Love Me Tinder
In December of 2014 my then-husband and I were cleaning out our storage unit. Facing extreme financial hardship, we could no longer afford the monthly fees. We had been together 18 years, married 14. The last several years had been rough in many ways, and I had become disillusioned, but kept pushing my negative feelings back. On this day, while sorting through boxes, I came across old financial records - harsh reminders of our decline in that arena. Everything we had done over the years had been focused on supporting his personal dreams and aspirations - most of which had not come to fruition - and we were deeply in debt. I also found a packet of love letters from an old boyfriend – a Spaniard I had known while living abroad many years before - they were so sweet and loving and I had forgotten how good it felt to be addressed that way. Something in my heart cracked.
We had a 9-year-old daughter and, as the child of divorced parents myself, I knew it would be hard for her if I left her dad. But one night, not long after the storage unit clean-out, he was screaming at me over dinner (as had become the norm) and I saw her face as she watched us intently (I can still picture it). I knew in that moment I had to leave because I could not model that type of marriage for her. I wanted nothing more than to provide a stable, loving home for her, and I had given up thinking I could do that with him.
I spent the next 6 months untangling myself. Friends and family were wonderfully supportive and showed up for me in ways I could never have imagined. In June of 2015, I moved into a small apartment with beautiful tree-top views that felt like a bird’s nest, and the perfect place in which to heal. I spent a lot of time there reflecting, meditating, reading, and otherwise figuring things out and shoring myself up.
When I decided to start dating again, I went online. I wasn’t meeting anyone in my day-to-day life, so it seemed the logical thing to do. I started on Match.com and had quite a few dates. Two men who seemed really great at first turned out to be positively awful and textbook narcissists. Ah, but I learned so much from them (such as why I was consistently attracted to narcissists). What I didn’t like about Match was the lack of privacy. In a few cases, when I declined a connection, the men were so persistent it became uncomfortable.
Sometime later I met a lovely woman who told me she had met her boyfriend of several months on Tinder. I was surprised, having heard it was a “hook-up” site. But after talking to her, I figured that might be a misconception and decided to give it a shot.
I signed up that night and almost instantly made a connection with a very attractive guy. Right away, he asked me if I had read his profile. I hadn’t even seen it, just his basic details, so I found it, read it, and nearly dropped my phone while reading the kind of “relationship” he was looking for (let’s just say it would have taken place solely in the bedroom). I promptly deleted the app.
Within a couple of weeks, though, I reinstalled it and proceeded to meet some genuinely nice men, many of whom actually were looking for a relationship and even had the acronym LTR, for long term relationship, on their profiles. Some really were just looking for hookups, and a few were truly awful, but hey, it takes all kinds.
I tried Bumble, too, but was not comfortable with the woman-makes-the-first-move way that it works, or the dynamic created by that. I’m a believer in the theory that men love, and maybe even need, the hunt and respond best when they get to do the chasing.
One morning I got a Tinder “Super-Like” from an especially interesting man. Clive was handsome and had a charming, intelligently written profile. It said he was an amicably-separated South African-born (exotic!) architect (having an interior design background myself, this was a plus!). We began chatting right away and he was polite and gentlemanly. A quick workday lunch a few days later led to a leisurely dinner soon after, and a great romance quickly ensued! We had so much in common, had loads of fun together, and the fireworks were off the charts.
As we got to know each other, an interesting thread of connection emerged. It turned out that, about twelve years before we met online, we had worked right next door to each other for two-and-a-half years. I had been running a shop downstairs and on the other side of the wall from his office. He noticed me and came in to talk to me, but I was married and trying to conceive a baby, so, needless to say, not on the market. The opportunity passed us by.
It also turned out that during the same week in December of 2014 when I felt the big crack in my marriage, he had a similar experience in his. During the same week in June in which I signed the lease on my apartment, he purchased a property and began designing a home for himself and his two children to build on that site. Fifteen months later we met.
Last September, after dating exclusively for two years, our respective divorces became final within days of each other.
We now live happily in the amazing home he built, with our blended family of three children who adore each other. We have often said to each other that we wish we had met sooner, but we also acknowledge (and console ourselves with the idea) that we probably wouldn’t have been ready for each other earlier. We might have messed things up: all of the difficult things we went through separately prepared us to be the best partners for each other.
We both feel that our past experiences have helped us to especially appreciate having found one another and to realize how important it is to work on our relationship. As amazing as it is, we have had our challenges (hello, dating and falling in love while both going through divorces). A friend recently remarked on how nicely we speak to each other and we acknowledged that she was right. We had never discussed that before, so it was interesting to hear her say it and we both agreed that it is important. We make a point of it because we have learned that both partners must nurture a relationship in order to keep it alive. It is a protection and a way to always express love to each other, no matter what else is going on. I’m so happy to now be a part of a strong healthy partnership – a marriage I feel good about modeling for my daughter, and my two stepchildren, as well. Thank you, Tinder!
Elisabeth’s Dating Tips
Work on yourself. Make yourself the best partner you can.
Read Calling in "The One": 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life, by Katherine Woodward Thomas. Someone recommended this to me about a week before I met Clive. I ordered it immediately and devoured it. It totally spoke to me and was a good continuation of the other personal growth work I had been doing.
When creating your online profile(s), use good-quality photos that are flattering, but also realistic and representative of who you are. If you don’t have these, ask a friend to take some of you. Do include a full-length shot, but nothing too trashy, unless that’s what you’re after! Note from Clive: don’t use photos of yourself with friends, unless it’s obvious which one is you!
On a date, remember that people like to tell their stories. Be a good listener. You’ll have a chance to tell yours. That being said, if he’s not interested in yours, you shouldn’t be interested in him.
As you get to know someone, allow yourself to be vulnerable. Not too quickly, but as your relationship progresses, it’s healthy to start to let your guard down. Building a good trusting relationship involves taking risks.
Have you tried online dating? Share your experiences and advice in the comments section below!