So while I’m waiting on love to come my way, I have come to really appreciate the truly special gifts, that come from a first date.
It was not my plan to be single again. It was not my plan to be suddenly widowed after only have 4 years of marriage with my beautiful husband, or to try to navigate through modern-day dating and dating sites. No, none of these things were my plan.
So, about a year and a half ago, when I was finally ready to actively go out into the dating world again with my full suit of armor, I was on the defense. I was hesitant, scared, and downright suspicious of all these “new men” I was meeting. What were their intentions? Were they out to hurt me? Would I ever find true love again, or would I be forced to keep going on these endless dates, until eternity?
I still don’t know the answers, but lately, I have begun to enjoy the process of figuring out the questions. Lately, I have told myself to stop over-analyzing everything, and start to be in the moment of each date. Stop being overly-suspicious, and instead, be openly-cautious and aware. Stop making judgments about men too early on, assuming that they aren’t right for me, or that this one can’t possibly understand where I’m coming from in life. I have tried to dial back my instinct to be impatient, and turn up the volume on enjoying the new-ness of a first date. Sure, things have certainly changed a whole lot in the world of dating these days, but the special-ness of that very first date is still there, if you want it to be. I should know. I have been on a LOT of first dates over the past couple years, an I have collected a lot of special memories and moments. There is something about a first date, that has a sense of magic. Here are 5 reasons why:
THAT NERVOUS FEELING:
It is 2 hours before the big date, and you are getting ready in your bedroom. You have put on nail polish and even toenail polish, for the first time in ages. You keep changing your mind between the white blouse and flattering jeans, or the bright blue more casual but fun shirt, with leggings. How casual is too casual? What If I’m overdressed? Do these shoes look okay? Do guys even look at shoes? I hope not, because I haven’t bought new ones in ages. You give your eye makeup that extra something to make your lashes stand out. You re-apply your lipstick, and your peppermint body spritzer. You anxiously drive yourself to the restaurant or pub or coffee shop or meeting location, getting there nice and early so you can control getting that first glance at him in person, before he sees you. These kind of nerves are probably even more intense these days, if you are on the dating sites, like I am.
In the old days, before the internet, you would most likely meet someone through friends or at school or work. If you were a man, you would maybe see a girl you liked, and ask her out in person. In today’s world, the online dating scene takes place in steps. For me, when a guy sends me that first message of interest, I go take a look at his online profile page to determine if I might be interested. If I am, I reply, and the conversation exchange begins. This usually goes on for a few days on the site, and then we exchange numbers. Then the texting begins. Then the phone calls, to hear each other’s voices. By the time my new guy and I meet in person, usually its at least a couple weeks or longer that we have been communicating. There is a lot of build-up. Will he look like his pictures? Will there be chemistry in person? How will I know if it’s going well? Will he kiss me? Will I want him to? These are all things you get nervous about, and those nerves give you adrenaline in the hours and minutes leading up to the date.
Your palms are sweating. Your heart is racing. That nervous feeling is everywhere inside you, and its a good thing. It makes you feel alive.
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE:
First dates are an adventure. You never quite know what to expect. Now, this is not always a positive thing. Sometimes these surprises can be not what you had hoped or planned on. Such as: “Surprise! I look nothing at all like my pictures, and I’m clearly at least 20 years older than I said I was!” Or “Surprise! Hope you brought your wallet, because Im not paying for your dinner today!” Or “Surprise! Remember how I told you I was divorced? Yeah, well, not so much. More like seperated. But not officially. Yet. So basically I’m married. You cool with that?”
In the beginning, these types of surprises used to anger me and upset me greatly. Over time, however, I have learned not to take things like this personally, and I’ve also learned how to spot men like this much earlier than the first date, so as to avoid this from happening completely. Also, these types of surprises are definitely not the norm for my first dates. Sure, these things have happened, but only a small handful of times.
The element of surprise that I’m talking about on a first date, lies in the very fact that you don’t know this person, and they don’t know you. Yet. You are getting to know each other, and doing that flirty thing, and figuring them out, a little bit at a time. And that can be quite fun, especially once you let go of expectations about someone, and just stay in the moment of whats happening. One date I had surprised me by taking me to a gorgeous park with an outdoor ampi-theatre that sat on a lake. He took my hand and led me down the woods trail, and sat us in the pavilion, where we shared kisses and cuddling time. Another first date and I went for ice-cream, followed by stopping by an arcade to play video games, which was a total blast. I have been surprised also from many of my dates, by their life background, and some of their past jobs and experiences. One guy told me of his days working as a bouncer in a strip club. Another had a great story of meeting a stripper (unbeknownst to him) on a dating site. (lots of these stories involve strippers apparently.) I was surprised to find out that another one of my dates lived at home with his mother, but not for the reasons you might think. It was his home, and he took his elderly mother in, because his dad had died years ago, and she had Alzheimers. He didn’t want to see her living alone, and he didn’t want to put her in a nursing home, so he takes care of her. Another date used to be involved in the mafia/mob world, although he made it a point to tell me that “we don’t call it that.” The element of surprise is fun on a date with a new person, because you don’t really know whats going to happen. And that can be really exciting.
GETTING TO KNOW SOMEONE NEW:
When I first starting dating, I was annoyed that I had to keep getting to know new people, over and over again. I was annoyed at having to explain my own story, to multiple new people. It felt repetitive and robotic. Lately though, something in me has shifted, and I have started to enjoy hearing about other people’s lives. I have started to enjoy the process of getting to know someone, little by little. How does he listen? What are his interests? His little quirks? What does he like to eat? What are his views on politics and religion? How does he treat people? I like to sort of sit back and watch it all unfold. It used to irritate me that I had already done that with my late husband – I already told him all my stuff, and I didn’t feel like doing that all over again with someone new. But now I focus more on their stuff, and getting to know them, and their world. And its fascinating (not always – theres lots of boring people out there) finding out things about someone. When you open your mind to someone’s world, they will open their world to you. And getting lost in that, can be loads of fun.
CHIVALRY IS NOT DEAD (REALLY!):
My late husband was a gentleman. He always opened the car door for me, paid for everything when we would go out, and generally always made me feel like I was 100% safe while in his presence. He was always protecting me from any harm, while still being fully aware and proud that I am a modern, smart, independent woman. So, when I entered the dating world, this was something that I very much wanted in a new relationship. A man who knows how to treat a lady like a lady, but who also recognizes her independence and doesn’t see himself as superior to her in any way. Now, one of the great things about modern dating is that, on the dating sites, you can lay out everything you want and desire in a person, right there on your profile page. It doesn’t mean you are going to GET all of those things, but it does up the chances that a man who reads your profile and then contacts you with interest, will most likely BE some of the things you are seeking after. So, in my case, I have met quite a few men that have proven themselves to be true gentlemen, some being more “old school” than others. One man I met and knew for awhile, not only held the car door open for me, but also came around from the drivers side to walk over, and help me out of the car by offering his hand. And not only would he NEVER allow a lady to pay the bill, I couldn’t even SEE the bill. He wouldn’t let me look at it, because that is how he was raised by his dad. Another first date showed up with one single red rose, and led me around the neighborhood for the afternoon, putting his hand out anytime there was a curb or pothole in the street for me to watch out for. Two first dates came to my house to pick me up, came inside, and met my parents. One man took me for dinner at a really nice restaurant, and expressed his annoyance at a younger man sitting at a nearby table, wearing his baseball hat while inside the restaurant. “That’s so disrespectful”, he said, and it really bothered him. When I used the restroom, I found him standing just outside of it, holding my jacket out, to help me into it before we left. Another first date showed up at my home with a potted plant of Easter lilies, and addressed my parents as Ma’am and Sir. On my most recent first date, we met at a local bakery, and when I arrived, he was already at the table. When I entered the restaurant, he stood for me, pulled out my chair, and got me seated. On the table, he had pre-set a potted plant/flowers, and a cupcake box with my favorite vanilla cupcake, written in icing “Hello. Now, that is classy. Now, I have met MANY guys in my time of dating, that were not gentleman, and did not act this way. But, I will say, I have been surprised, in the best of ways, at how many men out there ARE chivalrous and gentlemanly. I think its a really wonderful thing that there are parents out there, that have raised their boys to respect and honor women, and to treat them both like ladies, and like equals.
THAT FIRST KISS:
For me, the best part of a first date, is that first kiss. I used to say that I can’t wait to have my last, first kiss – because that will mean I have found love again. And while that is still true, over time, I have come to appreciate and even look forward to, experiencing first kisses with a whole LOT of first dates. Now, everyone is different, but I am not the kind of girl that will go very far physically on a first date. However, I AM the kind of girl who, if the chemistry is there and it feels right, will do a good amount of kissing on a first date. I love kissing, and over this past year and a half or so, I have kissed quite a few guys. There are a lot of great kissers out there. Some are good, some are great, and others are off-the-charts, weak in the knees amazing. One first date I had recently, I found him arrogant and cocky and a bit self-absorbed, but he was probably one of the best kissers I’ve ever experienced, ever. We must have sat in his car for an hour, just kissing each other. Sometimes they get that first kiss out of the way upfront. Other times, its more unexpected, while standing outside of his truck, and he tells you straight up: “I really want to kiss you. Close your eyes.” Other times, you find yourself asking bravely out of nowhere: “So, are you gonna kiss me or what?” That first kiss is filled with so much intensity, passion, and anxiousness. It just feels so wonderful and perfect, feeling someone else’s lips touching yours, and lingering there. And people have such different kissing techniques. I think I might keep going on first dates, just so I can keep kissing different guys. There is so much possibility in that first kiss.
So while I’m waiting on love to come my way, I have come to really appreciate the truly special gifts, that come from a first date. Love is a beautiful thing, and I want that more than ever. But, I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up on all of the unique things that can only happen, on a first date. There is only one first date with the same person, but there are MANY first dates, on the road to finding that person. Right now, I’m enjoying that ride.