5 Hilariously Helpful Dating Tips From An 83-Year-Old, Single Stand-Up Comedian

Because, no matter what state your love life is in, it's probably a joke.

What makes an 83-year-old, single stand-up comedian uniquely qualified to give relationship advice? Well, if you asked Lynn Ruth Miller herself, she'd probably say, "Nothing." But if you heard her routine, you'd probably say, "Everything." 

Miller's timeless hilarity first rose to international prominence when she went on England's Channel 4 reality television program, First Dates. In that episode, she shared a few of her favorite jokes from her eclectic set making fun of "old men" and relationships. "The nice thing about dating at my age is you don't have to worry about meeting their parents," was one she tells A Plus. In another joke about old men's physique, she says, "They all have replaced hips and arthritis, so when they really get moving, it sounds like a dress rehearsal for STOMP." 

And, of course, Miller's personal favorite (which she thinks doesn't get nearly as many laughs as it deserves): "I'm through with old men, but they're not through with me. They keep groping me, especially the ones that can't afford guide dogs." (We agree.) 


Courtesy of Lynn Ruth Miller

However, Miller's extensive experience deriding relationships is precisely what makes her the perfect candidate to give hilariously helpful advice on the topic. "I haven't had a relationship since I was 25, so it's ridiculous," she explains. "I'm just making fun — looking at life and making a joke." Having spent decades observing others in relationships, she's seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the "Oh my god, I have to put this in an act." After all, those who can't won't do, teach. 

The funny thing about Miller's dating tips is how easily they translate into tried and true rules of comedy performance. That makes sense because, let's be real, no matter what state your love life is in ... it's probably a joke:    

Courtesy of Lynn Ruth Miller

1. Know your audience.

To "know your audience" is to know what you want out of a potential partner. Of course, before you can even begin to know that, you need to know yourself. " What I've learned is that I am enough for myself as a whole entity," Miller affirms. "It's not that I need somebody; it's that I enjoy being with them ... I've got myself. I'm a complete person." She encourages single people to spend time basking in and enjoying their singledom, as she has for the last 50 years. "You can't say, 'I want to fall in love' until you find the person you fall in love with. That's when you want to fall in love," she explains. "Not when you say, 'Oh I'm so lonely I want to fall in love.' With what? First, fall in love with yourself." 

She believes the best relationships spring, not out of "need," but two people's organic, mutual enjoyment of one another's company. "If you expect, in a relationship, of the other person to compensate for your lacks, that's a lot of responsibility for a human being," she says. "They've got an awful lot of baggage of their own." Instead, she advises people to focus on their actual need to have a positive relationship with themselves. "You've gotta trust yourself and know that the most important job you have is to be yourself," Miller adds. "That's pretty tough ... But just to be yourself, the best person you can be." Remember, the first audience you'll ever have — and the only one that really matters — is the one you see in the mirror. 

2. It's all about the timing.

Ask any stand up, and they'll tell you, "Comedy equals tragedy plus time." As applied to your dating life, that means every failed relationship prepares you and gives you, if nothing else, great material for the next one. When it comes to couples, Miller advises them to "have the wisdom to know when a relationship is over." Granted, that opinion comes from a person who knows she's not interested in long-term monogamy. "We're not meant to stay with people 50 years. Some wonderful, flexible people can do it, but I certainly can't," Miller says. "We grow, and as soon as you're growing apart, that's the time to end the relationship."

On the flip side, she advises singletons to know when a relationship can begin. No matter how quickly it may end afterward, Miller believes "in taking a chance." She adds, "[If] you've got somebody, and they're really marvelous ... and then you think, 'Yeah, but he's got a lot of baggage and it's not gonna last more than three months.' Take it. Three months is nice." One of Miller's many "old men" confidants recently told her his marriage was coming to an end after only eight months. Though he was devastated, she didn't sugar coat her response. "You had, really, about eight months of a gorgeous relationship, didn't you?" she asked him. "You know how many people haven't had eight minutes?" 

And while Miller doesn't "particularly believe" in long-term relationships, she does think they're wonderful when they happen — to others, of course. The key, she says, is balance: "I don't think you should put that limit on connecting with someone. I think you should just enjoy it." 

3. Don't be afraid to bomb.

For those not thoroughly entrenched in the comedy world, "bombing" on stage as a comedian means that they haven't connected enough with the audience to make them laugh. If you "bomb" on a date simply by being yourself, that means you haven't connected enough with your audience. While a comedian likes to "bomb" about as often as a single person likes to be rejected, both experiences can be extremely positive because, even through stumbling, you still move one step closer to finding the right audience.

When Miller "bombed" at relationships, she used to blame herself, thinking that she wasn't cute or intelligent or sparkly enough. "So you think to yourself, 'I should change,' and you shouldn't," she says. "What you should do is be the best you can be with all your faults," she said. "Your drawbacks are like a diamond. A diamond without facets is nothing." 

Now, however, Miller doesn't believe we make mistakes or even fail in the traditional sense. "My wisdom tells me that you are what you are, and the hardest thing for all of us is to say, 'Look, this is just what I am,'" she explains. "We deceive ourselves with this 'happily ever after.' That isn't what life is. Life is building ... Every relationship is a brick in the wall of who we are." Even if you're in a wonderful relationship, there are still going to be those days when you "bomb" in front of the other person, and they "bomb" in front of you. The key, as every comedian knows, is to get back up on stage the next chance you get. 

4. Always leave them wanting more.

As far as Miller's personal life goes, she's not one to kiss and tell ... or to kiss at all, really. "This is one of the good things about being my age," she concludes. "I'm in love with — I think — four men right now. I'm not sleeping with any of them, and it has never occurred to any of them to take me to bed. And that's a good thing, because they would be very disappointed."

When a younger person asked Miller if she was "sexually active," she didn't shy away from putting things into gut-busting perspective. "I'm 83," she says now, recounting her response. "When I was your age, if I dropped a coin on the floor, I'd pick it up. But now, if I drop a coin on the floor, I look at it and I think, 'Nooo. I'm not gonna bend over for that.'" And then, the metaphor to end all metaphors: "So it's the same thing with men. When I was your age, when a man came on to me, I thought, 'Why not?' But now, if a man comes on to me, I look at him and I think, 'Is he worth a hip?'" Usually, she passes. 

In the modern hook-up culture, filled with spry, able-hipped individuals, there's nothing wrong with picking up as many coins that consent to fitting in your pocket. What that extended, and arguably contrived, metaphor means is that, even when physical intimacy doesn't cost you anything, you still may want to hold off in revealing everything about yourself (physically and emotionally) to them too soon. Give the other person something to look forward to. 

5. Remember, no matter what, the show must go on.

Sometimes, dating can feel like one never-ending stand-up routine where the spotlight's too bright, the audience is too dark, your throat's too dry and you left your water bottle back stage. So it's OK to drop the mic — and the ball — on your love life. Heck, if you're now convinced by the Lynn Ruther Miller Approach to Love, Comedy, and Old Men's Ailments, it's encouraged. That's when your actual life takes center stage. 

Miller hasn't dated since her second husband and hasn't missed it. "I meet people. They're friends," she explains. "Those are the kinds of dates I have. It's a lot nicer and a lot more comfortable because I never have to try to impress anyone. I never have to try to be exciting or romantic, because I'm not, I'm just who I am." That being said, "If friends develop into something more," Miller adds. "That's fine." 

Still, she's not counting on it. And she certainly doesn't live her life waiting around for somebody. Nor does Miller believe should anyone else. "As soon as you feel sorry for yourself, put on your coat and get the hell out," she concludes. "Go to a movie. Go to your friend's house. Go to a coffee shop." She encourages people to do whatever they can to connect with others on a non-romantic level because those are the relationships that will most often endure. "We think we need someone to say, 'I love you forever,'" Miller says. "No, you don't. You just need someone to talk to who's listening. That's what you need — someone who cares." Maybe even someone like her. 

Courtesy of Lynn Ruth Miller


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