Almost three years ago I matched with Shaun on Tinder. While my intention was to give him a hard time – a story for our wedding day, for those who don’t know it – he caught me off-guard with a line only he could kick off with…
Many dating sites rely on physical appearances. You strike up a conversation based on an initial visual attraction. Yet the physical was not what led to the engagement of Liesl De Bruin, 35, to her love, Shaun Carter, 33.
This is her story…
“Almost three years ago I matched with Shaun on Tinder. While my intention was to give him a hard time – a story for our wedding day, for those who don’t know it – he caught me off-guard with a line only he could kick off with, ‘I’m Irish, and I like to have fun’.
He met me at the lowest point in my life. My last relationship had left me broken. Not broken because I was hurt or torn, but broken because I started to think that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I felt like I had failed so very miserably at life.
It left me with a bitter pill of resentment fizzling throughout my being. Resentment that forced me to tell myself that I was single by choice and that I needed the time to focus on myself and my healing path. After breast cancer treatment (I was undergoing chemo and was about 15kg heavier than I am now, with no hair), surgery, failed egg retrieval and a toxic relationship, I had withdrawn into myself. My confidence was non-existent. My 100% extrovert personality had done a complete flip and I found myself struggling to strike up conversations. I was self conscious and unsure about my being. I watched my exes settle down, get married and have babies… Good Luck Chuck syndrome.
Dating was for the adventurous and at that point in my life I was anything but adventurous
Then, one day, one of my best friends made me sit down and write a list of all the qualities I wanted in my future husband. She talked me through how she had done it after her divorce and how she had met a man that fulfils every single quality on the list. After a couple of glasses of champagne this sounded like a brilliant idea.
I mean, snort, my future husband dreaming when I don’t even have a current boyfriend or love interest. If felt like the scene from Practical Magic when Sandra Bullock wishes for the impossible other half… the unicorn.
Little did I know that this list would become a reality in my not-so-distant future.
I signed onto Tinder…
At this time my other best friend had fully bought into the myth of Internet dating. So I signed onto Tinder. After a few days I was bored at the notion. In a way it felt comforting. I could lay down my entire story and pretty much give a guy an opt-in function from the start without having to explain where I was at in my life. It felt so retarded, trying to basically advertise who I was.
He then said I should also check out Zoosk. It had been popping up on my timeline so often that it seemed like a great idea. I was amazed at how many encounters I had. Some of them turned into drinks or dinners. Some of them remained conversations over Whatsapp, and some of them have actually turned into friendships.
Then there was one guy who kept ‘winking’ at me on Zoosk. For those who don’t know, a ‘wink’ is pretty much on par with a ‘poke’ on Facebook. I returned the ‘wink’ with a simple ‘hello’ or ‘hi’ but never got a response. Just another wink. Eventually I became annoyed and stopped responding to him.
After a few interesting encounters I jumped back onto Tinder to see if the landscape had changed at all. To my surprise, the winking guy popped up on my Tinder as well. A few moments passed as I hovered my finger over his photo trying to decide whether I should swipe right or left. Again for those who don’t know, if you ‘swipe left’, it means that you are not interested and if you ‘swipe right’, it means that you are. If you both swipe right, it opens a connection between the two of you and you can start communicating on private message.
Was I going to swipe left purely because he had stuffed me around on Zoosk with all his ridiculous winks, or was I going to swipe right to tell him how he had annoyed me by doing that… those of you who know me will know there was never a question that I wasn’t going to swipe right to give this guy a piece of my mind. Besides, I didn’t even know at this point if he had swiped yes on my profile. ‘MATCH’ – wowser! I played it cool. He opened the conversation with something along the lines of “I’m Irish and I like to have fun.” Did that grate me even further, but I indulged him with “You know you are on my Zoosk right?”.
It turned out that, because he hadn’t paid for the app, he couldn’t read my messages or respond to them with anything but a wink.
It felt too good to be true
My initial thoughts were that he was a master manipulator, and I didn’t trust that we had so many things in common – it felt like a lie and too good to be true. The more we chatted, the more I liked him. One of the very first pics of us was taken at my Pink Party, in celebration of being free of cancer. He arrived on his own, knowing no one, and became the life of the party.
I never thought anyone could love me looking the way I did, purely because I did not have any self love to benchmark this against. We have the most incredible fun together. We are both insane, we love the same things, we are totes geeks in combat, and our travel adventures leave us with everlasting experiences that couldn’t have been created had we not done this as a couple.
When it comes to Internet dating, you just need to follow your gut…
He has taken the time to understand my daily struggles, coming to lectures and medical talks with me just to know more about what it is that I am dealing with. His compassion is never ending and his soul so pure. He saw beyond the superficial outer shell and gazed past the facade. I am a better person because Shaun set such an astounding example of how to love without boundaries or conditions. I totally believe in the process. I have seen so many people settle down from Internet dating. You just need to follow your gut, and disengage as soon as something feels uncomfortable.