By Cat Woods
In 2018, both Charissa and Adrian were visiting Seattle, Wash. and happened to open Bumble. Neither had high hopes of making a match on their trip, so when they did, it was a pleasant surprise.
Adrian, who was based in Christchurch, New Zealand, was in Seattle visiting an ex-roommate. He’d flown to New Orleans, La., for a friend’s wedding, and decided to make the most of his trip to the U.S. Originally from the Middle Eastern state of Qatar, Adrian, an architect, was an experienced traveller with a broad perspective on the world. Still, he felt like his dating options were limited in Christchurch, and, frustrated, he took a break from dating apps for a few years.
It was only when he was in Seattle that November that he got back on Bumble. The friend Adrian was visiting convinced him to try it again. She helped him to set up his profile, selecting photos that portrayed him authentically: as an outdoors-loving, intelligent, curious man.
Charissa, a student advisor at a university in Alberta, Canada at the time, was visiting Seattle with her family. She, too, hadn’t had much luck on dating apps, but unlike Adrian, Charissa kept trying. “I only went on first dates, mostly, but I liked Bumble for the options and for getting out of my small world,” she says.
When Charissa came across Adrian’s newly-created profile, she was drawn to his outdoorsy photos, especially a photo of him in a canoe. “I thought, ‘Jackpot! This is too good to be true,’” she recalls. Adrian felt the same way. “What stood out for me about her profile is that Charissa seemed very outdoorsy, which I really liked,” he says.
Their banter was easy from the beginning, Charissa says, not least because both are foodies and loved talking about favorite restaurants and their shared love of exploring. The only drawback was, naturally, the distance between them—though Adrian admits he’d “given up on finding a match in New Zealand” anyway. Because they lived 12,000km apart and were both about to leave Seattle, neither thought that they’d actually meet. “That took the pressure off,” says Adrian. “I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that we’d meet, and because of that, we kept the conversation going because we had nothing to lose.”
They continued to communicate regularly. Through video calls, voice messages, emails, and texts, they maintained a dialogue around their daily lives, work, friends, and what they were reading, watching, or noticing in the world. By January 2019, both were certain they had to meet in person.
In February, Charissa booked a trip to New Zealand. She landed on Adrian’s birthday (February 13), and their first date was on Valentine’s Day. As romantic as it sounds, it wasn’t planned that way. “I didn’t mean to do that, it was just a cheap flight,” Charissa laughs. She booked a two-week stay, knowing that her best friend’s parents were also holidaying in New Zealand so, in a worst-case scenario, she could always make an excuse and stay with them. “I was being safe but also had a really good feeling about the trip,” she recalls. Fortunately, she never needed her backup plan.
A few months later, in June, Adrian flew to meet Charissa in Canada. They spent the whole trip together: hiking, going to restaurants, and hanging out, finding it all effortlessly comfortable. After that trip, they began discussing what their future would look like. Knowing that they wanted to be together, the only question was where in the world that would be.
“We began the conversation of ‘where do we want to live?’” remembers Charissa. Adrian had just started a new job in New Zealand, while she was feeling more unsettled with work. For her, moving offered the promise of a fresh start, both in terms of romance and work. “I just had to trust myself,” says Charissa. Being with Adrian felt inevitable. She made the choice to move to New Zealand to be with him in September 2019, and, happily, landed a job a month after moving.
“Moving across the world to move in with someone who I’d really only spent four weeks with wasn’t actually scary,” says Charissa. “It felt exciting because I knew I loved him and I wanted to be around him as much as possible.” Adrian agrees that the move went smoothly. “It was strange and new, yet comfortable and familiar all at the same time,” he says. The best part? “We could actually be together without dreading having to say goodbye,” says Adrian.
In July 2021, Adrian proposed. This December, they’re planning on getting married on Waiheke Island in New Zealand, with all of their family and friends from around the world gathered to celebrate their relationship. In New Zealand, they’ve found a house they like and a routine that works for them, they say. But that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to settle down just yet. “For the next few years, we’re very happy to stay here,” says Adrian. “But as for where we live in a few years’ time, we’ll see.”