I'm glad I listened.
It was a well-written, well thought out email that said this:
I have seen you around, and finally got up enough courage to message you. I liked reading your profile, and you are a very high match here. I think you are as about adorable as they come. I have lots of questions I would like to ask you if you think we would be a good match. I know that you prefer to date single fathers, which I am not, but if it pleases the court(;-)), I want that opportunity to be a great positive role model in a young child's life and to show them what love between two adults should look like. I hope to hear from you!
Little did I know, from that day on, I was talking with my future husband.
I was extremely hesitant to open up to him, and simple conversations were dragged out for days between responses. I had a lot of things going on at the time with finals in school and the holidays coming up around the corner, and I was doing what I could to stay afloat after a particularly painful breakup. I was also incredibly hesitant to date online, to get to know yet another person who could break my heart, and date someone who was not a single father (because dating with children is VERY challenging, and it takes a very special type of person to put selfishness aside and put the children first). However, I decided to take a small leap of faith and see where it would go based on the things I learned about him in his profile. He loved God, he loved his family, he loved music and he said "I am more than meets the eye." There was also a picture of him sipping from a teacup that cracked me up, so I figured he might have the unique ability to make me laugh, and along with a solid faith in God, humor can get you through some of the worst things that life has to offer.
Our first phone conversation lasted 7.5 hours. We covered everything from our life stories in a "Reader's Digest" version, to our philosophies on life and faith to our favorite hobbies and things we had accomplished in life that we were proud of. I talked a great deal about my kids, hoping that if he were to be scared off by them, that it would end quickly. It didn't. He asked great questions, and our banter was seamless. We talked until the sun came up. I spent the next day so exhausted, but the exhilarating high from the joy I felt in that conversation lasted until we were able to talk again later that evening after the kids went to bed, with a 6.5 hour conversation.
According to Rob, that is when he decided that I was the woman that he wanted to marry. Two phone conversations was all it took.
Our endurance greatly changed in the week to follow, but by its end we had spent a total of 23 hours on the phone, not including sweet text messages sent and received throughout the day. We decided on a first date that would be 2 weeks away, just after the holidays with our families. We talked and laughed and continued to discover even more that we had in common. It was thrilling to find someone who I could talk about anything with, and the typical judgmental comments just weren't there. He understood me more deeply than anyone ever had, and we had barely communicated at all. It was a quiet, peaceful undercurrent that made both of us open up more than we ever would with anyone else before we had even met, and it was nothing short of God's grace that gave us that peace.
We finally did meet face-to-face on an impulsive decision - I was going to the mall with my mother to pick out pajamas for my aunt, and Rob mentioned that he lived very close to there and would love to drop off a present that he had for me. This was 2 weeks after we first began talking to each other. I was taken aback by the fact that he already had a gift to give me, and that I didn't have anything for him, but I did want to meet him and agreed, though with a cautious heart. My mom and I were talking about him while he spotted us from the second level, and he came and introduced himself to us both with a very oddly shaped, large wrapped present in his hand. My mom went into the store and I took a walk around the mall with him, feeling very awkward and shy. However, we again had a great time talking and laughing with each other, arms linked and a feeling of transparency between us. It felt.... real.
When I went back to help my mother shop, he stayed with us and had the unique ability to make my mother laugh as well. She is a very shrewd judge of character, and it was refreshing to see her react so positively with him. She does not easily trust people, but she had a very good feeling about Rob from day one. That, to me, was a very good sign. He walked us to our car, and gave me the present. When I got home and opened it, I couldn't stop laughing.
Two weeks prior in one of our first conversations, I had mentioned that one Christmas I'd been particularly disappointed that I didn't get Darth Maul's double-sided light saber so that I could have an epic battle with my brothers. He had remembered, and that was what I was currently holding in my hand.
Best. First. Present. Ever.
It was just another check mark in the confidence box. The more I got to know him, the more I appreciated, respected and was intrigued by him.
That, ladies, is what to look for! Also keep your eyes peeled for these qualities:
1. Honest - Above all, you need to make sure you can trust your significant other. If they are dishonest in the initial stages, don't walk away - RUN. It will bring you nothing but heartache.
2. Genuine - This may seem like a repeat of the first quality, but it's more specific. Look for someone who doesn't change who they are around you. They are consistent in their behavior and how they treat others. If they're a dork, they own it. If they're clumsy, they don't make a big deal about it. They should generally be relaxed in your presence when it comes to the day-to-day interactions.
3. Sense of Humor - This is what'll get you through the most challenging phases in your lives. The ability to laugh when you really need to. Trust me - within just a couple of months of getting to know him, some incredibly challenging situations presented themselves, and his knack for making me giggle kept me sane.
More than anything, pray through each step of the relationship and go where God leads you.
That is the one thing that kept me humble, focused and peaceful through the dating process.
Praying for each of you today and every day!