There is nothing like the experience of having your FIRST DATE in TWENTY YEARS! I sort of stumbled into dating again accidentally, without a clue of what I was doing. Getting ready to have those first dates after a long relationship is daunting, humorous and fun, but dating again at middle-of-life is a chapter worth living.
My first post-divorce date was with a wonderful man whom I will call "The Catalyst." Actually, how I stumbled upon him was really a fluke. It all started when I went on Craigslist to look for a desk for my home office. After not finding much in the furniture section, I happened to see the personals and that is where it all began.
If I knew before this that Craigslist had personals, I had forgotten. Who would think to go there looking for a date? I decided to take a peek and *bravely* went to the "strictly platonic" section! There was an ad that caught my eye where a man said he was just looking for someone to email throughout the day. This sounded like a softer way to start talking to men again. I had NO idea if I could still be charming or flirtatious...I had no idea what to do with midlife men at all!
The Catalyst responded to my email right away and I think that first day, we exchanged 42 more. There was great conversation from the start. The reason I call him the Catalyst (and yes, he knows that will always be his place in my life) is that he helped me so much in forming my own thoughts on the life I was going to create for myself now...we talked about any and everything! Even though I had already started to find ME again and was loving being in a position to reinvent myself, our talks really made me a better person and a better version of me.
It's easy to get so focused on the physical that some won't understand this, but we never exchanged pictures. Actually, we never planned to meet at all, so it didn't matter to me. But because we talked so easily over email and text, we changed our minds on that part of our original agreement. Finally, after a month, we decided we owed it to each other to go on a date.
As SOON as the date was scheduled...my girlfriends and I began to pow-wow! There were visits to the hair salon, the nail salon and debates on what to wear! It was fun, but somewhat of an 'ordeal!" While I do know the catalyst had bought a new shirt to wear that night and it was his first date in years, too, he had NO idea how monumental it is to a woman to be on a date for the first time in 20 years!
The night of the date, my BFF came over to help me get ready and by the time she waved to me as I drove down the driveway, I felt like I was going to prom! I had a big bundle of nerves and excitement turning in my stomach and I was probably shaking a little inside too. I'm not a nervous nelly in most circumstances but I was so worried, after a whole month invested, that maybe it would be a disaster in person!
We pulled up at the same time and honestly, the Catalyst looked much the way I imagined him but different all the same. The Catalyst had warm blue eyes and a British accent. However, the WHOLE attraction I had with him from the start was how he appreciated and cared for my mind! The real way to my heart and soul is to explore my mind, my thoughts, my values and more...in all their ever-developing glory.
I was most worried that perhaps we wouldn't have the same easy ability to talk in person. I was wrong! We went to an Indian restaurant and although the food was almost as excellent as our conversation, we had chemistry like I had never felt before. So for three hours we sat in that booth talking about a zillion things and at times, we didn't talk at all...we caught each other's eyes and just stared, getting off track mid-sentence.
Then we relocated to an outdoor pub and sat side by side for another three hours, talking and laughing and even both having tears in our eyes over some topics. There was sweet hand-holding and then after six hours, it was very late and we had to say goodnight.
He walked me to my car and he had told me numerous times that he would be too nervous to make a move so I wasn't sure if he would kiss me or not, but I sure was ready for one. We did...it felt easy even though it was a strange experience kissing someone new. We stood in the parking lot kissing for a bit despite college kids coming and going around us as they walked to the bar. We joked that someone would probably video us with their phones and put it on Youtube saying "Ew...look at these two old people kissing!"
As I drove home I wasn't on cloud 9, I was on cloud 87! On top of the amazing time we had, I lived through my first date in 20 years. As corny as it sounds, it was magical and I'm grateful that my great experience gave me an optimistic view of dating at this age.
Years later, it's funny to look back and know that first date eventually became the starting place for a new career centered around helping others date and find love again...you just never know. If you find yourself worried about your first post-divorce date, remember whether its magical or mundane, it's a milestone for the next chapter of your new life...and it might even be one of the best ones! Enjoy it!