Dating Diaries: It’s Never Too Old To Find Love & Excitement – Juliana’s story

Juliana is a 40-year-old executive  life coach. She says, “I like dressing up, but I take my heels off the moment I can. I like to play sports with my friends, write and read poetry, go to restaurants and comedy shows and hang out in the park on the weekend.” She adds, “I like food way too much for my activity level.” Juliana wants to date someone who is “good-looking, available, mature and successful — but ‘success’ can be defined in any number of ways.”

I tried and stopped online dating after a particularly disconcerting breakup, but several weeks later, I downloaded a new dating app. At first, I hated it and was ready to delete it when I matched with a guy who seemed wonderfully normal. Gabriel was very tall, handsome, fully divorced — as opposed to just separated — with children and a real job. He responded to my message and we quickly established that we were both looking for an actual relationship. The next day he asked if we could move to the phone.

Our work schedules conspired against us and we didn’t get a first date set up for 10 days. In that time we had several phone calls that lasted hours but didn’t feel that way. He was easy to talk to and things just clicked.

Interacting so much with someone before the first face-to-face meeting is risky. Normally, I like to establish via text if we’re looking for similar things and if there is intellectual chemistry then have a brief phone call and meet for a quick coffee or drink. Otherwise, I get too invested.

This time, we had had several long phone conversations prior to meeting and since our first date was  to watch  a game, it wasn’t going to be quick. On the day of the date, I was filled with nervous excitement, wondering if it would be the same in person with Gabriel as it was on the phone. Until you’re next to each other, you can’t know if you have physical chemistry.

We met at a restaurant for appetizers before the game. Gabriel looked exactly like his pictures. He seemed a little nervous at first, as was I, but in the course of establishing what to order, we both settled down. He’s a laid-back guy, but showed a good balance of taking charge and respecting my opinion. I’m confident and outgoing, but don’t like always being in charge. Someone who can navigate that is appealing.

Gabriel paid for the snacks. As we threaded our way through the crowd toward our seats, he didn’t lead me by the hand, but was mindful of where I was in relation to him. Again, he found a good middle ground. We sat in cramped seats and our legs touched as much from proximity as desire. I decided to make the first move, reaching my hand out to touch his and he quickly enveloped my hand in his.

We talked almost constantly, even though it was so loud in the stadium. We talked about our jobs, travel, food and even a little about our exes. While some people say never to mention them on a date, I find that impractical because they’re usually a part of our lives, like it or not. He asked me a lot of questions about myself and made me feel like he was interested in my opinion and interests. I find many people don’t ask questions and it’s a big turnoff.

I was going through my internal checklists about how he described his friends, the relationship he had with his family, how he resolved work problems, what kind of arrangement he had with his ex, that kind of thing. It tells me a lot about a person. He did really well on all counts.

It was an amazing and intense game, which certainly helped make the atmosphere even more exciting. I forget exactly how the first kiss happened. We joked about it later and he said I leaned in first, but he was really holding my gaze and I felt he was inviting it. His lips were soft and the kiss was tender. It was one of the best first kisses I’ve ever had. The pace was perfect too — our lips touched and then paused and touched again, like a tease. We kept going, not caring who was sitting around us. Just tens of thousands of screaming fans!

After the game he took charge once again and seemed to know exactly where he was taking me. This time he led me by the hand. We went for dinner and over drinks talked effortlessly. I was surprised when I looked at my watch and saw how many hours we’d been together.

It was an amazing first date, made even more special somehow by sharing our first kiss with a stadium full of people. The team, we were supporting won, which made the date even better.

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