The following is the transcript of this podcast episode.:
Jodi: Hello and welcome to the podcast.
Theresa: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Jodi: I’m delighted to have you today on the podcast to tell us a story about your first date with Jeff. Before we get into the details about your date, let’s talk a bit about your backstory.
Theresa: I am 58. I’m a brand strategist and my background is design. So, I am single. I’ve never been married. I’ve had long-term relationships. Now, probably because I am 58, I think it’s time to have a more permanent one.
Jodi: Let’s get into the details of the date that we’re here to talk about.
Theresa: I met Jeff on JDate. What I remember is that I received an email with the subject line, “I Took One Look.” I opened the email and it said, “And I knew I had to meet you.” It was very forward!
Jodi: That gets a girl’s attention!
Theresa: Yeah. He seemed like a really good guy. We emailed back and forth for a little bit and then we spoke. And as it turns out, he was a photographer and of course you never know someone’s name, but it started seeming like maybe our lives would overlap, or did overlap, at some point. I eventually realized that he worked with my business partner on a project. He was a rather well-known photographer. So, I recognized his name.
Jodi: How in the world did you figure this out?
Theresa: When he finally told me his name.
Jodi: You saw photos of him?
Theresa: Yes. When my business partner was working with him, I didn’t know what he looked like. What’s really funny is that he had grown a beard to do online dating because he thought that would give him some anonymity, which I think is really amusing because what does a beard do in terms of anonymity? Pretty much nothing!
Jodi: We can’t see past the beard! (Laughter)
Theresa: No, we can’t! Let’s just say I was curious. We set up a date. He showed up and looked different because he did not have the beard that he had online!
Theresa: He was a really sweet, funny, interesting guy. And he was the only person I had met who have their own business. Everyone I knew worked for larger companies. He was immediately really interesting professionally. He suggested that we go to a small French neighborhood restaurant. He showed up and I thought, “Oh, he doesn’t have a beard.” That’s when he told me that he shaved his beard because he had only grown it to do the online dating because he thought it would give him anonymity.
Theresa: Yes. He also showed up with a jacket and I’m just a casual person. I was surprised.
Jodi: A dinner jacket type jacket?
Theresa: Yeah, it was like a dinner jacket and I thought, “Oh my God! He’s too formal!” It made me feel too formal and uncomfortable. Anyway, he was really a wonderful guy. We immediately began talking about photography and his business and how funny it was that I knew of him and then he started telling me about his family. He had a four-year old and an eight-year old. At that time, I thought, “I don’t have kids. I think dating someone with kids might be tough.” I’ve since changed my feeling about that. I think dating a father is a truly beautiful thing. I think fathers, what they experience in their lives, is really wonderful. I think in some ways it’s akin to some of the things that they are called upon to do with their significant other. He had a daughter. The way that he took care of his daughter was kind of similar to the way that he would ultimately be with me.
Theresa: Although he’s kind of unusual because he said he gave his daughter bubble baths with rose petals. That girl is never going to be able to find a guy!
Jodi: But at the time of the date, you were thinking you were not interested in dating a man with children, correct?
Theresa: I wasn’t sure. Then the story got a little bit more complex. He told me that his wife woke up one day and said, “I have to tell you. I am in love with Sam.” And Jeff said, “Sam? Our son’s teacher, Sam, whose going through a sex change? That Sam?”
Jodi: A sex change?
Theresa: Uh-huh. She said, “Yes, I don’t care what sex he is. I am in love with him.” What was really sad, and I realized why this guy is such a good guy, is that the reason that they knew Sam was because the other parents had rejected him. Here’s their kid’s teacher going through a sex change, but Jeff and his wife had supported him and had befriended him. My heart went out to this guy. I thought, “I don’t know that I want to go out with him. This is really insane. But wow!”
Jodi: Definitely wow!
Jodi: It’s not a story you hear every day.
Theresa: I listened to the rest of the story and what basically happened is that this guy Sam also had two kids. He was married to a woman. Jeff’s ex-wife and Sam wound up getting married. There were two kids from Jeff’s family and two kids from Sam’s family. And I thought, “You know what? This guy is a really good guy. You’re judging the fact that this is such a bizarre situation and you don’t know if you want to be a part of it.” But the truth is, he’s handled it so well because anyone else probably would have freaked and been angry about it. I realized, “This is what I want. I want a good guy who can deal with this¾deal with the tough stuff,” which everyone is going to experience, right?
Theresa: He clearly was an amazing dad and a good ex.
Jodi: He shared all of that with you at the first date?
Jodi: That was a lot to share on a first date!
Theresa: It was clearly something that was important to him at that time. Yeah, I definitely wanted to hear it.
Jodi: What happened when dinner finished?
Sue: It was a little bit awkward, because he clearly didn’t want the evening to end. He said, “Hey, why don’t I show you some these prints that I talked about?” Some of his black and white prints. I did want to see them, but they weren’t at his studio. They’re at his house.
Jodi: At his house!
Theresa: I didn’t originally realize that. So, we went to his house.
Jodi: You got in his car?
Theresa: No, I got in my car. He got in his car. I followed him and went to his house, walked in and I saw a flowered couch.
Jodi: Circa the 1960s?
Theresa: A white couch with big splashes of flowers. I’m a designer. He’s a photographer. “What is he doing with a flowered couch?” I thought. “I don’t even get this.” And I thought, “Don’t say anything.” Of course I did. And he said, “Well, you know, it is kind of crazy, but my ex-wife is British. She has a different aesthetic.” And I thought, “Okay, I can forgive him.”
Jodi: The wife left, but she didn’t take the flowered couch with her?
Theresa: No, she did not take the flowered couch with her.
Jodi: And then?
Theresa: I didn’t want to stay too long. I wound up in the driveway, saying I wanted to go. But he wanted to make more plans. He kind of pressed me. I thought, “Okay, I do like him. I think he’s a really good guy.” And I was attracted to him, beard or no beard. He kissed me goodnight in a way that I don’t think anyone had ever kissed me before. It was incredibly passionate! This was not a guy who went through life subtly feeling things. I could tell that everything he felt was very powerful. I could also see that what he felt for me was really strong. It was a little bit odd because I think he felt that just looking at my photograph. He later said that if he had met me while he was married, I probably would have broken up his marriage.
Theresa: Yeah. I said, “I don’t want to take that responsibility.” He kissed me good night and I laughed thinking, “Wow! That was quite an interesting date!” When I left, I saw that his hand was kind of on his mouth. He told me the next time we went out, that his lips tingled for the next 24 hours!
Jodi: I’ve never heard that said before.
Theresa: Neither had I! I thought it was a little bit bizarre, but he is a very passionate guy.
Jodi: He felt a lot.
Theresa: Yes. I also don’t think I’d ever met anyone who was so present. Sitting across from him, I felt like every atom of this guy’s body was there looking at me, almost looking through me. He was so sensitive to everything he was hearing and seeing. There were certain things that he picked up on that most people wouldn’t, and certainly not a guy. I kind of like those guys who are the emotional type, not necessarily a guy’s guy. It was a really nice date.
Jodi: You went home and what happened the next day?
Theresa: I got an email from him the next day saying that it had been an amazing evening and we should do it again. I thought, “Oh, we’ll figure out when.” But there it was in the email. Let’s do two days from now. He was already making plains!
Jodi: How did that make you feel?
Theresa: I was still feeling a little bit funky about the ex-wife situation and wondering how that would work out.
Jodi: A lot to digest!
Theresa: A lot to digest.
Jodi: What happened with the two of you after your second date?
Theresa: We became a couple. However, I will say that we were more immediately a couple in his mind than in my mind. Did you ever see that movie, Crossing Delancey?
Jodi: I did.
Theresa: Well, if I remember correctly, in the movie the granddaughter asked her grandmother about the Pickle Man.
Jodi: Amy Irving. Yes, she asked about the Pickle Man.
Theresa: And the grandmother said, “This guy just kept bringing me flowers and chocolates and he just was unrelenting.” The granddaughter, played by Amy Irving, said, “So what you do?” And the grandmother said, “I married him. I decided that anyone who love me this much would treat me really well.”
I will tell you, I did not marry Jeff. But he did truly love me and I ultimately realized that you can’t tell the heart what to feel. What I felt was not equal to what he felt, even though he was a wonderful guy. It took a year to really come to that place.
Jodi: I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but you had to be true to your heart.
Jodi: Is there anything that you haven’t shared as a takeaway from this date you had with Jeff that you’d like to?
Theresa: I now have a really different perspective on divorced men. Initially I thought it was overly complicated to be with them. I’ve realized that dating divorced men is better than dating men who have never been married. Now I now only date divorced men. I find that they are generally much more willing to compromise because they’ve had to. The ones who’ve had kids have certainly had to. I think they’ve just learned a lot and someone else has trained them. (Laughter)
Jodi: You haven’t had to do that.
Theresa: Yeah! The other thing that I came away with is the feeling that it doesn’t really matter what the guy’s situation is. The question is, how has he dealt with that situation. Although Jeff’s scenario with his ex falling in love with the son’s teacher who was going through a sex change to become a woman, although that was not easy, the way that he dealt with it was SO amazing, that it made all the difference in the world. One of the things that I now try to find out is whether a guy gets along well with his ex. If he does, not only does it say a lot about him, but your life together will be easier. I think it speaks volumes.
Jodi: Yes. And how do you do that? How do you find out?
Theresa: I try to subtly ask. You can usually tell because if somebody speaks poorly of their ex, it doesn’t speak well of them.
Jodi: If they’re bashing her.
Theresa: Yeah. Yeah. And granted, I only get the male side, which is unfair, because who knows what the female side is, the ex’s side, I have no idea. But I think that if the guy present it in a fair way, then it’s likely that when he’s with you, they’ll do the same.
Jodi: That makes sense.
Theresa: I approach dating a little bit differently now, to the degree that I can. Before I meet someone, I try to have no expectations. I think, “Okay, this is someone who could potentially be a mate, but if they’re not, maybe he could be a business associate, or maybe I could just learn something from him.” It’s been fascinating all the different types of men I’ve met. I now feel that there’s something to be gained from every human interaction and if I’m going to be doing these dates, then I better take something away from each one. And I do.
Jodi: That’s fantastic! You’re not wasting your time.
Theresa: No. And if you go into a date feeling that you are, it’s not going to be very much fun.
Jodi: Thank you for sharing your story and what you took away from it. I’ve enjoyed it.
Theresa: Yes, I have too. Thank you.