After ending a "toxic" relationship with her ex Jesse, Darcey Silva says she's found love with a new boyfriend
After her last tumultuous relationship, 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days’ Darcey Silva says she’s learned a lot and is ready for a new commitment with Tom Brooks, a British online friend who was her “rock” during her breakup with Jesse Meester.
“My past relationship was toxic,” the 44-year-old told PEOPLE exclusively ahead of Sunday’s season premiere. “I learned about what I want in a relationship. I really dug in deep to love myself and I know that I deserve so much more.”
“When I met you, I was with someone else I was madly in love with,” Tom tells Darcey during a video chat in a sneak peek (shared exclusively with PEOPLE). “It didn’t work out, and then when the time came around, you were with some 25-year-old want-to-be.”
“I feel in my heart and my soul that I’m not ever going to get in a situation with what I dealt with before because he was so mean,” she tells Tom, tearing up. “I just really wish I didn’t have to go through what I had to go through.”
Unlike Meester, who was much younger than her, Tom is closer in age at 39. Despite that, Darcey says age doesn’t matter to her.
“I don’t really look at age within relationships, but I’ve always dated a bit younger than me in general,” she says. “Tom understands my lifestyle. He’s a great family man, and just understood all that. He has the right mindset. We just have this amazing bond that I knew it was something worth pursuing.”
While she’s proceeding with caution with this newfound love — “I wear my heart on my sleeve,” she says — meeting her “charming” new man was “magical.”
“When I looked into his eyes, I just knew. I felt safe and protected,” she says. “He just treated me with respect and like a princess. I felt more of a woman. It was a very beautiful, heartwarming feeling.”
“He’s got this wonderful softness about him that I love,” she adds. “We learn a lot from each other. We don’t take anything away from each other’s personality, like, there’s something that we could add to each other in the relationship, so it’s been beautiful.”
Luckily, Tom already has the stamp of approval from two of Darcey’s most important confidants: her daughters Aspen and Aniko.
“They got to see us together and they saw me smile, and as long as I’m happy, they’re happy,” Darcey says. “They got along great with him. They knew mommy was in good hands.”
After her last relationship crumbled so publicly, the Connecticut native knows that people will start making comparisons. However, she’s completely turning the page.
“A lot of the things that Jesse was saying in the media, creating false accusations and lies, I don’t fall for that,” she explains.
“I know there’ll be haters, I know there’ll be people judging,” she continues. “But I’m a strong, woke woman. I’m a single mom, and I hold the fort down so there’s no shame in my game.”
Darcey hopes that this new journey with Tom will help people realize the fun and funny person that she really is.
“Hopefully people will see the real strength about me and that I don’t give up on life,” she continues. “I’ll find my soulmate and no one is going to stop me.”
The season premiere of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days — a reality show that follows couples before they begin the K-1 Visa process — airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on TLC.