Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Own Love Story

For those of you who want to know the inside scoop about how Derek and I met . . . 
Since my last post in January 2013 so much has happened that I haven't written about here! Today is the perfect time to reignite my blog and share my journey to finding lasting love with others who might benefit from my experiences.

At the beginning of 2014, I declared it to be the "Year of the Matchmaker". I intended for this to be bold yet broad, to encompass blessings I was seeking both personally and professionally.  

My business as a matchmaker has evolved a lot since my last post.  Instead of running everything myself, I put together an amazing team of colleagues who all play a role in assisting our clients in becoming the best version of themselves and therefore, in an ideal place to meet their match. In January, I knew that we had the right people on the bus but we were wrestling with how to drive things forward in a way that would benefit the client and keep us in business long term. Through a series of events, I ended up connecting directly with some of America's top matchmakers and received some excellent insight on how to take The LDS Matchmaker to the next level.  

My team put together a plan and attended the Huntington Beach LDS Singles Conference in May where we were able to host and take part in some wonderful events.  We were also simultaneously filming for an episode on TLC that featured The LDS Matchmaker process and life story of a disabled woman who we assisted in her journey to love -  and we launched a casting call and filming for Season 5 of The LDS Bachelor/ette (formerly known as The Mormon Bachelor/ette) and hired Erin Elton Schurtz as our VP of Media Relations.

Since I was traveling a lot in May, my schedule was booked a few weeks out for client consultations. I recall receiving information for a newly divorced guy who looked like a total catch - I might have thought something like: "too bad he's going to be a client - but at least he'll be easy to match" :). 

As you might have already guessed, this was the one and only Derek Max Seal.  After purchasing Alisa's Dating System online and studying up, he had decided to check out our services further. In the meantime he found my profile on an online dating site and upon discovering that I was single, did some research on me.  

Unbeknownst to me, he was strategizing about how he could catch my attention :). The day before his scheduled appointment he sent me a message saying he wanted to cancel because he would rather ask me on a date than have the matchmaking consultation :). Let's just say he got lots of bonus points for his willingness to take a risk.  Since I don't date clients, he would have been off limits for me if he had signed up. 

So we cancelled our appointment and went on a date to Red Mango for my favorite frozen yogurt.  He was so cute in his suit and I could tell from the moment I met him that he was a wonderful, kind hearted, good man.  As we said goodbye and got in our separate cars to drive away, we discovered that we both had fun license plates based on our occupations - mine is “CUPID” and his says “EXPERT” - we had a good laugh
about that.  As time went on, we discovered more and more ways in which we think alike.  He was new to the singles scene and he brought a refreshing approach to dating.  He planned really fun dates and noticed the little things about me.  He had a great sense of humor.  

Our second date was to Thanksgiving Point (after I turned him down for an adventure up the canyon because I didn't know him well enough - yet).  He wrote me a cute poem that he sent in an email to ask me out and I could tell he was the kind of guy who goes after what he wants in life. Instead of his campfire idea, I met him at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens and he rented segways that we rode for about an hour as we talked and got to know each other.  He asked several great find out questions and was so easy to talk to.  Then he took me to one of my favorite places to eat - the Harvest restaurant.  The waitress kept making comments that seemed to assume we were a married couple on a date.  I made a joke that I have 5 invisible kids to get home to and we laughed and watched funny YouTube videos until they kicked us out.  I was intrigued, open but cautious . . . he was convinced and things were really really interesting.

Our third date was to Color Me Mine where we painted pottery and got to talk a lot.  My birthday was in 2 days and he had noticed that on Facebook.  After the painting he suggested we go to my favorite place for dinner - Whole Foods (which he had never set foot in before we met) and he brought in a cute birthday bag filled with small things that he had noticed through conversation that I love as well as a cute, simple card from him and a second one from my invisible kids (lol).  I felt so special and he just melted my heart with his cute personality and the way he served me.  

Our fourth date was to a Matt Townsend “date night” that actually turned out to be for married couples :) - we didn't realize this going into it and so it felt a bit awkward for both of us.  Then he started making some moves to show his affection towards me and I started freaking out inside, thinking “no, not ready for this, can’t do this” - what we refer to with my clients as “thinking errors”.  Well, I let my thinking errors get the best of me and by the end of the date I let Derek know that I thought he was great but I didn't feel the kind of connection I was looking for and being affectionate with him wasn't comfortable for me.  He was gracious and sweet about it and later that night he sent me the sweetest email, telling me he wasn't going to give up that easily and that he knew I was worth “swimming through shark infested waters for”.  He said he was willing to meet with Alisa, The LDS Matchmaker relationship expert.  I thought that sounded like a great idea for him, since I didn’t want to hurt him and wanted him to be able to learn from her and find the right girl for him ;).  So when he came to my office to meet with her, somehow I got pulled into the session as well and we ended up getting dating advice about how to proceed, even though I wasn’t sure I felt the connection I wanted :).

In my business as a matchmaker, we often see singles jumping ahead into the future, stressing out that they don’t think they can marry the person when in reality they have only been on a few dates.  The advice we give is to “stay in the stage you are in”. 
Copyright Alisa Goodwin Snell
Alisa Goodwin Snell, our relationship expert teaches that there are 5 stages to dating and relationships - that the first goal of all of them is to focus on having fun and to keep things simple and make each other feel great.  This all may seem basic but in reality most singles struggle with jumping ahead to the problem solving stage, which isn't until stage 4 when you’ve been dating exclusively for awhile.  Even though I know this stuff inside and out, I needed help applying it in my own life.  So after Alisa suggested how we can keep things simple and fun, Derek left feeling confident and I was thinking, OK, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go out with him again :). 

He asked me to go to Stadium of Fire on the 4th of July and we had a blast seeing Carrie Underwood live. I was starting to feel much more interested and attracted to Derek than I had on our last date when I was freaking out :).  Now that the pressure was off I found that I actually did want to be close to him but he was a bit confused at my attempts at affection since I had made it clear on our last date that I didn't want him to touch me :).  We ended up talking after the concert for a couple of hours and he gave me a sweet simple kiss goodnight. 

The next day I invited him to go to Park City with my family to share in our tradition of spending the 4th of July festivities playing, eating, laughing and swimming.  He ended up spending the next 3 days with us - each day I would invite him at the end of the night to join us the next day and he would say “as you wish”.  My family loved him and when he left, they all wanted to know where I was headed with this new guy.  I told them that nothing was going to happen anytime soon since he was new to the market and I had a rule that I don’t date guys seriously who haven’t been divorced at least a year :).  When someone is newly divorced, this typically is a good rule of thumb - jumping into something serious sooner than a year poses the risk of being on the rebound and at some point going through what Alisa calls the “Commitment Crisis”.  This is when the person you are in a relationship with starts to question their commitment because they have not been in the dating world long enough to know if they really want to be with you or if they just don’t want to be alone.  Yes, I was worried that Derek hadn't been single long enough but I also knew that he had been proactive about dating for a couple of months before we started really liking each other.  It gave me some level of comfort that he was choosing me out of many women who would have loved to capture his heart :).

So, I proceeded with caution, thinking we could just take things slow.  The next week he came to my office, where I was still moving in and offered to help me hang an enormous whiteboard as well as put together furniture to get ready for a client meeting.  As I watched him serve me and use his tools to put everything together, I thought to myself: “this guy really has skills” - I have to say it was very attractive, ok - it was hot . . . he definitely had my attention.  He continued to do very sweet, cute, fun, romantic things for me, sending me flowers, dropping by my office to help me, bringing me lunch as well as things we needed to get settled as my business was growing.  My employees started to see him as part of our team - we joked that he was our new IT guy (I think they all secretly had a crush on him too - OK, only the single staff but the married folk asked if he could teach their husbands a few things).    

Within a few weeks he started booking my time pretty consistently in advance and it made me feel special that he would think so far ahead in wanting to spend time with me.  He invited me on a trip to Bear Lake with his kids and some friends of his. I think he knew the way to my heart is wake boarding.  Once again, I couldn't help but notice how good looking he was packing the car with everything we needed for the weekend, driving the boat and putting meals together for me and the kids.  The way he took care of me really gave me a feeling of confidence that he would do whatever it takes to ensure my comfort and safety, which completely resonated in my world since Alisa’s 17 Secrets to the Female Psychology teach that the #1 need of a woman is to feel safe and secure. 

We continued to have a blast together and he suggested that we go visit my best friend Rebecca in Gilbert, Arizona for Labor Day (he knew that if he could get her sold on him that I would have no choice but to surrender my heart completely) :).  So we made plans and what was going to be a 3 day trip with him turned into 9 days and 3 cities. I had work to do in Southern California and then a wedding in the DC area and so I invited him to come along on whatever part he could make it - I was pleasantly surprised when he told me he was coming for all of it!!!  

Being together for 9 days straight is what really sealed the deal for both of us.  We had already talked about getting married but were holding off for a couple of months.  Being the introvert that I am, I typically need a break when I am with someone for extended periods of time. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute with Derek - he took every opportunity to serve me - carrying my bags, helping me blow dry my hair when we were rushing in the morning after staying up too late smooching :) and even killing a spider I found in my hotel room :).

I am so blessed to have met such a wonderful man who is so selfless, kind hearted, generous, fun, proactive and ambitious. He is everything I have ever wanted in a husband and so much more! He has 6 amazing kids who I'm excited to learn from and continue to get to know better. Derek is an amazing father, leader, son, brother and is now officially the other half of The LDS Matchmaker!!!

He has served me in so many ways, treated me like a queen and shown the kind of love that many search for their entire life. I will never fully understand exactly how The Lord has woven the tapestry of our lives together in a way that makes us so perfect for each other. He was definitely worth the wait and I am so happy to be sealed to him for eternity!!!