When I used to think of the perfect love story, I never imagined it taking place on an online dating site. There’s a stigma against dating websites—people think they’re only for creepy, middle-aged people looking for that someone special in their life. That’s not the case for me. I met my boyfriend of almost a year on an app called Tinder.
The app is hooked up to your Facebook, and it shows you other users in your local area. All you have to do is swipe left on their photos to say you’re not interested in them or right to say you’re interested in them. The other person will never know you like them unless they like you back. Once you both decide that the other person is hot, then you have the option of chatting.
This app may seem like the perfect way to meet people, but it has really become more of a breeding ground for hook-ups and insignificant flings. That’s why it’s so unbelievable that I not only found someone I can relate to, but also my best friend and someone who I can see myself spending the rest of my life with. As my boyfriend and I like to say, “Everything changed when we swiped right.”
It began in the spring of 2013. I was finishing up my senior year of high school and had been going on random little dates throughout the year, but I was never really into anyone at my school. Just when I was starting to think that dating was pointless and a waste of time, my friends all started getting this new app called Tinder and were talking to some interesting guys. There was not a single guy they talked to who had honest intentions; many of them were just interested in meeting and hooking up. Regardless of how long my friends talked to the guys, every conversation ended in the guy asking for suggestive pictures or asking when they could meet up to “fool around.” Even though my friends had bad experiences with the app, they were very persistent, and eventually they convinced me to get the app too.
However, all of the guys I encountered on the app were either super old or just wanted a quick hook-up (one guy even invited me to his frat formal… which was a year from then). I had gotten to the point where I was ready to give up on this stupid app and set my goals on dating someone in college. Luckily, I opened the app one last time, and I saw that I had gotten a message from a guy who I didn’t remember liking named Nathan.
Tinder works by using your most recent profile pictures. So from the few pictures provided of Nathan, I was able to see that he was a tall, blond guy with bright blue eyes, but I was a little cautious because he was holding a baby who looked very much like him. Even though I knew that he could potentially have a baby, I messaged him back and ended up chatting on Tinder with him for a few hours before I gave him my number.
My conversation with this guy was immediately different from any other guy I had talked to. Many of the other guys had initially asked me about myself but then would ask if we could text or Snapchat, only to ask for pictures soon after. The main difference, though, was that he never called me nicknames like “sexy,” “baby” or “babe” like the other guys. Nathan was also the first guy who made an effort for us to get to know each other as normally as possible. I felt like a real person with this guy instead of being treated like an object.
After adding Nathan on Facebook and continuing to talk to him, I learned three very interesting things about him. First, I learned that the baby he was holding in the picture wasn’t his own daughter, but his brother’s, which was a huge relief. Second, I learned that he was born and raised in Michigan and he goes to the University of Michigan, but he was in Texas for a yearlong internship. The last thing that I learned was that he came from a big family; he is the youngest of 12 siblings. Something about him just seemed so intriguing to me, and I continued to text him throughout the week.
In one of those conversations, he asked me out on a date for the upcoming weekend. As weird as it sounds, I never questioned if I should go out with him. Something about him just felt right.
Saturday rolled around, and I was so anxious to finally meet this guy in person. I will always remember the moment that I opened my front door and saw him for the first time.
He was more than I expected. He was so calm as he stood there smiling at me with that amazing smile I’ve come to love. He also came inside and was a gentleman when he met my parents. We ended up going out to dinner at an outdoor mall and watching a live band perform. We talked for six hours, never having any awkward moments that led me to regret my decision. Then, at the end of the date, I got the most amazing first kiss of my life.
The following weekend was my prom. Unfortunately, I had already told a friend I would be his date, so Nathan and I agreed that he would pick me up from prom and we would go to the after-party together. Once at the party, he called me over to sit next to him at my friend’s piano, smiled at me and started playing. As we both sat there at the piano, he suddenly switched songs. I immediately recognized that he was playing my favorite song, Billy Joel’s “She’s Got A Way,” which I vaguely remembered mentioning on our first date. While he serenaded me on the piano, he asked me to be his girlfriend. As he sat there playing this song about a beautiful girl, I remember looking over at him and in that exact moment knowing I already loved him.
At the beginning of our relationship, we kept the truth of how we actually met a secret. We even fabricated a cover story to tell people when they asked. Nathan chose to be very upfront with his friends and family and told them the truth. While I told my closest friends, I avoided mentioning it to my parents, fearing they might make us break up. Over time we started telling more and more people, and the general reactions we got were, “Do you know how lucky you two are?” or, “You hit the jackpot!” or, “Something bad could’ve happened.” After constantly hearing those comments, we realized that we had been extremely lucky.
After almost six months of dating, I worked up the courage and called my parents to finally tell them the truth. Naturally, they had the same reaction and reminded me how dangerous going on Tinder was. Thankfully, after some long talks they forgave me and told me how glad they were that I had met Nathan.
As the school year came to a close and graduation came and went, I began to wonder what this summer had in store for my relationship. Words can’t even begin to describe the summer that Nathan and I had together. We spent every single free moment we had with each other. Even though we were both working and I was taking summer classes, we made as much time as we could for each other. In those moments when we weren’t together, we would email each other at work, text each other funny pictures and plan our next hangout. Every month on the fifth, we would celebrate another month of happiness and memories. There were so many moments when we would both just sit in shock at the reality of our relationship. How was it possible for two total strangers to have met on Tinder, actually get along and even fall in love?
Yes, it was amazing to find love on an online dating site, but the real test was what came next. As the summer came to a close, it hit us both that we would no longer be in the same city. I was starting my freshman year of college, and he was going back home to Michigan to finish his senior year of college. We were faced with the choice of ending our relationship or starting a long-distance relationship, but we both knew the right choice.
The first time saying goodbye to each other was the hardest. As we stood there sobbing, we knew it was going to be a challenge to keep our relationship strong, but we had no idea the challenges we would face in those two months apart. On most days I would wake up feeling a knot in my stomach from the pain I felt of not being with Nathan. Then I would try to start my day as normal as possible, only to end up crying myself to sleep each night. How is someone supposed to handle being ripped apart from her soul mate and best friend?
We both recently finished our first semester apart and reunited with each other during winter break. These past four months without seeing each other was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m so thankful for technology for letting us be able to stay in contact, and for the fact that we didn’t have to go any longer than two months without seeing each other due to having the opportunity to see each other for a weekend.
I know that Nathan and I are one of the millions of couples that are long distance. The thing that makes us special is that we’re not only beating the odds of maintaining a LDR, we’re also a couple who succeeded thanks to a silly little app.
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