The following is the transcript of this podcast episode.:
Jodi: Hello, Cindy. It’s great to have you on the show.
Cindy: Thank you so much, Jodi. I’m a great fan of your podcasts.
Jodi: Thank you! So, as you know, here at First Date Stories, we like to learn a bit about each of our guests before we delve into the first date story. Please share something about yourself.
Cindy: Sure. I work with education nonprofits and originally I was a middle school teacher. So education has been my career. I do have two adult sons and a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I have a guesthouse on my property that I rent out to Airbnb and I also recently got deputized to register people to vote. So I’m pretty civic-minded and like to be involved in my community. I am a widow and have been a widow for 13 years. My husband and I were both 46 when he passed away. I’m 59 now.
Jodi: That was a very young age to become a widow.
Cindy: Yes, He was at home with hospice. And when he passed away and the men came to take the bed that he had been in. I heard one of them say in the hall, “She’s so young to be a widow!” And I thought to myself, “My gosh! This is my new label. I’m now a widow.” You know, I’ve been a daughter and a mother and a sister and a wife. So yeah, it was very difficult.
Jodi: It changed everything for you, including how you saw yourself.
Cindy: Yes. Well, and how the world saw me too.
Jodi: Right. We’re here to talk about a date you went on. So at some point, you came back into the world of dating after the tragedy that you experienced. Can you share a little bit about that, please?
Cindy: Sure. One thing, even for audience members who have experienced cancer, it’s a long process. We were adjusting over the year and a half, and had kind of talked about my future life. Given that I was so young, my husband had actually said to his mother, “Cindy is going to date again and I want you to help her with that and be accepting of any future person that may be in her life.” She told me that, which was very nice. So after a couple of years of adjusting, I started online dating. I was fortunate. I did meet a gentleman and was in a relationship with him for a number of years, and just recently, in the past year, got involved in online dating again.
Jodi: Has it changed a lot in these past years?
Cindy: Yes. It was like a little easier and it seemed more fun ten years ago. It’s been harder as I’ve been older.
Jodi: Have you tried the dating apps or are you mostly focused on online?
Cindy: I do Match. I have tried Tinder and I have found that it’s not just for hookups or swiping right or left. I’ve been glad of that.
Jodi: So it’s reputations as being all about hookups, at least for a younger age group, isn’t holding strong.
Cindy: No. Gentlemen will put on their profiles on Tinder that they’re looking for a long-term relationship.
Jodi: The date that we’re going to talk about now, did that introduction happen on Tinder or Match or somewhere else?
Cindy: It happened on Match. He contacted me first, which was nice. I do reach out to gentlemen and sometimes initiate the first message after I’ve liked them. But it was nice. He had contacted me first and messaged me on Match and I hadn’t seen his profile.
Jodi: What’s his name?
Jodi: What did you think when you read his profile?
Cindy: Well, I was concerned because it said he was separated. I hadn’t gone out with anyone who’s separated. And he didn’t have a lot of photos.
Jodi: Do you mean only two or three?
Cindy: Yeah, two photos.
Jodi: That’s it?
Cindy: Yes. In one of them he was mowing the lawn on the rider mower with a headset on to keep the noise out! It was an odd photo.
Jodi: Interesting choice of photos.
Cindy: Yeah. I did agree to go out with him. He indicated in a brief message that he was separated and we could talk about it on our date. He said he was really excited to meet me and that he felt he knew me because I had a detailed profile and a lot of photos. And on Match, I messaged him back and I said, “Well, I don’t really feel the same way because you don’t have very many photos.” And then he put more photos up and that was nice that he responded to that. He said, “Well, you know, actually I don’t have many photos of myself.” But I thought that was nice that he was responsive and posted more photos.
Jodi: When you saw all the additional photos he put up, what did you think?
Cindy: Well, he was in good shape. He was attractive. Yeah. I was interested in meeting him and I was excited to go out with him.
Jodi: Did you have a lot of back and forth email exchanges or texting exchanges with him?
Cindy: My standard has been not to share my email or my phone number until we meet. I’m kind of revising that a little bit now because it seems to be so common. But he was fine with it. We did have a date a week after we connected on Match. We got together on a Saturday at a brunch place.
Jodi: So, he asked you out very early on into your back and forth conversation?
Cindy: Yes, he did.
Jodi: Who got to the place first?
Cindy: He had never been to the restaurant. He asked me to recommend a place to go and I recommended a couple of places. He chose the brunch place. He looked it up online and saw that it could get quite busy. So, he got there early to put our name on the waiting list.
Jodi: Very nice. Now tell me, you were a little concerned — it was a little yellow flag for you that he was separated. As you were getting ready to meet Mike, what was going through your head?
Cindy: Well, I knew that I wanted to have a conversation with him and learn more about his separation and talk about it on the date. Then, depending on what Mike said, I would determine whether I would see him again.
Jodi: He got there before you. How very thoughtful of him. When you showed up, did you recognize him right away? Did he look like his photos?
Cindy: Yes. He did look like his photos and we check to see how much time we had and then we took a little walk. There’s a shopping center at where the restaurant was and we stopped in one of the shops and started chatting and actually right then, I brought up about him being separated and asked about the situation with his wife and their separation and he told me some details that made me feel at ease with going out with him.
Jodi: You wasted no time. That was clearly on your mind!
Cindy: Yes, and I thought it might be easier to ask while walking around side by side than sitting across from each other in a restaurant with a bunch of people around. It was almost like it was more of a private conversation.
Jodi: How did he respond to you asking such a pointed question so early in your being together?
Cindy: He totally understood that I was justified in being concerned. He shared the details about his wife asking for the divorce. He had been surprised, but they were moving through it quickly. He was ready to move on with his life. It was his second marriage. So I learned quite a bit about his background and his family situation on our first date.
Jodi: When you return to the restaurant, what happened next?
Cindy: We ordered. He’d lived in New Mexico for a number of years, so he was really particular about his choice of green sauce or red sauce. He ordered enchiladas and they brought the wrong sauce. I said, “Oh, do you want to say anything?” And he’s like, “No, that’s okay.” We chatted quite a while. It may have been close to two hours. At that point, I gave him my card and we exchanged emails. I indicated that I would be interested in seeing him again.
Jodi: How did you say goodbye at the end of your date?
Cindy: We hugged.
Jodi: Were you thinking ‘I’d like to kiss this man’?
Cindy: Well, not there in a restaurant and a first date. No. He did walk me to my car, so that was nice. We hugged at the car actually not in the restaurant.
Jodi: He was showing a lot of gentlemanly behaviors.
Cindy: I was very impressed that he made a point to get there early and put our name on the waiting list.
Jodi: Yeah, and walked you to your car.
Jodi: So, what happened next?
Cindy: We made plans to go on a hike. Our second date was a hike. That was really nice. I have on my profile a lot of photos of hiking and I indicate that I like hiking. We were emailing back and forth and watching the weather because it wasn’t the greatest weather, but it was nice enough. So, we made plans to go on a hike the next weekend.
Jodi: Let’s get into the rest of the story. What happened on the hike?
Cindy: I did have him pick me up at my house because we’re not going to like meet at a park for the hike. So, he picked me up and was on time. We drove to this lovely spot and hiked through the woods. There were a number of streams. I got a little tentative. I had broken my wrist in the fall. This date a couple months after I had had surgery and healed. The reason I had broken my wrist is that I’d fallen, so he was very kind and helped me, like held his hand out to help me cross a couple of the streams and rocky spots. So that was very sweet. Sometimes he was in the lead and sometimes I was in the lead. We did talk a bit along the hike. There were other people there because someone might think, “A second date? You’re going to go out in the woods alone with a man you just met?”
Jodi: Right! They could think that.
Cindy: But I felt comfortable enough with him. Also, I had researched him, found him online, found other information about him and we had shared enough and everything I found online was verified. So I didn’t feel any reason to feel unsafe and then he demonstrated that through his gentlemanly manner.
Jodi: Good. You went with your gut on this one.
Jodi: How did that date end?
Cindy: Well, it ended saying goodbye, again a hug. I think he was really taking seriously, may expressing concern about him being separated and not moving really fast. So that was fine by me, not to kiss goodbye. We did exchange emails. He’s a prolific writer. He started emailing me a couple of times a week and telling me more about himself and asking me more questions. If I can share one of the emails after the date…. At 9:50 p.m., he wrote, Hi, Cindy. I just wanted to say hello because I’m starting to see you your face behind my eyelids.
Cindy: I hope you don’t feel any pressure as I don’t intend that. I just tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve. So I will seem to say what’s on my mind probably for better or worse, I guess. I hope you had a good day.
Jodi: That’s not your typical email, especially after a second date…eyelids and all! What were you thinking after that landed in your inbox and you read it?
Cindy: I was surprised that he was so expressive because he’s an engineer and I kind of have a stereotype. My husband had been an English major and was very expressive. I was just like, “Well, this guy really likes me and he’s thinking about me a lot!” I wasn’t thinking about him that much, but I was a little bit overwhelmed. I was like, “Well, that’s nice that he shared that with me, if that’s how he’s feeling.” Then I’m kind of like, “Well, he was just separated.” There was a little bit of second-guessing. It was a little confusing.
Jodi: I can understand how it could be a little confusing and exciting at the same time. What happened next?
Cindy: We were in touch a bit through email. He had invited me after the holidays to go and see the Chinese dance acrobatic group, Shen Yun, with his two children.
Jodi: With his two children?
Cindy: Yes. We had talked about our children. He has a 17-year-old daughter who’s a senior and a 19-year-old son who is figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Mike had four tickets and in email, he asked if I would like to go with them, that he had told his children about me and that they were looking forward to meeting me.
Jodi: Wow! That’s really fast! This man is moving really fast! How did you feel about that?
Cindy: You know, he had told me about his children and they sounded adorable and really interesting. I had never seen Shen Yun and I had heard about them a lot. I’m like, “Well, you know, it’s him inviting his kids out. I’m not inviting mine. And if he’s comfortable with that, I’m kind of like open to doing things.” And so I was like, “Okay, sure.” The four of us went out for dinner beforehand. They all came to the front door of my house and picked me up.
Jodi: They all came to your door?
Cindy: Yes! I could see he’s really close to his kids. After the performance, when they were bringing me home, I invited them to my guesthouse. We went up to the upper deck where I have a view of the downtown area of our town. The two children each hugged me goodbye when they left and their dad hugged me also. It was a very nice evening. At dinner I talked to the children quite a bit because they’re adults – they’re 17 and 19. It was almost like, I felt like their dad was showing them off to me like, “Hey, look what a great guy I am! Look what great kids I have! I’m a good dad.”
Jodi: Were you feeling that he was auditioning in a way?
Cindy: Yes! That’s very well stated.
Jodi: Would you ever consider taking your children on a date with you after you’d met someone only two times before?
Jodi: Was that third date a typical third date for you, or was that one unique?
Cindy: That was a very unique date. I can’t say on a third date, or anywhere near the top five or six dates, that I’ve met someone’s children….and not only meet them, but spent the evening with them.
Jodi: Where did the relationship go from there?
Cindy: We went out some more. On our sixth date, he invited me to his home, which is outside of town. He lives about an hour from me. He has a large property with a woods on it. We met out in the town near his home and had a late lunch. He actually gave me a 3D printed model of my guesthouse that he and his daughter had put together! It was sort of a Valentine’s Day present because it was around February. He handed that to me at lunch. It was so sweet! He said, “My daughter and I made this.” And then we spent the afternoon at his house and took a walk through his wooded property. It was very lovely.
Jodi: That’s really something! And the kids liked you so much that they got involved in this project. The daughter wanted to give the gift to you with her dad. You clearly touched the daughter!
Cindy: Yeah. They are really a remarkable pair of children.
K: How did things end that afternoon, or evening, between the two of you?
Cindy: Well, I had driven out there. He didn’t pick me up because it was out of town. I had another date that night, because I was still going out with other people. So I had to dash out of there. But we had kissed a couple of times in our previous dates. When we went for a walk in the woods, I was kind of more the one initiating being close to him because I felt it was very romantic in the woods.
We kissed in the woods, but he wasn’t moving forward beyond that in any manner. I wasn’t going to be too aggressive about it either, but I was interested in getting to know him more in that way, but I felt kind of either a reticence or something that he was taking it slow with me maybe because he was still separated and how I had acted before. But it was our sixth date, so I was anxious to get to know him more romantically.
Cindy: Yeah, and especially being out at his home and his showing me around the property. His son did end up being there. I don’t know if he was planning on him being there. His son had been on a trip and came home while we were there. But initially, we were on our own and his daughter had been away that weekend. I was even kind of wondering if we were going to be intimate at his home, but we were not.
Jodi: How did the relationship develop from there?
Cindy: I was out of town after that. I went to see my grandchildren. Mike and I were emailing a bit back and forth and then when I came home, I had a niece visiting me. It was a busy time. We weren’t seeing each other and he, like I mentioned, lived an hour away. So it’s not like he could easily pop by one afternoon, or whatever. And then I got an email and….essentially he broke up with me! He said he’d met another woman.
Jodi: Really? Wow! That must have come out of left field for you.
Cindy: Yes. I was very surprised. He indicated in the email that he had waited until I was back from my trip to tell me about it. He wrote, I cannot bear deceiving either you or my new friend.
He wanted to tell me about how he’d met her, and they’d been chatting, and they had dinner, and everything just clicked. I share this with my mother and my mother said, “Well, that other woman had sex with him. That’s how it took.” (Laughter)
Jodi: Do you think your mother was right?
Jodi: Do you have any regrets in the way you handled it with him?
Cindy: I don’t. I don’t have regrets. He was a good guy, but I didn’t have this driving physical attraction to him. I mean not that you necessary know after six dates, but we were both kind of a little reticent about that, and like I said, he did email a lot! In one of his emails, he wrote You know, I really enjoy being with you, like your soft kisses, but you can kind of feel I’m holding back.
I guess both of us were, for whatever reason. I’m glad I was because, if I had been intimate with him, I would have been pretty crushed. I wasn’t going out with him exclusively either. So, it’s all fine.
Jodi: Did you decide to keep the 3D model after the two of you broke up?
Cindy: Absolutely! I have it here in my own house. Hey, that’s my memento from that short-lived three-month, six date relationship.
Jodi: What did you learn from the experience?
Cindy: Well, I’m glad we took it slow and I’m glad that I questioned him about his separation. I don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t go out with a man who’s separated again because he’s still working through a lot of things. It’s kind of surprising to me that he was jumping so quickly with another woman. Are they still together? I don’t know. Maybe he just doesn’t have the greatest judgment, bringing his two children on our third date! But it’s a little confusing because the other thing is, as you get older, you’re kind of like, “Well, there’s not a lot of time left in our lives, 10 years, 20 years.” Do you want to wait like maybe you do when you’re younger? I don’t know.
Jodi: These are things you think about.
Jodi: Are there things that you have answers to?
Cindy: No, I don’t have the answers.
Jodi: Are you figuring it out as you go?
Cindy: My approach is to be open to men who I might not have considered when I was in college or younger; to take each experience for what it’s worth and not take it personally on me; to know that it’s the other person and I’m just being my authentic self, and then see where it goes from there.
Jodi: Bravo for being your authentic self! That’s the person that needs to show up on dates and needs to be out there meeting people, right?
Cindy: Yes, it is.
Jodi: You’ve come to this conversation having experienced tremendous loss at an earlier stage in your life. There are women listening to us talk who have also had loves of theirs pass away. What thoughts or advice do you have for them about finding love again?
Cindy: For me, my marriage and my relationship was positive. It was joyful, even though it ended tragically. I don’t have the kind of negative feelings that may be other women may have experienced with a marriage that wasn’t as successful. But as a widow, I know I can’t replicate and find again the man that I had two children with and raised a family and built a life with.
So now at this stage in my life, I’m open to meeting different men and seeing what they have. I know I need someone who is financially secure and someone who adores me for who I am. It’s different things than I looked for, or that I wanted, when I was first married. Back then I was looking for a man to build a life with and raise a family. So my advise is to think about what’s important to you and to be open to what the gentlemen out there may be able to bring to your life.
Jodi: Beautifully stated! Thank you for sharing that. It’s been terrific talking to you, Cindy. Thanks so much.
Cindy: Oh, thank you, Jodi. It’s my pleasure.