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  • Writer's pictureSandra Duran

How Tom and I met, our first date story, and my dating experience in New York City.

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

This day, June 24th, two years ago I met the most loving, wonderful, and the funniest man I've ever met. Before I met Tom I wasn't sure what true love meant because I never experienced it. Now, I'm lucky to say I'm with the love of my life and I wish I could tell Sandra from the past that her perfect man was out there. Tom and I have been together for two years now, we have been through some ups and downs but our relationship gets stronger every day. As an anniversary special, I will share our first date story with you.

The dating scene in New York City

Before I talk about my love story with Tom, I want to share a bit of a background about how the dating scene is in the Big Apple. Have you ever seen the movie "How to be single" with Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson? Well, that was basically my single life before meeting Tom, just a bit less glamorous and without the amazing Manhattan apartment LOL. But including the free drinks in Meatpacking District, the walks of shame, hangovers at work the next day, etc.

Before Tom, I had live in NYC for about 4 years and as you know, this city has millions of people living there, 8.4 million to be exact. So the options are ENDLESS.

The New York people are known for not being the friendliest to a stranger, so sometimes meeting someone organically seemed a bit impossible. With organically I mean, meeting someone in the laundromat, at the grocery store, at the bank, in the train, basically any other place that was not a bar or club, because to be honest, guys who talk to you in bars hardly want a relationship. This city might be the greatest to be single and have fun in your 20s, but once you want something genuine, maybe you should look somewhere else...

For that reason, I signed up for a lot of dating apps. My first one was, POF (Plenty of Fish), then I moved to OK Cupid, after finding mostly old people there, I moved to Tinder and met my first boyfriend in NYC... oh boy, that New Jersey guy. That relationship lasted about a year and it was very very toxic. It made went back to Mexico for about 9 months to recover and even a year after breaking up, I didn't feel free. I didn't date anyone else during that time thinking I was worthless and no one wanted me. I lost hope in men in NYC. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was still going out and talking to guys in bars but something inside me knew nothing good would come out of that and I had the mindset that I was not good enough for anybody. I was not made for a real and loving relationship.

Eventually and it was probably around April 2017 when I slowly went back to the dating scene and gained a bit of hope in men. I redownloaded Tinder (there it goes again...) and started getting ready for date nights again. I dated a new guy probably every 2 weeks, sometimes a guy would last a month but once again, I realized there was something else going on and jeopardizing my love success.

Then, according to my experience, I came up with a theory... my best dates were not native New Yorkers or from the Three-State Area. Nothing against people from NY, NJ, or CT, but I found that someone that was a "transplant" like me could relate with me better and I could create a deeper connection with than with someone who lived there all their lives.

I know this is generalizing a lot and I actually met guys who were great people but we just weren't a match.

That's when I downloaded a new app after hearing success stories that came from it: Bumble.

New Hope, for a while...

If you don't know, Bumble is an app that is a bit different than the others. (Disclaimer: this is not sponsored, lol) In Bumble, women have more power than men. People can't start a conversation unless the woman text first and makes the first move and I believe men had to always pay when it was always free for women. This probably could mean that if you are willing to pay for a dating app, it's because you are looking for something serious.

Around February 2018, I started dating Bumble guys following my "non-tri-state area theory" and it was going alright but still not finding my perfect match.

After a few tries and few Bumble date nights, I lost hope again. "Maybe dating is not for me anymore?", "Maybe I should move somewhere else?" I thought to myself. I hated myself for doubting me and decided to give me a break again and focus on self-love.

In summer 2018, I worked out even harder, and I even started a diet with a nutritionist. I was not allowed to drink alcohol and my meals were very strict and had to be homemade. So what better time to stop dating that this? Since probably 85% of my dates were at bars and restaurants.

Nacho Cheese

June 16, 2018

One night, I was in my tiny apartment minding my own business and having my tasteless but healthy dinner when I received a notification from my new and forgotten friend: Bumble.

"We miss you! Try our new feature for free in this 7-day trial"

"What new feature?" I thought. Then I remember that some girls actually pay on this app to upgrade. I was not desperate but I was bored at home and curious to see what "this new paid feature" was about.

I open Bumble again after like a 4 months break to see the new feature. The new feature was that basically you would be able to see a "list" of all the profiles that have swiped right on you already. So, instead of going to the sea of fish trying to get "liked", you could narrow down your options and focus on the guys that like you already.

Anyway, Since I had ZERO intentions to date anyone and just for the sake of trying the new feature and see who liked me already, I started swiping right only on the profiles that made me laugh the most.

You know, funny profile photos, funny profile descriptions, maybe some jokes, if it made me laugh, I'd swipe right. I was basically getting entertained.

Then, I ran into this profile that had the following photo as main picture and in his bio all he had was this very silly joke:

"Cheese joke of the day:

What do you call a cheese that's not yours?"

I thought, "oh, I know that joke, it's so silly but funny". I swiped right and sent the first message:


I closed the app and went back to live my boring life.

The next day at work, I received a message back from this profile saying:

"Correct answer! You just won some movie tickets! :P

How are you doing?"

(In my profile I had written I was looking for someone to Moviepass with, that's why the movie tickets hehe. Ahh those golden Moviepass days...)

This was my profile picture on Bumble. What I was thinking with that leg position tho?

Moving on, I replied back and started a normal first conversation. We kept messaging for a week until this guy asked me for drinks the following Saturday. I said yes! Even though I couldn't drink anything because of my strict diet, but obviously I didn't say that I didn't want to seem like a diet/food freak lol. So I assumed I could only drink seltzer water with lime.

Saturday came and around that time, there was a Football World Cup going on. Mexico was playing South Korea that day and WON. I was so happy and I wanted to celebrate with my friends, so I canceled on Tom.

Photo of me on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Celebrating in a Mexican Restaurant in Washington Height, NYC.

I mean, before you judge me, I didn't believe Mexico could win. Tom completely understood since he was a football/soccer fan and we reschedule for the next day: June 24.

Our First Date

We agreed to meet-up somewhere in between both of us. I was in the UES and Tom in Kips Bay, so we agree in Midtown East. Tom suggested a bar named Draught 55 on 55th St and 2nd, it looked great to me. I suggested 5pm since we had to work the next day. "Sounds like a plan", he said.

I remember that day I was not very excited to date again, I had ZERO expectations and really thought nothing would come out of this date. I mean, it was my first date after my 30493748th break from dating apps, so I had zero hope.

I barely got ready, I wore something very simple and I even agreed to meet a friend for brunch and shopping before my date.

A cute photo I took at the brunch place, Otto Tacos in Midtown East that I went with my friend Sandra Piña few hours before my date. That was my outfit for the day. Nothing crazy...

As you can see, I was not trying to impress someone. For me, it was just a normal date with someone that probably I would never see again.

I remember I had like 1.5 hours to spare before my date, so I went to Zara with my friend to check out a sale they had going on. I lost track of time and suddenly it was 4:35 pm. 25 minutes before my date!!!

I was at the Zara on 34th and 6th Ave and if you know NYC traffic on Sunday evening, you know I was VERY tight on time.

I grab a yellow cab and directed the driver to 55th St and 2nd Avenue. At the same time, I texted Tom that I was on my way.

For some almighty reason, I made it 2 min before 5 pm. I texted Tom, "Here" and he replied "Same, sitting at the bar"

I had always been awkward on first dates, I was not sure if I should shake hands, only say hi or kiss on the cheek like we do in Mexico. So I only said "hi", "you are so lame, Sandra!" I thought to myself.

I was relieved that the place was not too fancy but cute, so I was not overdressed but I neither look like I didn't care. Tom was wearing red and blue plaid shorts (that later were his staple shorts) and a purple polo shirt so he definitely did not overdress either, LMAO.

I ordered seltzer water, and Tom had a beer. I explained why I was not drinking and he said that it was amazing and he wished he could do a diet like that.

I noticed his accent and asked where he was from, he said he was from London. I don't remember why I didn't ask him over text, only assumed he was American. But I was kinda happy he was not and definitely happier he was not from the Three-State-Area.

We kept having a first date normal conversation, you know, the usual. Favorite music, favorite movies, how long we both had lived in NYC, if we were missing home, our favorite parts of NYC, favorite things to do in our free time, etc.

After 2 hours of conversation, it was 7 pm and a decent time to end our first date. Tom ordered the check, I offered to pay my drinks but I had only water lol, so he as a gentleman offered to pay. He said, "I would have paid even if you have had drinks lol"

The bartender told Tom his credit card machine was not working so they were only accepting cash. Tom did not have any cash. I had some so I said it was okay for me to pay. Tom refused and asked where the nearest ATM was.

The bartender said it was a couple of blocks away. Tom promised he would come back and ran off.

I thought to myself "if he doesn't come back in 20 minutes, I'm leaving". I had heard stories from friends who got left with the bill and I always feared this would happen to me, so I was just braving myself. But to be honest, there were no reasons why he wouldn't have come back, the date went amazing.

And then, Tom came back! Yay! He paid and he went outside. We stopped for a moment to say bye. I said I was walking to the train on Lexington Ave and 59th St, he said he was walking home, so basically opposite directions.

We both said it was great to meeting up and we hoped to repeat it soon. He kissed me for the first time and we said bye.

In the train, he texted me he really enjoyed meeting me and couldn't wait to meet up again. I replied the same while smiling at my phone all the way back home.

We met up twice the following week and well, the rest is history.

As you can see, we are happily living together now in Arizona and we are so in love. I could not imagine my life without him and I feel so lucky to have him in my life. After all those failed dates and after surviving the NYC dating scene, I can tell you: if you are single, there is someone out there perfect for you. It will come when you less expect it and happily ever after still exists. But most importantly, I learned I needed to love myself so someone else could love the same way I do.

The story on how we end up in Arizona and the rest of our love story coming up! We went through some ups and downs, so definitely not everything is so dreamy. You know, normal couple stuff.

I hope you enjoy this story and you can be sure the day of our wedding we will have a nacho cheese fountain lol.

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to have a nice and fancy dinner with my man tonight. I love you so much Tom, mi chiquito!

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