Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Twenty-third Chance

Date Connection:

A member of the choir I sing in told his son about my project when I was about halfway through and I needed more dates. He texted me and said his son would be willing to participate!

Date Location:

My house

What I Learned:

I was comfortable inviting him over for dinner because I know his dad. When he arrived, I instantly liked his personality.  He is a quiet guy, which I've always found appealing (maybe because opposites attract...?). He was so polite and kind during our date, making sure to thank me for things I did throughout the evening.  This is such an attractive quality in a man.  He listened to everything I said with a smile on his face as though he thought something was funny.  I asked why he was laughing once, and he said he wasn't- just processing.  He is the first person I've met who processes with a smile! I think we all should do that. At my request, he brought his guitar and played. He began with a cover of a Bob Dylan song that had a folk-rock-blues vibe (is that a genre? Ha ha ha). When he sang, it surprised me because his singing voice is full and strong while his speaking voice is gentle and quiet.  We played around on our guitars and sang some duets. Then, he humored me and learned a couple musical theater duets. I was so impressed with his willingness. He comes from a very musical family, and it showed. He picked up the melodies and harmonies easily and it was so fun to match each others' voices in power and intensity. 

My twenty-third chance taught me that saying simple, sincere thank you's throughout a date makes a very positive impact on the other person.  I want to make more of an effort now to recognize the sacrifices someone I date makes and be sure to express my gratitude. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Twenty-second Chance

Date Connection: 

We met on Mutual around the time I began my dating quest.

Date Location:

Scheels

What I Learned:  

If you had told me going to a sporting goods store would be a fun date idea, I would have said you were nuts! Especially for someone like me who isn't the most well versed in many outdoor activities.  Browsing through that enormous store was entertaining and made me realize all the things I need to  buy for my outdoor needs, like a frisbee, cute workout clothes, camo crocs, a sled, etc.  I actually did leave there with a pair of boots that were a screaming deal! It's interesting how and activity like this one allows you to really get to know things about someone without even asking them questions. For example, I learned that he is very practical, which fondly reminded me of my father.  I learned that he loves guns, but doesn't like to hunt (which makes sense for a veterinarian!).  I learned he's always wanted to buy a pair of snow skis.  As we walked and talked, his voice was very calm and soothing. He was extremely laid back.  I could easily imagine how he must talk to animals when he treats them.

My 22nd chance at dating taught me that even on a first date, really getting to know is only partly discovered by sitting down and talking back and forth about the usual topics.  What can be even more telling are the tone of someone's voice, seeing his reaction to things, watching him interact with other people, etc. And that's a really fun journey of discovery!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Twenty-first Chance

Date Connection:

We met online months before I started the experiment and went on one date. We had a lot of fun chatting and talked a few times about getting together again, but never made it happen.  I decided to reach out and tell him a little about what I was doing and see if another date would still interest him and he said yes!

Date Location:

Keva Juice in Bountiful (so good!)

What I Learned:

He is a really kind man with a quiet sense of humor that makes him fun to be around.  We have a lot in common and conversation flows easily when we are together.  One of my favorite things about him is that he inherited a pet bunny a couple years ago who behaves more like a dog or a cat and he loves his rabbit so much! I love hearing bunny stories. Another thing I really like about him is his curiosity.  While walking back to our cars, we passed by a very narrow alleyway between buildings.  He was so intrigued and excited.  He zipped inside to try to climb the walls, but the space was a bit too narrow. It was fun to watch him be so spontaneous and playful.

One thing I appreciated a lot about him is he was complimentary in a sweet, sincere way that wasn't contrived.  For example, he told me he liked my "power boots."  He also mentioned a couple times in subtle ways that I looked nice. This especially impacted me because I came to the date after running around all day and felt frazzled.  I didn't have time to fix my hair or do my makeup and I was a half hour late.  He was so gracious about all of those things and made me feel comfortable with who I am.

During my twenty-first chance, I learned the power of kind words.  My friend Erin works a lot with LDS matchmaking and one thing she always says is that people should approach a date with the number one priority of making the other person feel good and have a positive experience. If both people do that, it's bound to be a positive experience.  He definitely met his end of the bargain during our date, and he probably didn't even realize he was doing it!

Twentieth Chance

Date Connection:

He and I met online three years ago.  It was a bit of an atypical dating situation because he is British and lives in England.  We had lots of fun conversations about dating for quite awhile via Facebook messenger.  We even joked about co-writing a blog about dating from the perspective of an American girl and a British guy.  Our conversations amused one another for a year or so; we lost touch when he started dating someone in the UK.  We were still friends on social media, however, and my dating challenge piqued his interest.  He volunteered to be part of it.

Date Location:

Facebook video chat between SLC, Utah and ENGLAND!

What I Learned:

He sent me a message on Facebook at about 6:45 in the morning and asked if I was awake to have our "date."  I got the message at 7:10 a.m. and was looking like I just rolled out of bed.  Because I had.  But I thought, "YOLO."  (He's probably reading this right now and wondering what on earth YOLO means.) I was actually quite excited to video chat with him for the first time after our many Facebook messenger conversations two years ago across the sea.

Talking to him was an absolute delight.  He has a no-nonsense, straight forward personality that is positively endearing (and sometimes aggravating).  He is intelligent and handsome.  He has a gorgeous British accent. He really has it all going for him...except for living on another continent.  He asked what would happen if a British man showed up in a midsingle ward in Salt Lake City.  The size of our singles wards is a really difficult concept for him to wrap his head around.  I told him the women would be flocking.  I think he likes the sound of that.  He has a good heart and wants to do good things in life.  I wish very much for him to be happy and find someone who deserves him because I think he'll make a great husband and father, even if it has to be with a British lady in his neck of the woods ;-). But if he's ever in the states, he knows under penalty of the wrath of a woman that he better call me up!

During my twentieth chance at this dating challenge, I learned that my name is ten times cooler when spoken in an authentic British accent.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nineteenth Chance

Date Connection:

About a year ago, my former college roommate Lisa set the two of us up on a date and we had a fun time. We stayed friends on Facebook and Instagram.  I decided to reach out and see if he wanted to go on another date.

Date Location:

Dave and Buster's at the Gateway Mall

What I Learned:

First of all, what a cool place for a date!  Dave and Buster's is an enormous arcade and restaurant.  We hit so many of my favorite kinds of arcade games- car racing, air hockey, shooting hoops, etc.  It is so fun to add a little friendly competition in to a date.  It allows for some teasing and flirting!  We even had a Jurassic World virtual reality experience. SO AMAZING how technology has evolved! One thing I really appreciate about him is he is genuinely kind. I value that a lot in people, and it's definitely something I look for when dating.  He also has a really great attitude.  Life has dealt him some tough cards, and he has chosen to create a happy life for himself and his daughter. It's clear he is an attentive and loving father.   He has a fun-loving spirit and knows how to enjoy the little things.

My nineteenth dating opportunity taught me that playfulness on a date is really important.  Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to learn a lot about someone that I forget to just have fun.  You can learn a lot about someone THROUGH having fun together!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Eighteenth Chance

Date Connection:

This is a funny story! A girl in my midsingles ward sent me a message on FB when she saw my dating challenge and said this guy was awesome and I should go out with him. I told her that I actually knew him and we were friends! Later, I was telling him the story and he said, "I'll be one of your dates!"

Date Location:

My house

What I Learned:

He came up with the idea of watching Legacy, a throwback from our youth. I made dinner and we ate while we watched. Legacy is a church movie about the early pioneers who came west for religious freedom in the mid 1800's. The movie came out in 1990, almost 20 years ago! It was so familiar to both of us.  We had a lot of fun reminiscing along the way (and I counted FOUR times they kissed! I didn't remember it being so many!).  One thing I really like about him is he is insightful and also funny.  All of his comments were interesting and/or fun.  One thing he shared was something a professor taught him in grad school. He said when you charge money for something, you need to make the quality of it four times the value of the money you ask for it.  People don't want to part with their hard earned money unless they know it will be absolutely worth it.  He also told me a funny story about someone he knew from his EFY counselor days named Dwight who sang "Choose D-Wight" to the tune of, "Choose the Right" to a girl when she was trying to decide between him and another guy.  A fellow choral director, he is passionate about his craft and I've always admired that about him.  He is a solid, genuine, kind man who I'm lucky to know.

My eighteenth chance taught me to go on dates with people you're friends with already instead of just "hanging out."  Guaranteed there are many things you don't know about them and a date setting makes it easier to learn about each other and be a little more vulnerable.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Seventeenth Chance

Date Connection:

We met 6 years ago when we were in the same cast of a musical. We went on one date back then! We are dear friends and there is not any romance between us, but we love each other!

Date Location:

The Mandarin in Bountiful

What I Learned:

He and I have two gal friends from the same musical cast.  The three of us ladies played wives and my date was one of the brothers in Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  We all stayed good friends over the past 6 years. The girls like to celebrate our September birthdays together (which happen to be within 5 days of each other!). One of the girls is married and the other has a boyfriend. They brought their significant others to our celebration dinner, so I decided to bring our friend as my date!

What a refreshing, wonderful thing to be with someone who likes me just exactly as I am.  He has no expectations of me beyond what I have to give. Who I am is enough. We enjoy being around each other and can laugh, be honest, be serious, be silly, and be silent. We spent the entire car ride home singing the Wicked soundtrack at the top of our lungs.  I was hitting wrong notes all over the place. We both didn't know lots of the words. But neither of us cared.  We were having a blast being together and doing something we both love.  I think that must be what a good marriage feels like.  Obviously there are really good times and really bad times; but, overall, I imagine husbands and wives who are happily married enjoy each others' company and experience a range of emotions together without feeling threatened.  I could be totally wrong, but I hope I'm right.

My seventeenth chance at learning about dating taught me that I want to be friends first and foremost with the person I marry.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

1 Month of Chances

It has been almost exactly a month since I woke up at 5:30 in the morning with a crazy idea to go on 35 dates for my 35th birthday. I have 2 months left to complete my challenge and I’ve gone on 16 dates. It has been exciting and fun- definitely the adventure I was seeking! I love getting to know new people. I’ve had so many positive, uplifting experiences and heard so many fascinating stories.

But let’s do real talk for a minute.

It has brought with it other more complex emotions, too. I didn’t realize how emotionally taxing it is to re-introduce oneself so many times to new people.  When two people go on a second or third date, they know the basics already and presumably want to go out again. They can focus more on having fun. The dates I’ve set up are dates that provide ample opportunity to talk and get to know one another. This is awesome, but it’s hard, too! I long for someone to know me deeper than just surface level, but first dates aren’t the time for that.

Also, being vulnerable and putting myself out there isn’t as easy as I imagined it would be, and not just to the men I ask to be my dates. It’s hard to put myself out there to friends and family, too, because I know how easy it is to judge someone’s motives. I know because I would probably judge it myself.  If I was watching someone else do this experiment, I would question why they chose to do it so publicly.

For me, the reason I chose to do it this way was two fold::

1) I love entertaining people through storytelling.
2) I needed help finding dates! And you never know who might know someone who is a good match. 

Now, 16 dates in, I have kind of plateaued. I have one more scheduled, but I honestly don’t know how I’ll get the 18 more I need over the next two months!   I think I may ask some people in my enormous ward. But it’s a lot more scary to ask people I actually interact with, and it seems a little insulting to ask someone I know to be one of 35 dates- like I’m just checking them off a list to get my quota. That’s not how I intend it at all, but if the role was reversed, I might feel the same way.. It’s a lot less intimidating and more like a game when neither of us know each other and can go in to it without any expectations aside from just having a nice time chatting. And if something clicks, great! If not, no harm no foul. 

Needless to say, I’m learning a lot about myself and about dating through this process, which was kind of the whole point. And in order to finish this, I may have to push myself in ways I never thought when starting this project. Though we live in a a progressive society, women  asking men out is still seen as taboo to many. I have to decide if I’m willing to take that risk of being seen as “too forward” over and over again in order to meet my goal.  Am I willing to risk rejection 18 times? Am I willing to face the feelings of fear and vulnerability associated with this new twist to the project? 

I don’t know the answer, but I know that  if I really want to do this, I can make it happen somehow. It’s just a matter of deciding how much I want to see his through and if I want to do what it takes and put myself out there even more than before.

 I’ll continue to happily welcome any setups if anyone has someone they think might have fun taking a chance and going on an unconventional blind date! ❤️