It was late 2006 when both Adrienne and I had recently ended nearly decade-long marriages that yielded two gorgeous offspring – a boy and a girl – to each of us, as well as the challenge of balancing demanding professional jobs with single-parenting two school-age children while maintaining our sanity. JDate seemed to be the obvious and instinctive solution, at least initially, to prevent insanity.
Adrienne had recently witnessed her brother’s engagement to his successful JDate find. I had long been amused by the successful, active dating life of my perennially single best friend from college (who was quite shy back then) which he attributed to JDate. Of course, over time we both heard of many other JDate success stories through our respective Jewish community gossip channels. Both of us quickly realized that we had been thrust into another active dating era in our lives, but this time with two children, an ex-spouse, six-figure income jobs that left little time to engage in many single adult activities and dating technology completely unknown to us since we last actively dated in the mid-1990’s. Back then, cell phones were unheard of except as large experimental devices believed to cause brain cancer; the internet was for geeks or anti-social people; text messaging, e-mails, digital photography and a camera in a cell phone were completely unimaginable, and JDate or the like?…You get the idea. While today many might fear shame in participating in JDate, to us, JDate didn’t seem nearly as stigmatized as the large ballroom single events of the 1990’s like the “Matzah Ball” held every Christmas Eve.
When Adrienne and I initially signed onto JDate, our priority was to find other Jewish single parents and divorcees our age with whom to network and form a support group. This was especially important in Northern Virginia where the Jewish community was relatively small and single Jewish parents in that community were an even smaller population. I was just as content platonically befriending a single Jewish mother as I was dating a young, gorgeous never-married co-ed. A serious relationship was far from my mind, and Adrienne would have said the same. After a couple of months on JDate, as the new and exclusive owner of a condo (“bachelor pad”) closer to my downtown DC office and already friends with a couple of divorced, single moms, I managed to develop a handful of dating prospects. I intended to have a good time, erasing the bad memories of a difficult marriage and enjoying the privilege of being granted a second period of adult dating life.
But one evening in late November while starting to get involved with a local JDate co-ed, Adrienne’s JDate profile caught my eye. Not only did she have great physical attractiveness and a relatively similar situation, but there was a strong sense of familiarity about her. While she did not look like any specific person whom I had previously met, she looked like a collection of my previous girlfriends. I thought anyone who knows me and who I have previously dated would tell me she looks very much like “my type.” This thought was later reinforced when she would show me a photo album of her young adult life, which provoked me to reminisce about various ex-girlfriends Adrienne resembled at that time in my life.
I started communicating with Adrienne through the JDate e-mail system and eventually our personal home e-mails, feeling sympathetic to her recent separation situation and eager to offer her my support. I also thought she could be another great single mom friend whether or not we ended up dating. My experienced JDater® college friend encouraged me to go out with Adrienne regardless of what else I had going on with other women I had met on JDate because he too identified strong similarities between Adrienne and I. I finally took up Adrienne on her invitation to call her and have a “live conversation.” That was right before Christmas 2006 and as two Jews in relatively non-Jewish Northern Virginia, we decided to preoccupy ourselves on Christmas day with a lunch date. The only decent place I could think of to eat in a reasonable geographic location in the 15 miles between our homes that would be open on Christmas day was the main coffee shop restaurant in a Sheraton hotel that happened to be called, “First Impressions.”
I still recall that one-hour unforgettable date because it was one of the fastest, most enjoyable dates that I wished would never end. The compatibility and similarities seemed to be confirmed, and Adrienne certainly looked at least as good as her JDate pictures. However, I was not one to believe in “love at first sight” and knowing we were both uncertain about our present dating intentions, we left our date simply agreeing that we had a good time, but we would need to ponder our respective dating situations and goals. Later that night, still thinking about the date, I decided to try some 21st century dating protocol. I e-mailed Adrienne about how much I enjoyed the date, how I could have talked to her endlessly, and how I definitely wanted to remain in touch with her regardless of how the relationship could be defined. Adrienne’s reply was, “The feeling is totally mutual. I had a wonderful time and it was a great way to spend my ‘free’ time. You are just as great in-person as on email….” In another couple of e-mails, I decided to ask Adrienne to join me in my condo the following Saturday night to watch the final NFL game of the season between our favorite football teams – the Giants and Redskins. That evening proved to be just as enjoyable as our lunch date, and we proceeded to see each other virtually every weekend from that time until we decided to merge households.
We truly enjoyed our relationship and desired to perpetuate it, but deciding to be permanent and “merge” families was a huge decision that we both took seriously and deliberated over at great lengths, particularly in view of the failure of our first marriages. Unlike our young adulthood decisions to select a spouse, which would affect only ourselves, we had to recognize the significant differences of marrying this time around, such as the impact of the marriage on the lives of our children, the existence of a significant third party (our ex-spouses), and additional legal and financial decisions.. We acknowledged that there were exponentially more pieces of the puzzle needing to fit together in our effort to form a permanent relationship, but we concluded that more pieces seemed to fit together between us than with anyone else. We noticed a great deal of similarities between us and always managed to find a way to comfort each other. In fact, we each determined that we are so uniquely tailored for the other that neither of us would ever find a better partner.
Consequently, when Adrienne decided that she wanted to spend her 40th birthday in the Central American tropics, I recognized the opportunity to propose. Since we had already discussed and decided a few months prior that I would move into Adrienne’s home after the school year ended, I proposed to Adrienne on a nice walk down the Costa Rican beach one morning and the rest is history. I really didn’t expect to jump from one marriage to another, but life is full of surprises and spontaneity. I believe in truly enjoying life. The unexpected must be followed sometimes and everything – good or bad – happens for a reason. Perhaps that is precisely why Adrienne and I found ourselves “between marriages” when we met.
Finally, I would like to urge anyone reading this story and contemplating a subscription to JDate to disregard the stigma associated with “online dating” and to venture into it like any other social networking site. I often hear single friends and family explain their opposition to JDate claiming that it is too contrived a setting for meeting people. Actually, I found JDate to be no more contrived than ordinary courting, and after the initial introduction, the dating process worked the same way it does compared to any other method of introduction. The primary difference with meeting on JDate is that the JDate introduction or “search” process is more efficient. And for people with less time and patience to randomly find Mr. or Mrs. Right, a more efficient meeting process is most welcome.
Thank you, JDate.
Alex & Adrienne