How people really meet their partners, round two

"Is there a riot going on outside? I didn't notice."

Illustration: Aaron Jacob

We recently wrote about how 12 happy couples found each other. It’s been one of our most popular articles, with lots of you saying you teared up (me too: I cried twice while writing it) and lots more wanting to be featured next time.

So here it is: 12 more blissfully coupled-up folks tell us how they found the one for them, from the lady who actually married the hot barista at Starbucks to the one who played her husband’s dead wife in a play.

1. Beth and Angela: “We both wanted Ruby to win Bake Off”

Beth says:

A couple of years back, I was browsing OKCupid while watching the Great British Bake Off final. I came across Angela’s profile and it said she was a pastry chef, so I messaged her asking who she wanted to win GBBO. It turned out we both wanted Ruby to win, and we got chatting.

Our first date was a food market on the South Bank, and for our second she cooked me an amazing chicken biryani. For the third I cooked for her – evidently we have a mutual love of food! I don’t really have a sweet tooth, so her pastry cheffing was slightly lost on me, but my sisters are very happy about it. She came to our house the first Christmas we knew each other (after just after a month of being together) and my family all loved her – her profiteroles probably helped!

Two years later, we’re living together in our flat in Wimbledon, and very happy.

When Ruby came out earlier this year, I tweeted her to let her know she’s why I met my girlfriend – and she was delighted. So are we.

2. Andi and Tania: “He said he needed to go home to
check on the cat”

Tania says:

We met on the night of the London riots, 8 August 2011. It was a Monday; I had an invitation to a dinner party in Hackney that evening. The news were full of images of burning shops and riot police. In the afternoon, the party host e-mailed the guests telling them that if they wanted to cancel for fear for their safety, no offence would be taken. My dad called me just as I was about to leave, urging me to take a taxi home and “not take any risks”, but I hopped on my bike and cycled to the party. There I met Andi, the blond hurricane of a man.

One of our first conversations was about artisan cider – he brought along a collection of his favourite beverages and gave a detailed description of each one as I sampled it. He told me he was worried about his parents’ elderly cat that he was looking after at the time – it was back in his flat in Dalston, one of the riot hotspots. Everyone at the party kept checking Twitter for updates, as police sirens wailed outside. News came that the block of flats where Andi lived was “barricaded by a burning bus”, and Andi said he needed to go home to check on the cat. I was smitten by his bravery. As he was leaving, I asked him for his e-mail address.

We met again a week later; I found him to be attentive, interesting, an amazing conversationalist. Then there was a party at mine where he – for no reason at all – turned up dressed in a kigu costume, as Stitch (from the Disney film), and at 2am organised an impromptu circus session in the street outside my house, where he taught my friends to hula hoop. I loved how effortlessly eccentric he was. We continued meeting up as friends, but I had made a bet with a mate that I would stay celibate for a year, so I wasn’t going to rush into anything.

Eventually I decided that the bet wasn’t worth keeping. When, after a long wait, Andi and I finally got together, it was amazing. A couple of months into our relationship, we went to a comedy night, where Andi bargained for free drinks in exchange for audience participation. By the end of the show, both of us got quite tipsy, and I blurted out that I loved him. It was an incredibly intense moment; he cried. It took him longer to confess his love for me, but he felt that our relationship needed to grow into something deeper before he could.

It’s been four years since we first met. We’re now living together in a slightly shabby, lovely Victorian house with a big garden, that we own and are slowly refurbishing. Cats and cider feature prominently in our lives: we’ve adopted three cats from Celia Hammond, and are doing a great job at being the crazy cat woman and man. Every year, we travel to Herefordshire to visit its many cider farms and stock up on amazing artisan cider. Sometimes, Andi invites neighbours’ kids to our garden for hula hooping tutorials – when I watch them go my heart melts a little.

3. Andrew and Amy-Jean: “She thought I was asking about something on her face”

Andrew says:
Since it’s a bilingual country, the Canadian government has a programme that’s essentially French camp for adults. Amy-Jean signed up through her university although she was pretty much fluent, and I signed up on a lark because I was looking for something to do before I went bumming around Europe that summer.

The two of us were in different programs, but we were brought together by our mutual dependence on caffeine. I saw her sipping a tea in the cafe, and thought I was being cool by asking “what’s up” en Français. As it turns out, I was actually saying “Qu’est-ce que c’est?”, which is like asking someone “What is it?” She thought I was asking about something on her face. I managed to royally creep her out and she mostly avoided me after that. I was very frustrated, since I wanted to talk to this cute girl but had the vocabulary of a toddler — not very impressive.

Flash forward a few weeks, and a big group of us were sitting in the local poutinerie, called (I kid you not) Cantine D’Amours. All the anglo kids had decided that now was the time to *actually* get to know each other, and we cheated and started speaking English. The topic of video games came up, and she mentioned that her favourite game was Majora’s Mask for the Nintendo 64 – the same as mine. We even shared the same favourite quest, where the protagonist brings an engaged couple back together just before the end of the world. Later, I’d tell her that she had me at Anjou and Kafei <3

After that night, the trip was basically over, so what I thought would be my last memory of Amy-Jean came as she said goodbye on the train station platform well after midnight in this small Quebecois town. She gave me a kiss and there were sad tears in both of our eyes that night.

Back in Montreal, regretting my loss, I opened up Facebook Messenger, even though I never ever use it. But this one time, Amy-Jean happened to be online and I managed to grab her email address. On my subsequent trip through Europe, I wrote her emails about what I did every day, even though sending them to her without a data plan meant wandering through random European streets in the hope of getting an unsecured WiFi connection. I treasure the emails she sent back more than anything else from that trip.

When I was back in Canada, she came up to visit Montreal. I greeted her at my front door in a suit with martinis, and we’ve been a couple ever since. We moved in together when she was finishing her degree and have an apartment of our own in Montreal, with two cats (Mr Spock and Tali). It’s been 6 happy years since Cantine D’Amours and I have definitely won that game.

My French, however, remains terrible.

4. Rena and Duncan – “I was instantly wowed by his carpentry skills”

Rena says:

Back in October 2006, I’d been single for a fair old while. I’d virtually given up on meeting anyone after some disastrous online dating encounters and failed set-ups via friends. But an old uni pal mentioned her ‘handsome new housemate’ and, ignoring my visible reluctance, indulged her hopes of playing matchmaker by inviting me over for Sunday lunch to meet him.

I went mainly to see my friend, her husband and their new flat, holding out little hope for romance. When I walked into the living room, Duncan was putting together an IKEA chair, which cast him in a manly and capable light. Then he looked up and gave me the sweetest, most genuine and open smile I’d ever seen. It completely blew me away.

After a slightly awkward lunch of noodle soup – he joked about his inability to use chopsticks, I regretted wearing a white top – I left thinking I’d never see him again. But he asked my friend for my number, phoned me to ask me out (a lesser man would have sent a text) and we met for a date. I’m ashamed to say I turned up with a monster of a hangover, but he soon made me forget all about it. The moment I knew he could be a keeper? When he asked the waiter for a doggy bag so I could take home the leftover manchego – because he knew I loved cheese. That’s true romance in my book.

Despite this, I remained somewhat skeptical and refused to skip my Indian head massage course or cancel any of my plans with friends (sisters before misters) in the name of a second date – which meant it was 3 weeks before we next met. It was Diwali so he brought me a gift of Victoria Beckham’s book on style (a freebie from work), and it happened to be Bonfire Night too so we watched a display, where he joked about asking the organisers to spell out a proposal in fireworks.

Three years later he popped the question for real. No longer the skeptic, I said yes. This year we celebrate 5 years of being husband and wife, and 9 years of being best friends.

5. Janae & Ryan: “I started buying coffee 2 or 3 times a day”

Janae says:

Two weeks after I graduated college, I went to buy a cup of coffee before the first day of my summer internship. I thought the guy behind the counter was really, really cute. So much so, that two weeks later, I emailed all of my girlfriends.

“I am in love with the barista across the street from work. I’ve seen him twice.”

I started buying coffee 2 or 3 times a day so we could make small talk. There was a lot of strategy to this – like ordering drinks that required him to ask for my name. A few weeks later, knowing I had to leave town soon and was running out of time, I sat at the table next to him while he was outside on his break. A friend had just texted me, “How’s the barista?” and I immediately called her – “Hey! I’m sorry I can’t talk right now, call you later? Okay! Bye.” – just to make sure he noticed I was sitting there. It worked. 30 minutes of talking later, he asked for my phone number!

Later I’d find out that during my phone call, he’d gone inside to get a bowl of water for a customer’s golden retriever because he thought I would find that cute. So, the feelings were mutual.

A week later, we had our first date – a four-hour dinner. It was PERFECT! We went on dates for 30 amazing days, meeting friends, meeting parents…

But on day 31, internship over, I flew home, across the country, to where my family lives. 10 days later, I flew to Europe, where I backpacked solo for four months, no itinerary, no webcam, no post-backpacking job or even any idea of where I’d be living when I returned to the U.S.

We kept in touch – and six months after our amazing summer ended, I moved back to the city we’d met in. A week later we started “officially” dating… and 4 years since that first coffee, we’re now getting married in a few weeks.

6. Vic and Roj: “We met on the train”

Vic says:

We met through a mutual friend on the train between our home town and Belfast. I was travelling to sixth form and Roj was travelling to university (supposedly) – but instead he came all the way to the end of the line with me, where I got on another train and he went to a coffee shop. He pretty much got on the same train every day after that, unarranged – some would call this stalking! (Luckily I think it was cute).

He’d never get off at the right stop and would continue into Belfast with me, heading to the same coffee shop. Unsurprisingly, he failed the first year of his engineering degree as he rarely attended – and once he dropped out of university the coffee shop shut down!

Anyway, we became close friends and went everywhere together. One day when he went to drop me off home in his trusty Renault Clio he leant over to give me a kiss and that was it. We got engaged when I was 19, and got married at the end of my first year in university. Of course people were horrified, thinking we were far too young.

12 years on, we’ve travelled together to South Africa and India, we’ve lived in Scotland and England and back in Northern Ireland, we’ve had great times, we’ve suffered the pains of temporary work and having to live apart, and we’ve had some amazing arguments, but we are still together. We always say we’re really fortunate that as we’ve grown up, we’ve grown together, and that’s due to lots of hard work and a good bit of luck.

I love my husband, but just as importantly I really like him. I like being with him: sitting at our dinner table having long chats, reading him the bits of news I find interesting (he may disagree with this), working on the house that I fell in love with and he’s learning to love, being out on our bikes, and hosting friends in our home.

I’m so glad my parents made me get the train to school – it turned out perfectly!

7. Amy and Phil: “I wanted to read his t-shirt”

Amy says:

I’ve always loved dressing up, particularly at Halloween, so was particularly thrilled to be heading to the Kerrang! Halloween Rock Night with my two of my best friends. I was dressed as a skeleton, Shamira a rainbow dinosaur and Jess a nurse. Everyone is super sociable on these nights so we did the rounds, tipsily talking to The Stig, a lion and a bloke who looked suspiciously like Jesus.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this cute guy with a beanie on, sleeve tattoos and an indecipherable scrawling (at least from afar) in blood on his t-shirt. In my alcohol-fuelled state I decided I wanted to know what it said so with the girls in tow, I approached. He explained he was dressed as a dead hipster and the t-shirt said ‘Dracula is too mainstream’.

I was sold. We spent the rest of the night dancing together. He must have got warm because he starting rolling down his tattoos. “They’re fake?” I screeched. I should have known – when I asked him how much they cost he said “not much.”

Luckily, the tats weren’t the only thing about him I liked so we exchanged numbers (after he was screened for boyfriend suitability by my friend) and met up for our first date a week later. It was the usual, a long walk along the South Bank followed by dinner and then dessert at Häagen Dazs. It was all going swimmingly until he casually mentioned that I might want to rub the ice cream off my face which had been there for well over 10 minutes. I was mortified and hid behind my menu.

Thankfully, he thought it was cute and we’ve been together for nearly three years. Some things don’t change though – we still love fancy dress nights and he regularly has to tell me to wipe the food off my face.

8. Ming and Liz – “She recognised Tom Baker’s Doctor”

Ming says:

Liz and I met while we were both working in New Zealand a few years ago. A mutual friend introduced us during a group outing to a concert, and we went back to my hostel afterwards and hung out. She was very quiet initially, but we had a really cool, interesting chat and I also liked that she recognised Tom Baker’s Doctor on my t-shirt! A few weeks later she invited me to go see Lucy Lawless doing a gig, and by the end of it I wanted to ask her out, but she wasn’t giving anything away. We hung out a few more times (mostly to geek out over Marvel films), but a few months later I left New Zealand to become a teaching assistant in China.

I thought that was it, but over that year we kept on Skyping, each time for hours on end – it was like we were hanging out and chilling with each other, only, you know, thousands of miles apart…

The end of my time as a teaching assistant coincided with my ancient phone giving up the ghost, so I bought a new Android one in Hong Kong, and the first thing I did was to download Whatsapp so I could text her. Over the next few weeks we messaged constantly. I loved her sense of humour, her kindness, our mutual geeky interests, her open-minded curiosity about everything (science nerd alert). By this point I’d decided that my next big adventure was going to be South America, via Australia and New Zealand again to visit friends. I would be lying if I said Liz wasn’t the most important person on that list. She’d already bought us tickets for the Auckland stop on Fleetwood Mac’s comeback tour.

Something unexpected happened in Malaysia though – I got a 3 month internship at a company near where my uncle lived in KL. I was in the Perhentian Islands when I heard the news, and agreed to go out with some people from the hostel I was staying in that night to celebrate. By now we were texting so regularly I had to charge my phone daily. She’s sometimes hard to read, and I didn’t want to say anything that could potentially change our friendship for the worse, but in a fit of bravado that evening I confessed that I liked her and before she replied my phone battery ran out!

Thankfully, she felt the same, but instead of being able to change my plans and fly back to New Zealand as soon as I was able to afford it, we knew that I would have to stick around in KL for three months for my internship. I’ll say no more about that time other than ‘it was a really bloody long three months’, though it was lovely to spend time with my uncle and his family.

I flew back to New Zealand in December and spent almost 8 weeks with her before flying out to Melbourne. It was a perfect summer – we did a two week road trip on the South Island, went to festivals, spent Christmas Day hiking, went to the Coromandel, visited friends. Over the next few months she joined me in Melbourne and Vietnam, and when I went home (I’d changed my mind about South America), she went back to New Zealand to make the most of her visa and save up money. A few months later, she came to the UK. The last year together has been amazing – I haven’t used Whatsapp or Skype once.

9. Ruth and Matt: “I played his dead wife in a play”

Ruth says:

In October 2008 I was a fresher looking to meet as many people as possible in a new city, so I auditioned for a student play. A few days later the cast lists went up and of course everyone frantically noted the names of their cast mates and looked them up on Facebook. He’s since admitted that he liked what he saw: a lot of blonde hair (now gone) and red lipstick (still around). He added me right away and introduced himself.

He spent the day of the first rehearsal throwing up after his friends made him a dodgy lasagne, but he turned up halfway through with wet hair and looking, frankly, rough. At the end of the read-through we all went to the SU bar and he spent the evening speaking to me whilst not very subtly watching the football over the top of my head. Good job it’s not all about first impressions.

On stage we had great chemistry; I played his late wife, back from the dead to haunt him in a decidedly flirtatious manner. Off stage we became good friends, and the subject of gossip at drama society parties. We flirted outrageously but he was newly single and very popular within the – largely female – drama society! Obviously I was totally cool with that because I was (still am…) super laid back and who wants a boyfriend in uni anyway?

After some dalliance, one hell of an after show party, a few tears and a lot of spilt wine, we finally made it official. I don’t think either of us thought it would would last long when we met in the dingy university cafe to ‘talk’ but nearly seven years after we first met, we just celebrated our second wedding anniversary. We’ve dropped the am-dram now, but it was our first shared joy and over the years we’ve kept discovering things we love doing together.

10. Sam and Charlotte: “Her first words to me were, ‘How about I’ll kill you?'”

Sam says:

In 2007, I managed to get myself onto a Masters course in Creative Writing. The first time I saw Charlotte was at a meetup where a bloke in his 60s (she was 22) pointed her out in the bar and expressed his admiration for her looks, in no uncertain terms. Awkward.

The first time we met properly, Charlotte was furious (NTU Student Admin was hilariously bad at times) and we had to collaborate on some flash fiction. The task was to write a story with only three words of dialogue, so her first words to me were, “how about ‘I’ll kill you’?” I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit intimidating.

Towards the end of the first year we were working on a student anthology and I’d ended up running the project. Charlotte says she knew she liked me when I suggested that if people wanted their opinions to be heard but were afraid to speak up, they should make signal fires out of muffin wrappers (so, not my commanding style of management then…). We bonded over Terry Pratchett and a bunch of other fantasy authors, as well as a love of cake and chocolate, and a dislike of wine. When she proved she shared my sense of humour by discussing fascinators with water features, I was smitten.

Fast-forward six months (and her becoming single), I took the coward’s way and texted her to tell her how I felt. That was in spring 2008. In June 2009 we bought a house. In September 2011 we got married.

So yeah. Arts degrees. Awesome.

11. Liz and Kelly: “She’d greet me with a takeaway coffee”

Kelly says:

Liz and I met for the first time about 12 years ago at a mutual friend’s BBQ in Reading. We were both already in long term relationships at that point, and I wasn’t really thinking of her in that way. After that, she and her partner moved away, and we lost touch.

Then, a few years on, Liz moved back to Reading where we shared a network of friends, and we started socialising together. It soon became clear we were drawn to each other with loads of common interests: everything from our taste in music to our love of extreme sports and sense of adventure, morality and humour.

Liz would meet me before work and greet me with a takeaway coffee – it was lovely. We quickly became inseparable, she’d come and meet me after work too for for games of pool and drinks. In summer 2006 we officially got together, and not long after – October that year – we got engaged at the top of the Rockerfeller Building in New York. In spring 2009 we bought a home together and in the summer of 2012 had our big day and held our beautiful civil ceremony. Over a decade after I first met her at that barbecue and thought nothing of it, she’s now my wife.

12. Roger and MaryBeth – “We fought supervillains together”

Roger says:

It’s 2004 and I’m watching my mother fade slowly, her light devoured by lung and brain cancer. A few weeks after her funeral, a co-worker unexpectedly offers to transfer his City of Heroes account to me. While he’s enjoyed his time saving the world, he gets bored quickly and wants to move on to the next adventure. I grudgingly accept. While video games have been a constant in my life, in my melancholy I’ve lost interest in a lot of the things that used to bring me joy. I log in and create this guy:

My character is a Gravity Controller, which basically means he holds and/or lifts things, only heroically and from a distance. A couple of days pass and I’m still getting used to my character, but I can tell already that the game’s got its hooks into me, and I’m relieved. Both that I’m deriving genuine pleasure from anything at this point and that this game, being an MMO, is something I should be able to play for years to come.

Soon I realize that while I’m making progress–with my character and emotionally–I’ve not made any in-game friends yet. I’ve been playing it safe, keeping others at a distance, choosing only those missions that can be played solo and ignoring invitations to groups.

It’s Thursday evening and I’m being recruited into a multi-person mission called a Task Force. I’m initially hesitant. In fact, I refuse the original invite but the group is desperate for someone with my powers (if not my experience). I’m the fifth person to join and there’s one slot left. All the group needs now is a healer to round out the group. Minutes pass and small-talk is made. Our group organizer is expressing his frustration and we’re contemplating abandoning the mission. Suddenly, the sixth slot is filled by the requisite healer.

After committing over an hour to the mission, our team runs into a bug that will make it unable to be completed. While sitting around waiting for our help ticket to be acknowledged, the sixth member of the team and I strike up a chat. It begins with her complimenting my outfit. We end up talking music, movies, food. It turns out we have more in common than being costumed crime-fighters.

The game representative finally informs us that they can’t fix the bug in time for us to continue the mission, and that we’ll have to all sign in again at another time to complete it. Our team has to agree to schedule a follow-up session in order to finish what we’ve started. I’m nervous Team Member Six won’t be able to make the agreed-upon day and time, or that something will prevent me from participating. Before logging-off, I hurriedly ask if I can get her email address. She replies in the affirmative. Thus begins a long habit of me asking her for things.

Over the next eleven years I will:

Ask if she wants to join my supergroup (aka guild).
Ask her for her name.
Ask if she would like to chat online sometime.
Ask if I can call her.
Ask if I can visit her in her hometown.
Ask if she’d like to come and visit mine.
Ask if she would consider moving in together.
Ask if she wants to buy a house together.
Ask if she’d consent to being my wife.
Ask her if I can write these words and share them with others.

Happily for me and for this article, she said yes to every last one.

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 280 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.