From Our Readers
October 16, 2014 6:00 am

Phil and I “met” online in 2011 when we mutually followed each other’s blogs on Tumblr. This was nothing unique–I followed hundreds of blogs on Tumblr. Granted, everything was strictly platonic and friendly between Phil and I. Our interactions consisted mostly of leaving comments on each other’s blog posts and sending the occasional message. By the time winter 2012 rolled around, we found ourselves talking more and more. We had both recently joined an online dating site and we’d trade horror stories about our online dating experiences.

Eventually, over the course of several months, after hours upon hours of communicating, our friendship began to transform into something new and completely unexpected. It began to affect the dates I went on. I no longer wanted to hear about his online dating experiences and honestly couldn’t see the value in my matches when I thought I’d found someone already pretty amazing. One night, he echoed my feelings when we spoke after one of his dates. “This thing between us is ruining dating for me.”

Unfortunately, there was one huge problem–I lived in Ohio and Phil was “across the pond,” 4,000-plus miles away in England. We found ourselves in the most uncharted waters of something resembling online dating. Even though it seemed insane, we took a pause and asked ourselves, What if we keep talking and see where it leads?

“What if?” turned into conversations using a texting and voice-messaging app Voxer, Skype video dates, and frequent phone calls. We emailed and texted constantly and filmed videos every day with updates about daily events.

I was so nervous during our first Skype video chat that I needed a little liquid courage–something I had been known to do for face-to-face dates as well. While this date wasn’t in-person, it also wasn’t traditional online dating, where I could hide behind my computer screen and carefully constructed selfies and emails.

The thing about any online relationship, long distance or otherwise, is that it plays out essentially like any other traditional relationship. It’s two people taking a chance on one another and seeing where it leads. Yes, some things between Phil and I may have taken a little longer to develop since we weren’t able to spend a lot of one-on-one time together, but that also meant we made communication a top priority and talked a lot.

Four months into “What if?” we found ourselves meeting for the first time in person at JFK airport in New York. I don’t think I can fully convey just how nervous, and excited, I was. I told myself that this was simply a “What if?” situation, but in the back of my mind, I knew full-well I wasn’t popping down to the local coffee shop to meet up with a potential match. This man flew into another country to meet me! Compare this to past interests who thought slapping together a PB&J sandwich classified as cooking me dinner and this was clearly a major leap.

I arrived at the airport early and managed to only run to the bathroom to check my hair about 35 times, give or take a dozen. When he finally exited the international terminal, I didn’t even see him. I was so busy trying to distract myself with music that he actually spotted me first.

The following hours were some of the most surreal moments of my life–to go from communicating solely online to having that person sitting right next to me. It was incredible.

We spent the next several days acting like tourists. He braved sightseeing with my friends, who loved and welcomed him into our group immediately. We went to Mets games, romantic dinners, and shows on Broadway. We even popped into Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey to score some cupcakes.

Mostly, we laughed a lot. More than I’ve ever laughed before. Standing on the platform waiting for the train–we laughed. Intermission during shows–we laughed. Eating hot dogs at the baseball game–we laughed. He was the funniest person I’d ever met. Those three, short days together were enough to seal the deal for both of us.

Over the course of the next year, “What if?” evolved into flying back and forth between Ohio and England every couple of months to see each other. I shared my favorite Cincinnati foods and hotspots with him. In return, he showed me an England I would have never seen without him.

On one visit in particular, our relationship crossed a pivotal line. He took care of me when I got so violently ill that I basically barricaded myself in his bathroom. He refused to go to bed until I felt better, ventured out at 2am in search of medicine, and kept me company while I crumpled up into a ball on the bathroom floor in agony.

So when he proposed, after we completed our first 10k race together on one particularly freezing Thanksgiving Day in 2013, of course I said yes.

We were married on May 16, 2014, in front of a small gathering of friends and family in Ohio. As I sit here, impatiently waiting for my UK visa to arrive so we can finally end the long-distance portion of our relationship and kick this marriage adventure into hyperdrive, I have to ask myself if I had to do it all over again, would I?

In the end, I’d only change one thing: my answer during my visits to England when the UK customs and border patrol would ask how Phil and I originally met. Simply saying, “We met online” gets you grilled seemingly forever; whereas, apparently, this whole time Phil has been answering that we met in NYC. See, not only is he funny, but he’s smarter than me too.

Amy Prewitt Harris is an Ohioan living in England and is currently avoiding learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road. She’s on a mission to convince Brits that Twinkies are delicious and pair perfectly with a cuppa tea. Attempts have been unsuccessful so far. You can follow her on twitter @amy_nic or her blog.

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