Dating Diaries: I Hit Jackpot With This Pre-clearance Date Oh- Shade’s Story

Shade is 36, works in interior design. She says “I like relaxed, contemporary glamour when it comes to my style, but sometimes I push the envelope and get creative.” She says “I like to do everything, from benefits and galas to farmers markets to hiking.” She loves to work, entertain, and have long conversations over wine with friends and strangers. She adds “Everyone I know would say I’m a fantastic host.”

I have a few people that I go out with here and there, but I’m looking for a great relationship with the right person. Being a new face on a dating site always gets attention. When I set up a profile on a site I hadn’t used before, a number of men reached out right away.

A few sent messages that clearly indicated they didn’t read my profile. For example, I said in my opener how much I like it when men pay attention, ask questions, and don’t just compliment a woman’s looks. “You’re hot” is just not going to cut it with me.

I was clear that I’m looking for a relationship. Several guys actually sent nice, thoughtful messages, but based on my review of their profiles, I wasn’t interested. I sent them all polite “Thanks, but no thanks” messages. This time, nobody called me names in response, which was a nice change. Welcome to online dating.

There was one guy I was curious about. He was bald, divorced, a business professional, and about 10 years older. I liked what I saw on his profile: he referenced his dedication to his friends and family, his love of food, and his need for great conversation. His profile wasn’t saccharine, but he said he was a romantic. He also had a good opening message that proved he actually read my profile.

We messaged, moved to text, and then talked on the phone over lunch on a workday. It lasted an hour. He was funny and interesting and inquisitive. It’s a huge thing for me to have an initial connection like this. I’ve tried dating people without it, and it doesn’t work.

After our call, Will sent a text that said he felt like he rushed me off the phone. He said he wanted to have a real conversation with me, and that midday at work was not the best time. He said he was looking forward to getting to know me, and that he hoped I had a good afternoon. I liked the sensitivity and presence that demonstrated.

Having been on a series of torturous and overlong first dates, I now restrict a first meeting to a coffee or an after-work drink. I call it a “pre-clearance” date, because it allows for a quick assessment of chemistry and attraction. It means I’m not stuck suffering over an entire meal if the dynamic is off. Less alcohol means better decision-making, too. Will and I had trouble aligning our schedules, but wanted to see each other soon, so we agreed on something unusual for me: a morning coffee, before work.

Will was late to meet me, and stressed about it. He texted and then called because he was mortified and he wanted me to know it’s not his MO. I liked that he was considerate and respected my time.

I had one response immediately after meeting him: he’s way better looking in person. He looks younger than he is, and has piercing eyes and full lips. When he greeted me with a hug, he proved to be rather muscular, as well. Sensitive, funny, a good conversationalist, handsome and strong? Sign me up.

We talked for an hour. Everything from music to our family backgrounds. It was effortless and fun and full of quick-witted banter. Physical appearance is one thing, but there is nothing like verbal jousting with someone to get me excited on multiple levels.

We talked about the things that don’t often make it onto an online dating profile, like sex. I liked how he responded to me. I liked him.

We didn’t want to stop talking, but I told him I had to go, and he admitted he was supposed to be somewhere 30 minutes prior. We walked to his car, stood face to face, and all I could think about was how full his lips were, and how he kissed.

I didn’t get a chance to find out. We both expressed our pleasure about meeting each other, and he seemed sincere. We hugged, he kissed me on the cheek, and got into his car. I wore a smile the rest of the day.

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