Sunday, November 11, 2018

Second Chances

This dating challenge was a crazy journey- one I don't plan to repeat- but one I'm so glad I took.  In case anyone just tuned in, I made a goal on August 10th, 2018 to complete 35 dates in 3 months in honor of my 35th birthday (September 10th). I finished yesterday on November 10th.  

Stats: Where did they come from?

Because the numbers interest me, here are some facts about my 35 dates:

  • I went on 35 dates with 33 different men (2 dates were second dates)
  • 1 of my 35 dates was maybe a little fake (unless going to Josh Groban's concert and listening to him sing to me for date #28 really DOES count as going on a date WITH Josh Groban)
  • 9 of my 35 dates were setups
    • 1 was set up by a former roommate
    • 3 were set up by friends from the Tab CATS ;-)
    • 1 was set up by a childhood friend
    • 1 was set up by a friend from my mid-single ward
    • 1 was set up by a former student
    • 1 was set up by a student's mom
    • 1 was set up by date #29
  • Another 9 of my 35 dates came from Mutual, a religious version of Tinder
  • 9 of my dates were men I already knew
  • 2 of my dates were people I met in person at different functions during the challenge and I asked them to be one of my dates
  • 3 of my dates were men I didn't know who contacted me when they heard I was doing a dating challenge
  • 9 of the dates were phone dates (8 video chat, one a regular phone call)
Stats: About Them 
  • About 14 of my dates were younger than me; about 19 of my dates were older than me (I'm not 100% sure on a couple of them)
  • About 21 of my dates, like me, have never been married before
  • 9 of my dates have children
  • 3 prospective dates (all set-ups) canceled after scheduling a date and never rescheduled
Overall Dating Impressions Post-Challenge:
  • Going on first dates back to back to back is emotionally exhausting. It's hard to re-introduce yourself over and over again.  I found myself toward the beginning longing to go out with someone who knew me deeper than surface level.  
  • I think feeling romantic chemistry on a first date is a pretty rare thing.  Of the 33 men I went out with, I felt romantically attracted to 3 or 4 (not including Josh Groban- obviously I love him truly, madly, deeply).  That's not to say that chemistry couldn't evolve, because it absolutely could. But first impression chemistry is unique.  I think many people are looking for the instant chemistry and neglect to pursue someone further if it isn't there on a first meeting. I think we are all guilty of that.  But consider all the times that someone becomes more attractive over time.  I think a productive experiment for someone else (ha ha) would be to go on 35 second dates.  My guess is that the results would be surprising. Also, the instant chemistry is such a small part of whether or not a relationship will ultimately work out.  I met people with whom I felt chemistry, but there were other things- big things- that made pursuing the interest very difficult, regardless of the initial attraction.  
  • So many people out there have connections to singles in my age bracket- all it took was letting people know I was interested in being set up.  
  • Setting up a short, inexpensive date for a first date is a good way to go- it makes both parties feel more relaxed and willing to meet if they know it's not a big time or emotional commitment.
  • When I forced myself to go on lots of simple, low stress dates, it was easier to worry less about the little things- if every single hair on my head was perfectly in place, for example, or if I had on a full face of makeup.  I was probably more authentic as a result.
  • There are a lot of good men out there.  Just because they aren't all good for me doesn't mean good men don't exist.  I think people-myself included- just need to get out there and date more to find one another.
What I Learned About Me:

I didn't realize how closely and tightly I am guarding my heart. First dates are easy; the thought of pursuing things beyond that terrifies me.  The possibility of getting rejected or hurt is something I can't live with, so I seek to create my own certainty.  Telling myself that a relationship with someone I'm interested in would never work out in the long run is so much easier for me than putting myself out there any further than a first date.  I think that's pretty normal for someone who has been in the dating scene for 20 years and experienced a lot of disappointment.  But fixing it needs to become a new priority.  

A Religious Perspective:

I set this goal 3 months ago. My goal wasn't to necessarily find my future husband, but it was to put myself out there and learn more about myself and about dating.  I also wanted to give my friends and family something fun to follow.  I was very diligent. October was a slow month, but I put a lot of effort in to making this happen.  The last week or two, I had no idea where my final 7-8 dates were going to come from.  It was CRAZY how opportunities presented themselves out of the blue, one after the other. I really feel like God knows me and is aware of me and my goals.  He knew it was important to me to meet this goal for myself.  As crazy as it may sound, I believe he helped me reach my goal of 35 dates in 3 months.  I feel proud of myself for not giving up, even though I kind of wanted to. It gives me hope that I can reach other goals (like maybe my fitness goals..?), especially with divine help.

In Conclusion:

My friend encouraged me to add a concluding "Doogie Howser, M.D." type of moral lesson at the end of this post.  Since I'm WAYYYYY too young to know what on earth he's talking about, I'll try to draw my own conclusion as to what that means ;-).

This experience taught me to view dating as something way less complicated than I originally thought it was.  Relationships are complicated; dating shouldn't be.  I learned that everyone has a story to share.  All my dates had talents and interests that made them unique.  That was one of my favorite parts of this experience- I loved learning about so many different passions and hobbies- home remodeling, baseball, cars, architecture, and much more.

Throughout the 3 month challenge, I forced myself to take lots of chances with less apology. That was huge for me. So the next phase of my life begins a chapter of second chances.  My goal is to date with more confidence and less worrying. I want to take more risks.  This is my second chance at the dating scene and my vision is clearer now.

P.S. Guess what?

I just got a text from someone offering to be one of my dates next week. A girl in my ward gave him my number.  He probably doesn't know the dating challenge is over, but maybe I won't tell him ;-).  If I've learned anything from this dating challenge, it's "Why the heck not?" 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thirty-Fifth Chance

Date Connection:

Date 35 was supposed to be a set-up by one of my friends from college.  She lives out of state and connected me with a guy in the music community there (who happens to be extremely attractive). He and I planned to talk on the phone between showings of my school musical around 4 p.m.  He called me at 3:55 p.m. and I couldn't answer because we were finishing up with the musical.  I called back at 4:13 p.m. and he didn't answer (and still hasn't, 2 hours later).  Today is the last day of my challenge and our next show starts in an hour, so my friend and co-worker offered to be my final date between shows.  We were already going to dinner anyway, so it worked beautifully.  So what if we both like men and he has a committed partner ;-).

Date Location:

The Habit in Sugarhouse

What I Learned:  

This is the 4th year we've worked in adjoining classrooms and I learned something brand new about him today.  Apparently, he used to love cars as a little kid and can identify a car's make and model instantly.  That is a gift I do not possess.  I also learned he makes a goal every summer to read one book that will help him become a better teacher.  That explains a lot- he has done amazing things in 4 short years of teaching out of college.

My thirty-fifth chance at this dating challenge reconfirmed to me that if I never get married, I will be okay.  I was blessed with the most incredible support system in my family, co-workers, and friends.  I am surrounded by people who love me- the true, authentic me. How could I possibly ask for more than that?

Thirty-Fourth Chance

Date Connection:

This date came to me in a unique way- date #29 referred him to me! When he saw I was looking for more dates, he volunteered himself and said he had a friend who might be interested as well. He gave him my number and he contacted me.

Date Location:

Chili's

What I Learned:

It was pretty amazing to go out with a military vet for the first time.  He shared with me a few things that took me off guard. I am largely ignorant of the price vets pay when they go overseas and this opened my eyes.  For example, he said he was glad our table was positioned close to the door.  He said he would feel better if he was in my seat, facing the door, as opposed to his seat where his back was to the door. He also said that by going to the restroom right when he came in to the restaurant, he had the chance to locate all the exits in the building. He said this hyper awareness of his surroundings was a byproduct of his two tours overseas. He said it's very difficult to live that way.  This was absolutely fascinating to me.  He sacrificed a lot by serving in the army on behalf of all of us in our free country.

One thing I really liked about him was that he made a point to tell me what he found attractive in me.  He said he liked that I'm outgoing and that I'm not afraid to eat!  People often keep compliments to themselves for fear of how they might come across, but he was not shy about telling me exactly what he thought.  This was refreshing!  Everything about him was authentic and I didn't have to guess.  He was open and honest.  I appreciated that a lot.

My thirty-fourth chance taught me that there is a lot I don't understand about human experience.  It makes me grateful for a God who does.  It also taught me that when someone is open and honest with me, it makes it safer for me to be open and honest with that person.  I think there is a lot to be said for that.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thirty-Third Chance

Date Connection:

We met on Mutual. I didn't actually tell him about my dating challenge, which was unusual for me.  It didn't feel relevant, so I left it out. 

Date Location:

We met at the Westerner in West Valley City for some country dancing!

What I Learned:

He was a great dancer! He obviously practiced hard to become good at a wide variety of moves.  He enjoyed teaching me new moves and helping me become better as well.  He didn't make me feel like he wanted to go and dance with people who were better than me, even though I would stumble a lot and not always follow his lead.  He made sure to get me water and get it refilled often, which was so considerate and appreciated.  He is a funeral director, which is a job one doesn't often hear about! He loves reading and the stock market is his hobby- he would love to someday turn that in to his main source of income.

My thirty-third chance at this dating challenge reminded me that country dancing is a fun way to get to know people.  You can tell a lot about a person based on how they interact with you as a dance partner!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thirty-Second Chance

Date Connection:

During parent/teacher conferences, I was chatting with the parents of three boys I’ve taught consecutively for 8 years (the entire time I’ve been at Highland!). I was telling them about my dating challenge that had just started. The mom texted me later and lined me up with a single man in their ward.

Date Location:

We met for hot chocolates (and gluten free muffins-yum!) at Sugarhouse Coffee.

What I Learned:

One thing I noticed about him is he had a sweet, cheerful chuckle that was fun to hear throughout our conversation.  He is just an all around nice guy and I really enjoyed getting to know him. He specializes in IT.  I asked him what he would choose to do if he didn’t do IT. It was so cool what this question taught me. He said he always loved architecture, and he enjoys drawing house designs just for fun. He loves to create buildings out of legos as a way to tap in to his love of design. He also said he would enjoy teaching seminary or institute. That wasn’t something I would have guessed, as he seemed quiet initially. It made me see him with a brand new perspective and it was awesome!  An already great guy became even cooler.

My thirty-second chance at this dating challenge reminded me that people are full of interesting things that often go undiscovered in a first meeting. I want to think outside the box and ask more questions that help get to know someone beneath the surface.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thirty-First Chance

Date Connection:

We met at the Utah American Choral Director’s Association fall conference. He sat in a seat I vacated and I gave him a hard time about it when I came back. He is interesting in switching careers to become a choir teacher. He came to observe my classroom on Monday and I invited him to be one of my dates for lunch after.

Date Location:

Free Birds in Sugarhouse

What I Learned:

I saw a lot of myself in him, which surprised me a little.  He and I both tend to undersell our abilities but see talent clearly in others. He pointed out specific things in my teaching that he thought were effective and I didn’t know what to do with the compliments. He made me feel like a million bucks. In him, I see someone very handsome,  goal oriented, and driven. He is also kind and friendly- a definite catch. I think if I told him that, he wouldn’t see it like I do.

My thirty-first chance taught me that if I can see something good in people that they can’t see in themselves, maybe there are good things about myself that I can’t see.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Thirtieth Chance

I have one week left of my challenge with five remaining dates to reach the goal I set for myself.  Whether or not I will actually make it in time will be a surprise to me most of all.

Date Connection:

We met on Mutual about a week ago.

Date Location: 

The Orange Peel in Sandy

What I Learned:

First of all, the smoothie shop offered a Brazilian smoothie with maracuja (passion fruit).  Dream come true!  

My date is a great guy. I told him ahead of time that we would each pay for ourselves on the date.  When I arrived, however, he told me he'd liked to get mine.  We had great conversation.  Like me, he has not been married before, so we had a lot in common in regards to dating and navigating through life single. He loves cars, and it was fun to hear him talk about something that excited him so much. At the end of the date, even though his car was in the opposite direction, he walked me to mine. I was impressed by that, even though it was a little thing.

My thirtieth chance at this experiment taught me that common life experiences unite us in a way nothing else can! 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Twenty-Ninth Chance

Date Connection:

My ministering companion, Kate, decided to do a similar dating challenge to mine.  She is going on 30 dates in 3 months.  She posted it on her facebook page and referenced my challenge. She said that I was still looking for more dates.  One of her Facebook friends who volunteered to be one of her dates contacted me and said he would also be one of mine!

Date Location:  

Jim's Family Restaurant in Pleasant Grove

What I Learned:

He is a really, really good man. When I think of all the things I could say about him based on my first impression, it all boils down to that one fact.  He loves his children deeply.  He values family and is loyal.  He is adventurous. He appreciates good grammar. His personality is charming. He is a gentleman. He is the kind of guy a girl would be proud to introduce to her friends because he would make anyone he met feel important and valued. 

I had an emotional morning before I met him for breakfast, so my feelings were close to the surface when we went out.  One of the topics of conversation we discussed was what I've learned being single into my mid-thirties.  I teared up as I responded, which embarrassed me greatly in retrospect. But his response was full of compassion and kindness.  I could tell he was really listening and seeking to understand what I had to say, which I really appreciated.

My twenty-ninth chance taught me that when I think someone is really good looking, I have a very hard time maintaining eye contact.  It makes me too vulnerable, so I have to look away.  I need to work on that.