A year ago, I was in the Hamptons watching as a girlfriend of mine seemed distracted as she kept obsessively fiddling around on her phone.
"What are you playing?" I asked her. Of course, it was Tinder.
I'm a 44-year-old business owner who has zero interest in hookups or one-night stands, but when my friend showed me how entertaining it was to people-watch on this thing, I downloaded it on a whim. Pretty soon, when I was restless or waiting in line or my follows on Instagram seemed boring, I would just swipe, swipe, swipe.
I'm not ashamed of online dating. I just haven't had the most wonderful experiences so far. JDate seemed like it was filled with too many men with mommy issues. On eHarmony, the men seemed like they were too clingy. But nearly everyone I've talked to has tried Tinder. So why not? It's fun, and it's hilarious at times, too. I saw everything from guys who use their wedding pictures as their main profile to more tiger pictures than I could count.
I started to hesitantly swipe right on a few guys who seemed like they might have potential. My parameters were: I didn't want anyone under 40 (I'm 44), over 52 (I'm 44) and I didn't want a guy who had never been married before (my guess: commitment issues).
I only swiped right on about a dozen guys, and messaged with even fewer. One guy messaged me at midnight on a Tuesday asking me if I wanted to go out because his college team had just won the Final Four. I texted him back and said, "I'm not a booty call kind of girl." He wrote back, "No offense, but I've never seen your booty."
Another guy I thought seemed interested but when I realized I had a friend in common, I decided to do some light recon and ask her about him. She wrote back, "Peter Pan manwhore." Thank God for girlfriends.
Then there was Jan -- the second of two men I ever met off of Tinder.
Jan is 47, works in finance, and just like me has been married before. Unlike me, he has four children.
His profile caught my eye immediately. Handsome and outdoorsy, his pictures showed him on trips around the world and also relaxing on the Highline. There was a fair amount of range in the photos, and I asked myself, "Am I getting to know this guy...or this guy...or this guy?" But then I used what I find to be a good barometer for online dating in general, which is asking: "Would I go out with the worst version of him I'm seeing?" And the answer was an easy "yes." I would talk to that guy at a party.
Once I swiped right, we immediately started chatting. That was mid-July, and our first date was a few weeks later in August. As soon as the Tinder app started crashing, that got us over to actual text pretty quickly. Eventually, he called me and we talked on the phone. Happily, we had the same good rapport over the phone that we did on text.
"You have two children, right?" I asked Jan at one point early on.
"No, I have four," he said. Then after a pause he asked, "Is that cool with you?"
"Of course. We all have family," I responded.
Apparently, that clinched it for Jan because he had dated other women who saw kids as baggage, which I just don't understand.
Soon after we were texting much more frequently. Once when he was on a business trip to Dallas, we were just being lighthearted and fun and he told me that he'd get in touch when he was back in town. Then Jan wrote back, "You know what? I'm being cool. And I'm not cool. I want to go out with you. I would like to take you out Thursday at 7:30. I'll make a plan."
And I thought: He'll make a plan? That's new.
I think that's a good sign with men. So often it feels like men will ask, "Do you know a place?" And I just automatically know: I'm going to be making plans for this guy and me the rest of our lives. I always want to say, "Yeah, I know this place. It's called Google..."
Jan was different. He insisted that we meet at this great restaurant for dinner for our first date on August 1, and by the time we were walking from cocktails to dinner, I said, "You want to kiss me, don't you?" And he did.
It makes me happy we met on Tinder, honestly. I don't get these people who want to lie and tell people some made-up story of how they met. I say it with pride. Why take everything so seriously?
Pretty soon after our first date turned into many more, and by the time it was my birthday on November 18, we were really falling for each other. I design a handbag line with different slogans called Comes With Baggage, and for my present, Jan turned them into T-shirts, telling me, "Now you're a fashion designer, too." He's so thoughtful, which to me is everything.
By the fall, things started to take a turn for the serious. I remember joking to him, "Don't say it, don't say it. It's only been a few months. Let's not say it."
But we both knew we were falling in love.
We went to the Hamptons for Thanksgiving, and that was when he turned to me and said, "You know we're going to get married, right?"
I said, "Yes."
That was the start of our unofficial engagement.
Not too long after, Jan decided to go for it for real.
I had no idea what was up. There was a terrible snowstorm with almost 10 inches of snow, and I told my staff I wanted to close early and just take an Uber to a business meeting I had. Instead, they wouldn't let me leave and told me they had forgotten that they had scheduled a surprise blowout for me from Dry on the Fly to come to the office.
"You scheduled this for today?" I asked them, but I wanted to indulge their kindness so I just hurriedly told the lady she could do whatever she wanted with my hair because it was snowing out and it didn't matter. Despite the fact that I told her to put my hair in goofy braids, she instead opted for a gorgeous traditional blowout.
Then the car came and picked me up to take me to a business meeting I had with a style reporter. I spoke to Jan on the phone and he told me that he was just going to settle in with the kids at home. Eventually, the car took me to ABC Kitchen. I walked in and was taken to Jan who was at a table in the back and dressed like James Bond. I had never seen him in a suit and tie before. He looked amazing. He had hired paparazzi to document the event which cracked me up. I got these insane butterflies in my chest, and when they brought out the champagne on ice, he finally turned to me and said, "I couldn't wait one more day for you to be my wife."
Ever since, my friends have jokingly called me "Tinderella."
Then we held a fun engagement party, and we had all these Tinderella drawings hanging up, and the whole thing was such a blast.
I love the reactions that I get when I tell people the story of how this all went down.
A lot of people can't believe we actually met on Tinder.
Other people tell me they're going to get back on the site just because of my story.
I feel very lucky and very grateful. All of my friends have gotten involved in the planning to make this the wedding of our dreams. We've scheduled the date for January, and the venue is going to be at Jean-George's ABC Kitchen which is allowing us to be the first wedding to ever be held there, and all three of my wedding looks are being made for me by my friend and designer Dee Hutton. Yet another friend has helped arrange our dream honeymoon at Cap Juluca in Anguilla.
Before all this, I never believed people who said "When you know you know."
But it's true. When you know, you know. And we just knew.