After being married for eight years, then getting divorced, I decided I was ready to date again, but knew I needed some practice. Realizing this, I shared with my best girlfriends that I had an unusual New Year’s Resolution: I would go on 50 first dates in 2019.
They replied, “You WOULD do that Heather!” This idea was inspired by the movie, 50 First Dates starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. Drew Barrymore’s character, Lucy, has anterograde amnesia from a car accident, which inhibits her from forming new memories. She wakes up every morning thinking it is the day of her accident. Adam Sandler’s character, Henry, falls for Lucy and takes her on 50 first dates, attempting to make her fall in love with him every day since she doesn’t remember their previous dates.
I thought that it wouldn’t be too crazy since that added up to be about one date a week since there are 52 weeks in the year. After all, my goal was less crazy than Adam Sandler’s. Right? I started by making an excel sheet to keep track of it all.
Yes, my friends teased me about this saying, “You are so weird!” I laughed and replied, “How else am I supposed to keep track of it all!?” I then got on the dating app, Mutual, a dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I am a confident happy girl, but I was a little intimidated to start dating. I would ask myself, “What LDS guy would want to date a divorced girl?” My friends would reply, “What LDS guy would NOT want to date YOU?!” I have had family members and friends get happily remarried after a divorce and I knew it was possible… but it was something I struggled with at the beginning. Thankfully, after dating for a bit, I realized that the majority of men didn’t feel like it was a deal breaker.
By using Mutual, I was also able to have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people that I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. I was able to go on a date with someone from Brazil! I was able to date guys from a wide range of backgrounds including converts, pioneer ancestry, inactive, never married, and divorced. I met men who were Nepalese, African American, Japanese, Korean, White, Brazilian, and Hawaiian. Their occupations included dentist, event planner, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, and a computer programmer.
Out of the 50 dates, 40 of them I met on Mutual, and I asked out three of the guys. Two had girlfriends (they said no, ha-ha) and one was interested in men. That’s okay. I don’t regret asking them. Live life with no regrets! I am 29 and the youngest I went on a date with was 24 and the oldest was 37. Even with the differences, all the dates were the same in one way: we got to know each other.
So, What Did I Learn After 50 First Dates?
1. MAKE IT SIMPLE
“By Small and Simple things are great things brought to pass.” -Alma 37:6
After telling my guy friends what my plan was, they would say, “You are just doing this for free meals!” I would reply with, “That isn’t true. I want to meet someone!” I actually would turn down a lot of dinners. I would kindly suggest we should get dessert or hot cocoa instead. It is cheaper and faster. One of my favorite dates in this experiment was completely free. It was on a Sunday since I had a hectic schedule that weekend. He originally asked me out for dessert for Saturday, but I was busy, so I asked, “Would it be weird to meet up in a park or something on Sunday instead?” We met up and all we did was take a walk. One of my least favorite dates was going out to dinner AND an activity. He was a nice guy, but I felt like it was the date that would never end because we didn’t have any chemistry. I felt like I was on a date with a plant. Yes, I said PLANT! I don’t think first dates should be expensive or long. If a couple clicks it isn’t necessarily about what they are doing. It is more based off if they have a connection.
2. BE POSITIVE AND HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
“Find happiness in ordinary things and keep your sense of humor.” -Boyd K. Packer
I was able to learn how to have a fun time whether I was on a date with a plant or if the guy was hilarious. I was able to enjoy the date for what it was with positive energy! My dates were taking time out of their schedule to meet with me and so I did my best to be kind, happy, and show my authentic self. Sometimes, I had to have a sense of humor when guys would ask me, “Why did you get divorced?” In my mind, I was thinking, this isn’t something that needs to be talked about on a first date. However, I knew that question would come up so I came up with a basic response I could tell anyone, including friends, my ward, and family that doesn’t need to know all the details. I would smile and reply, “Oh! He didn’t like cheese!”
Some guys would look at me like I was CRAZY and think I was telling the truth, and some guys would laugh at the sarcasm. The first guy that laughed at that joke was someone I clicked with well. That guy and I ended up going on seven dates! Our personalities were very similar but as we got to know each other better I realized we would be a better fit as friends. Sorry ladies! He isn’t currently single, ha-ha.
3. BE KIND
“We are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us.” -Thomas S. Monson
From the beginning, I wanted to have a non-harming attitude. I told myself I would not ghost a guy and I have kept that promise to myself. Ghosting is when you end the relationship without any communication. I knew it was a common thing in the current dating culture, but I didn’t realize how common it was. After going on 50 first dates, I can now see why a lot of people ghost. I had a few experiences where the person would not let it go. They would ask me, “Why?” and I would tell them that I didn’t feel any chemistry, I only had platonic feelings, or whatever reason it was. One guy, in particular, was overbearing. We had gone out twice before and he wanted to ask me out for a third date. I was planning on saying, “Yes,” for the third date. Then he asked me out on seven dates in four days even though I clearly told him at the beginning of the week that I wasn’t free till the weekend. I then told him I was no longer interested.
Even if I knew I was clearly not interested after meeting them in the first few minutes, I told myself, I would finish the date and enjoy myself getting to know a new person. My thinking was that even if I wasn’t interested romantically, I can still get to know them. I would try to have this attitude:
“My date is a Child of God and Heavenly Father loves him. Heavenly Father cares about this person’s life and so will I.”
Even though I didn’t ghost people, I did get ghosted. And that is okay. I didn’t have expectations on how they would treat me, only how I would treat them. My least favorite ghosting experience was probably my first. We had talked on the phone a couple of times for a couple of hours prior to the date and we seemed to have chemistry. We then met up for hot cocoa and talked for three hours. That is a really long date for me. The date was EPIC! I usually try to keep a first date around an hour. The date went well in my eyes. We laughed and talked about a wide variety of subjects.
After the date, he called me and told me he wanted to take me out again, I said, “Yeah, that would be fun.” I then went on a vacation to the Aulani Resort in Hawaii with my family. He and I texted a little bit during my vacation but not a ton since I was on a trip. I then came home from my Hawaii trip, and called him up, and said, “Hey! It’s Heather, how are you?” You won’t guess what happened next! He said, “Oh…. uh…Aghhhh!!!!” And then hung up. I laughed so hard!
This is a great example where I was able to practice non-attachment and not have my worth tied to a person, as Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is says: “It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” By the way, he was thirty years old. I was like, well that’s over…. It wasn’t my favorite experience, but I have gratitude for it because now I can have empathy for others because I know how it feels. I was actually driving to another date when I called him, so it didn’t take me long to move on. I still laugh so hard when I tell that story.
4. BE VULNERABLE AND HONEST
“Honesty is the moral compass to guide us in our lives.” -James E. Faust
When I made this goal, I knew that I would need to be vulnerable. I had the potential of getting myself hurt. I also gave myself permission that if I met someone and wanted to date them that it would be okay to not finish my goal. If I am honest, my emotions did get hurt. For example, when someone ghosted me again or when I was frustrated with myself because I would meet a great guy and go out a few times but didn’t feel more than platonic feelings for them. I not only decided that I would be honest with them, but I had to be self-aware and be honest with myself too. I didn’t only ask, “Do they like me?” I would also ask, “Do I like them?”
I was put into many situations where I let myself be vulnerable because I wanted to learn not only about dating but also about myself. Even if a guy was not interested, if he showed truthfulness and non-violent communication, it showed maturity. I tried to do the same by respecting their feelings and space. Part of being kind was being understanding towards them and where they were at maturity-wise. When this happened, I was impressed by his ability to communicate—this also made it easier to move on quickly. I discovered that when a guy was vulnerable and was able to be self-aware it was incredibly sexy. So, I came up with this statement:
‘Emotionally healthy is the new sexy.’
At least according to Heather! It was interesting to observe others discover themselves while I discovered things about myself too. As Marianne Williamson, Author of A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” said: “It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” I would say this is so worth it and rewarding!
5. ENJOY BEING SINGLE
“Seek the good in yourself.”-Jeffrey R. Holland
After this experience, I am still single. But… I love my life!
I was able to practice enjoying being single and I was able to do a lot of fun things like go on girl’s trips to St. George and Park City, spend time with friends, family, travel, practice my talents, and learn new hobbies! I was able to observe my mindfulness and learn more about me. Doing this helped me live in the present moment, enjoy the dates, my life, grow my yoga emotional health workshops business, and surrender my life to Heavenly Father. During all of this I learned that when the time is right and I meet someone, I want to date someone that is practicing being self-aware and has a positive attitude. If that is what I want, it would make sense that I expect the same thing from myself. I was able to meet a lot of great guys; some were unique, and some were extremely impressive. I’m grateful that I got to get to know each one of them because I was sparked with new questions about myself, life, and I was able to hear their stories. This was an experience I will never forget; especially since it took me half the time than I thought it would; but I don’t plan on doing it again. Now my plan is that I am going to continue to enjoy being single and have faith that “it” will happen at the right time. Faith in Heavenly Father’s timing, right?
Heather is a blogger, podcaster, and Certified Prana Yoga Instructor. You can follow her on Instagram at @bloomtruthyoga. She has a Bachelors in Behavioral Science and loves Jesus, yoga, traveling, outdoors, ice hockey, and cheese.