How To Find Your First Kiss at 38

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S1: So you reached out to a Sheron because there was something that you’re you’re struggling with right now. Tell me a little bit about that.

S2: So I’m thirty eight. I’ve never had a boyfriend, but I would very much love to be married.

S1: So. So just to make sure I sort of understand. So you’re 38 years old. I think it’s safe to say, based on what you’ve told me, that that you haven’t even had sex with a man, have you? That’s correct. Have you ever kissed a man?

S3: I have not.

S4: This is how to. I’m Charles Dubik. A few months ago, I got an e-mail from a listener. They cut me a little off guard. The subject line read 38 and never been kissed. The writer of the e-mails that she realized that to most listeners, this is kind of weird. She wrote and I’m quoting her here. It’s a bit weird to me, to listeners. Meet Sheran.

S5: I’m originally from Michigan. I’ve been down here in Nashville about a year. I’m a nurse over at Vandy.

S4: And tell me a little bit about about your relationship background.

S6: It’s very short.

S2: I went to a large high school and and there were lots of cute boys, but I never dated. I was never I never was asked out. No one ever asked me on a date. And and I’m fairly traditional and how I approach dating. And so I wouldn’t have been inclined to ask anybody else out. And so college was very similar. I went to a small, private Christian school and there was not a lot of casual dating. It was almost like, oh, I think I want to marry you. So let’s go on our first date. And so I didn’t go to college to get married, but I just kind of assumed it would happen as a byproduct. Like I we get a degree and a husband. Yeah. And obviously that didn’t happen.

S1: It’s worth noting that this is kind of surprising because Sharon is a bit of a catch.

S7: She’s well educated and she likes to travel. She’s funny and attractive and into hobbies like ballroom dancing.

S5: Why didn’t the stars ever align? I really don’t have any any insight onto that. I mean, I and I realized that that my faith and my relationship with God is is very different than than how most people are. It certainly has a huge impact on how I see dating and and the general perspective on on how I think.

S8: But that being said, there’s lots of religious men out there. And so Sharon just kind of assume that, you know, someday she would meet the right guy. And one thing would lead to another and she’d have her first kiss and then get married. But then a few years went by and then a decade. And then she was 38. And she had a great life, a good career. She’d lived abroad, but she had never had a boyfriend or a kiss or really any idea of what to do next.

S2: I did online dating for years, I still, I would say, dabble in it occasionally. And so I’ve been on several first dates from. From guys that I’ve met online. And it just never went anywhere for for various reasons, mostly either because they weren’t interested or another very specific reason which we can talk about. What’s that specific reason? I don’t want to have children, and that has really been a huge stumbling block for the majority of guys that I’ve met.

S1: And so Sheeran’s wondering as she’s approaching 40 years old. Is it too late?

S2: It would be sad to me to get to the end of my life and have never been kissed or to have sex. I also feel as though I have accepted the fact that that might be true, that I could die a virgin or die having never been kissed.

S5: And I think that’s kind of a bummer, but it’s not enough of a bummer for me to compromise in that area of my life.

S9: Can we help Sharon find her heart’s content or at least her first guess? On today’s episode, we’ll see how our matchmaking skills stack up. Stick with us.

S10: Slate Plus members, it’s survey time, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate. Slate podcasts and Slate. Plus it’ll only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate dot com slash survey.

S8: We’re back with Sharon are 38 year old virgin who wants a husband to help. We thought it might be useful to bring in a professional. And so we found a modern day high tech cupid who spotted her own husband across a room and then proceeded to pick him up.

S11: He has tattoos. And so I said, Hey, tattoo boy, where did you get those tattoos? And he said, Hey, little darlin, come sit down next to me. And I was like, okay. I sat down next to him.

S12: This is Lisa Clampett, who has helped hundreds and hundreds of men and women find love. She runs this very elite matchmaking service in New York City, where she has been very, very successful, in part because she knows how hard it can be out there, especially a little later in life.

S13: So interestingly enough, I was thirty nine.

S14: Even worse, I had been married before. But I didn’t have kids. And my mom would always say, you’re going out on all these dates and you’re always finding fault.

S13: And I was like, oh, they’re they’re boring or they’re there. And then I finally was like, you know what? I’m ready to get married in literally when I decided I was ready to get married again. I think it was the next day I went out, I saw my husband across the room, started chatting him up. We were talking 20 minutes later. He said, let’s go to Vegas and get married. And we were married in Vegas in six weeks.

S6: Oh, my gosh. Are you serious? Oh, my gosh.

S15: I was like 17 years ago. I was ready. I was like, done deal. So I went. So in my brain, I calculated the key requirements, which is I needed someone like Hughes. Cute. He was brilliant. So he’s a p._h._d. He’s from the Midwest. Family oriented parents still together. Moved up there with a girlfriend. They broke up, which means he’s relationship oriented. And so what was I to him? I was fun. I was assertive where I talked to him. And I’m probably the only Manhattan girl that loves snakes. And he is a snake reptile specialist. And I had a great record collection.

S1: Lisa, let me ask. Let’s say Sharon came into you as a matchmaker and said, Lisa, matchmaker, I need your help.

S6: Like, walk me through the process.

S16: So there are a couple things that that like no one. I think that if your value system is God and religion and yet there is a disconnect with wanting kids, I think the younger you was probably attracting a lot of men that if their priority was God, they probably wanted to build a family. That’s kind of the mainstay. So I totally think that that is a barrier that is really important to point out. Have you talked to your friends or family? Have they given their feedback of what they think might be the barrier?

S2: Yes, we certainly talk about it a lot. And sometimes my sisters will tell me I’m too picky, which I certainly realize is a possibility. For example, I I’m relatively tall and I really want someone who’s taller than me. How tall are you? Almost 5’9. Okay, height. Let’s say, you know, five, 10 plus. Is that right? Right. Exactly. What other things? Yeah. So other things that are important to me, someone who is fiscally responsible. Another thing would be it’s really important that they’re that they’re smart. I’ve been told in the past by men and women that they find me intimidating because I have a career and because I have a masters degree and because I’ve, you know, lived a lot of places and had a lot of experience. And so I’m looking for someone that can hold a good conversation.

S16: So, so far, you do not sound picky to me. Just letting you know that these are all good, totally reasonable. I think that discovering what is happening at the age of 38 onward, if you’re open to dating someone, let’s say in their mid-forties that the whole kid thing is no longer an issue, I actually think that’s going to be a major advantage to you. Let’s say there’s a couple men that reach out that they accept that you don’t want kids. They’re okay about not having premarital sex and God is a priority in their life. Have you had any of those dates?

S2: I would say two or three in the last five years. Once or twice. They never called me again, which is, you know, which is fine. Or they texted and said it was nice to meet you, but I’m not interested in one particular situation. I felt like was the best first date of my whole life. And we had amazing time. We talked for hours and then he never called me again. So I I will say that I don’t enjoy and I don’t enjoy first dates. I’m not sure that a lot of people do. Maybe some do. But. I find dating. I’ll be upfront. Dating is scary to me because it’s something that I haven’t done very much. I don’t like first dates. I don’t enjoy the dating process at all. I think mostly because I’ve never had a great experience dating.

S16: That’s a common thing, just F.Y.I. I think a lot of people find it hard, but I think you in particular because it’s so challenging, it’s not like you’re going out and making out with someone. And I’d say that I’m also wondering why it’s only been like a couple guys in a couple years that have come from this because generally speaking, there are a lot more possibilities, even with the requirements of of God and no kids. So I’m wondering why there’s such a scarcity of options.

S17: Right. And I think there’s a little part of me I don’t trust myself when it comes to dating, so I’m I’m concerned that when I when I and I’m almost always the one that that cuts things off. So I’ll go on a date. I don’t really feel any connection. And so I’m like I I just I’m not feeling it. I don’t really want to go on a second date.

S1: Let me ask you something on this. Because. Because that’s surprising to me that you’re the one who who’s cutting this off. Why not just say eight? It wasn’t I wasn’t in love at first sight. But why not just go on a second date? What’s what’s stopping you from just taking a flyer?

S17: I’m trying to remember the last time I had a date. I think it’s been four years trying to remember what happened.

S16: Gosh, I think the fact that you’re saying it’s four years. Lt’s like no one gets it.

S17: I know.

S18: I think there’s so much here that that we’re not even you know, you’re saying that you want to run a marathon and you’re still in bed, you know. So I would say that’s the biggest issue.

S1: How many how many dates do you think Sharon should be going on?

S17: I would say at least to a month increased at least.

S6: Yes. Always said that doesn’t seem like very many to me, but no. But it sounds like to Sharon, like, what does that make you feel if if you hear two a month?

S17: Sounds exhausting, but I mean, think about it from the perspective of, like, you know, one 1 every 2 years to 2 a month.

S19: The math is not my strength, but whatever time. That’s like a thousand times more dates.

S8: So our first big lesson is that Sharon needs to go on a lot more dates, but that’s easier said than done. How do you get over that fear of rejection and inertia? And, you know, making a big change.

S20: When we come back, Lisa will give us a plan.

S1: We’re back with our listener Sharon and professional matchmaker Lisa Clampett in the first big step to making a change, particularly when it feels like it’s a little bit risky, Lisa says is honestly asking yourself, do you really want this?

S15: If so, you have to decide to commit even when you know, it could be a little bit painful if you felt like you could get through the obstacle of the discomfort in dating and you could actually go out and date, because I’d say that this is a common thing in it. I mean, how much easier it is is it to walk away from a relationship or a marriage than to do the work? So how much do you want this? And is that a priority for you?

S2: In my heart of hearts, I would love to be married. And if if I can be more effective for Christ as a married person, if we can if I can serve somebody else, we could serve God together more effectively than as a single person. Then I want to be married.

S1: He is sure to let me push on this a little bit more. If someone came to you and they said, I want a job, I really want a job. And you said, how many applications have you have you submitted? How many resumes have you dropped off? And they said, well, I dropped off one four years ago. What would you make of that?

S21: Well, I think that that they’re being not they’re not being proactive. And I think I mean, point taken with costs. I have always wanted.

S17: Love to be organic. And I feel like I don’t like the idea. It doesn’t sound very romantic to turn dating into a job, but at this point, if that’s what gets the job done, then the ultimate goal is to get married, not to determine how I fall in love.

S16: You’re setting yourself up for failure in the sense of it’s an idealized. Reciprocal being in love of a 23 year old vs. what your goal is as a 38 year old woman wanting to get married.

S18: You’ve got to create a game plan to soldier through it to get that exposure, to get that experience, to be connected to someone in this different way.

S22: That’s not the glorified 23 year old Sharon, but the new 38 year old. I want to get married, Sharon.

S23: So here’s the rule. If you want to make a big change, particularly one that seems scary, you just have to accept it.

S24: It is not going to be like a fairy tale. There will be no Prince Charming that suddenly appears. Instead, it’s all about being pragmatic, about coming up with a plan and then doing the work.

S22: And then you take notes. You get home and you write in your diary. Like, what was it like going out with this guy? What did I discover from him? What did I really like? Like explore this guy, get to know the many layers that he is, and that is where you start building that familiarity that you were talking about, that you want you’re building a foundation of a friendship, which is a marriage.

S24: Here’s another rule. Take notes, because we’re human.

S8: We all have a tendency to experience something and then to forget what we learned from that experience. And so it isn’t romantic. But if you take notes or if you keep a spreadsheet about your dates, you’ll start to see your own patterns much faster.

S1: When Lisa says you should go on two dates a month, and that sounds like a huge amount to you like, oh, overwhelming, which which would still give you like 28 days a month when you’re not going on a date, right?

S6: Right.

S1: What is it about those dates that makes two a month seem so exhausting?

S21: I hate that feeling of.

S2: Just not being at all interested in this person and then having to.

S17: Either wait for them to cut things off or for me to say, you know what? I’m not feeling it. Let’s, you know, let’s not meet up again.

S1: What if you looked at each date as just an experiment where where you don’t actually anticipate that you’re going to have another date? What if you looked at dating is just a series of literally just meeting someone interesting with no expectations that it would ever be anything else. Do you think they’d make it easier for you? Because it sounds like you’re carrying a lot of a lot of sort of fraught anticipation into these dates.

S17: Yeah. Mix them. Yes, I. I wish I couldn’t view it that way. I that would be that would that would bring a lot of relief. I feel like I said, I think I’m holding a lot of anxiety, not about actually dating because I love meeting people and small talk is easy for me and those kinds of things. So that’s it’s not the actual date. It’s the fear of having to turn him down for a second date.

S16: So I think that you’ve got to just draft a text that you send them, which lets you off the hook.

S6: I’m telling you, it’s so stupid right now. Yeah, let’s do that. Right. Okay. Let’s let’s workshop this. Okay.

S18: John, it was really wonderful meeting. You were not a match. But I want you to know that I very much enjoy that. You took me out for coffee and I wish you the best of luck. It was great meeting you. End of story. Done. Move on. Click. Send.

S6: So, Sharon, let me ask you this. What if you were to type that into your into your phone before you even go on the date? Right before you meet John. You type in exactly what Lisa just said, right? You don’t hit send because you haven’t actually met the guy yet. Right.

S1: But when you know that when you get home, if it if you if there wasn’t a connection there, literally all you have to do is hit send. And you never have to think about it again. Does that set a race? Some of the fear for you?

S17: I think so. I think that’s that’s the majority of it. But what if I’m. What if I send that text and I just you know, maybe he was having a bad a bad first date or something. And I’m I’m concerned that I’m too quick to to cut someone off.

S1: Let’s say let’s say Sharon goes on this date and she likes the guy. He’s nice, but she knows that she’s not going to end up marrying him. Should she go on a second date anyways?

S16: I don’t think that you can know who you’re going to end up marrying from a first date. If there’s no deal breakers. So I would say yes, because she doesn’t know. She doesn’t. She doesn’t have the experience to be able to make that decision.

S4: This is the next you’ll figure out the hardest part of whatever you’re trying to do and then do it first, right that break up text before the date so that it’s easy to hit send when you get home.

S25: But by the same token, don’t read too much into things if they don’t go according to plan. So even if the text is already written, that doesn’t mean you have to send it.

S13: Stop, stop overthinking it. I’m telling you, that’s how life happens. Just stop getting in your head about it and just make it happen. The worst case scenario is six months from now and 50 dates later, you say like, wow, this is not for me. I think once you get over the resistance and the fear and you start making it happen, it gets easier and easier. And then suddenly it like creates access into your life. And I do what I do because I truly believe 100 percent were meant to be with somebody. I really believe that. And I think that a lot of us put fear in the way as an obstacle for resistance. And then you just gotta get off of that and start running.

S1: Sure. Let me ask you something. How long ago did you move to Nashville? A year ago, a year ago. How how many churches did you visit before you decided to invest in the church that you you attend now maybe five or six. OK, so that’s that’s a good number of churches. And it sounds like you actually have spent more time thinking about the church you want to attend. And experimenting and doing research, then looking for the person that you you want to marry.

S26: Again, I keep coming back to that. I wanted to just be organic where I meet someone and, you know, we just fall in love.

S1: And Lisa, let me ask, how many how many couples have you put together? Hundreds. And how many of them would you say it was organic? It was kind of love at first sight. And it just it all BadgerCare came together.

S16: So organic is such a misconception. We historically have been matched up by communities and religious groups.

S18: So when people talk here about, yeah, I mean, so. So we’re actually going back to the roots of. Of connection. And what has taken us away is urban environments. And so coming back to online, to matchmakers, to to churches. It’s literally that’s the organic it’s not the other way around.

S27: Yeah, it’s interesting because, you know, I met my wife in college and a lot of my friends met their spouses in college. And I don’t think for any of us, it it was it was love at first sight of anything. And I don’t think for any of us, it was organic. I actually don’t think for any of us, it was easy.

S15: It’s a practical decision, right?

S6: Yeah, that’s that’s common. That is that relationship is work.

S27: And it’s a job even in finding a relationship as a job. Once you’re in the relationship, it’s a job.

S1: It’s this thing that you decide to do together because because you like being employed more than you like being unemployed.

S15: As we grow older, it takes more of an effort. I’ll give you an example of someone who came to me was a 60 year old man and he had never had a girlfriend, 60 years old. He was short. He was 5’3. And in his mind, he was a troll and undesirable and no one wanted him. And he was ready to move on with life and die single. And a lawyer friend of his said, You know what? I know this matchmaker, Lisa Clampett goes see, just before you like bury yourself in a coffin.

S14: Ghostly, right? So he came. And what I saw is, first of all, to me, he looked like a big, bigger guy.

S18: I actually took out a measuring tape.

S11: I was like, you’re not 5’3 or amazing. He was funny.

S14: He was kind. He was brilliant. He was a self-taught violinist. What he needed is he needed to sort of look at himself in a different way.

S28: We speed him up in and I reprogrammed him to thinking troll, to thinking funny, kind, self-starter, entrepreneur. Unbelievable. So after months of working together, we found him, this girlfriend. And they’ve been together eight years and he looks like a movie star walking down the street. I mean, unbelievable change of life. But literally, he came in with a little fanny pack in an old 1970s mustache. And it just was like and a little like ball of his his misery of what he was projecting. And it was his obstacle. And so what are the barriers that you’re putting up front like? All these things could really turn around if you really wanted to if you changed your mindset. I I pretty much would say that you could be married within the next year or two.

S12: Here’s the last rule. Once you’ve decided you really want this and you’ve committed to it and you’ve started taking notes and conducting experiments and you’re at peace with the fact that it might not be like a fairy tale.

S7: Then remember to work on your mindset. You are an amazing person. You can do this. You’ve done amazing things already in your life. Finding a husband is nothing compared to what you’ve already done. You already have everything you need.

S16: I would say start by first vision, the motivation and vision. What is it like being married? But then take a step back and and really look at like what are all the qualities that are fabulous in you? Like what would make you an amazing wife?

S18: And then all the amazing qualities of like who you are and what you could lead with and start sort of programming the essence of like you as that best solves that interesting, engaging, nurturing, funny, amazing woman that shows up and then get on dating sites. Be very specific about who you are and what you’re looking for. But take that list of all the amazing pieces of you and make it fun right after you have. Your requirements start going out on dates.

S1: So, Sharon, let me ask you. Are you willing to go on a date next week?

S29: Mm hmm. Yes. Yeah.

S17: Sure. I’m calling.

S6: So. OK, so are you signed up for any dating sites right now? One right now. Which one? Bumble. Bumble. OK. Bumble.

S15: Bumble is is interesting because Bumble is proactive on the woman’s side. So it’s very interesting that you chose Bumble.

S17: I don’t have any issue initiating a conversation. That’s not a problem for me whatsoever. Guys seem to just want to meet immediately without without any texting back and forth. Do I need to compromise and just be willing to go on dates? Or is it okay for me to want to get to know a few more things about them before I do that?

S6: You got to go on a date next week, right? We’ve already established that you’re not gonna have that much time for value.

S1: Why not just make a date and go out with someone who you’ve only texted back and forth with, you know, less than a dozen times? What’s the downside?

S26: I need you. I need I need some guts. I need to be willing to take some chances. And I think also maybe having some accountability. So maybe finding a friend or family member who I can I can talk to about this.

S27: So maybe maybe can we make one more rule share? What if you throw it on with all the rest? What if you have to tell your sister for accountability? What if what if what you need to set up an accountability system? What if it says we’re done with this phone call? The next phone call you make is to your sister to tell her what your plan is, and that as long as this guy is not an atheist or an axe murderer or someone who’s like, look, I can’t wait to have eight children as long as he’s that way today, that you are going to go on a second date with him and that your sister has to hold you accountable.

S17: The whole plan is a little overwhelming. But if I if I take it in little pieces, it’s not so bad like one step at a time. Right.

S27: Well, let me ask, would it be crazy if we were to say as a goal, you are going to have your first kiss at the age of 38 or 39 in the year 2020? Well, I think it’s certainly possible. Would you like that?

S19: Yeah. Because that means that that would mean that I’m well down the road of of my dating life.

S6: Okay. So 2020, Sharon’s first kiss. The year of the kiss. The year of the kiss. Yes. I like it.

S12: Thank you to Sharon for opening up and sharing her story with us. And thank you to Lisa Clampett for her great advice. If you are interested in her services, you can find her online at Lisa Clampett. That’s C.l.A and p.I. TTR dot com. And here’s a quick update from Sharon.

S30: Hey, guys, I think you’re going to be very impressed with the progress that I’ve made. I have joined two more dating sites. I attempted to go on a date last weekend and he stood me up. But whatever his loss. Right. And then I did actually go on a date yesterday. So it was not what I would call an instant connection or a match. And in the past, I probably would have turned him down for a second date. But according to your rules, I can’t do that. So I will give him a second try.

S31: Wish me luck. Bye.

S12: Good luck, Sharon. We hope he’s a good kisser. Do you have a question of the heart or really any other kind of question that needs a solution? If so, you should send us a note of how to at Slate.com. And we will do everything we can to help. How TO’s executive producer is Derek John? Rachel Allen is our production assistant in marriage. Jacob is our engineer. Our theme music is by Hani’s Brown. June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate podcasts and Gabriel Roth is Slate’s editorial director for Audio. Special thanks to Asha, Saluda and Sung Park. I’m Charles Duhigg.

S32: Stay romantic.