It’s finally over: the first date after divorce. I’m happy to report it was painless. The best thing about it was that it wasn’t really a date. We were just getting together as a follow-up to an enjoyable meeting at a party connected with a professional conference. I’m not looking for a “boyfriend.” I only called it a date because it has been 40 years since I met a man late at night alone. And I wanted to get the somewhat scary idea of that first date after divorce over with.
You can get great advice from website gurus and friends, but they are so darned intense, as if each date should win an Oscar for screenplay, an Emmy for best actor and actress, and a Tony for set design and costume. Here are my observations for those who already star in their own life and don’t need to “score” to have a hit.
- Make it a quickie. We met at a wine bar after he had dinner with a friend and I saw a Broadway play with my friend. It was a perfect spot to knock one back and run, or to sit a while and sip.
- Make it convenient. It was only a few blocks from where I was staying in Manhattan, so I could very easily have walked “home” with no escort no matter how late it was. On a Friday night you are never alone on a street with restaurants and bars.
- Let go of expectations. Just be you. There’s nothing to lose here. It’s not a race. You don’t have to get an “A.” And there are no critics in the front row.
- Doubt yourself. You were good enough yesterday, and you’ll be good enough tomorrow — no matter how this date goes. You dressed up and showed up. That’s a great start.
- Come with an agenda. My friends wanted me to find out this and that and everything. I just wanted to see what it was like to talk with a man around my age. It was easy to ask questions because we had our profession in common. That provided a pretty good second act after our first meeting.
- Let the goodbye get in your way. You know it will be awkward, so the only challenge is how awkward. This guy seemed rather more formal than last time we said goodbye. He seemed to be sticking out his hand to shake. I gave him a hug anyway because I was so grateful that my first date was over.
But that was not the end. The end was when I went upstairs and my friend was waiting up for me as I tiptoed by her door (well, she said she was watching a movie). I didn’t have much to tell, but that never stopped us before from staying up and talking about men and other stuff. Just like in college, when I had my last date, perhaps the most important thing is to have a friend to come home to (physically or virtually), with whom you can laugh it off no matter how it went.
Judy Kirkwood is working her way up to dinner with a date.