September 2, 2020

The Overseas, Over-40 Online Dating Love Story.

Life is wise, and it can still surprise.

If you let it.

Two and a half years ago, my life changed with an e-mail—an e-mail to a person living 5,000 miles (and an ocean) away whom I didn’t know existed until February 6, 2018. Forty-four years of my life had led up to this message.

The dating site algorithm matched us, and here I was in Texas looking into the eyes of someone in Spain. He had made an obvious effort in filling out his profile completely while uploading great, clear photos. (No fish-holding, no shirtless shots, no standing in front of his sports car/motorcycle/speedboat.)

From our original correspondence transcript:

Message: 02/06/2018 06:52 p.m., Maria:

Hello Ivan! Did you set your parameters to potentially meet someone anywhere in the world? Or did you choose specific countries? Are you from Spain originally?


Act I: Offline

If you had known me at 18, you would have heard a young woman proudly declaring, “I’m never getting married.” In my 20s, I received my MA degree and moved to New York City where I worked in advertising. In my 30s, I traveled, purchased two homes, and taught as a university lecturer.

I was determined, ambitious, and one day, aching. Though I had mastered the art of flying solo, I yearned for a spiritual connection with a kind, creative copilot.

My 40s saw a happy career transition and a hopeful, optimistic outlook.

Act II: Online

I had long ago learned that charm is not character. That love is a verb. That chemistry and compatibility are essential, but equally important is intention—daily, mutual intention.

I developed a proposition, which I termed the “CCI Relationship Theorem.” A theorem can be defined as a “major result.” And in my theorem, chemistry, compatibility, and intention all had to be present to produce the major result I was looking for in a loving, respectful, values-based, long-term relationship.

On February 7, 2018, I received a friendly “hello” message in reply to mine.

In that first week of e-mail communication with this sweet, smart, funny, handsome Spaniard, we discussed taking our e-mail conversation to Skype. It was important that I find out early on about the “intention” aspect of our seeming connection, considering the geographic challenges.

Two hours into that conversation, I knew I had met a friend. Two months into our daily conversations, and I knew I could love him. He told me about his time in the States when he moved here, alone at age 15, to attend a tennis academy in Florida. We laughed about his fondness for Cracker Barrel and IHOP as a teenager discovering the United States. We exchanged photos of our loved ones, histories, stories, hurts, and hopes. We read the same books, recreating the voices of the characters, and we watched movies together eating popcorn on our respective couches across the Atlantic.

We agreed to a short-term plan: meet at the end of April at the Atlanta airport and spend nine days in Savannah, Georgia. As a place neither of us had ever visited, there would be no pressure to play tour guide in each other’s towns, and it was a charmingly quiet, walkable, low-key city in which to spend time.

Act III: In real life (IRL)

Eighty days of consistent daily communication made me feel like I’d known this man my entire life.

But anticipating the in-person introduction felt utterly nerve-wracking.

I had pictured the airport encounter for weeks. But nothing in my imagination compared to the moment when we saw each other in the same space for the first time. He spotted me first. By the time I looked up, he was slow running toward me with a huge smile. I searched his face for coyness or coolness. I found only genuine happiness and affection. My stiff neck and shoulders relaxed. As long as I live, I will never forget that hug. Just as I had heard it described by countless others in the past, our coming together felt like home.

We contacted the online dating site about six months into our relationship to request a transcript of our initial e-mail correspondence. I relayed our story, and they transferred me to the “Success Team.” I pictured a lab: people in white coats determining the destinies of searching singles.

That was over two and a half years ago, and we’re so grateful we took the chance, disregarding distance and logistics. There are lessons here, but nothing to do with “find a partner!” Rather, know this: we have a duty to our dreams. Vow commitment to whatever it is in your life you yearn to see realized. Do not be defeated.

Remember that 18-year-old girl I mentioned?

Last August, at age 46, she married her love in an outdoor wedding in the north of Spain. Life is wise, and it can still surprise. If you let it.


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