With butterflies in my stomach, I arrive at the quaint coffee shop to meet my date — my first date in more than a year. After recently turning 40, I decided to give dating another try and set a goal for myself: 40 dates in one year. (You can read the details of my goal in my previous blog post.)
Though I didn’t get to have the Valentine’s date I was hoping for, I did go on my first five dates. In my new commitment to dating, I have decided to be more intentional, prayerful and open to all the unknown variables that come with the dating territory. I tend to struggle a lot with fear and confidence, so “putting myself out there” isn’t easy. I encourage myself with verses like Psalm 139:10-11, which reminds me that wherever I am, God leads me and keeps me safe.
Date No. 1
I remind myself of this as I approach my first date, “Peter.” It seems like a long walk from my car to the outside patio where I see a guy, about my age, with sandy blonde hair and a build meant for a football field. My mind begins racing. I don’t know anything about football. Are we even going to get along? What if this is a disaster?
I remind myself of what I do know about this guy: He’s a believer who writes thoughtful emails. After deciding to go on 40 dates in a year, I signed up for online dating. I figured it was a good place to start as I reentered the dating scene. I liked the idea of a dating site that helps me find someone with similar interests. I met Peter shortly after signing up. I liked that he sent well-written emails. Over email, we discussed our career paths, overseas trips and shared our testimonies. We seemed to connect.
As I approached him outside the coffee shop, we both smiled. We got our drinks and talked for about three hours. The conversation was strong and insightful. I couldn’t tell if we were a “match,” per se, but he was a complete gentleman.
Even though I didn’t end up hearing from him again, I learned a valuable dating lesson: Spending time with new people can be a great adventure. We may not be a match, and that’s OK. Very possibly, God has someone for each of us. And I have 39 more dates this year to possibly find him.
Dates 2, 3 and 4
After Peter, I go on three dates with a sweet guy I also met online whose testimony radiates the grace of Jesus. I enjoy his kindness and his ability to really listen. Though I enjoyed my time with him, I felt that he was moving too fast. After our third date, he asked a question that was way too personal and made me uncomfortable. As difficult as it was, I gently let him know that I was not interested in anything more than friendship.
Date No. 5
My fifth date — with a third guy I met online — was fun, but I learned something about boundaries. The day before the date, the guy asked if he could pick me up at my house and take me to a surprise location. I said, “No.” Even though I felt a bit uneasy, I did meet him by driving myself to the location.
In hindsight, I realize I probably shouldn’t have gone on the date when I had a weird feeling about it. In the future, if someone asks to pick me up or drive me to an unknown place for a first date, I will politely decline the date. As much as I want to be open and vulnerable in the dating process, I also need to be safe.
That date ended up being fine. He actually apologized for asking those questions. But, in the future I will trust my instinct and will not take any chances.
So far I’m enjoying each date, even though none have been a match. I’ve also learned to remain open to new people while setting appropriate boundaries for safety. And through it all, I know God is in control and guiding me.
In the next few weeks, I plan to meet potential dates by doing the thing that we introverts dread the most: participating in social events. However, I know God will help me be brave as I explore a perspective outside my comfort zone.
Beth Ariane is an artist who enjoys reading C.S. Lewis, eating small bits of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and getting her groove on in Zumba class a few times a week.