“WHERE did you meet your husband?”

I can’t count how many times people asked us this question. Hundreds of times.

For years my response was, “We met at a happy hour at the steakhouse just a block away from where I used to live.”

Yes, that’s WHERE we met for the first time.

Typically, my husband or I would go into telling a story about it that goes like this:

He saw me on the other side of the bar. He sent a bartender over to ask me what I would like to drink. I told bartender, “Tell him, if he wants to get me a drink, he should come over and ask me what I would like to drink himself.” (Remember, men love a challenge and setting boundaries aka personal standards from the first moment is the perfect time to start.) He came over to offer me a drink and now he’s my loving husband and awesome dad to our son.

Now, what practically no one knows (untill now) is what happened BEFORE we met at a happy hour on May 29, 2009 (Yes, exactly 7 years ago!)

I’m sharing it with you because there are key lessons learned and things I did that made it possible for us to create what we have now–a strong marriage, loving family and happy life together. And because you can apply them in your dating experience too.

In December of 2008 I closed my online dating profile on Match because I wanted to explore other online and offline options to meet men. The last man on Match I gave my phone number too called me at the end of December. We briefly chatted. I think he offered to meet for a drink but I told him that I was going to be in Rio de Janeiro for the New Year’s celebration and the following couple of weeks. (I must admit it was a trip with my ex-boyfriend from DC who remained in my life even though we broke up before I moved to NYC.)

Lesson #1. What I realized later is that I couldn’t attract my soulmate while I was holding on to the past and investing myself into a relationship that I knew in my heart of hearts had no future. So if you have a man who is like that, be aware that you won’t find true love until you let go of him.You must create space for someone else to show up in your life first. It doesn’t work the other way around.

Back to my story. In February “the last guy from Match” called me. We chatted and he asked me out but I told him that I had my midterm exams and wasn’t available for the next couple of weeks. It was true, I put dating on hold and managed to get all A’s and maintain my scholarship.

In March, “the last guy from Match” called me. We chatted and I think we brought up the idea of meeting but he told me that he was going for his annual skiing trip in Aspen, Colorado.

In April, “the last guy from Match” called me. We chatted and I told him that I was about to go on a trip to Cabo San Lucas for a spring break. (During that trip my ex proposed to me at the Lover’s beach and I became clear that it was time to end it.)

Back to the calls. You may think “What’s the point of talking to a man who calls you out of the blue every month but nothing happens?” That’s why I share my lessons.

Lesson #2. What you might not realize is that you aren’t ready. You may think you are open because you have an active online profile and regularly go on dates. But if there are hidden blocks like you haven’t resolved your past relationship like it was in my case, the universe may be simply not giving you what you aren’t able to receive. Another thing is that a man might not be in the place where he’s available. He might be dating someone else or go through some kind of transition in his life. You just don’t know.

Lesson #3. What  I’m extremely grateful for is how open I was to receiving on the basic level-like brief phone conversations that were light and exciting. You want to have no judgement, no expectations and no resentment when interact with men. I didn’t get myself into a trap of thinking those thoughts that make you ignore phone calls or talk like he owes you something. In fact I appreciated the fact that a man was so consistent and persistent in staying in touch with me. He surely scored a point for being interested in me.

When “the last guy from Match” called me again in May, I told him that I had my final exams but promised that if he calls me in exactly two weeks, we will definitely meet. He did call. Then, I was in the best state since I moved to NYC. I finally let go of my ex. I had gone on more than enough of first dates. I completed my first year of graduate school at NYU with all A’s, secured scholarship for the second year and got selected for the fall internship at the United Nations. Summer was about to begin and I felt like I was ready for something new (true love?!) to come into my life.

Lesson #4. You want to put yourself in the state when you are open and ready to receive love. When you have completed and let go of the past. When you live a full life (career, friends, interests, etc.) but you aren’t “always busy.” It’s only in that state that you are able to recognize your soulmate. Believe me, if my husband and I met earlier, I would blow it because I just wasn’t open and ready. It wouldn’t work out. There’s a good reason why we didn’t meet until we met. Think about how powerful it’s. Your soulmate might be in your life right now-you just don’t “recognize” him yet.

Anyway, during that final call as “strangers”, I told him that we could meet in my neighborhood for a quick drink because I had plans with my friends later. We talked at the steakhouse’s happy hour for about 20 minutes but it was enough to figure out that we wanted to see each other again. I believe that because it was so limited and he put in effort for so long with his calls (Later he told me, “I had no idea why I kept calling you. Guess, there was something in your voice.”) he told me he wants to take me on the “proper first date.”

Lesson #5. When you go on a date, don’t make yourself too available to a man but do it organically e.g. create a lifestyle where you have people to see and things to do that you are excited about. My “dating strategies” were to pre-frame a date so that a man I never met before didn’t expect a two-hour date and I also made other plans so if a date didn’t go well, I didn’t “waste” my evening. These things worked because I didn’t make a big deal out of dates and was able to meet more men.

We had our “proper first date” in Long Island days later laughing and running away from the ocean’s waves like kids (here are photos we took of each other). The rest is history.

My husband and I became exclusive (he brought it up first) a month later and he proposed six months later.

Yes, the place we met at is a steakhouse on Park Avenue.

But now you know the truth about HOW we met.

Please share your own story of how you met a man who you had your most important relationship with until now.

Also let me know what lessons that I shared resonate with you and how you can apply them in your dating life.

I look forward to hearing from you!