Title: Donna's Top 10 Lessons for Getting and Keeping a Mate

Rating: T

Author: tkel_paris

Summary: The school of hard knocks has given Donna invaluable advice to give to anyone – though ladies and girls especially should take careful notes.

Disclaimer: No one that awesome should have had to settle for anything. Therefore, I own nothing.

Dedication: tardis-mole. I believe this one started as a joke between us, and I decided to use it.

Author's Note: There's a story in here somewhere. Try to follow the plot-line – whatever comes out. Told completely tongue-in-cheek. Oh, and Journey's End never happened. This is very much an alternate universe story. With plenty of appearances by all sorts of characters.

Donna's Top 10 Lessons for Getting and Keeping a Mate

Started May 30, 2012

Finished June 4, 2012

Oi! Are you in the right room? Yes? Good!

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen – and all the rest who don't fit cleanly into either of those terms. I hope this little session will be helpful to you.

I know, I might seem a bit of an odd choice to talk about getting and keeping a mate. Believe me, it took long enough to happen, but I did make a load of mistakes. What I'm here for is to help you avoid them. Got it?

Good. Let's begin.

Some of these are more along the lines of dos and don'ts, but I think it best to start with some items that are more on the personal side. Things that are part of yourself, and how you think about the world around you.

Lesson 1: What you want may not be what your family, friends, and everyone around you want for you. You need to know what you want, and seek it out.

Believe me, I know this one well. It's hard to have a mother with extremely high expectations who also tends to nag – a lot. Mine finds it very easy to criticize, and I'm not sure when the last time she praised me was. Oh, yes, Martha, this little bump in my abdomen was of course praised, but I mean before that. She certainly didn't praise me when I married this kid's father.

Yes, do laugh at how Spaceman over there is squirming. Thought he was going to turn into the Oncoming Storm on her. The right time would've been the day we met. You do know that, right, Doctor?

Anyway. This goes not just for your relationships. This is for everything in life – career, lifestyle, habits, anything and everything. My view? If it don't hurt anyone else, then it's no one else's business. Whether it hurts you is another thing, but that's not for here.

My best example is choosing to travel with the Doctor. Yeah, I didn't tell her who he really was, and I never told my family what really happened Christmas 2006 until after my marriage, so some of that might be my fault. But I can't help that I hated being in one place for a long time. Professionally, not personally. Home is wherever those you love are – not a specific place itself.

Lesson 2: Respect others and their feelings, beliefs, and problems.

Yes, Rose Tyler, I'm talking to you! And you to a lesser extent, River Snog! And yes, I do mean snog! Are you afraid that no one would find you attractive without that hallucinogenic lipstick? Wait, don't answer that – it'll take me longer to finish the lecture.

Oh, and thank you, Jack. Your flirting skills do come in handy sometimes in calming others down.

And shut the pouting, Rose! Use it on someone who'd care!

Anyway, ignore that interruption. The point is that the world is better off when we find ways to care about others. If nothing else, know that you have no way of knowing how someone else's life is going. Your concerns may be completely different from theirs – not to mention everything else. And your species – whatever it is – isn't the only one out there, so you can't judge others based on your own peoples' standards. Or your own personal standards.

Yeah, you can know that you consider some things offensive. So stay away from those who bother you. It's just that simple sometimes. And if it isn't don't mean you can't change your life a bit. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

Lesson 3: Live your own life by making your dreams happen. Don't settle for another's life.

On that same token, don't try to steal another's life. It's disrespectful, selfish, and rude. You don't go seeking a meal ticket to avoid responsibilities.

And again, everyone, do ignore that pouting and crying fit in the corner. Jack?

Thank you.

This one I didn't realize the power of until after I let the Doctor leave that Christmas. I'd been settling for whatever came my way. I wasn't making my own opportunities. In investigating anything that seemed weird, I began that journey. And I haven't looked back since. You have no idea how empowering it is when you set on a path, having planned things out, and things start working for you.

Lesson 4: If someone needs a reprimand, give it!

Sometimes this means a slap, although words make a bigger impression. Physical wounds you can heal from more readily than words.

Sorry, Jack. Here's a quick hug. You've earned it.

Well, no attempts to flirt? Guess it is true: Boe-Kind really don't go for those already taken. Oh, put a sock on that grin!

I know some of you don't believe in hitting. I respect that. Despite what you might have heard, I'm not a slap-happy person. These need to be used sparingly or they lose their effectiveness. It's a last resort. Got that?

Now, we need to know when we've done something wrong. So do your friends. So does your mate – lover or not. Never hesitate to let someone know they messed up and maybe even hurt you.

That said, there is a qualification to this rule. And this is...

Lesson 5: Kind words go much further than negative ones.

Have you ever noticed that little kids and your pets don't seem to hear the word "no"? They just hear the rest of it? Well, we all work that way a bit, even as adults. Teenagers might be the worst at this – they have enough mental functioning to think they know everything but sometimes act no better than toddlers who don't know to not run into the street after a ball.

Ah, thank you, Amy Pond! I knew gingers would stick together to handle things! Oh, I recognize that look. You've seen some of yourself in what I've said. Well, to quote a great Shakespeare play, "we are all mortal."

There's a smile! Oi! Now I see why people keep mistaking us for mother and daughter. Oh, dear!

Anyway, phrasing things in a polite, kind – sometimes loving, depending on who you're talking with – way goes so much further than you might think. Take the Doctor. Gently pointing out what I saw as rude behavior and wrong ways of thinking made a huge impression on him. Why do you think he's learned to never again wonder "what could go wrong"?

Yes, Rose, he deserves that laughter he's getting right now. He is a great big outer space dunce. Genius as he is, he lacks all common sense. Especially, it seems, when he's going on about certain things.

Thank you, River, for that point. That's not being smug, Rose. That's noting the truth about him when he's around me.

Moving on!

Lesson 6: Don't dwell on your own shortcomings – it just brings you both down.

I didn't know this, but what you say about yourself can draw people in or away. If you think you're just some particular little thing, then others will think that about you. It pushes people away.

Right or wrong, confidence and happiness attracts. A good smile might work for a while, but if you're not comfortable with yourself it'll show up. In your words, your posture, actions, anything and everything.

I mean, you should be aware of your weaknesses, but make sure they're real. And then look for help to get around them or support in dealing with them.

Besides, it pays to focus on your strengths. Speaking of which...

Lesson 7: Use your strengths to shore up your mate or mates. Especially mates whose skills and strengths compliment yours.

The Doctor and I are a perfect example of this one. He sees the big picture, the threats that exist. I see the small details that often provide the clues about what's really happening and what the solution might be. He has book genius. I have people genius. He knows how to sneak into places. I know my way around an office blindfolded.

You benefit from being with those who support your strengths, and whose strengths help make up for your own weaknesses. Sound good? Right! Next topic!

Lesson 8: Never let desperation overtake you. You'll end up with someone who doesn't love you.

You're probably not going to find yourself potential food for a giant spider, like I nearly was. Still. This goes into the pressure women face even after all the advances and strides we've made.

See Sarah Jane nodding her head and grimacing? Even career women like her feel the sting of this sometimes. Society sometimes isn't geared toward truly supporting certain members. We obviously have a ways to go on this one on Earth.

See Jack flinching? He knows of a lot of people who've endured this. In more ways than a lot of you could imagine. I bet things are a lot different in the 51st Century, aren't they?

Ah, yes, River. You'd know, wouldn't you?

My best advice? If you do feel desperation, seek a way to find out what you're really afraid of and then confront that. Get that fear dealt with, or out in the open, and it doesn't have as much of a hold on you. You could see a time when it doesn't hold you back. And that sounds fantastic, don't it?

Lesson 9: Know what you want to attract in life, and focus on that.

Brainstorm by yourself, find people also seeking to better their lives, and just do even little things! Read a book, try a new job, learn a new skill, join a club – the options are only as limited as your imagination. Of course, this does mean a bit of self-exploration and self-honesty. Some people just aren't willing to see that they have room to grow and change.

And sometimes what we want isn't going to come until we shake up our lives. Sometimes drastically. It's certainly what I had to do. Some of you might not need to go that far. But we do need challenges in order to grow. And grow we must – the world is always changing around us, and we must adapt.

And last, but not least...

Lesson 10: Don't make assumptions about what you are and aren't attracted to. You can still be surprised, so try to keep an open mind about who your mates might be.

Believe me, I wasn't kidding when I said the Doctor was skinny. I seriously thought that if you hugged him too tight you would get a paper cut! You could've knocked me over with a feather the day I realized that I liked him that way!

Seriously, I always went for men that were more heavily built. They didn't have a jumble of features that shouldn't be attractive together and yet somehow were.

So how'd it happen? Well, it was number of things that piled together. First was he became my best mate ever. Just by listening to me so I didn't feel like I needed to shout. Second was he supported me in doing important things – to the universe and to me. It was just the greatest feeling. Third was how I soon felt safe with him, trusted in him to do anything to protect me, and let him have the faith that I'd do the same in return. That said, I didn't abuse that trust or that faith.

That was enough to fall in love with him. The physical side came by chance...when I accidentally discovered why he really wears suits that make him look extra skinny. He wouldn't be able to leave his ship if others knew what he really looks like.

Nope! Not going to tell. So you can let that flush fade, Sunshine!

Anyway! Yeah, that's a lot of material. But ten simple lessons are easy enough to remember. We humans love top ten lists. My American friends have talked about comedians that use them in their acts. They can be funny, they can be bonkers, or they can be helpful. It all depends.

Now, this class is dismissed. Time for the next teacher to come forward. And I dearly want to hear what my husband has to say to the blokes and others in his lesson.

Doctor? The floor is yours.

Oh, yes! Everyone, do embarrass him with the applause!