Jennifer Trotter is a professional makeup artist and beauty expert who lives in Texas. You can find her at Lip Service and on Instagram. She shared her online dating experience with Match.com exclusively with FirstforWomen.com.
My husband and I had been happily married for nine years when he started acting strangely. First, he bought a timeshare and a truck without discussing it with me. Then he started going to happy hour without me. At first I thought it was depression; we'd both turned 40 a few weeks before. Besides he kept saying he felt lost and bored.
One night he didn't come back from happy hour until the next morning. When I confronted him, he admitted he had a girlfriend. I was stunned. He was the last person anyone would've guessed would cheat. He moved out, and we sold the house. Our divorce became final five months later. It happened so fast it was all a blur.
My friends were beyond upset. They all adored him and were really shocked. So were his friends. Everyone was pretty mad at him--not just because of how he treated me, but he just wasn't himself at all and that was tough on everyone who loved him. He felt horrible about what he'd done and that made it worse. Now we've both moved on--and he's apologized--but at the time it was very painful.
I felt angry, irritated, and sad. I did NOT want to be single. I felt I'd been forced to go from being a happy suburban wife to a 40-year old single chick looking for men. I really resented being put in that position and I resented some of my friends, who just couldn't fathom what it was like, regardless of how hard they tried. To some of them dating and the single life sounded fun, but it was lonely.
Sometimes friends tried to set me up, sometimes guys asked me out, but there were lots of misfires. My sister set me up with a truly sweet guy whom I honestly cared about. But the timing was wrong. I wasn't over the divorce and we didn't have much in common. And we didn't have the same sense of humor, which was a deal breaker for me.
Finally, my friend Sophie invited me to dinner and convinced me to sign up with Match.com. She'd met her husband on a dating site and felt that online dating would work for me. I could've said no, but I'd reached a tipping point where I realized I'd rather get my heart stomped on 12 more times than sit at home. People can be so bitter after a divorce and think they'll never be in love again. But I thought, "I'm only 42 years old. I am way too young to give up on love. Even if I put myself out there and things go badly it will still be worth it."
So I wrote a profile and found some pictures. It was very challenging. This was before I'd gotten a smartphone, so I didn't have a gajillion pictures of myself. Some of my favorite pictures of myself were with my ex-husband, but I didn't want to use photos where it was obvious I'd cut someone out of them. Plus, I got very hyperconscious of how other people were going to see me. I think I'm pretty cute and all, but I still don't want to be picked apart and judged!
Writing the profile was also very tough. How do you sum yourself up in a paragraph? As a tag line I put in a quote from Will Ferrell's movie "Old School": "Maybe we'll go to Bed, Bath and Beyond....if we have time." For me, a sense of humor is everything, and I knew the right guy would have to get it. (Spoiler alert: He did!)
For the first few months, it was pretty weird. I'd never arranged to meet somebody that I'd never laid eyes on before or who wasn't at least acquainted with somebody I knew in some form or fashion. That's what scared me. But I figured if the right guy was on Match I'd find him. And I did!
Right off the bat, I liked Mark: His looks (he's handsome!) and our conversation, it all just flowed. He emailed me a couple of times, and then asked if he could call. During our phone conversation, we agreed to meet for happy hour. I was so nervous! I had made plans with friends for around 8:00 that night but I didn't change them. I figured if I didn't like him, it was a good excuse to leave. But if I did like him, I could keep it short and keep it interesting.
We clicked right away. We talked and joked and it seemed as if we'd known each other forever. At one point, he was just staring at me, trying to talk; it was adorable! He had four kids and was hoping to find someone who loves kids and didn't have any. I didn't have children, and was open to men with kids or without. But hearing a devoted father talk about his children was beyond attractive!
When I had to leave to meet my friends, he didn't let me go until we'd set a date for the following week. We went to a Lil' Wayne concert. He worked in radio at the time and had really good seats through the station. A great pick for a first real date, since we laughed nonstop!
It turned out that we had a lot in common--we went to the same church, hung out at the same places, and didn't even live that far away from each other. Still, our paths had never crossed, and if it hadn't been for Match, we'd never met. Another advantage to meeting on Match: I would have fallen for his looks, but I wouldn't have known that our personalities and thoughts on life were so similar.
That was six years ago. Two years ago, we bought a house together and his kids--now 13, 15, 16, and 21--call me their stepmom. They really want us to get married. Our goal is to get married on the beach next year, and then come home and host a fun reception for our friends and family--something small and intimate feels just right this time around.