8 couples from around the world share what they have learnt about love and relationships

There was one year in primary school in which the teacher introduced us to Valentine’s Day. Everyone was given a secret Valentine in the week leading up. Each day everyone had to write a letter or give a small gift to their special person via their gift box.

Flower heart. Photo credit: Amy Shamblen

Two days in—the teacher asked the class, “Who’s received something from their valentine?”

There was a wave of hands that went up.

“Is there anyone that didn’t get anything from their valentine,” the teacher asked as she looked around the room for raised hands.

One hand goes up, but only at half-mast. That. Was. My. Valentine. She stood there frozen with her face reddening. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten to put something in her gift box. To put it simply—7-year-old Jared had let her down.

I grabbed some scrap bits of paper, penned her an apology and dropped it into her gift box.

More than two decades later I learnt a valuable lesson about love—it’s all the little things that you do for another person day in and day out that shows them how much that they matter to you.

A quote made by The Minimalists. Photo credit: Émile Perron

tweet-graphic-transTweet: The science of love and relationships encompasses traits that are simple yet, challenging to master—empathy and a strong emotional connection.

For the past 10 years Krysta had been a single mother to the most amazing little girl Shyyra. Krysta works full time and attends college as a mature-age student—earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Her daughter’s biological father had never been a part of her life.

“She would ask me when she would have a dad,” says Krysta in a post she wrote for How They Asked.

Certainly not an easy question for Krysta to answer.

“I would tell her that God is working on someone very special to be her dad.”

In order for Krysta to juggle her busy schedule, she enrolled Shyyra into an after-school care program offered by her elementary school.

“For about a year, Shyyra would tell me fun stories about an after-school care leader whom she nicknamed ‘Mr. Thor,’” she says.

She would tell her mother about how Jessie (Mr Thor) would jokingly tease her about bringing him a donut. So, during one drop off she gave Shyyra a donut to give to Jessie.

“The look on his face was priceless when she actually handed him one!” says Krysta.

Jessie asked Krysta out to a coffee date after learning that they were about to relocate from San Diego to Virginia, but chose to stay.

Krysta, Shyyra, and Jessie (L to R) Photo credit: James and Jess

Shyyra wistfully piped out of the blue one day that, “I wish Mr. Jessie could be my dad….”

He had already put a lot of thought into his proposal and having Shyyra help with the big moment. Krysta and Jessie were on a romantic walk whilst Shyyra, who had the ring, accompanied them.

Shyyra with the ring. Photo credit: James and Jess

When the time came, Jessie got down on one knee and first turned to Shyyra and said, “I love you with all my heart and I have two questions: ‘Do I have permission to be your dad?’ and ‘Can I have permission to marry your mom?’

Shyyra gave a resounding ‘YES’ as she embraced her future dad. He then turned to Krysta and said, “I love you. Will you marry me?

Krysta says ‘YES’. Photo credit: James and Jess

She too said ‘YES’. “Shyyra has been wanting a dad forever,” Krysta said. “Straight after he proposed she started calling him dad.”

As Krysta and Jessie have shown, there is no denying that starting and maintaining a healthy relationship takes a lot of work.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have asked eight couples from around the world to share their heart-melting story and what they have learnt about love and relationships.

1. Frank & Liv

London, UK

Photo credit: Frank and Liv

How did you first meet?

We met during high school.

What attracted you most to each other?

We were drawn together naturally; no words were exchanged we just knew we both liked each other. Also, our personalities fit together, and we wanted to spend every minute together.

What did you do for your first date?

We went to Hyde Park in London. It was a hot summer day, so we sat on the grass and talked, laughed, and connected for hours.

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Effort/making time is particularly important for us as we are university students and study in different cities. Also, we feel that communication is vital for building trust.  

2. Ed & Elene

Melbourne, Australia

Photo credit: Ed and Elene

How did you first meet?

Ed: We were both studying music at Monash University. 

What attracted you most to each other?

Ed: Her smile and laugh, she radiated positivity.

Elene: Even though he was an older student, he was approachable, friendly, and kind. 

What did you do for your first date?

Ed: I was housesitting for my mum, so I invited Elene over for dinner and a movie.

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Ed: Communication and support.

Elene: Kindness and understanding.


3. Courtney & Mitchell

Sydney, Australia

Photo credit: Mitchell and Courtney

How did you first meet?

We met at work, Holden Dealership. He was a mechanic and I was working in parts at the time. 

What attracted you most to each other?

Mitch: The fact that she was absolutely killing it in a man’s environment and those beautiful eyes behind her cute glasses attracted me to her personality.

Courtney: He looked like a man, he was tattooed up, had a charming smile, and just looked like he had a really sweet personality. He was also really hardworking which, is a major tick in my opinion. At the beginning, our attraction was based on looks as we only saw each other across the workshop. 

What did you do for your first date?

We went to GPK, a local Italian restaurant.

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Courtney: Loyalty, the ability to listen and see from both perspectives, and checking in on each other’s mental health.

Mitchell: Fun loving, adventurous, caring, and affectionate.


4. Wendy & Peter

Melbourne, Australia

Photo credit: Wendy and Peter

How did you first meet?

We met in year seven, during high school.

 What attracted you most to each other?

Wendy: He is very sweet and always finds a way to make me laugh even at times when I want to punch him in the face. He always makes me appreciate what I have and look at the bright side of things.

Peter: I loved her smile from the first time I met her. To this day her smile still brightens up my day however dark it gets.

 What did you do for your first date?

Our first day was at Nandos 🙂 Enjoying some chicken and chips, and shooting hoops. 

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Wendy: Good communication/ listening skills.

Understanding your partner’s needs before they even say it.

Working with your strengths and compensating for each other’s weaknesses.


Peter: 1- never go to bed mad at each other.

2- Happy wife happy life.


5.Tiffany & Jeff

San Francisco, USA

Photo credit: Tiffany and Jeff

How did you first meet?

We first met when I was 21, and he was almost 23. Our mutual friends were having a get together, and we started talking to each other about cereal. After that we started talking and Playing Words With Friends together.

 What attracted you most to each other?

I think our personalities mesh well and we can be goofy together. Plus, I think he’s rather handsome. 

What did you do for your first date?

Our first real date was seeing the movie Tangled. 

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

A person has to be trustworthy and honest. Especially when living with a chronic illness, I have to trust someone with my life. I need someone that loves me for all of my flaws, including my cystic fibrosis.


6. Aaron & Ilana

Melbourne, Australia

Photo credit: Aaron and Ilana

How did you first meet?

We met at a dancing class and became friends. 

What attracted you most to each other?

Ilana: Friendship, personality, funny.

Aaron: Julia-Roberts-smile, fun, lively personality, and cheekiness.

What did you do for your first date?

We don’t remember our first date as we were friends who began dating. I can tell you how we started dating though;).

Our “first date” as friends was over a casual pepper lunch/dinner in the city; we ended up talking and laughing for hours.

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Mutual understanding and communicating about our issues. If we have an issue during the day fix it before sleep (don’t sleep on it).

Common interest. We don’t believe in opposite attracts (you have to have the same ideas, life goals, and way of see the world).


7. Ben & Tania

Melbourne, Australia

Photo credit: Ben and Tania

How did you first meet?

We matched on eHarmony and started chatting immediately on 28 Dec 2015, but didn’t meet in person until mid-March. We didn’t quite hit it off but decided to have another date over a few drinks at The Arbory on a Saturday afternoon, 9 April 2016. By 7 pm, I (Tania) was smitten! 

What attracted you most to each other?

Our love of off-the-beaten-track type travel, his height, and I’m a sucker for biceps – which he had on display for me when we met at The Arbory. I was also attracted to his very sweet, gentle personality. 

What did you do for your first date?

Our first date was a quick after work drink on a rooftop bar, but our more successful second first date was over afternoon drinks at The Arbory (where we are having our daughter’s baptism champagne breakfast on 17 Feb).

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

Forgiveness, quality time together, and the ability to get through the hard times (accepting hard times for what they are and holding onto the hope that they will pass). We also find kissing daily helps and after a pretty rough six months to finish off 2018, our New Year’s resolutions are to kiss every day.


8. Claudia & Kaan

Bali, Indonesia

Photo credit: Claudia and Kaan

How did you first meet?

We started following each other on Twitter in 2010. A few years later we started following and liking each other’s photos on Instagram. Although we lived in the same city, we had never actually met in person until 2015 when Kaan asked me out for drinks. That was the day our fairy-tale started.

 What attracted you most to each other?

I loved Kaan’s kindness and intellect, and that he could make me laugh.

I loved how Claudia challenged me to be a better person, her knowledge of the world, and passion for travel.

What did you do for your first date?

We went to a Thai restaurant named Pai in downtown Toronto. 

What are your non-negotiables for a strong and healthy relationship?

A definite non-negotiable for us is that we always try to look at the positive side and support one another. It’s also a huge bonus that we love to travel!


Editor: Julian Dolden



If you are in a relationship, how did you and your significant other meet?


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