‘Grandma Gail,’ TikTok’s 80-year-old dating guru, says there’s no such thing as the perfect partner (2024)

They say mother knows best. But in the case of the "Excuse My Grandma" podcast, grandma is the keeper of wisdom.

When New Yorker Kim Murstein, 27, went to live with her “Grandma Gail” in Palm Beach, Florida, three years ago during the pandemic, she continued dating just like she had in the Big Apple. And Gail Rudnick, 80, got a front-row seat to the action.

The pair had talked about dating prior to sharing a home, but it was different to actually be experiencing it in real time together, Rudnick tells TODAY.com.

“We were under the same roof and basically I was seeing what was going on, the actual dating scenario, not just from a distance,” the mother of two and grandmother of four says.

‘Grandma Gail,’ TikTok’s 80-year-old dating guru, says there’s no such thing as the perfect partner (1)

With this very close proximity, the duo quickly discovered that they had very different dating standards. They disagreed on things like whether the date should pick you up at the front door (Rudnick says yes, and Murstein no), and what to wear on a first date.

It makes sense: The women grew up in different generations with different dating rules. Rudnick and her husband tied the knot when she was 21 years old, so she’s been out of the dating pool for 60 years.

“It’s a very different kind of dating situation than it was in the 50s and the 60s,” Rudnick says.

Their lively banter sparked an idea for Murstein. She suggested to Rudnick that they should start a podcast together. And so, in January 2021, they launched “Excuse My Grandma,” a name that Murstein tells TODAY.com is perfectly fitting.

“My grandma is very outspoken, she says it how it is, she doesn’t hold anything back,” she says. "And I do find myself sometimes saying, ‘Oh, excuse my grandma, she doesn’t know.’ But she really does know everything.”

“Not everything, but 90 percent of the things,” Rudnick quips.

From podcast success to TikTok fame

Murstein says “Excuse My Grandma” works because it speaks to multiple generations.

The show allows her grandmother’s contemporaries to get a glimpse of what is going on in their kids’ and grandkids’ lives, while her generation can hear the advice and wisdom from Rudnick that she has been benefiting from her whole life.

The duo has released a podcast episode every Thursday, where they cover dating topics, answer listener questions, run through some news headlines and suggest a 1950s movie to watch.

They've since created a Tiktok account, @excusemygrandma, documenting their daily dalliances in Palm Beach or New York City, where they currently split their time.

On the account, which now has over 400,000 followers, the two post quotable, memorable rules, like “Don’t ask your partner to change, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “Don’t chase a guy unless you need to get those steps in.” (Read on for a full list of Grandma Gail’s rules.)

Murstein, who has a background in entertainment as a producer and reporter, says she’s not surprised followers are finding the pair entertaining.

“I’m not even showing the half of it,” she says. “If you came to family dinner with us, you’d be like, 'This should be on television.'”

Gen Z may need to take a page out of Grandma Gail’s rulebook

Rudnick, albeit biased, thinks Gen Z and millennials could take a page or two out of her rulebook.

“I must honestly say I think they could learn something from the older generation,” she says.

“I must honestly say I think they could learn something from the older generation."

Gail Rudnick

Rudnick says she's noticed the younger generation is hasty when it comes to deciding on a date.

“They’ll say after one or two dates, ‘That’s enough for me,’” she says.

Rudnick doesn’t think it’s possible to get to know someone if your first date lasts half an hour in a bar. She’s not a big fan of that environment, either.

“I would never have accepted that. I would not have gone on a date if someone said, ‘Let’s have a drink someplace.’ That was just not in the format of dating in those days,” she says.

And while the duo tends to be in sync with their advice on dating, there are definitely topics they differ on.

Rudnick, who met her husband on a blind date, is a big proponent of a “family fix-up.” She believes it’s a good way to meet someone because you know the people who introduced you. “I like to have confirmation from my inner circle that this is a good fit,” she says.

For Murstein, this idea is unappealing. Instead, she tends to pick out dates for herself on dating apps. “I trust my own gut,” she says.

The duo has contrasting “types” when it comes to finding their person, too.

Murstein describes herself as a “total daydreamer.”

“I want the banter, the deep conversations, the fireworks. I want to be your therapist, and vice versa,” she says.

She says her grandmother, on the other hand, is “super logical.” “She always says, 'Slow and steady like a turtle,'” Murstein says. “She likes a really reliable, nice guy who is like a slow burn.”

Rudnick says that your partner doesn’t have to be complete perfection. She thinks every young person today watches Hallmark movies and sees an unrealistic romance unfold. At some point, she says you just have to say, “This is the one,."

“You make a commitment and a desire to be with somebody because you have common values and you see your future together going forward,” she says. “Perfection is in a book, on the big screen. It’s not reality because there’s no one that’s perfect.”

Grandma Gail is her granddaughter’s wing woman, kind of

Rudnick shares dating advice for the masses — and gives input into her granddaughter's love life. After Mustein goes on a date, the grandmother and granddaughter duo always debrief.

“It’s like a sports recap, we’ll do the highlight reel,” Murstein says. “But not always the play-by-play if it’s not exciting.”

“Even if it’s exciting, I don’t want her to do a play-by-play,” Rudnick laughs.

Rudnick says she has, in fact, met several of Murstein’s dates. While she notes they are “all very nice young men,” there were certainly some she preferred over others.

“It’s not about the people,” Murstein says. “I hope I have a good judge of character. Everyone I go out with is lovely and I think she would agree. It’s all about the connection with that person if they’re going to be a good fit for you in the end or not.”

Lately, Rudnick has been helping Murstein out with her conversations on dating apps in a new TikTok series. “She’ll be like, ‘Oh, that sounds like a lovely evening,’” Murstein laughs, recapping grandmother’s suggested responses. “And like I would not say that to someone on a dating app or a text.”

Generally, Murstein says her grandmother approves of her dating matches, “but it’s obviously a mixed bag.”

“I don’t know if she would pick the same people as I would, but I think that anyone on a whole that I have invested my time in, she’s been on the same page as me,” Murstein says.

As for what kind of guy would get Grandma Gail’s stamp of approval for her granddaughter? Rudnick says they have to share values.

“They have to come from similar thought processes. If they both enjoy each other’s company and on a text he’s respectful and is interested in her and she, therefore, texts back and is interested in him, it can’t be a one-way conversation.”

‘Grandma Gail,’ TikTok’s 80-year-old dating guru, says there’s no such thing as the perfect partner (2)

Grandma Gail is everyone’s grandma

In a fast-paced digital dating world, Rudnick’s old school ideals and no-nonsense approach are attracting a broad fan base of all genders and ages.

The duo is recognized — on a daily basis, Murstein says — everywhere from Palm Beach and New York City all the way to Milan, Italy and Paris, France. Rudnick says when she was in Europe, two women came up to her and asked for her “Grandma Gail” opinion on their clothing. (Rudnick is known to give her two cents on Murstein’s outfits on their TikTok account).

“For some reason, I’ve become the judge for everybody’s wardrobe,” Rudnick laughs. “We make a joke out of it and we’re having fun doing it, but it’s basically around Kim.”

But Murstein says not so fast. “Sometimes we’re shopping and you’ll peek your head into someone else’s dressing room,” she laughs. “It’s not really just me.”

Kidding aside, Murstein says the best part of being stopped in public is hearing stories from her peers about how it resonates with them.

“My favorite thing that I probably get from people more in my age demographic and a bit older is, ‘It reminds me so much of my relationship with my grandma who’s either still their best friend, not around anymore, going through something.’

“It’s very nostalgic and relatable to people and that’s exactly why we’re doing this.”

“It’s very nostalgic and relatable to people and that’s exactly why we’re doing this.”

Kim Murstein

And while Rudnick is dishing out her advice left and right, she says you don’t need to agree with it. She just wants people to be respectful of it.

“I don’t have anything to gain from giving the advice and I don’t expect everyone to listen to my advice,” she says. “I expect my granddaughter and my other grandchildren to listen to me because it’s coming from the heart.”

Grandma Gail’s ongoing list of rules

  • Don’t text him first, you’re being a pest.
  • Meet them for dinner. Unless you’re winning a Nobel peace prize or running a public company, you’re not too busy.
  • The key to long lasting friendships is having the same taste in alcohol and different taste in men.
  • Don’t be afraid to eat dinner or see a movie by yourself, actually I prefer it.
  • Don’t chase a guy unless you need to get those steps in.
  • Don’t think of it like he ghosted you. You’re just so out of his league you left him speechless.
  • Only have one drink on a date otherwise you’ll forget whether you like him or you’re just fun.
  • If he likes or follows other girls on TikTok, block him.
  • It’s cold so always layer up, a margarita can’t be your jacket anymore.
  • You’re only too much fun for someone who isn’t enough for you.
  • When a guy likes you, you know it and when they don’t you feel confused.
  • You can’t make people treat you well. But you can make them wish they had.
  • You marry the person who’s in front of you at the right time, it’s not about being “the one.”
  • Don’t make a man tell you twice he doesn’t want you.
  • Settle down already. Your grandparents don’t want to walk you down the aisle in a walker.
  • If you weren’t wowed last night on Valentine’s Day, you have 364 days to go find a new valentine.
  • Keep your eggs in multiple baskets until he’s ready to commit to you.
  • You’ll never meet someone at a bar at 2 a.m. Go home.
  • If a guy doesn’t want to go out again, just think of all the outfits you didn’t waste on him.
  • Don’t ask your partner to change. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • As you age, you'll make a lot of mistakes. Just don't date them.

Ryan Hudgins

Ryan Hudgins is an editorial intern atTODAY.com. She is currently pursuing a major in Journalism at the University of Richmond. In her free time, Ryan enjoys reading, running, hiking and surfing.

‘Grandma Gail,’ TikTok’s 80-year-old dating guru, says there’s no such thing as the perfect partner (2024)
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