from the car, or worse yet, honk! And always walk your date to the door at the end of the night.

6. Use your good sense when it comes to kissing. Don't kiss every girl, but don't be afraid to kiss the right girl.

7. Listen to your date. The best dates involve getting to know the other person, so take your date somewhere that will allow you to talk. Ask her questions and share insights about yourself. The purpose of dating is to find someone you could spend your future with, so the longer you date a person, the more you should get to know her.

8. Always make your intentions clear. If you aren't clicking with a girl, then end it. Don't string her along. It may hurt her for a minute, but she will appreciate your honesty. And if you are feeling a connection, then let her know. A girl loves clarity. It will make the whole dating process easier if you follow this one simple rule.

9. Date around, but only seriously date one girl at a time. Once you've found a girl you are interested in going exclusive with, then be faithful. Always, always be faithful. If you decide things aren't working out, or you meet someone else you'd like to get to know, refer back to rule No. 8.

10. Be physical — the right way. Hold hands, put your arm around her shoulders, or eventually her waist, kiss her head, put your hand on her knee. These sweet gestures speak volumes and make a woman feel cared for. Going too far physically only confuses the relationship, and it can never be undone.

11. Handle her heart with care. Women are strong, but they are also delicate. Don't ruin that. Do not be responsible for hardening a woman's heart.

12. Get to know her family and friends, and let your family and friends get to know her — especially me.

13. When the time comes, tell her you love her, a lot. In fact, tell her all sorts of nice things. Everyone deserves to be complimented.

14. Serve her. Not like a waiter. Perform acts of service for her. Make her breakfast, take out her trash, offer her your jacket when she's cold, you get the point.

15. Surprise her. Again, a little can go a long way. Just stick with small surprises. Bring her a case of her favorite soda, pick her flowers or show up at her work for a surprise lunch date.

16. Never underestimate the power of the written word. As nice as it is to hear good things, it's even better to have them written down so you can refer back to them. You should write letters or notes to your love often.

17. When the time is right and you've found that special someone, get down on one knee and ask her those four special words.

Note: My boys and I have started dating. Once they hit 5, I take them on regular dates. We have fun, but the whole purpose is to teach them how to date.

This post originally appeared on Sara Watkins' blog, Team Watkins. It has been shared here with permission. Sara Watkins grew up in Northern California and received a bachelor's degree in psychology from BYU. She received a master's degree in social work from CSUS and lived in the Bay Area while her husband, Todd, played for the Oakland Raiders. After Todd retired from the NFL, they moved to Maui. They have three sons — Cooper, TJ and Mylo — whom Sara feels blessed to hang out with all day. Sara spends her days mothering, homemaking, hiking, paddling and beach combing.