This is definitely a pretty frequently asked question and one that I’m always happy to answer! Dan and I have been together for over six years now so I like taking a moment to go back to the beginning and reminisce about the earliest years. So Dan and I met way back in 2007.
I was in college at the time and had just started working as a personal trainer, I was 19 years old. I had been working at the gym for a few months and had made a few friends; I was by far one of the youngest people there, out of both the employees and members. Needless to say, the friends I had made there were quite a bit older than me, but that was nothing new. At the time I started at the gym I had just gotten out of a fairly tumultuous several year on-off relationship and was enjoying being single and focusing on myself. I was dating around with absolutely no desire to get back into any kind of relationship; I really just wanted to have fun and continue riding out my party girl phase. I had dated a few men from the gym and was not impressed so when my friend told me that her friend had just joined and she wanted me to meet him I really had no interest. I was going over some paperwork in the fitness office when my friend ran in to tell me this friend of hers was working out and that I should go take a look. I remember trying to brush her off but she pushed me out of the office to see him and…that was it. I was immediately attracted. He was so different from all the other guys at the gym; there was just something about him. My friend knew I was into him and ran over to get him to introduce us. I ran back into the office because this happened to be the day after Halloween and I was absurdly hungover and still covered in day old Halloween makeup-not the prettiest sight to make a first impression with. To give you a visual, I was a devil that year: I had red extensions in my platinum blonde hair that were all ratty and stringy by that next morning and red and black makeup all over my face and eyes.
Regardless, my friend introduced us and I gave Dan a stretch. We started talking and he told me about his job and that he was in graduate school. We talked about what we were both studying and how exhausting it is to work and be a student at the same time. There was definitely instant chemistry and I wanted to get to know him better. He ended up buying a package with me and we met at the gym every weekend.
My friend asked if I was into him so I told her I was and that day she went for coffee with Dan and when they came back she told me that he was going to ask me on a date. I was mortified because I thought that she told him to ask me out, like she told him I liked him and then demanded he take me out. Dan came up to me and asked if he could call me that week, but for drinks, not a session. Of course, I said yes and here’s where it gets interesting.
So that week he called me and I remember we spoke on the phone for some absurdly long amount of time. I was so surprised that he actually called when he said he would! We decided to go for dinner and drinks that coming Thursday (I only remember the day because he had told me he was skipping class to spend the night with me). This is what immediately impressed me the most: he said he’d pick me up at 8pm and he arrived at my house at 7:59. To this day he is still always EXACTLY on time (me, not so much). We went to a sushi place by my house and when the server came over Dan ordered a beer and I asked for water with lemon. He asked if there was a reason why I wasn’t drinking to which I simply responded, “Oh, I forgot my ID! I didn’t want to risk getting carded and making it all awkward!”. Dan sat back in his chair and had a really confused look on his face and I was sitting there like….crap, did I say something wrong? Then he smiled, leaned in and said, “do you mean your fake ID?”.
“Uh huh, yea!” I said, through an innocent smile, “I mean, it’s just chalked, but it always works fine”.
He smiled again and asked, “So, how old are you?”
Oops…there it was. Mind you, I had no idea how old he was. I knew he was older but he was a grad student so I just assumed he was somewhere in his 20’s. So I responded, “I’m 19, why, how old did you think I was?”.
Head in his hand, he just laughed, “not nineteen..”.
I just laughed along with him and then I asked, “So, wait, how old are you?” and then, there it was..
“Thirty one. I’m thirty one, and you’re nineteen”. So, I laughed and responded the only way I knew how, with a joke and I said, “hey, I don’t mind if you don’t mind…I mean is that too young for you? You’re not too old for me”. Once again he laughed and simply said, “yea, it’s too late now.”
We pretty much just let it go there and carried on the night as if the age conversation never even happened and it was a really great first date, like, off the charts great time. We went out to two different places after dinner, neither of us wanted the night to end. We both had work early the next morning but when he dropped me off he told me he wanted to see me again, as in the following night and the night after that and that was it, my weekend was booked up and I couldn’t have been happier.
The next day I was at work when my friend nearly trampled me screaming that she had no idea what I did to him but Dan almost never asks girls out again and she was shocked that he had already committed a whole weekend to me after one night. Then she went on to tell me how he’s broken up with and stopped talking to girls over the most insignificant little things.
Our second date was that Friday and he told me that by Fridays, after a long week he’s usually pretty shot so he suggested an early night with a no fuss dinner and a movie. We went to see one of the Saw movies then grabbed salads near the theatre from California Pizza Kitchen (which he later told me he hated; it was my suggestion because I was in love with their Mediterranean salad at the time). It was an early night and much more low key and he promised we’d have a more fun/energetic date night the following night. Saturday came and for whatever reason neither of us can remember where we went that night but it was a lot of fun and I ended up staying the night at his apartment. We spent the following weekends together in the same manner, Friday through Sunday. Sometimes I’d pop by during the week but we mostly spent our time together on the weekends because his work schedule was so packed during the week.
We started dating in early November so by the time December came around it was a little awkward for me. I didn’t know how serious he was about me, he hadn’t asked me to be his girlfriend but we spent all our time together. I didn’t know if he wanted to spend Christmas with me, if I should get him a gift, invite him over or what. One night in mid December we went over to his friend’s house for dinner (the one who had introduced us) and I asked her about Christmas and whether or not I should get him a gift. What she said completely took me off guard. She started telling me how Dan wanted to settle down and that she could tell he loved me from the way he looked at me and that he really just wanted to find the right girl and get married and start a family. I just stood there, shocked…I thought she was going to tell me what kind of cologne he liked. The comments made me somewhat uncomfortable. Of course I wanted to get married at some point, after all, I was dating in the hopes of finding someone to share my life with but I had only known this man for a little over a month, I was 19 and here’s this woman telling me he wanted to start a family with me. No, I was not ready for any of that. However, I never got that sense from Dan. I felt like intimately and emotionally we were actually taking things pretty slow. We talked constantly and spent time together because we enjoyed being around each other and from what I knew about him it didn’t seem like settling down was on his list of priorities. He was 31 years old, had never been married or even engaged and never really talked about any of that unless I asked about it. So, I decided to take her words with a grain of salt and just keep moving forward in the relationship.
Right before Christmas he told me that he wasn’t dating anyone else. Of course, being the naive young girl that I was I thought that meant we were boyfriend and girlfriend so I invited him over to my house for Christmas. My parents were thrilled that they were finally going to meet the mystery man who’s car I was always running out to. Christmas night he stopped by for dessert and we exchanged gifts. My parents knew his real age. I did try to hide it and say he was 29 but I have a younger sister who immediately outed me. Once they met Dan they were fine with it.
It wasn’t until the end of January that he REALLY asked me to be his girlfriend. We were at the movies. I was so confused and told him I thought that we already were. He just laughed at me and said, “no, we just weren’t dating anyone else, now you’re my girlfriend though”. Okay, old man, whatever.
That Spring he asked if I wanted to go on a vacation with him over the summer. We decided on Aruba and we decided to go at the end of June so we could celebrate my 20th birthday (and the drinking age there is 18, which of course was convenient). We realized early on that we both shared a passion for the beach. That Spring happened to be nice and warm and we had started hitting the beach in April. One day while we were at the beach he told me he wanted me to meet his parents. I had never been so nervous to meet someone’s parents before. We did lie about my age at first and said I was 20-I was going to be 20 in a couple months and that just sounded so much better than admitting that I was kind of really still a teenager.
Basically, that was that. Our trip to Aruba was amazing and we both realized something very important-we never got sick of each another. We realized that we spent our time together because we wanted to and because we really enjoyed each other’s company, we also had fun together. In past relationships I always spent a lot of time with my boyfriends and their friends. Dan really doesn’t have an entourage like that. He has his friends but he’s not with them 24/7 like some guys are so we spend much more time alone together than with a group. It was the trip to Aruba that made me realize how much fun I had with just him. He makes me laugh like no one else and he’s so smart that I can literally talk to him about anything and he always engages me in captivating conversations. In Aruba I got to see different sides of him. He loved laying in the sand, floating in the ocean and being a beach bum like me but he also like being adventurous. He wanted to explore the island and I got to see his appreciation for culture, art and natural beauty of the world. I’d never found myself so inspired and enamored by someone I was in love with.
That fall we found ourselves coming up on our one year anniversary and we decided we wanted to take another getaway to celebrate. Dan brought up the idea of a ski trip but neither of us ski and we’re more beach people than winter people so we decided that despite the weather we just going to go to a beach town anyway and decided on Newport, Rhode Island. Dan loves architecture and we both enjoy history so with its mansions, museums and rich history along with water and beaches, Newport was the perfect spot. We decided to go the Friday after Thanksgiving so we could take a long weekend without having to miss work or school. We both fell head over heels in love with the beautiful little seaport town and knew we were going to make a tradition of coming here every anniversary. It was also the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
So, four years after that first meeting we found ourselves celebrating our fourth anniversary together. We had our Thanksgiving trip to Newport booked but first we had to celebrate our actual anniversary day by going out to dinner. At that time Dan was working for a new company in Manhattan and I was in graduate school at NYU. Our anniversary fell on a Tuesday; Dan had work and I had class all day so we decided we’d meet after my last class and go to dinner in the city. I asked him where we were going so I could figure out what to wear and he just told me to dress nice. I didn’t want to look too over the top for class so I wore grey motocross style jeans with black leather trim, a black top, black studded booties and a feminine pink blazer. Dan called me when he was by my building and I left class to meet him outside, he had his suit on from work and looked so hot (I love when I get to see him all dressed up). Normally for our anniversary we don’t do gifts; we do a nice dinner and spend the money on massages, spa treatments and fancy dinners in Newport so when I met him that night and he asked me when I wanted my gift I was a bit confused. At the same time though, it was a present so I didn’t think too much about it and just got excited! He asked me if I wanted this gift at that moment (standing outside my classroom in the middle of the West Village) or at the restaurant. Of course, me and my complete lack of patience, I went with right now. I was absolutely shocked, like, felt faint and as though my soul separated from my body to watch what was happening as if it were a movie, when I saw him drop down on his knee and a little red box popping out of his inner jacket pocket. I felt my eyes drowning in the tears I was holding back and everything felt so surreal. I knew the box was open but I didn’t even see the ring because I couldn’t take my eyes away from his. His face looked so incredible, he looked so happy but so vulnerable at the same time, it was an expression and look in his eyes I had never seen before in the four years I had known him. Of course I said yes, probably about a hundred times, jumped up and down and then dropped down and hugged him. He smiled and then said, “Do you like the ring?!”, I hadn’t even seen it!! When I pulled away and looked I was speechless again. It was perfect. It was kind of funny, for a split second I remembered that Sex & the City episode where Aiden proposes and the ring is so not Carrie’s style and I just remember feeling so lucky not only that I was being proposed to but that I was being proposed to by a man who just got me, someone who knew me so well that he picked out this beautiful, unique ring that was just right for me. Then I put the ring on, screamed and jumped up and down some more and started yelling out “WE’RE ENGAGED!” so that everyone standing around knew. Some people clapped when they walked by and others just looked and smiled and it was just amazing on literally every level. He asked me where I wanted to get married and I just said, “Newport, right?” as if it were a no brainer. He agreed, then we decided we just wanted it to be somewhere on or near a beach. None of that mattered at that point though, we were officially engaged and so happy.
We were engaged for a little over two years and I’m so glad we took our time. I wanted to finish with graduate school before walking down the aisle (or..walking across the lawn, as it happened) and we didn’t want to stress ourselves out by rushing through the process. I’m a very laid back girl so I took my sweet time! The planning process definitely had its ups and downs, my family pretty much imploded during it and it was some of the most stressful and most exciting times in my life all at once. It was definitely filled with memories. The one thing I will say about it is that it strengthened our bond more than anything and I’m glad it happened the way it did because it helped us learn how to handle stressful situations together, come together as a team and make really important decisions together. I think it all prepared us for a strong marriage and any other challenges that come our way.
We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve grown so much both individually and together and time truly flies when you’re having fun because I feel like we’ve only just met. Every day I learn something new about him and fall in love all over again. At 19 would I have thought we’d be HERE six years later? I’m not really sure…maybe not, but at the same time I think a part of me secretly hoped we would be.