- After a six-year relationship ended, I decided to get serious about finding The One.
- Luckily for me, I don’t mind dating — so I made an OkCupid profile and got started.
- Within a year I’d gone on more than 30 first dates and met the man who’d become my husband.
I’m one of those weird and rare people who actually really enjoy dating — so when I stepped out of a six-year relationship on the wrong side of 35, getting back on the apps didn’t bother me.
As much as I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, I was ready to move on to the “happily ever after” chapter of my life and eager to meet a man as interested in starting a family as I was.
Though I spent almost all of 2014 going on 30-something first dates, I also met The One.
I got clear about who I was and what I was after
In my 20s, I treated dating — and, if I’m being honest, my whole life — like some kind of zany social experiment. I’d work strange jobs, answer odd Craigslist ads, and sleep with men who weren’t right for me just for fun.
This time around, I realized that if I wanted to meet sincere people willing to get vulnerable, I had to show up with the same energy.
After a couple weeks of silliness, I logged off FarmersOnly and deactivated Tinder — which at that time was exclusively a hookup site — and I focused my efforts on one of the more serious apps at the time: OkCupid.
I filled out my profile completely and earnestly and added my favorite photos of myself — pictures that I felt good in but that were also true to how I looked in real life.
I stopped throwing out red flags and learned to look for them
When I dated in my 20s, I’d do what my friends and I called “front-loading.” I’d tell prospective partners everything awful about me up front so that if they were going to reject me, we could just get it over with.
But by my mid-30s, I’d come to terms with aspects of myself and parts of my story that I used to consider flaws. So this time around, I stopped exposing these facts in the first five minutes after meeting a person.
Instead of obsessing over my perceived flaws and insecurities, I focused on whether the person in front of me had something to offer. I’d make a mental note if a man spoke ill of others — especially other women, like their mother or exes — and anyone who’d obviously behaved badly in past relationships.
Information like this was revealed often and early — sometimes on the first date. One guy had no qualms about leaving a co-parent and a small child to move cross-country and devote himself to writing a book. There was also a musician who couldn’t name a single female vocalist he liked, which signaled to me that he didn’t consider women in his field equals. Another date made a homophobic joke about a male jogger’s short shorts.
Details like these wouldn’t automatically disqualify a person, but they were definitely red flags.
I quickly let go of relationships that weren’t working
I’m attractive enough, personable, and very skilled at making people feel seen and heard. As a consequence, I almost always had the option of going out with a guy for a second time.
Initially it was difficult to reject folks I’d put in the “nice, but not for me” category. I felt guilty about potentially hurting someone’s feelings, and maybe a little fearful that I couldn’t do better.
One very kind man, for example, probably would’ve done anything for me; in fact, he actually did my taxes that year. But after dating casually for a couple months, I knew he wasn’t what I was looking for, so I stopped letting him buy me extravagant dinners.
I was quickly learning what I wanted and increasingly willing to trust that what I was really looking for was out there. I had to end things with a funny, great-looking guy who traveled for weeks on end for his job; he’d assured me it wouldn’t be an issue, but it was an issue for me. I also knew that if I wanted to find someone to settle down with, I had to stop seeing those men I had crazy sexual chemistry with but clearly didn’t want anything serious.
One of the hardest relationships to move on from was the one — and only! — guy who actually broke up with me. After eight months of dating exclusively, I had fallen hard. But rather than chase after him or stay at home licking my wounds, I kicked my copy of his house keys down a drain and reactivated my OkCupid profile.
In the end, I also let go of my ‘rules’ and listened to my heart
I was barely over my breakup when I met the man who would ultimately become my husband.
Arran checked all the boxes: He was clever and funny, he had a great job, and he had a good relationship with his mother, to name just a few attractive qualities. But the fact that he smoked pot and drank heavily concerned me.
It also felt too soon to get serious again — so when he asked to be exclusive after our third date, my instinct was to run.
Instead, I trusted my gut and logged out of the dating apps with the promise that I’d log right back in if I had to.
Six-plus years, two kids, and a house in the suburbs later, we’re still going strong.