About one year ago, Dorise Gruber wrote a post for The Debrief titled “Dating by the Numbers.” It wasn’t a forum for outlandish stories or grievances, but rather an opportunity to analyze her experiences, quantify them and learn from a particularly steep “n” value—125 first dates in five years! Today she provides us with an update on her love life.

At present, my fiancé is curled up in bed and I’m trying to type quietly so as not to wake him.

I figured “Dating by the Numbers” deserved an epilogue.

Adi was first date No. 130, which was easy to calculate only because there were so few between my blog post and our first encounter. I was lax about quantifying anything beyond the initial 125, only half-heartedly maintaining tabs on the subsequent handful.

Though my post ran last October, I had written it in late June. After spending time deconstructing my dating experiences, I spent a good two months off the online dating circuit while I tried to reassess my strategies, marinating on the things I’d discovered. Shortly before the post went live, I re-upped my OkCupid profile for a negligible amount of days before leaving the state for three weeks. I stumbled upon the profile of a fellow who seemed like he might be a good personality fit—witty, stable, good-natured and Jewish, to boot. It appeared as though he might even be handsome, despite the questionable status of his facial hair (some photos with a little stubble, most whisker-free). Resolute to send messages only to people who followed the tenets true to my thesis, I wrote to Adi and one or two others. No one responded. I left town and, feeling only mildly deflated, took my profile down once more.

I returned to town, my 30th birthday came and went, and after a few casual non-Internet dating encounters fizzled, I hardened my resolve once more, spent a bit of time updating my online profile for the five-dozenth time, and hunkered down for the long haul of Internet dating in my 30s. Adi sent me a chat message in under 24 hours of my return to the site, past midnight, just as I was getting ready to go to bed.

sup

I ignored it. I’d written him a really nice, personalized, two-paragraph message months before, and there was no way I was going to entertain such a lazy, bro-y response.

Probably noting that I customarily went to check out his profile after the text prompt and wasn’t reciprocating, he quickly rattled on:

he said, not realizing she doesn’t know him and might think that’s how he normally says hi
until he typed that out to indicate he was self-aware about it

hi
!

A more appropriate intro, to be sure. I softened and we chatted for nearly an hour. It took about 10 minutes for me to realize that he was angling to initiate conversation rather than replying to the initial message I’d sent nearly two months prior. He admitted he’d never seen my message—he had been dating someone at the time, ignoring messages, and apparently deleted my icebreaker without even reading it, in order to clear his inbox.

I cannot accept the notion that love is merely a numbers game. I easily could have gone on another 125 dates and still come up dry. I believe in randomness, and I believe in luck. I do not believe in the Jewish concept of beshert, a soul mate—I believe in weathering the dating slog until you’re fortunate enough to bumble your way into the Yahtzee of life companions, and I believe in the ability to recognize the right thing when it smacks you in the nose.

We met two days later at my favorite Lower Allston bar. Even his pre-date texts were impressive—flirty, silly and connected, without being too indifferent or aggressive. We met and the bond was immediate. We got drinks and he got food, and then we attempted to go to a concert that wound up selling out before our arrival, so instead we continued down to an Allston tea café, where we played Jenga and word games and shared stories until the place closed. It was the easiest first date I’d ever been on, an A+ date, and I came home and texted my best friends: “Game on, guys.”

A debrief on The Debrief:

  • Religion did wind up mattering, and I’m OK with that. I melted a little when he told me he teaches Sunday school to middle-schoolers. We each have one Israeli and one American parent. We both even speak a little Hebrew. With similar backgrounds, we are unruffled by each other’s logic and value systems. It’s easy to understand each other in a way I’ve never experienced, which I think is in part true because I’ve never before had a long-term Jewish partner.
  • Online dating did wind up coming through for us, despite many exhaustive runs. It was nice to feel equal in this experience. On our third date, I nervously confessed to writing publicly about my dating record. He was unfazed, and even kind of impressed, and reciprocated by sharing his idea for a movie about online dating. It was a relief to not feel like a dating pariah.
  • Age may not have mattered, but I appreciate that he is only a handful of months older than me. Sharing pop-culture references and cusped-generational identities only enhances our common experience.
  • As for who got to chase who, I think this is where we both lucked out the most. We’d both been on the website intermittently for the last four to five years. I’d never noticed him. He hadn’t noticed me. Timing was kind to us on this go-round. I sent him the first contact and he sent me the first contact; he just didn’t know I’d already written him. We went into the date knowing that each of us picked the other, thus a boost to both of our confidence levels, and no uneven power dynamic at the outset.
  • Since I’d realized I had such good luck with concerts for first dates in my last write-up and we’d spent a fair amount of time bonding over music, I wanted to try to work in a show, which was one I’d really wanted to see. I’m sure we would have had fun there too, but when things didn’t go according to plan we stayed flexible, winding up with space to still make the date suited to our common interests and not entirely generic.
  • To my most important note from last year’s post—it is possible to care, and it is possible to know when you legitimately believe in opportunity. I have never felt more strongly about a fit, and within seconds of meeting it was overwhelmingly evident that Adi was going to be somebody very special in my world. I may not believe in “the one,” but being with Adi is easy, and being with him feels certain. It’s not always perfect, but we navigate through our rare tough conversations with honesty, validation, integrity and kindness. He is an amazingly good communicator. He is the exclamation point to my question marks. He is my five-of-a-kind. He is so obviously the right man for me.
  • As for the facial hair? It was lucky that we met during Movember. The temporary ’stache certainly didn’t hurt. Turns out, though, that even an oft clean-shaven fella can still be pretty darn handsome.

Alas, I don’t have much to offer in the way of advice; this was not my first A+ date, but it was the first where we both knew immediately that we’d hit the jackpot. Clarifying my dating priorities certainly aided my selection, and lying low online while I was off living life didn’t hurt either. Ultimately, the lesson I learned and the reassurance I’ll attempt to give is this: If you know yourself, are confident in who you are, and are in touch with your priorities, you will unequivocally know when you’ve found the right thing and not just something good.

I would have tackled another 500 first dates if I could have been guaranteed that something this immaculate was waiting for me at the other end. It’s terrifying to think that you may not be capable of finding the ideal fit, and grueling to logic your way into feeling something you don’t. If you’re still looking, stay vigilant. The next great thing may be right around the corner, or it might be years away, but as someone who drudged through 130 first dates in five years, trust me—it’s worth the schlep.