Think of your favorite love story. Is it light and comedic, like a romantic comedy? Is it passionate and intense, like Pride & Prejudice? Or is it a personal and comforting narrative drawn from your real life experiences?
All of those love stories have one thing in common that make us swoon: they have a happy ending. It works out. They end up together. The feeling is mutual. Sunsets and horses and wedding bells.
As my friends and I have navigated the very confusing world of modern day dating, the idea of “my story” has been touched upon a lot. We hesitate to say yes to a date because we don’t like the story of how we met them. If they do something that makes us feel insecure about whether things will work out, we indignantly say “this is not my story.” Sometimes I think we get more concerned about the story than the actual guy we’re getting to know.
I would consider my parents love story one of my absolute favorites. My dad saw my mom across the room and knew she was it. He asked if she would marry him one day after only two weeks of dating. But I recognize that I could find the exact same story creepy or overbearing if it hadn’t worked out. If he wasn’t my mom’s soulmate, then no one would smile and coo at his behavior. It’s all about the ending.
My point here is that as I embark on sharing some of my story with Stephen, don’t get caught up in comparison. Love stories are beautiful and enthralling and make our hearts swell because of the ending; because two people fall deeply in love. Don’t worry too much about the circumstances.
Luckily, Stephen and I have a happy ending. So let’s get to the story!
Every one of my friends in high school and college seemed sure I was getting married first. This most likely stemmed from my obsession with weddings, but we’ll get to that later. However during the spring of 2019, at the tender age of 23, I was becoming quite disillusioned with dating. I was picky, but I also didn’t feel like anyone was picking me.
When talking to my best friend and roommate, Louise, about this I described what felt like a deep ache in my soul. I felt like I already missed someone who I hadn’t even met. Deeply. But I became convicted that I needed to focus on where I was in the present and lean into the things I was learning and the ways God was growing me in the here and now, rather than pining over someone who wasn’t in my life yet.
A couple of months later, a friend of mine who had previously been a coworker texted me out of the blue. We were friendly but didn’t exactly chit chat much, so I cut to the chase and asked him bluntly what he wanted. He answered that he had the “perfect guy” for me – a friend of his who would be flying out to visit him in six weeks and he wanted to set us up.
I said no. (Stephen’s favorite part of the story because he ended up winning me over.)
I hadn’t even seen Stephen’s photo or heard about him. But I had finally settled into singleness without griping or secretly hoping the guy at the coffee shop would see the book I was reading and instantly fall in love. I didn’t want to ruin it by getting caught up in a guy that I probably wouldn’t even like.
But the friend insisted. He texted me incessantly about all the qualities this “perfect guy” had that would make me fall for him. He was the epitome of a wingman. Finally I agreed, on the condition that it would be a group hangout with some of my friends too and not some awkward dinner date between two strangers.
A few weeks later, “perfect guy” landed at the airport and I met up with them that night for frozen yogurt. You’ve probably picked up at this point that “perfect guy” was Stephen. We talked for a couple hours and when I got home, Louise asked me how it went. I just kept saying, “Yeah, he’s cute,” as I blushed.
We met up again that weekend with my friends and his to go out for drinks. We ended up dancing at a tiki lounge, going to karaoke in K-town and getting food at 4am. It ended with a kiss – one marked by the fact that I’d chosen to wear red lipstick. Stephen later told me our friend’s jaw hit the floor when he walked in and saw lipstick smeared on Stephens face.
But Stephen didn’t live in LA. And I wasn’t interested in long-distance.
He flew back to Oklahoma that morning and after recapping the evening on the beach with friends the next day, I decided to text him. Little did I know that on the plane ride he was writing me a love letter (the first of many) that he was planning to mail me. Over the course of the next few weeks we texted and called. He mailed me letters and told me he would fly out soon to take me on an official date. Then after a few weeks of correspondence, he told me he was moving to LA. That month.
At the time he told me a lot of reasons for the move that weren’t centered around his interest in me. Later I found out that I was a pretty significant factor of that decision. Within six days of his arrival in LA, he was my official boyfriend. I wasn’t wasting any time at that point.
I’ll share more about our time dating in other pieces, but it didn’t take long for me to realize how exceptional he was. He completely redefined my expectations around how I should be treated by a man pursuing me. About a year after he moved to LA, he proposed on the beach in Malibu. It was the easiest yes I have ever said.