My first blind date was a lunch date with a man named JT. It was a weekday. I left the office a little early to make sure I arrived on time. I debated that morning whether my heels were the best choice since I didn’t know how tall JT was. (I’m always nervous I’ll be taller than my date.)
We were introduced by a mutual friend I trusted, so I went to lunch with an open mind. There was a handsome man standing at the entrance of the restaurant, looking out over the crowd. When our eyes met, he smiled, pointed at me, and said, “Are you Carrie?”
I was delighted. He was handsome, still taller than me with my heels on, and I’d find out over the course of the next hour he was also intelligent, driven, and grounded. We shared the typical first-date highlight reel, but there was a bit more humor because we already knew we had similar friends and common interests.
He hugged me after lunch, and I left feeling excited. I didn’t typically enjoy first dates, so I was surprised by how much fun I had. The most shocking thing about my blind date was how I felt the following days: I was happier, lighter, and felt more feminine than I had before.
JT and I met several more times. We ended up becoming better friends but never romantically involved. It took me a while to realize that it was the thought of our mutual friend that increased my mood. A friend of ours thought so highly of us both that she went out of her way to introduce us, hoping we’d form something meaningful.
For the first time, dating had increased my self-confidence rather than tearing it apart.
And JT wasn’t the only man I was set up with by a mutual friend. Paul and I were set up by my Pilates instructor. She also turned out to be Paul’s ex (which I didn’t realize when I agreed to go out with Paul).
Paul and I were introduced because of the complementary qualities we possessed. Biking was his thing and Pilates was mine. We were both close to our families. We both volunteered. We were both educated and open to new experiences. We ended up dating for nearly a year.
Don't get me wrong, I've had some uncomfortable experiences on blind dates.
One man showed me a gun he was carrying in his pocket. I hadn't asked to see it. Another just stared at me for the first 20 minutes or so. A third man walked out when he learned I was a writer because he was afraid I'd end up writing about him one day. Guess what...
When I engage with men through the world of online dating, I experience another confidence boost.
I connect with someone, exchange texts or emails, and meet shortly after. The first meeting is usually less than an hour and we go our separate ways. Most men I meet these days aren't interested in anything serious for the first few dates. So, I give myself permission to go on as many dates with as many men as I want.
And I've never been more excited about being single than I am right now. I still meet men I don't connect with or see a future with. But I'm no stranger to saying what needs to be said.
Last fall, I dated a man who asked me why I hadn’t been married before. It happens a lot. I told my date I had run after my career in my 20s and was determined to make an impact on the world before looking for love.
He patted my thigh and said, “It’s too bad you missed your opportunity to get married. And if you don’t get pregnant in the next year, you’ll miss that opportunity, too.”
I left the date shortly after that. His comments hung in the air like fog. I knew I didn’t believe what he said. I just couldn’t believe he really thought that about women like me. I accepted an invitation to have dinner with him a few nights later. I wanted him to know how perfectly happy I was with the course and direction of my life. I told him I still believed I would have the things he believed I'd missed out on. And I really believed every word.
I never saw him again. I’ll always be grateful to him, though. My date gave me an incredible opportunity to stand up for myself in a way I had never done before. And I ended up writing about that experience for a woman’s magazine shortly after.
I’ve learned a great deal about myself thanks to the men I’ve dated. And, as a 37-year-old woman, I have dated my fair share. We’re all just looking for connections. And just because I don’t connect with a man doesn’t mean I’m wrong or he’s wrong. We’re just not right for each other.
I date a lot. I have great conversations with men. I’ve made a number of new friendships, and my circle of friends and acquaintances has evolved because of my dating life. I’ve never been happier as a single woman. Dating is a game, and despite what it oftentimes feels like, the odds are in our favor.