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50 First Dates: Epic Love

I have surpassed the “50 dates” marker [*], but I haven’t felt very compelled to blog about any of these dates, for various reasons. But what is worth noting is that I have learned something really significant during my months of singledom. That is: dating is pretty easy. What is hard is finding someone you like. And even if you do find someone you like, it doesn’t mean they are the right person for you or that it’s the right time to know them. Such is the conundrum of the single life.

Maybe I am too much of a hopeful romantic (I don’t like the term “hopeless” as it takes on too much of a passive damsel-in-distress connotation), but now that I’m wise enough to know who I am and what I want (and what I don’t want!), I am realizing that my standards are pretty high. And despite my optimism toward romanticism, these days my heart feels extremely defensive and skittish, so dating casually is ideal for me right now.

I read once about a girl in New York City named Jessica Delfino who posted an ad on Craigslist for a suitor. She listed all of the qualities she wanted in this person, all of the attributes she wanted them to have: everything from education status, to height and eye color, to interests and hobbies, to favorite movies, to sense of humor, to income requirements. She then invited men to “apply” to date her. She promised to respond to every applicant, but she would only meet men who matched every single one of her requirements. Sure enough, one man matched every detail, she agreed to meet him at a coffee shop in Midtown, and they were married one year later. Go figure.

Maybe this girl had the right idea. Perhaps I’m really going about this whole dating thing the wrong way by dating lots of people casually for the sake of good food and (sometimes) good company. Maybe I should take a lesson from Jessica Delfino and set strict guidelines for my suitors and then only date ones who meet the standards. […]


Jessica’s Craigslist ad might be a bit like online dating — this idea of setting criteria for the ideal mate. But the Application-to-Date-Mara would be far more complex than the simple check boxes of an online dating site. In fact, eye color, what the person does for a living, if they like dogs, etc., really isn’t important to me. What is important is that the person matches my requisite for epic love.

To put together this application, I first would need to define what I think epic love is anyway. How would I even put it into words? What would make it “epic”? The first step is to define it, so that I know just what it is when it arrives. The second step will be to wait for it and not settle for anything less. And I know the wait will be worth it.

Love is a spark. A quick ignition, of a stricken match and gasoline. Burning and consuming and impossible to create without the perfect combination of elements. A love that must be fed, that warms in the coldest hours, the illuminates in the darkest times, that smolders most of the time. A love that makes people think, “Wow, that’s hot!”

Love is a seed. Undetectable at first, but slowly sprouting. Will this tree even live through its first winter? But this love grows roots that get bigger every year until finally a large, strong tree grows. This love has reached such heights because it has been slowly nurtured. It is a love that has sustained many seasons and weathered many storms. And in the hottest months the expansive branches of this love shade the weary traveler.  It is loyal and proud.  A love that makes people think, “Wow, that’s strong!”

Love is a stain. A red stain so pigmented that the skin is permanently changed. The pigment is so rich that it leaves an indelible mark. The mark is bold and stirring and startling all at once, and the color is intense. A red stain that leaves its wearer even more colorful, vibrant, inspired and special than they were before that little mark. And life is just brighter now! This is a love that makes people think, “Wow, that’s rare!”

Throughout my dating career, I can safely say that I have experienced each one of these loves individually. But what I want is all three at once: a spark, a seed, and a stain. That, my friends, would be truly epic!

So my 50 First Dates Series will continue — I’m going to keep meeting people, keep putting myself out there (because you never know until you try, right?) I’m not really in a hurry to find epic-ness, but I am always going to be open the possibility that one day the spark will ignite, the seed will take root, the red will stain, and the rest will be history….

Until then, I’m accepting applications.

[*] “50 dates” represents aggregated total time to express a significant amount of dating, not 50 actual dates.

Photo by klearchos via Flickr.

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12 Responses to “50 First Dates: Epic Love”

Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments

  1. Teacher Girl says:

    I really identify with your post. It is so hard to find men that you like and that meet your requirements. Like you said, maybe this girl had the right idea with her CraigsList ad. I am so tired of dating…

    • Mara says:

      Teacher Girl, I agree with you! I am so tired of dating too! I think that was Jessica Delfino’s approach with the Craigslist ad — she was just so tired of dating people who didn’t match her values, requirements, etc., that she didn’t want to waste any more effort! I am surprised she even found a normal guy though, because it seems like Craigslist ads can be very sketchy! Lol.

  2. Milissa Falletta says:

    I relate to this so much. What a great post! Thanks friend!

  3. Jayna Rae says:

    I truly think that Jessica has it right with guidelines. People often tell me that I am lucky because I fell in love in high school, but really I had an objective even then. I have always thought that dating was for marriage purposes. If I thought that I couldn’t marry I guy, I broke it off with him. Yes, at 14, 15, and 16. I had some guidelines, looser than I would have had at a later age. These guidelines are what led me to my husband. I think my most important one was that I was going to play the back-and-forth dating game that high schoolers, and even adults, play. If he broke it off with me . . . THAT WAS IT!!! Well, this made him rethink every scared break up attempt. I am lucky that he’s a great guy, but love is HARD!!!! It is a choice every minute of every day. I do not feign that it is a life of incandescent bliss.

    • Mara says:

      Jayna, you were wise in high school! Geez, I wish I had learned the lesson back in high school to avoid games and “if he broke it off with me, that was it!!” Had I learned those lessons earlier, I would have saved myself so much energy on boys who were really just not worth my time! Welcome to adulthood, I guess, you live, you learn! Also, I love your quote that “love is a choice every minute of every day!” You are still obviously very wise — you should write a guest blog!!!

  4. Luke says:

    Initially I thought your argument was toeing the line between arrogance and just wishful thinking. Then I began to recall past relationships where I was often times unhappy because I wished my girlfriend was more X, Y, and Z – or more realistically, I wished I hadn’t allowed myself to be molded into someone I wasn’t in order to make the situation work. Now I’m of two minds.

    On one hand, I firmly believe every relationship: whether it’s romantic or platonic, whether its fleeting or long lasting; has an important impact upon our persons. Your post on friendship a few entries back addresses this, and I think it carries over to more adult relationships as well. The people who we meet, befriend, love – and even hate – help us to grow and understand ourselves better. Would you even be able to formulate a list that truly matched your desires if you hadn’t run the gamut of people and personalities in previous relationships?

    Now on the other hand… few days go by that I don’t regret the two years of my life that I was living with my ex-fiancée. It might have been enjoyable at the time, but the fallout was catastrophic in many ways. Still, in the end I learned what I would not settle for and have sense had the strength to end hopeless entanglements before they can grow to be problematic.

    Maybe I should have rearranged these paragraphs… cause this ends on a depressing note, huh? Stop being so thought-provoking, Mara!

    • Luke says:

      *have since

      I know the difference between sense and since, honest!

    • Mara says:

      Luke, you are so insightful and I so appreciate your comments. Firstly, does this entry toe the line between arrogance and wishful thinking? I’m curious to know what gives you that impression. I guess I am a cross between a romantic and a self-aware realist, so it doesn’t surprise me that you are getting a twinge of that. But does being confident in what you want and being able to express it make you arrogant?

      On another note, your second point about being able to “formulate a list that truly matched your desires if you hadn’t run the gamut of people and personalities” is true! I think that is why I date so much lately, since I have been with the same person for soooo long, I have taken all of his wonderful qualities and put them “on my list” but am now interested in meeting more people so I can continue to develop this criteria. Thanks for that thought, because I could never really express to people why I date so much these days, and now I can!

      Finally, I love love love this: “…I have sinse had the strength to end hopeless entanglements before they can grow to be problematic.” This is going on Thursday’s “Lessons on Adulthood.” Hope you don’t mind! P.S. Guest blog a response to this blog entry! I think you should expand on these thoughts and respond Op-Ed style. Doesn’t have to be too long, but your ideas will otherwise get buried in the comments and they are too good to be hidden!

  5. tammy says:

    While I do agree that “guidelines” (or standards) are a good thing, it’s also worth noting that by being completely stuck on someone that meets those criteria (AND ONLY those criteria), you do kind of leave yourself little room for creativity or an open mind. Who’s to say we know best what we need in a mate? I only say this because based on my own experience my husband WAS all that I wanted (in the areas it mattered) and yet he was so many more things I didn’t know I wanted (or needed). I’m so thankful I wasn’t stuck on “the list” I had made up years prior to meeting him. Gook luck – relationships are never easy, but love is a choice that is worth making!

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