I came very close to not showing up for the JDate/HurryDate speed dating event in November 2007 at Woo Lae Oak in Beverly Hills, where I would meet my future wife. I had been on JDate for two years and had met some great people and a couple of nutty ones too, to be sure. All in all, I had had a good time, even if I hadn’t met the love of my life yet. I had signed up to go to the speed dating event, but I was tired from work and ready to go home. One of my co-workers, a married guy who wanted to know what the grass was like on the other side, convinced me to go because he was curious about how speed dating works. I was curious too. So, I decided to go.
I got to the restaurant 5-10 minutes late, but luckily they hadn’t started the round robin. I was surprisingly excited to be there, and I set about to make the most of my experience.
I liked Monica’s joie de vivre from the moment I sat down at my third five-minute date of the night. She was vivacious, positive, bright and flirty, not to mention beautiful. Our conversation was memorable; at least that’s what Monica tells me. [Sweetie, I do recall discussing that we both like to dance, and that you touched my knee as a flirty gesture during our conversation. But, it might also be that I remember that stuff because you’ve told me about it more than a dozen times! ;-)]
With our 15 five-minute dates complete, we all shuffled out of the restaurant. Monica and I sidled up to each other at the valet, both flirting in our own way. She was talking about going dancing. I decided in that moment I would pick her as someone I would want to see again. I knew she would be a fun date, at the very least.
I asked her if she knew a good place to go dancing in the neighborhood. She got a little flustered, not expecting me to take her seriously about going dancing on a Tuesday night. She mumbled something about having to go to work early the next day, got in the passenger side of her friend’s minivan and drove away.
Monica chose me too, and the HurryDate system declared us a “mutual match” and put us in contact by e-mail. Monica’s profile looked like it had been hastily thrown together. It also said she was 30 years old and was curiously silent about her religion. The speed dating event had been billed for women 30-40 years old and men 35-45 years old. I suspected Monica might be younger than the required 30 years and doubted whether she was Jewish. No matter; she seemed really fun. We arranged our next date: coffee at Urth Cafe.
I was a 37-year-old guy looking for a nice Jewish woman in her early 30’s. So, I didn’t have too many sips of tea before I asked Monica about her age and religion. It turns out her minivan friend, Marnie, had roped Monica into joining her at the JDate/HurryDate event at the last minute, and she wouldn’t take Monica’s age and religion as an excuse. Monica was 27 and Catholic.
These revelations did not deter me. My interest in Monica was growing. I gave her a hug as we parted ways at our respective cars. She later told me she was disappointed I didn’t kiss her that night. I had decided to play it cool and (admittedly) score some points for restraint.
We had two more dates before I left for Uruguay on vacation with friends. I realized I was falling for Monica while in Uruguay. I thought about her every day and was really looking forward to seeing her again when I got back home. It was great to hear her voice when I called her on one of the last days of my trip to tell her I was looking forward to seeing her. She seemed touched, and she has since confided that she told all of her friends that I called her from Uruguay.
We began dating each other exclusively as soon as I got back from Uruguay. As luck would have it, when I returned, Monica was moving into a Jewish neighborhood in Beverly Hills adjacent and was on the verge of starting a new job as pre-school teacher at a Los Angeles synagogue. The stars were aligning.
I invited Monica to brunch at my place one Sunday morning to meet my son Ben (from a prior marriage). Ben took to Monica right away, and Monica, a nurturer by nature, accepted Ben with open arms. Three months later, Monica told me she “liked me a lot and that was an understatement,” and I reciprocated, by saying “I love you too.” She moved in with me about four months after that, and converted to Judaism sixteen months later because she said Judaism felt “like home.”
I knew very early on that there was a good chance Monica and I would get married. But, having endured a failed marriage brought on by a lack of compatibility, I wanted to be sure that Monica was the one for me. Two years and four months into our relationship, I was finally ready to propose.
I had bought the engagement ring several weeks earlier and was waiting for a good time to ask Monica to marry me. We were on the verge of completing the Landmark Forum, an all-weekend seminar on transformation. I had invited my parents and sister to fly into town for the Tuesday night end of the seminar, and I had also invited my son and three of my closest friends to join us. Monica had invited her parents too.
As I lay sleepless in bed at 1:00 a.m. the night before the end of the seminar, I remembered an important Landmark concept: we get results in our lives when we start taking risks and stop paying attention to the voice in our heads that gives us a million reasons why something is not possible. At that moment, I decided to do something very out of the ordinary. I left Monica in bed and began formulating my plan to propose to her at the seminar the next evening.
After the seminar ended, I asked all of our guests to join me in a separate room because I had some words I wanted to say to everyone. They filed into the room that had 12 chairs arranged in a circle and a bottle of champagne hidden in the corner. I spoke directly to each person, one at a time, telling them how much they meant to me and the possibilities I saw for our future relationship.
I saved Monica for last. With many of the most important people in our lives looking on, I told Monica that I loved her for her wisdom (far beyond her years), kindness, openness, positive outlook, happiness, adventurous spirit, love of kids, purity of heart and ability to love. I got down on my knee, told Monica that I wanted to create the possibility of being an authentic husband to her, handed her a red box with an engagement ring and asked her to marry me. She paid no heed to the red box, put her arms around my neck, and began crying tears of joy. I had to remind her to look in the red box, yet another reason I love her so much. It was the most memorable moment of my life.
We have scheduled our wedding for February 2011, and we could not be more excited about embarking on our life together as a married couple! Thank you so much JDate and HurryDate!
A little advice for you JDaters® and HurryDaters:
- Make sure you express yourself fully in your profile. If you want to attract the right person, it is best to be real and not hide anything important. Otherwise, you will likely attract people who aren’t a match for you.
- It isn’t hard to know within 5 minutes of conversation if you would want to go out on a date with someone. Speed dating is a very efficient way to meet a lot of people.
- Give people a chance (once you have decided you want to go out with them) and don’t judge them based on their profile or outward appearances. When Monica and I met at the speed dating event, I just thought I’d have fun with her on a date. But, as I got to know her better over several dates, I realized there was some real potential for a relationship.
- Forget about your hurt from past relationships and live with your heart open. This one is easier said than done! If you can do it, you will open yourself up to so many more possibilities.
Monica and Mark
Los Angeles, California