Welcome to our series, The Divorce Diaries. In our past instalments over the last few months we’ve covered everything from the effect of lockdown on divorces to whether they’re contagious and have now spoken to dozens of women – including one whose husband announced he was leaving her to have an open relationship with a 19-year-old and another who was quite literally ghosted by her own husband.
This week we speak to Kate, whose marriage came to a swift end when she discovered her husband had a Tinder account…and was lying about it…
When Kate* and Geoff met, it was the old-fashioned way: in a bar, at an ungodly hour and fueled by a half-dozen vodka cruisers. But somehow Kate and Geoff made it work, and stuck through university together, tying the knot seven years after they first met.
And six years into marriage, they were still going strong. Although there were times – and she felt ashamed to admit it – Kate felt like she’d missed out on a step in finding her husband so early in life. “Pretty much, we were kids when we met,” says Kate. They were both in their early twenties when they fell hard and fast for one another, while Kate then watched her friends going on dates and searching for love right through their twenties and thirties.
“I kinda felt relieved most of the time,” she says, “I mean, it didn’t always look fun so I was glad I didn’t have to go through the heartbreak of it all.” But, when dating apps came around, Kate often felt curious and started living vicariously through her girlfriends.
She had one single friend, in particular, who was also in her early 30s, a big fan of the apps and always willing to overshare about her experiences. In fact, some how they began having ‘Monday Mingle’ nights, where her friend, Michelle, would send screenshots of the guys she liked, the ones she’d matched with and the profiles that made her laugh/scream/hide under a blanket. Michelle was hilarious – and very busy, so Monday was when she did most of her dating “work”, plus she had this theory that it was when the apps were busy with more ‘serious’ guys.
It was a regular Monday Mingle night when Michelle bemoaned the number of guys that were clearly in relationships/married, looking for ‘someone to be discreet with’. “Like who?” asked Kate. And then came a series of shots of different guys’ profiles – some with a meme, pic of Daniel Craig as James Bond, or bizarre headless shots of their torsos. ‘Here’s another. GAG,’ pinged a message from Michelle.
Except this screenshot made the blood in Kate’s veins suddenly run cold. It was a picture of a man’s naked torso, awkwardly taken in front of a bathroom mirror. It was cropped in tight, but she recognized that torso. And if there were any doubt, she recognized the tiles at the bottom of the mirror – one cracked vertically,
“It was my husband – no doubt about it – it was him,” says Kate. “I knew it was him. It had to be our bathroom.” In shock she ran to the bathroom, somehow hoping that she was remembering the tiles incorrectly – but there they were, the same colour, the same shape, the same vertical crack running down one of them. “And, I mean, after being with someone for a hundred years, you know what their chest looks like,” says Kate.
Still in shock, she didn’t tell her friends – that would make the whole nightmare true. Instead she went out into the lounge where her husband was watching TV, and promptly burst into tears. Geoff – immediately concerned – leapt up to comfort her and ask what was going on. “Why are you on Tinder?” she managed to spit out.
Geoff took a step back, flustered, and denied being on Tinder, before immediately admitting that he was, but he hadn’t done anything – he’d just made a profile because he was curious what the whole thing was about. He’d hated it and deleted it and didn’t realise his profile would still be floating around.
Kate was devastated, but also had some understanding of where he was coming from – after all, she’d been so curious, she was living through her friend’s experiences every week. “It’s different though, getting your friends to show you what it’s like,” she tells. “If he wanted to see what it was like, why did he go take a seedy pic like that? Why wouldn’t he just put a random pic, with no profile details?”
Geoff swore it was a one-off, stupid curiosity thing and offered up his phone as proof to show he didn’t even have the app on his phone.
Hurt and humiliated, Kate felt upset, but in the weeks that followed she slowly started to get over it – but she no longer found any enjoyment in Monday Mingle nights.
Then, one Saturday evening, a couple of months later, Geoff came home from the gym and left his phone on the kitchen bench when he hit the shower. It was sitting there, daring Kate to look at it. “I’d never thought about spying on him or anything like that before,” says Kate. “But, I dunno, something that night told me to look at his phone. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
So, she scooped it up, typed in his pin and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw there was no Tinder on his phone. But something inside her wasn’t satisfied. Hearing the water still running, she went to the app store and re-downloaded Tinder. There – to her horror – was a completely different story to the one her husband had told her. There, she found a heaving message box, with at least two dozen matches. Her heart sunk.
“I dunno why, but I felt calm about it – like I’d been expecting it or something,” says Kate. “In my gut I thought it was going on and seeing the truth made me oddly calm.”
So when Geoff walked into the kitchen and she was still scrolling through his messages – with evidence that he’d met up with a few women – she just, very calmly, asked him what the f*** he had been thinking.
“He had no excuses,” says Kate. “I had it in my hand – he couldn’t argue.”
Instead they had a very matter-of-fact conversation and Geoff left to go stay somewhere else for the night – leaving so quickly, he didn’t even pack a bag.
Kate says it took a long time to really feel any emotion. The next day she decided that he shouldn’t get to be the one to go stay at a hotel, so she booked in at an expensive hotel for the Sunday and Monday night, took the day off work, booked a massage and invited her best friend to join her.
“I felt so numb, but I cried for the first time after the massage,” says Kate. “That sort of let the flood gates open!”
It’s now been four years since she found those messages on Tinder and two since they were officially divorced. And Kate now has some good news to share – she’s six months pregnant with her first child, to a man she met a few couple of years ago on Bumble.
“It took me a while to give it a go,” she says, “and a bit longer to find a decent guy.”
And it just so happens, she found him on a Monday night.
*names have been changed.
THE DIVORCE DIARIES
Do you have a story to share? If you’d like to share your own experiences, tips or advice (we can keep you anonymous if you’d prefer!) please do email me at [email protected].