I never predicted my ex-husband’s mid-life crisis and certainly never thought I would be a single mom trying to date with a 1 and 5-year-old at home. But suddenly, there I was — 34, newly separated, and way too scared to contemplate dating. Until one Friday night, a sunset yoga party at my best friend’s house ended in one too many glasses of wine and a new app on my phone — the one with that trademark red flame.
As we sat on her patio and started to swipe, we laughed … we cried … and we laughed until we cried. Now nearly two years into a relationship that first ignited on that infamous app, I have absolutely no regrets.
If you suddenly find yourself thrown into the dating cesspool known as Tinder as a parent … here’s my best advice:
1. Advertise your best assets.
They say you only attract what you put out into the universe, so naturally I made sure to showcase my
diverse collection of sippy cups bohemian style and spirit. I chose one mirror selfie, a photo of me drinking green juice, and a beachy shot from a recent vacation in Montauk — complete with boho headband and Surf Lodge’s Endless Summer cocktail in hand. My now-boyfriend Tim later told me that it was the headband photo that stopped him in his tracks and made him swipe right. Speaking of that …
2. Swipe left, often.
We’ve all heard that age-old saying “you catch a ton of frogs before you find your prince” (and rolled our eyes at it). But I’m telling you, it’s the truth. Especially when it comes to the carousel of men on Tinder. The first few private messages I received mentioned — in no particular order — a voracious appetite for daily sex (thanks but no thanks, stranger I haven’t even met IRL yet), a disclosure of “doing bucket loads of acid” back in the day and a serious drinking infraction. Yikes. Protect your digital space and trust your gut.
3. Be as upfront as possible about your kids.
I messed this up the first time I went on a Tinder date. I neglected to mention children in my profile for fear that it would turn guys off before they even got to know me. I went on my first date with a guy named Danny with every intention of telling him that I was knee deep in playdates and diapers. But, dinner went so well that I chickened out and nearly had a heart attack when he walked me to my car for a good night kiss … and leaned up against the tinted windows where two car seats sat securely fastened to the bucket seats inside. Luckily, he hadn’t noticed.
Three dates later though, I came clean. He took the news well, and promised that our weekend adventures would be short enough to leave plenty of time for my two boys. A week later, he jetted off to Banff (don’t worry, I had to Google it, too), a Canadian town known for it’s beautiful mountains. A month later, he was getting ready for something called “adult summer camp” where activities include happy hour at every meal and a “Jock Jams Wet Hot American Summer Party.”
Our lifestyles did not mesh, and I could have avoided some broken dreams if I had listed my children in my profile from the start. Lesson learned.
4. Tell a friend where you are meeting.
This might be the most important thing you do when taking the conversation outside a digital space. With children at home, you have to take extra precautions. For starters, I gave two close friends the deets — where, when, and who I was meeting. Midway through the date, I would send them a thumbs up text to let them know I was safe. I also never posted photos of my boys on the app and didn’t talk about any personal details of their lives until I knew my suitor better.
5. Make the first move.
Tim had swiped right first, so by the time I reciprocated the swipe, I got the “It’s a Match!” message and took advantage of the opportunity to chat right then and there. The first thing I said was, “Hi there, Timothy. Your profile stood out to me. I’m also a kickboxing addict and have kids.”
He answered with, “Well … this is great!!! Where are you from?” and the convo flowed naturally from there. In a sea of people, it’s rare to find a connection, so if someone sparks your interest, speak up.
6. Don’t be afraid to dive in.
Meeting your future boyfriend outside a wine bar in a strip mall off a major highway may not sound romantic, but the moment I laid eyes on Tim I knew we were meant to meet. He feels like home to me, and I’m no longer embarrassed to say we met on Tinder. The way I see it, there’s no better way to select to your future partner than weeding through potential suitors until you find your match. Instead of saying, “I picked him out of a crowd,” I can literally say that I chose Tim over hundreds of eligible bachelors in my local area (I had set the distance range to no more than 15 miles).
This weekend while barbecuing in my yard, our 6-year-olds told us that we are a “framily” (friend + family), which is essentially friends who are a family. It melted my heart.
One lesson I’ve learned in life is that nothing is permanent. I may not entirely know what my future holds, but I do know that I’m happy to have Tim by my side for as long as we make each other happy. Would fate have brought us together if I never swiped right? Possibly, if fate is an actual thing. Personally, I choose to believe that we create our own destiny, one that is ever changing in a world where tech is king. And I’ll be forever grateful to Tinder for meeting my match.