December 7th marked the one-year anniversary of my first date with Melissa.
I wish I could say that I knew from our very first date that this was going to be something special. That the moment I saw her, I was smitten. That our first date was the most amazing date I’d ever been on, full of spontaneous fun and spark-filled exhilaration.
I wish I could say all that. But I’d be lying.
Our first date went well, but honestly, it wasn’t anything spectacular. I certainly can’t say that it stood out above every other first date I’ve been on. Even the circumstances of our meeting weren’t very fairy tale-like.
We met online. The day I contacted her, she was one of a handful of women I was matched with. Several caught my attention, and she was among four or five whom I decided to message.
I was glad she responded, but I wasn’t counting on anything to happen at that point. I wasn’t even expecting that we’d ever meet. I guess my years of online dating have desensitized me to any possible excitement the messaging process may hold.
We emailed back and forth for about a week, that escalated to a phone call, and then I asked if she wanted to meet up. I suggested a local dessert cafe called Heaven Sent Desserts. I knew it was a good venue for first dates because it’s quiet, the desserts validate the name of the establishment, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and clubs nearby should we decide to extend the date.
How did I know all this? Mostly because I’ve been on quite a few first dates there.
When we finally met, I could barely contain my cynicism, as my first thought was, Cool, she actually looks the same in real life as she does in her photos!
Over pastries, we chatted and learned about each other’s lives. I pulled from my repertoire of personal anecdotes that I’ve accumulated—stories that I’ve used on countless first dates because I’ve found, mostly through trial and error, that they’re good for sparking conversations. She seemed to react positively to all of them.
For my part, I enjoyed hearing her personal stories, too (though I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them she was telling by rote). That’s when that that first thought trickled into my conscious mind: Hey, she’s pretty cool. I think I might want to see her again.
After we finished our desserts, she was still smiling in my direction (generally a good sign, I’d say), so I tossed out the first suggestion that popped into my head:“Hey, here’s a random idea. You wanna go swing dancing?”
I explained that I was an avid swing dancer, and I knew of a club just blocks way that had swing dancing on Wednesday nights. Oh hey, look at that, it just happened to be Wednesday night.
She smirked just a little when she observed what a lucky coincidence this was.
At the club, she teasingly asked if this was the first time I had taken a girl swing dancing on a first date. Sheepishly, I admitted that it wasn’t. I evaded any further questions on her part by taking her hands and showing her some basic patterns. She picked up the moves pretty quickly for someone who had never swing danced before.
She met a few of my swing-dancer friends that night. Of course, they only had good things to say about me, and I didn’t even have to bribe them beforehand. Totally unplanned. Honest! One of my female friends asked if she could pull me away for a dance. Melissa graciously obliged, and I got the chance to cut loose and flaunt my dance moves.
After my impromptu show-off session, Melissa and I danced several more songs. And when she expressed interest in learning to swing dance later that night, I decided to test her interest: “Well, I used to teach it, so I’d be happy to show you the more intricate stuff at some point if you want.”
She responded that she’d like that. I guess we were both being tentative. It may have been that neither of us wanted to put ourselves out there too much on a first date. Or, more likely, it may have been that neither of us was particularly sure how we felt about the other person yet.
The date finally ended at around 12:30 a.m. As I walked her to her car, I joked that work was going to suck the next morning. (And it did.) I hugged her goodbye, and then we had our first kiss.
On the way home, I mentally high-fived myself and thought, Hey, that went pretty well.
Over the next few weeks, we went on several more dates. Soon, we found ourselves spending more and more time together. We even took a weekend jaunt to Las Vegas the following month. At that point, I still had zero idea how long this would last. But, I was perfectly okay with that. I didn’t need to know if she was going to be my future wife or my future ex. I was just happy to be with her.
Here we are, one year later. I’m still happy to be with her. I’d say that’s a good sign, too. And it all started with one routine first date.
It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. Let’s face it, our first date was fairly contrived. And I never had that moment where I realized I had fallen in love with her—you know, that Hollywood epiphany set to a slow-motion montage of her, accompanied by a syrupy love ballad.
Nope, nothing like that at all. Instead, my feelings just sort of gradually grew.
And here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yes, there are people out there who are lucky enough to fall in love at first sight, who have heartwarming stories about how they met. Melissa and I don’t have that. But, I certainly don’t believe that makes our relationship any less special.
To me, falling in love at first sight is like winning the lottery. Some people get lucky and win half a billion dollars. Does that mean I should be any less happy with my life because I didn’t win half a billion dollars?
Of course not.
Melissa and I are living proof that spectacular relationships can grow from unspectacular first dates. I don’t know when it happened, but I know I love her. And in the end, that’s what counts.
— Dennis Hong
This post originally appeared on The Frisky.