By Jessica Goodman
Tyler and McCauley had plenty of chances to meet in their shared hometown near Knoxville, Tennessee. They attended the same church. McCauley had worked in events with Tyler’s sister-in-law. And Tyler—an assistant district attorney—even has a photo from a Tennessee football game where McCauley is in the picture. And yet, neither knew the other existed. Until they matched on Bumble in the summer of 2019.
They had similar reasons for downloading the app. Tyler and McCauley both went through devastating divorces, and each had a daughter from their previous marriages. When they downloaded Bumble, they were looking to move forward with a new partner who could understand what it was like to be a single parent who was healing from a divorce. Because of their situations, they both felt strongly about finding someone who wanted to be in a serious relationship, and who wasn’t afraid of commitment: someone who they could introduce to their daughters.
As soon as she saw Tyler’s profile, McCauley was drawn to him, mostly because his profile reflected shared values like family and religion. “We both had something on there about our children,” she says. “That’s what stuck out to me.” Tyler says he was delighted to see she had a photo with the mascot of his favorite football team since he’s a huge fan. “I was like, at least we have that in common!” But he also was grateful to see that McCauley was a parent, too. “Being a single father, I wanted someone who understood where I was in life,” Tyler says. After McCauley messaged him, they realized they went to the same church—and Tyler felt a slight sense of dread. “It was a Sunday morning and I had slept in and skipped,” he says. “I was so worried she was going to ask me what I thought about the sermon. Like, that’s going to be a great impression!”
To Tyler’s relief, McCauley never brought up that day’s service, and instead they made immediate plans to get together to see if they had chemistry in person. Tyler spent a long time writing out his responses before sending them, careful not to make any typos or mistakes, and the two decided to meet as soon as they could.
A few days later, they got together at a coffee shop for their first date. Tyler strategically timed it 45 minutes before closing just in case it didn’t go well, so they could have an easy out. But something clicked, and as the coffee shop closed, they made their way to a pizza place known for excellent food and beer. “We were both so nervous that we only ordered salads and water,” McCauley laughs. That night they talked about all their missed connections, realizing that their daughters were only seven months apart and attended Sunday school in classrooms right next to one another—and that Tyler had been to McCauley’s office to visit his sister-in-law. “We talked about all of the ways our worlds were pretty close together without actually colliding until we got on Bumble,” McCauley says.
They both knew immediately that they wanted to spend more time together. They continued going on dates around Knoxville, exploring the nearby parks, and sharing stories about their heartbreaks and low points. Eventually they introduced their daughters to each other. While they were both interested in marriage, McCauley says they wanted to be careful about making the jump too quickly. “There are two precious girls involved and they’ve already been through a lot,” she says. “We really wanted to take our time.”
But when COVID-19 hit in March 2020, they were forced to speed things up and combine households in order to see each other. “That solidified us as a family,” McCauley says. With two demanding jobs and two children out of daycare, they had to find ways to keep everyone busy and safe, while also nurturing their relationship. They spent the early pandemic days doing arts and crafts projects with their daughters, teaching them to ride bikes, building snowmen, and taking drives up to the Smoky Mountains. They realized if they could handle lockdown together, coming out stronger and more united, then they could certainly handle marriage.
When Tyler was ready to propose in early 2021, he knew he wanted the day to be reminiscent of one of their mountain picnics, so he planned a surprise trip to their favorite overlook to pop the question. “When we got up there, he just started talking and I was like ‘are you proposing?!’” McCauley says. “He was like, will you just let me say what I need to say!” That May, they were married in front of 85 people in person, and another 100 via video. Their daughters served as flower girls. And a few months later, they went back to that first date spot to finally order all the pizza they missed out on when they were so nervous to meet.
Since getting married, the family of four has moved into a home of their own and adopted a puppy, all of which signify a brand new chapter in their lives. “We have shared the lowest of lows and how we hit rock bottom after our divorces,” says McCauley. “What is incredible is that we had time on our own to rebuild our life and create a vision for it moving forward.”