short story collection

Linx Q & A with Jodi Klein, Author of First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures

Linx Q & A with Jodi Klein, Author of First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures

What is the book about and why did you write it?

First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures is a collection of true hopeful, hilarious, and horrific tales, plus takeaway tips and inspirational quotes told to me by women in midlife. I wrote it to provide entertainment, camaraderie and guidance to readers who are riding the dating rollercoaster or considering a comeback.

I want all daters to believe that they will find love, no matter how unlikely it may seem at times. To do that, they must keep going on first dates. Dating is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the greater chance you have to encounter your “Mr. Yes” or “Ms. Yes.” Also, you’re much more likely to fall in love after you’ve accepted and embraced who you are and truly love yourself. 

Not all the stories in the collection conclude with “happily ever after” endings, but each woman kept showing up for first dates because she believed that she was worthy of receiving love and that there was someone worthy of consuming the gift of her love. 

It is my hope that their stories inspire readers to do and feel the same. Millions of women in midlife are riding the first date rollercoaster. First Date Stories will help them take the ride together. 

Where did you get the idea from?

The idea was born out of my personal experience. I know what it’s like to date longer and later in life. A demanding career and desire to find my “Mr. Yes” led to me becoming an alumna of nearly 400 dates over the course of 26 years. As friends peeled off into coupledom, it became increasingly difficult to find women who were single like me. By the time I reached midlife, dating had gone from being a supportive, shared adventure, to what often felt like a solo journey.

I discovered that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. I also came to realize that women derive empathy and connection through the sharing of our stories. But when you don’t know others who are in the same place in life as you, there are no stories to hear. If you don’t have people to connect with who relate to where you are, you can feel baffled by today’s dating scene, as well as frustrated, disconnected and possibly even lonely. Many of the women who I met for whom this was true were giving up on finding the love that they desired.

At the time, I was a member of a short story writing group. I casually began chronicling some of my first dates. As I told women about what I was doing, more of them wanted to share their tales. The momentum built. My fellow writers told me that they were curious about what happened following each date, so I inserted a section called “The Rest of the Story.” Realizing that there were lessons to be learned from each tale, I added Dating Takeaway Tips. Quotes from renown women are placed throughout for laughs and to instill some words to live by.

What started out as a side project evolved into this book. But the publishing process takes a long time. Creating a podcast doesn’t. So I launched the podcast and the blog in tandem while I continued to work on the book and the “First Date Stories Initiative” was born!  

Do you have a target reader? 

Absolutely! The target reader is a woman in her mid-thirties to early-60s who wants to meet a loving lifelong partner. I wrote it for “seasoned daters,” which is a term I coined for people who are in the dating scene longer than they’d anticipated they’d be. It was also written for women who have come out of long term committed relationships, who are divorced or widowed. Early reviewers have also pointed out that men dating in midlife who’d like to gain insights into the female psyche should also buy the book.

Has a book like this been written before?

To my knowledge, this collection is the first of its kind. Through the years, I’ve continued to search for a book that features a collection of true first date tales of women’s midlife dating travails. I have yet to find another one. 

How did you keep dating after so many years?

I kept believing I would meet my match. Not every hour of every day, but more often than not. I started writing First Date Stories a few years before I went on the most important first date of my life—with my future husband. We got engaged 10 months later and I became a first-time bride when I was 49 years old.

I share with readers how he and I met, and the first date we went on, in the book’s final chapter. Now I know that all the dating ups and downs that I lived through before meeting him were worth it, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. 

I hope that First Date Stories will motivate readers to continue going on first dates. The reason is simple: if they don’t go on a first date, they’ll never go on a second, a fifth, a tenth, and move toward a lifelong, loving partnership.  

What are you working on now?

I’m continuing to work on the “First Date Stories Initiative,” which, with the addition of the book, is comprised of three components. 

There’s the “First Date Stories Podcast.” On each episode, I interview a woman about a memorable date she’s been on. Guests have revealed all kinds of stories, from whacky to wonderful. There was the veterinarian who showed his date the paintings he made from the blood that gushed out of his nose when it bled, the man who made a racist comment at dinner not realizing that the woman he was out with is half African American, the woman who met her boyfriend during the pandemic in a Comic-Con group on Facebook, and many more!

At the end of each episode the guest shares advice to help listeners become more in-the-know, confident daters. 

There’s also the “First Date Stories Blog,” which showcases writings by dating and relationship coaches and self-care experts. All of it can be found at FirstDateStories.com. The podcast can also be heard wherever people listen to podcasts.

You mentioned that your guests on the podcast share dating advice. What’s the advice you hear most often?

Guests have shared an array of advice over the nearly 50 episodes we’ve recorded. There is one theme that’s most common, though. It’s to be open! And by “open,” they mean open in multiple ways. 

Be open to being with a partner who’s different than you’d imagined your future partner to be. Be open to meeting them in a way or place that you hadn’t expected to. Be open in your communications with the people you date by telling them what’s essential to you in a loving relationship and what your boundaries and unacceptable are.  It’s when we’re open in both heart and in mind to what may come next that we’re more likely to welcome wonderful people and experiences into our lives and grow as human beings. 

How did you meet your husband? Please share with me some details about your first date. 

Actually, our first date almost didn’t happen! The final story in the collection, which is titled “The Traffic Trifecta,” chronicles how my husband and I met and our first date. There’s a lot to the tale and it’s a wild one. I’ll summarize it. 

We’d met at a business networking event earlier in the week. Shortly after unexpectedly asking me what my relationship status was as I munched on an appetizer, which I then nearly choked on, he left the event with my business card in hand. The next day he contacted me on LinkedIn and we set up a coffee date. Given that he’d messaged me on a business platform, I wasn’t sure if we’d scheduled a networking or personal rendezvous.

Although I’d given myself what should have been more than ample time to drive across San Francisco on a Friday afternoon to meet him at a café, I got stuck in the worst city traffic jam I’d ever experienced! Only then did I discover that downtown streets had been unexpectedly shut because the President of the United States was at a meeting! Multiple times I considered canceling and turning around. The longer I stayed locked in traffic, the shorter our date would have to be, as I was celebrating my birthday that evening with family. 

I decided that not even President Obama was going to keep me from getting to the date! So I channeled Steve McQueen from the movie “Bullit” and circuitously wound my way through the city’s streets and down alley ways, arriving at the café 45 minute late! 

Our time together flew by. We discovered numerous shared interests and a similar sense of humor. I was attracted to him and comfortable in his company. It all felt easy. Natural. When we said our goodbyes, he commented we should get together again. 

Later that evening, my mother asked if it had been a date or a business meeting. 

“It was a date,” I responded. 

“How do you know?” she asked. 

“Because he didn’t ask me one question about business!” We burst out laughing!

He asked me out for the following Friday, and we’ve been together ever since. We got engaged 10 months later, and I became a first-time bride at the age of 49 years old.

What a wonderful synopsis! How do you think women who are dating will be helped by reading this story?

First and foremost, I hope that it will be an entertaining and enjoyable read for women and for men who want to learn more about the women they’re courting. 

I believe there are at least three lessons to be learned from this story for people who want to find their match. One is to go to events alone. Yes, go solo. Shake off any uncomfortable feelings you might have showing up somewhere without a companion. You’re much more approachable when you’re not with a friend. It was because I wanted to talk to someone at the networking event, and the man who is now my husband was eating alone, that I walked up to him. 

The second is to talk to strangers. Forget what you were taught as a child. When you see someone from across the room, you should approach them and try to start a conversation. It’s so easy to miss these opportunities¾these gifts¾to connect with others. You lose out on saying hello to someone new who might add something special to your life, and they’ve been denied the chance to get to know you, even a little. 

And the third lesson is that you can find love at any age, at any moment in time, anywhere. Believe that you’re worthy of receiving love, that there’s someone out there who’s worthy of receiving the joy of your love. Don’t settle and keep showing up!

What’s your “secret sauce” to a happy marriage? 

There are numerous factors that go into making our marriage such a happy one. What I view as our “secret sauce” is that we are each other’s biggest champion, cheerleader and evangelist. We respect and believe in one another so deeply that we support each other’s goals and dreams unequivocally. It’s an amazing feeling when you find someone who believes that your success is their success and vice versa.

How can readers get your book? 

First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures will be published on September 14 by She Writes Press! Readers can pre-order it from their local independent bookstore, Bookshop.orgBarnes and NobleAmazon and wherever they like to buy their books. 

For a signed copy, they can purchase the book from Books Inc. or come to one of the upcoming events that are listed at FirstDateStories.com/Book. They can also find more information about the book, podcast and blog on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.

Jodi’s Bio:

Jodi Klein is the author of First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures, which will be published on September 14. She founded First Date Stories as a platform for women to share their tales and wisdom so that others can overcome the trials of dating in midlife and find the long-term love they seek. Jodi is a graduate of UC Davis and holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, where she spends time working with local non-profits and rooting for her favorite sports teams. For more information, please go to FirstDateStories.com.