My 468th First Date
My partner and I have been together for about 18 years. Our first first date happened in September 1993. I still remember wondering about what he likes to do for fun, what are his political leanings, what’s the last book he read, what does he like to eat for his favorite dinner and does he like to dance. Maybe not in that order, but seriously, I distinctly remember thinking those questions and trying to work them into conversation during the date. In my mind, these are all worthy first date questions. We all have different questions that are important when getting to know people. There are so many more to ask, but you have to start somewhere.
Over time we are constantly becoming more acquainted with our partners. We become familiar with each other’s beautiful idiosyncrasies, those crazy quirks that allow us to fit together like puzzle pieces. We learn each other’s passions, turn offs, what makes us laugh uncontrollably, how we take our coffee and that we always leave the last bite of a sandwich uneaten.
Since that day in 1993, I estimate my partner and I have been on another 467 first dates with each other, give or take, depending on how often we actually made it out the door when our kiddos were really young. That was definitely a trying stretch. The phase when we just didn’t have the time or energy to focus on one another and when getting out was just not realistic.
One way we chose to stay connected was to continue to focus on each other as the interesting, evolving people that we are. As we became parents and the anniversaries turned to double digits, we realized how easy it would be to take our partnership for granted, to spend all of our time running the business that is our family and lose sight of each other as lovers. We made a conscious decision to always court each other. Every date would be another first date for us.
Given cultural messages, it is feasible to believe that eventually we will know everything there is to know about our partners. It’s then that the passion wanes, but in its place we should resignedly accept the familiarity and comfort of the relationship equivalent of old, worn out slippers.
The happy reality is there is a way to have your old, comfy slippers and dance in them too: constant curiosity.
Ask yourself: Are you exactly the same person now as you were one, two or ten years ago? Have your tastes changed? Have you learned things about yourself? Have you read books? How about developed new talents? Taken up new hobbies? Evolved in your perspective on the universe around you? I’m going to guess yes.
The awesome reality is that evolution is happening with your partners as well. They are constantly evolving, changing and becoming. What an honor it is to be the being closest to that deeply personal process. What a gift to be privy to the development and nuance of another person’s inner world.
One way to conceptualize constant curiosity is to treat every time you can focus on your partner as another first date. This is it! This is your chance to learn anew what makes your lover tick. Remember, just as you change and evolve every moment, so does your partner! Any question is fair game. You never know when they might make a change in how they take their coffee or read a book that deeply altered their world view or develop a passion you can share.
Recognize that constant curiosity about partners creates dynamic and fascinating partnerships. You get the beauty of both the familiarity and the passion when you acknowledge that every morning you have the opportunity to meet your partners for the first time again, perhaps starting with, “So, love, how do you take your coffee today?