In the four years I spent perusing a range of online dating sites, I often found myself very disheartened. Through a relocation from Washington, DC to Philadelphia, and some on-and-off again relationships, I always ended up back on JDate intermittently looking for something (or someone) that had real potential.
If I were in the business of making confessions, I would honestly say I never believed I’d meet someone online. I generally just thought of my time online as a great way to gather an arsenal of stories about dates-gone-sour and other ridiculousness that I think most people experience on a dating website. My friends loved it, too, as the stories often brought about laughs so hysterical that we were left in tears reflecting on what had become of my dating life. Beyond my mild exaggerations about these men and their hang-ups, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I should be getting comfortable with the idea that I’m not the marrying kind. But just as my grandmother was getting ready to sell my dowry on eBay®, I got an e-mail from a middle school teacher in Norristown.
The teacher’s profile was pretty standard. It didn’t have me rolling on the ground in laughter, and he said a lot of generic things about being close with his family and alluded to the fact that he “liked to have fun.” Surely this couldn’t be anything special. I mean, I would know when I read the profile of my Beshert, right? I would be in awe of his intellect, his wit, his social grace. Oh, and he would somehow manage to portray all of those things in a 3-5 sentence essay, and it would undoubtedly sound like it took no effort at all to write. I just knew that would be the case! In spite of myself, however, I decided to respond to the teacher’s e-mail.
It turns out the teacher had previously sent me an instant message. Little did he know that I had decided instant messages were something that should be left in the 1990’s. Luckily though, he wasn’t deterred when I ignored his first message and he followed-up with an e-mail. After a couple exchanges, we warmed up to one another and he seemed like a nice enough guy, but as my busy summer schedule caught up with me, I absentmindedly forgot to respond to his last inquiry. He waited 5 days and finally wrote one last time to ask if he had in some way offended me in his last e-mail. “Of course not,” I responded, and we agreed that we should just get it over with and meet for a drink the following week—June 30, 2010. I was sure he’d make a great story to tell my friends. The cynical girl inside of me couldn’t wait to figure out what was wrong with him.
We agreed to meet at a local bar, known for its selection of wine and whiskey. He drove in from the suburbs to meet up (a point in his favor already) and when I ran into him in the street on my way to the bar, I recognized him immediately. We hugged and went inside where we struggled to hear each other over the jazz band that was set up next to our table. He had a tan, a warm smile and kind eyes. Oh, and there were dimples involved. Still though, I couldn’t help but be skeptical. Surely he had some kind of crazy ex-wife or major personality flaw that I just hadn’t uncovered yet. A few hours and two glasses of wine later (ok, maybe three,) he offered to drive me home.
I was reluctant to take a ride from someone who was essentially a stranger but as we walked to his car, I realized that we were not walking in the direction of the street where I had run into him earlier that night. Innocently, I asked what he had been doing before our date. He hesitated and looked a bit like a child who’d just been caught stealing cookies from the jar. My mind immediately started to run wild with the worst case scenario. Had he double-booked the night? Was I his second date that day? Don’t be so crazy, Emily, maybe he just got lost finding his way to the bar. “Well,” he explained, “I was nervous to meet you so when I got here a couple of minutes early, I decided to walk around the block to calm my nerves.” For some reason, this struck a chord inside of me. It certainly didn’t sound like something a crazy person would do, and as he opened up my car door I began to suspect that perhaps he really was just as nice as he seemed. And just as you’ve probably guessed, I got home safely that night. We ended the date with a hug and he promised that he would be in touch.
To my surprise, when I got into my apartment that night I couldn’t stop smiling. He texted me when he got home to say he had a great time and that we would go out again soon. I couldn’t wait. This was the first time out of what was probably fifty first dates where I was actually looking forward to our second date. You see, in the past I had often given a second date in an effort to make sure I wasn’t judging these men solely on a first impression. Looking back, the second dates usually ended up being even more awkward or boring than the first. Could the teacher actually be different?
Our first date was on a Wednesday night. Despite the post-date text, when I hadn’t heard from him by Sunday (which also happened to be the Fourth of July) I had almost given up. I was convinced that somewhere along the lines I had failed to maintain a positive balance in my karmic savings account and now the one time I was interested in having a second date with a guy, he wasn’t going to pursue one.
But just as I considered deleting his phone number and blocking him online, he sent a text. He explained he had been tied up with his family during the holiday weekend and he said we’d get together the following week. Then, just as promised, he called and we made plans to go the distance—we were going to go out for an actual dinner date.
The second date was better than the first…. a trend that has pretty much continued throughout our entire relationship. He is kind, generous, and makes me laugh. He tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning, holds my hand more often than not and still opens my car door. By our third date, I suspected he could be something special and by our fifth date, I knew it. We moved in together on our seven month anniversary and, as of March 3, 2011, we are engaged to be married.
I wanted to share my story because if someone as cynical about online dating as me can find her match on JDate, I firmly believe that anyone can. The one and only thing that kept me on the site is the reminder that all I needed was one person. I didn’t need a dozen great first-dates or a lot of awesome guy-friends. I just needed one spark with one guy. So for that and so much more, I am forever grateful to JDate!
Emily & Dave