Kevin had big, beautiful, brown eyes. A fabulous smile that could light up a room. And he smelled good. We had just finished dinner on what was, as of that moment, one of the best dates of my life. His hand reached out and stroked my hair. “You are beautiful” he said. My heart jumped into my throat. I was about to say “so are you” when he leaned in and kissed me. It was the perfect way to end that date, so I pushed my chair back, stood up and said “It’s late, I should go.” He placed his hand over mine. “Please, don’t. Let’s get a drink in the bar and talk a bit more.” After that drink, I tried to leave again and he asked me to stay. After the second drink, he asked me to go see a movie with him, since the evening was still young. I hesitated but looked into those beautiful eyes and said, “Sure!” He walked me to my car and pointed to the back of the restaurant where his truck was parked. “I’m parked over there,” he said. “I’ll drive around and you can pull towards the entrance and follow me.” So I got in my car, pulled towards the entrance and waited for his truck. And waited. And waited. No cars ever drove by. So I backed up and drove to the back of the building. I didn’t see him or his truck. But I did see another entrance. He had long since gone. Leaving me alone in a parking lot. I didn’t understand?! I attempted to end the date on three, three, separate occasions. Why on earth did he stand me up mid-date? When he was the one to extend it? I saw him online about a year later and that’s when I found out that he had a girlfriend at the same time as our date. And he felt guilty about cheating on her. So he bailed. Obviously, I was better off without him. His standing me up that night was a gift that he had given me!
I kept this in mind this past Tuesday when I got an e-mail from Date #12 that said “Not interested anymore. But thanks.” While not a true “stand-up”, with only 4 hours to go before the date, it was close. Instead of freaking out, like I did with Date #1, I took a deep breath and thought, “This is a gift,” and trusted that things would simply work out. And they did. A friend immediately set me up with a “substitute” Date #12, Sanjay. Sanjay is calm, friendly, intelligent and attractive. What was supposed to be a 30 minute coffee date at La Madeleine in Reston turned into a 2 hour talkathon. On the surface, being stood up appeared to be a negative event. Yet, I refocused my mind to look at the event as a gift. This enabled me to “go with the flow” rather than allow stress and fear to guide me towards attempts to control the situation. I simply trusted that I deserved for things to work out fine…and they did. That was a huge revelation for me.
On my way home that night, I realized that I’m 1/3 through the 35/35 Project and I started to reflect on the previous 11 dates and the lessons that I’ve learned. For me to truly come out on the other side of this project as the best version of myself I can be, I need to not only think differently and act differently but I need evaluate my actions, recognize them and chart my progress.
1. I let go of control! I was able to see, and feel, that things going “off plan” are a gift to be welcomed and explored. I trusted that things would work out, and they did.
2. I asked a guy out! And he said yes! A few weeks back, I met someone at a wine tasting event at Il Fornaio in Reston and we chatted the entire day away. I gave him my card and followed up with an e-mail letting him know that I’d love for him to join Singles in the Suburbs and that I hoped to see him again very soon. He joined the group, but I never heard from him. I just let it go. But, I came across his card 2 days ago and didn’t hesitate to e-mail him to see if he wanted to get together. In fact, I forgot about the e-mail almost the minute I sent it. Didn’t worry about rejection or obsess over a response in the slightest. Yesterday, he wrote back that he would love to see me. It’s a date!
3. I’ve rediscovered the city! 40% of my dates so far have been in the city. I’ve managed to work a full day, commute to the city in under 45 minutes, find parking, not get a ticket, not get towed and still get home before midnight. Multiple times in a less than 2 week period. And the events I’ve attended in the city have been fabulous. And the people I met because I was open to going into the city, fascinating!
4. I recognized my value and stood up for it! I let one of the dates know that I did not appreciate the disrespect that he was showing me. He was asking me out, but not following through. He was calling me, but not regularly. He was disappearing completely and then resurfacing to say that he wanted to see me again. I used to call it “mixed signals” until my dating coach, Jess McCann, (in her book, “You Lost Him at Hello”) explains that there are no “mixed” signals but rather very CLEAR signals…of low to moderate interest. Instead of making excuses for his rotten behavior, I told him that I’d be continuing to explore my options because I deserved to be interacting with someone equally interested.
5. I took a compliment! Actually, I’ve taken a few – without flinching. I have been able to say “thank you” and truly mean the thanks.
Are there areas where I still need to focus and grow, of course. As both Jess McCann and Dave Elliott, my dating coaches, have said, while this will be a more accelerated and rapid transformation, it won’t be immediate. There is still work ahead of me and that work will come in the form of 22 more dates! But instead of fearing it, or feeling overwhelmed as I did 13 days ago when I went on Date #1 – I feel excited! My life is within my control!
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”