Gimme Some Oven

32 and Dating (!!!)

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Alright, I can’t take it any longer. I have some fun news that I’ve been dying to share with you these past four months.


And I am so dang happy about it. :)

Like, wake-up-every-morning-with-the-cheesiest-grin-on-my-face, still-can’t-quite-believe-my-luck, slightly-freaking-out, yet-loving-every-second, feeling-oh-so-grateful, and-basically-just-wanting-to-shout-from-the-rooftops-that-I-REALLY-REALLY-LIKE-THIS-GUY happy about it.

And after trying to play it cool and keep things hush-hush on the blog while we got to know each other — because, really, what on earth is blogging protocol for introducing a new boyfriend to the world wide web?! — I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you all about it.

About him.

About this me who’s now dating him.

About this crazy but wonderful new thing called “us”.

It kind of feels crazy typing that out for the first time, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know how one goes about sharing this sort of thing. But I’ve been looking forward to introducing him to you for months and months now. So without further ado, friends, I’d love for you to meet this handsome new man in my life.

Meet Barclay. :)

32 and Dating |

His first time attending one of our #NeighborNights. (My phone lit up with texts from everyone afterwards that night — he definitely won their approval.) :)

That’s him.

And that’s us!

And yes, pretty sure I’ve had that cheesy grin on my face ever since I was introduced to him this past May. :D

Believe it or not, Barclay (pronounced “Bar-klee”) and I actually met the “old-fashioned way”, which was a total but very welcome surprise for someone so exhausted with the online dating scene. I had said for years that, if it were up to me how I’d choose to meet a guy, I would love to have a good friend set me up with one of their good friends. (Keyword: good. I’ve had a few too many set-ups with someone’s sister’s hair stylist’s dog-walker’s cousin who they knew little about, but who “happened to also be single”. And I’ll give you one guess how those turned out.)  Basically, I just loved the idea of someone who knew me well making a connection instead of Tinder or Match. I had all but given up on the idea of that happening.

But then this spring, the most surprising coincidence happened. Not just one, but three good friends independently told me about this guy named Barclay whom they thought I should meet. My ears perked up because all three of them knew me well, and also apparently knew him well. So then, being the good friends that they are, they all immediately started plotting different schemes for us to meet. (Mwahaha.)

Really, though, Barclay and I both agreed that it was kind of shocking that we hadn’t met before we did. As it turned out, we already…

  • had dozens and dozens of mutual friends in common
  • lived just 5 minutes away from each other in Kansas City (plus I had apparently driven by his house literally hundreds of times on my way to church over the years)
  • worked just 5 minutes away from each other (and I had actually traveled to El Salvador and sponsored a friend with the humanitarian non-profit where he works)
  • had attended many of the same gigs and concerts together around town
  • had an uncanny number of common hobbies and interests

32 and Dating |

Still, it wasn’t until our mutual friend, Sara, decided to throw a party on a warm spring night last May (with the specific sneaky intention of getting the two of us in the same room) that we were finally introduced to one another. I immediately was impressed by how articulate and thoughtful and kind he seemed, and thought that he was super-cute, but I left the party unconvinced and was worried that he was “too nice”. (<– Um, who says that, by the way?! Thank goodness for friends who talked me out of that one.)

Still, as I was leaving, I invited him to come to a concert that I was performing in a few weeks later, and he put it on his calendar and said that he would come. I gave it a 50/50 chance that he would follow through. But sure enough, the second the show ended, there he was up front waiting to greet me. We talked for an hour or so and were the last ones out of the space, and he eventually said something about “wanting to spend time getting to know me”. So two weeks later, once we both returned from business trips, we went on our first date for chips and salsa and margaritas (<– he did his research well!). And then seven hours later at 1am that Wednesday night, we were still sitting out on the patio talking and talking and talking.

And I could not believe my luck. :)

32 and Dating |

Saying good-bye before I left for a week in Costa Rica, which proved to be a picnic compared to how much I missed him while he was in Colombia last month for 3 weeks. Ay, ay, ay…

Well, when I say that we were out talking for 7 hours, I should probably note that Barclay carried the majority of the conversation because I was awkwardly, goofily, butterflies-in-my-stomach, could-not-form-a-complete-sentence-to-save-my-life, totally tongue-tied for the entire first date. Which I would like to point out NEVER HAPPENS. He assures that he didn’t notice my inability to cobble words together, but good grief, it was more than a little ridiculous. He totally threw me off my game! And I was totally surprised. At one point in the date, I think I even blurted out something smooth like, “I’ve just never been on a first date like this before!”

It was true, though. I could tell within the first 5 minutes that there was something special about this cute guy in sitting across the table from me in his sharp white button-down shirt, looking me with the kindest eyes, asking thoughtful and meaningful questions, telling the most fascinating stories about the life he leads, leaning in over the chips and salsa and wanting to get to know everything about me. It’s no exaggeration to say that I couldn’t quite believe what was happening. But I knew that I didn’t want the night to end, and that I just wanted keep talking and get to know everything about him. :)

Apparently the owner of the restaurant had his eye on us and thought that things were going well too. Because within a few minutes of our arrival, he came over to tell us that we “looked SO in love!” and we were “the cutest couple!” and we “totally needed to get married!” — ha, not just once, but again and again and again throughout the night. He gave us marriage advice. He brought us drinks on the house. He even made us pose for a picture together before leaving, because he insisted that we had to remember that first date at his restaurant.

I was more than happy to oblige and when he told Barclay to get close and put his arm around me. ;)

32 and Dating |

The end of our first date at 1am on a Wednesday night out on the patio at El Pueblito. (Trying to play it cool, but of course, I was mildly freaking out having this cute guy so close!)

Four months later, I still get butterflies in my stomach when he puts his arms around me. And I can hardly believe that such an amazing man is part of my life.

Because as those of you who followed my 30 and Single series know, I spent pretty much most of my adult life being single. Or at least, I was that serial-first-dater-with-very-few-relationships-lasting-beyond-a-month-or-two kind of single. And while those years were deeply good and full of adventure and taught me so much, they were also profoundly hard at times when I yearned to have someone to share them with. I fiercely held onto hope that things might someday change. But with each passing year, the possibility of finding a match seemed more and more unlikely, and I started to slowly make my peace with the fact that there was a very real possibility I might be single for the rest of my life.

Who knows, that’s still a possibility. I’m clearly only 4 months into this new relationship, and I’m very aware — especially as I’ve weighed the risks of (ahem) publicly sharing this new development with the millions of you who read this blog — that there’s no telling where things will go. I’ll be honest — the impatient, curious, always-gotta-get-to-the-bottom-of-things-stat in me would totally love to know. ;)  But that’s not how relationships work. All I know is how things are going right now.

And right now, I am simply so thankful to have him by my side.

32 and Dating |

We just went back to the Mexican restaurant for our little 4-monthiversary. And of course, the owner here informed us that he’s already decided we need to have 3 kids. Um… :)

And as cheesy as it sounds, I still can’t quite believe I met someone like him. Someone who I can talk to for hours and hours and hours and hours. Someone who lives a life chocked full of wild and brave and meaningful adventures. Someone who rivals my obsession with Mexican food and margaritas. Someone who makes my heart beat fast every time he wraps me in his arms. Someone who works selflessly and gives generously and loves thinking creatively about how to serve people well around the world. Someone who knows how to strum an F#m, and how to conjugate verbs in Spanish, and how to tile a bathroom floor, and how to mix a damn good cocktail. Someone who makes me laugh until I can hardly breathe daily, and who always knows how to make me smile. Someone who plays fetch with my crazy dog. Someone who is unfailingly kind to everyone he meets. Someone who listens to me, challenges me, encourages me, respects me, cares for me, and inspires me to be the best person I can be.

Someone who I’m crazy about.

Oh, and also very importantly, someone who will have entire Bitmoji conversations with me. Because good communication is essential in any relationship, right? ;)

32 and Dating |

Anyway, within a few short months, this guy has clearly become a dear and important part of my life. And since you all have stuck with me through the ups and downs and in-betweens of said life these past years — and have been so cool and encouraging and important to me every step of the way — I really wanted you to meet him.

I promise to keep you posted! :)

32 and Dating |

Cheers to fun surprises in life, eh?

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135 comments on “32 and Dating (!!!)”

  1. Congratulations! As a single girl, I’ve found your 30 and single posts so inspiring and comforting, but I am so happy that you have found someone you really connect with! You give me hope that good things really do happen and have helped me learn that living life to the fullest is more important than waiting for life to happen :) 

  2. As a single man about to turn 31, I’ve found your 30 and Single posts very therapeutic and helpful to deal with and enjoy that condition which, sometimes, seems to be eternal. However, I can’t be happier that you’ve found a man like Barclay. Despite being far away from KC and never having the pleasure of meeting you in person, reading your posts is a way of considering you a friend in the distance. And the joy I have for you is big, as big as the hope that you brought to us, singles, who are lucky enough to read you. Keep on rocking and keep on smiling with a great man by your side, Ali!

  3. Eeeee! I’m a little behind on your blog but I just had to pop on and say HOLLA! Girl, he’s so cute!!! Congrats, you sound very very well matched. I hope your doggie likes him too.  Enjoy this fun time and thanks for telling us. 

  4. You deserve so much happiness. You are such a good person and so glad you found someone to match your wit and talent.

  5. After seeing a few pictures of him on your IG, I appreciate hearing more of the story!!! I’m so happy for you! He certainly looks and sounds the part of your dream guy. :) All along, the universe was just shaping up the circumstances so your paths would cross (but like you said, how did it even take so long!!!) He certainly sounds like a keeper. So looking forward to any updates you share. :) 

  6. Congratulations! I don’t know you and I don’t know him, but when I saw the name Barclay, my first thought was “Oh, like Barclay Martin!” because I think his was probably the last album I purchased before Spotify took over, and you don’t come across that name too often.  And then I read on and saw your screen shot and realized that it ACTUALLY IS Barclay Martin! Pass along my compliments on Promise on a String! :-)

  7. Ali, I’m so happy for you! Reading this story was so heartwarming. Your posts on singleness have really helped me, and this one gives me hope that great things really do happen in their own perfect timing. :)

  8. AHHH!!! I have been waiting for this post!! I kept seeing your instagram pictures with this cutie and was dying to know that you were happy :) congrats dear and just enjoy the moments…they are fun and perfect :)

  9. I LOVE THIS! What an amazing story! I am so happy for you both!

  10. Love this news! Looks good on both of you! ??

  11. I am SO happy for you. As a fellow 30-something who is still trying to navigate the dating world, I find a lot of hope in your story. Cheers to you and Barclay!

  12. Yay, Ali! So, so happy for you! 

  13. I am soooooo happy for you! 
    You two look like you belong together!

  14. This makes me so very happy :) Congrats!!!

  15. love, love, love this! So happy!!!

  16. How exciting!  It sounds like you’ve found a soul as equally beautiful as yours :) 

  17. Why didn’t these 3 mutual friends tell you about him sooner??? Haha just kidding. God’s timing is always PERFECT. <3 Live in the fullness of time! Galatians 4:4 (ESV). Happy for you two :-)

  18. That is wonderful news and a delightful blog post indeed. Congrats! God writes the most interesting love stories :)

  19. EEEKKK… I remember talking to you about the possibility of Barclay and that you had invited him to this concert. Both of us had fingers crossed he’d show up! You were beaming with excitement. CANNOT believe that it happened. I am fist pumping for you in the background. God is soo good and totally blessed your socks off with this guy! So happy for you sweet friend!

  20. Awww that is such a lovely story. So happy for you. I love reading your blog. You are amazingly talented. I have made many of your recipes and particularly love how they are extremely simple and easy to create but extremely tasty too. 

  21. Awww congrats! I have a tendency to not talk about my personal life on my blog, especially when I was going through a really bad break up during the early years of blogging, and then when I finally healed and started seeing someone else I didn’t really know how to go about introducing him so I just … didn’t haha. Bad girlfriend I am… But so happy for you!

  22. Best of luck!  He sounds wonderful and you appear to have deep connections.  Thank you for being brave enough to share your good news.

  23. I’m so happy for you! After reading your singles series and being single and thirty myself, I know it’s been a struggle. You’ve always been so inspiring, and knowing you finally found someone special is just so encouraging!  :)

  24. Squeeeeeal! SO happy for you. :) Y’all look super happy AND super cute together, and it sounds like y’all may have all the winning ingredients for the long haul. Congrats.

  25. I am happy for you both,  best wishes

  26. So happy for you both! Sometimes your heart just knows when it is right! Listen to it and enjoy! There is nothing like it as I have been married to a guy for 36 years and still feel the same way!!!What a blessing!!! I thank my lucky stars everyday!

  27. Fantastic!!!!!! Have you cooked a meal for him? Met any family or friends you did not know before? 

  28. SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!! You two look so happy together and are such a beautiful couple! What a wonderful blessing to meet such an outstanding man! (And I agree-3 weeks apart would’ve been torture)!! I wish you the very best! Thanks for sharing your happy news! This made my day!

  29. This is absolutely adorable and you two are absolutely adorable! I honestly have only ever followed your recipe posts but this was awesome (and your recipes are, too!). I am very happy for you both! Two of my very good friends also struggled meeting Mr. Right until they were in their mid-30s but it did happen for them both and they were so glad they held out for that perfect match! Good luck to you!! 

  30. titally geared up reading this :) I am so happy for you!

  31. Congratulations! As a single 30 year old, I always related to your posts. I dated someone from high school through college and after that relationship it’s just been a series of first dates and some awful/short relationships and and nothing ever stuck. It’s refreshing seeing posts on this subject, because I feel like everyone I know is in a relationship. So so happy for you both :) 

  32. Wow!  So happy for you. Your joy is palpable. Feel like I just read the first chapter of a romance novel. I’m staying tuned…

  33. He’s a cutie!

  34. Ah so excited for you! Congrats girlie!

  35. As you know, these kind of guys don’t come around very often! I love everything about him! Most especially that his work involves humantariian work – that says a lot about who he is as a person. I am assuming he is a Christian and you two make a great pair… you are right about him: what a cutie! I love that your clicked so well. I met a guy when I was 37 who was 25 (I know, I know) but the chemistry and the same kind of exp as yours was there — but the age difference was too great. But I have never had a guy look at me and light up like a Christmas Tree! Not even my ex husband felt that way about me… but I didn’t think it was the best thing for him… and knew it would bring me grief later on. Just too many years between us. But I have some good memories.

    Love the photos! Stay happy, be honest with each other, work through your differences… enjoy the courtship because its really important while you get to know him. Don’t rush into anything.

    Okay that is enough from this 72 yr old mama!!

  36. Sooooo happy for you!!! I’ve been following your blog for years. Thank you for sharing the struggles and ups and downs. May God bless your relationship! Keep us all posted!?

  37. In your thirties, I think you meet the most interesting people .  Listening to you,   He is the one for you and vice versa .  You are both so destined for each other.  Enjoy enbracing your opportunity you have to meet that special someone .

  38. I kind of want to hug you!
    It’s funny how blogs give us the impression we know people – or maybe I’m just big on empathy – because I felt as happy when I came over today and saw the title and the picture as if we were truly friends. I just kept thinking: It happened! It really did!
    So now you get to say someone all the way in Portugal is happy for you. ;)
    Congratulations are in order and may you (both) get butterflies for a very long time! <3

    Un abrazo virtual desde Portugal =)

  39. You guys are perfect for each other!! And Mexican food is awesome.

  40. this made me smile. Wishing you much happiness!

  41. Congratulations Ali! I’m so happy for you and the Boy :-)

  42. So happy for you! I met my boyfriend of almost 3 years now (holy moly how time flies) the “old fashioned way” through a mutual friend as well. Funny how that is rare now isn’t it? …Enjoy the moments- good the bad the ugly- even the fights..that just means there is making up to do later! Congrats on a meeting a fantastic guy!

  43. This is basically the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. And my own story about FINALLY!!!! finding my guy at age 33 is pretty freaking cute too.

  44. After reading todays post, I had to see your guy! Awesome. I think it’s great to meet someone in your 30’s. So many people get married in their 20’s and then are like, yikes, a few years later. You just “know yourself” better in your 30’s. Who you are and what you can offer someone else. 

  45. Hello 
    he is a cutie…..hey Barclay….be nice to her!

  46. Probably the loveliest thing I’ve read in a really long time
    you guys seem so happy together!!! I wish you both all the best…you deserve so much happiness!

  47. Hi Ali! SO Happy for you! :-D I still remember your first 30 and single post and how happy and proud I was that finally someone was brave enough to tell it to the world that it’s not the end of the world if at 27, 29 30 or + someone is single and not married with kids. I related so much to your posts, and special happy memory for me: I just started dating my boyfriend when you started those posts. :-) We are still together, very happy and going strong! ;-) Wishing you and Barclay the same: lots of happiness and make wonderful memories together! :-) He seems like a really warm-hearted, kind and genuine guy.

  48. Ahhh, how I love, LOVE!  Congrats to you Ladybug!  It took me several duds until I met my Mr. Perfect.  Literally, DUDS and literally, he’s a male version of me!  I am much older than you, so you’re ahead of the game Chickie, no worries!  Your path led to far less heartbreak, so age is irrelevant if Barkley is your Mr. Perfect.  Never give up because you never know what life has to offer, that’s what I’ve learned from my experience. (Don’t give up single gals!)   I couldn’t be happier for you and hope he “puts a ring on it”  soon!  ; )

  49. How wonderful that you and Barclay got together!  Patience is the best thing you can have in a relationship.  Just let it happen.  I know all too well what it’s like to be twenty-something, thirty-something, forty-something – wanting to be married and having it not happen.  I finally got married at age 63, and it was well worth the wait.  It took me that long to meet the right man, and we’ve now been happily married for just over 7 years.  Sounds like Barclay might be the right guy for you.  I certainly hope so.  Enjoy!!

  50. So very happy for you and Barclay! I’ve been following your blog for years now especially your single series. My daughter also followed that series. She too has waited a long time to find the right person and is planning her wedding next year to a wonderful man. She will be 29 and he 30 when they get married. It pays to hold out for the right one. You both look so happy in the pictures. Can’s wait to see what develops between you two. Best wishes!