This episode features Casey, a 47-year old woman, talking about a first date she had with Colin, a man she met online. The date only happened because Casey made the decision to toss out some of the dating rules that she’d created for herself and had been sticking to for a long time.
The following is the transcript of this podcast episode:
Jodi: Welcome. It’s so great to have you on the podcast today.
Casey: Thank you. Happy to be here.
Jodi: Let’s start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself, please.
Casey: All right. I’m 47 years old. I’m an event designer in the wedding industry and a sole proprietor of my own business.
Jodi: I’m curious. When this date that we’re going to talk about took place, how were you feeling about dating?
Casey: Well, I was feeling pretty good about dating. To be honest, I had come out of a not-so-great relationship about a year prior that fortunately didn’t take me too long to get over. I had been mourning that relationship while I was in it, so soon after I got out there and I was able to date organically for a good six or eight months. Then things slowed down a little bit.
I was meeting people through friends, maybe through networking, something like that. Maybe out at a restaurant, not necessarily searching online.
Jodi: Did the organic thing kind of ran its course and you were feeling like you needed to take a step in a new direction?
Casey: Yeah. It was just a new experience. Friends of mine have been dating online. One day another friend and I decided to go online at the same time. It was holiday time, which traditionally is when things quiet down if you’re not in a relationship or serious about dating somebody. So I was in a bit of dry spell and decided I would go online.
Jodi: Was this your first time online?
Casey: It’s my first time in 15 years.
Jodi: Did something happened 15 years ago that kept you off of it for all those years?
Casey: Yes, in the very, very beginning of online dating I did sign up and I met somebody that was a bit of a creep. It just turned me off of it all. So, I had 15 years of dating offline, some were long relationships, some very short dating relationships. I was ready to go back. I wanted to meet somebody.
Jodi: Awesome. So it’s holiday time. You and your friend signed up for which services?
Casey: OkCupid, Match.com and eharmony.
Jodi: And your girlfriend did the same thing?
Jodi: The two of you were hand in hand, side-by-side doing this?
Casey: Side-by-side, sitting on our couch, building our profiles, making each other tell the truth and elaborating where we should, or where we shouldn’t.
Jodi: What happened?
Casey: Well, it’s the New Year. So, half of the world seems to be going online at that time. You get a lot of hit right away and a lot of communication happens immediately.
“I like your picture, I like your smile.” I had one guy contact me who piqued my interest. We started a little email chat through the site and we had a good banter with each other. It wasn’t too much. It wasn’t too little. It was super comfortable and we set a time to meet up.
Jodi: What was it about him that caught your attention and made you think that there might be a reason to meet him?
Casey: He had a really good sense of humor in his very short email communication.
Jodi: Getting ready for that date, how were you feeling?
Casey: I was feeling good. I left work early. I went and got my nails done and was ready to go meet him for a drink in a neutral location outside of either one of our areas.
Jodi: You walked into a bar? A restaurant? What kind of place did you meet him?
Casey: He was sitting at a bar at a restaurant. He did first want to meet for coffee and I said, “Coffee makes me nervous. I’d rather have a drink.”
Jodi: Why does coffee make you nervous?
Casey: It just makes me jittery and more hyper whereas a drink relaxes me more. And I don’t necessarily feel like drinking coffee in the evening and I don’t feel like dating in the morning.
Jodi: Okay. That makes really good sense. So he’s sitting there.
Casey: Sitting at the bar.
Jodi: You walk in.
Casey: I walk in. He got up from the bar and came over to greet me and he immediately said, “You look just like your pictures. Can I give you a hug?”
Casey: Which was very endearing right away.
Jodi: That’s quite a moment to start off the date with.
Casey: Yeah. Well, we were in a very nice public place. It wasn’t creepy. It was just the right thing for him to say.
Jodi: The date started with a hello and a hug.
Casey: It started with a hug. Yup.
Jodi: And then?
Casey: Then we headed over to the bar for a drink. Funny enough, I think the entire bar was filled with online dating first dates. We were joking about that almost instantly. It was very relaxing right away. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it. We didn’t have a huge amount of communication prior to our date, but he was very engaging, chatty, but he also listened and asked questions right away. There was almost no silence.
Jodi: Fantastic. It just flowed?
Casey: It just flowed more naturally than any date I had been on in a long time.
Jodi: There you are, 15 years later trying online dating again.
Jodi: And you found a guy who you could have a really nice conversation with straightaway, who you were feeling comfortable with.
Casey: Yeah. We come from two very different situations. I had never been married before. He had been married and was separated and has two children. So, we had two very different backgrounds.
Jodi: Did that make a difference?
Casey: It was very interesting to me, very intriguing to me. He was very much into being a father but very much also into wanting to have a new relationship, have a love in his life.
Jodi: How long had he been married?
Casey: Eighteen years.
Jodi: He was coming out of a really long relationship!
Jodi: And already ready for the next one?
Casey: Yes. I do believe that he had been in a failing relationship for a long time. By the time I met him, he was really looking for something new in his life.
Jodi: I see. That’s great because it’s all about timing.
Casey: It is, for sure.
Jodi: I know from my experience and from a lot of other women’s experiences, when we meet men who are separated, they are often are not really ready for the next relationship
Jodi: They may think they are ready, but when they start dating, often, at least the ones I met, freaked out after a few dates and ran for the hills because they were just not ready to make any sort of commitment.
Casey: I agree with you 100%. I was a little nervous myself when I was first communicating with him about his situation. I had known many girlfriends who met separated, or even divorced men online who said they were ready, but they weren’t. I would always tell my friends, “Don’t do it. Don’t go out with a separated guy. Don’t go out with a divorced guy. I’ve seen it a million times. It’s not going to work out. He’s not going to be ready.” And then I did it and he was ready. So I will say I was very pleasantly surprised. It became obvious to me early on that he really was looking for somebody and he wasn’t there to just waste time.
Jodi: Soon after you started spending time together, how did the way you felt around him change?
Casey: I just saw a very warm special person and I fell for him very quickly. It was shocking to me because I have been dating for a long time and I had had relationships that lasted three or four years. It maybe took me six months to feel the way I felt about him.
Jodi: So, backing up, what happened at the bar?
Casey: Well, we had a few cocktails. We just continued to talk about family and travel and a little bit about what we do for a living but not too much about work focus. It was more focused on fun, what we like to do. We wouldn’t be working together, so what would we want to do when we were together? You know, learning about each other’s interests and friendships and families.
Jodi: How did the date end?
Casey: I did let him drive me home.
Casey: Yes, I surprised myself with that one.
Jodi: How did that feel?
Casey: It felt good and it was a perfectly polite drive home, followed up by a text later that evening saying that he had a great time.
Jodi: You hinted earlier about the rest of the story. Bring me up to speed, please.
Casey: We had date two. It was a daytime hike and he brought a bottle of wine for my girlfriends because he knew I was having them over for dinner afterwards. He just oozed compassion and kindness, which made me then invite him for date three–that was my invitation–where he actually met some of my friends. And by date four or five, I think we realized we didn’t want to date any other people. We had a conversation about it and moved forward!
Jodi: That’s so fantastic! In retrospect, what sort of dating takeaways did you have from that first date? You said you surprised yourself.
Casey: I did. I don’t think you can ever expect that something is going to go a certain way when you don’t know the person and you have to be very open to meeting different people. I feel fortunate. I never had a type so I never really like felt I was going after the same kind of people. I was open to dating a lot of different people. But honestly when I met him, I just knew.
Jodi: And the two of you are together to this day?
Casey: We are. Yes.
Jodi: You just never know what life is going to bring and you need to be open to it.
Casey: Absolutely. It’s the best thing I ever did.
Jodi: I love that story. I’m happy for you, Casey.
Casey: Me too.
What About You?
Jodi here. Let’s switch the conversation from Casey to you, the woman who is reading this post. What does being more open mean to you? What can you do to make yourself more open to people and experiences than you’ve been up until now?
For me, being more open meant getting rid of most the list of “must haves” qualities that the right man for me had to have for me to go out with him, and for me to even consider getting serious with him. My list had been a page long and I took it down to five things. Just five things! By doing that, I immediately became open to meeting a lot more men who had all sorts of things to offer. There are men that before I’d been closed off to.
When I look back, I realize that I should have done made that change years before I did it. Because I didn’t, I probably prevented myself from meeting some very nice and interesting guys.
Now think about YOUR “must haves” list. You probably have one. You’ve either written it down, or it’s in your head. I encourage you to shred your list or get out your Sharpie and get busy whittling your list down to just five points. You can do it! Leave the qualities that are most critical to you. Then, take the big bold next step and say “yes” to first dates with men who you wouldn’t have before.
Since conceiving the idea for First Date Stories, I’ve spoken to a lot of women who are in long-term relationships with men who they didn’t originally think were their types. You could be one of them.
Let’s face it. You, just like the rest of us, are shaped by our experiences. By meeting men who expose you to new ideas and activities, you’re likely to learn new things and grow as a person in ways that you won’t if you continue to cling to your “must have” list.
Even if these guys don’t turn into your Mr. Yes, they could become friends and add meaning to your life in other ways. But, you’ll never know what will happen unless you give it a try.