Connie joined Bumble in the summer of 2018 to find a relationship. She was feeling fulfilled in life, having settled in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and making inroads in her career as a nurse. A partner, however, was proving elusive. Connie had gone on a few dates, all unmemorable. Dispirited, she was ready to delete all of her dating apps. Then, in November, about four months after joining Bumble, she went to her brother’s wedding. Seeing him so happy in his relationship inspired her to try again. “I thought, ‘I’ll give the love thing one more go,’” says Connie. “And then Aoife messaged me.”
At the time Aoife, working in insurance, had only recently joined Bumble after ending a long-term relationship a few months earlier. She knew that she was looking for someone who was open, honest, and a good communicator. But she had been put off when her only date so far had shown up with flowers: “It just felt a wee bit forced,” she says. Then Aoife came across Connie’s profile, and was intrigued by her long hair and her friendly and relaxed attitude. “I remember thinking that she’d never match me back’,” says Aoife. But Connie was taken by a photo of Aoife in the middle of a group of friends, holding her arms out “with a massive smile on her face,” says Connie. “I was like, ‘gosh, she looks fun’.”
They connected on a Monday, in October. Aoife messaged first, asking Connie about her weekend; Connie told Aoife about her brother’s wedding. They were soon struck by how much they had in common. Not only had they grown up not far from each other in rural Northern Ireland, but they’d gone to the same teenage discos and even had mutual friends. They were surprised that their paths hadn’t crossed in Belfast, where they both now lived. “We’re lesbians in a small city,” says Aofie. “There’s not that many of us, yet we’d never heard of each other before.”
They shared interests in pop culture and reality television series. Connie had found conversations with her other matches to be slow going; with Aoife, “it was like I couldn’t get enough,” she says. They talked nonstop, and about “absolutely everything,” sometimes until 5:00 a.m.
Connie was working irregular shifts at the time, so it was three weeks before they could meet. But by then, they were both certain of their connection. Finally they arranged a first date at a local pub, but the stakes felt higher than usual because of how much they’d shared of themselves over messaging. “I was wracked with nerves because I was already invested,” says Aoife. She got to the pub late, and frazzled, her bus having been delayed by a football match; but Connie immediately put her at ease. “She has a very calming aura, plus she had a drink waiting for me,” Aoife laughs. “It seemed like I’d known her for years.”
Connie, for her part, was struck by Aoife’s charisma and their immediate connection. “I think we spilled our deepest, darkest secrets that night. It was just so open,” says Connie. When she left the pub after their four-hour date, she was shaking from the adrenaline release, she says. “When you click with somebody like that, it’s just electric. I was like: ‘this is the person I want’.”
Connie and Aoife had planned their second date before the first one was over; that one ended up lasting 12 hours. They went from a café to a bar to Christmas shopping, talking so much that they didn’t even stop to eat. “We went through everything in our lives: all the big issues that you wouldn’t normally talk about, things that have affected us. Everything was on the table,” says Connie. From then on, they were rarely apart. “There was definitely no playing it cool,” says Aoife. “I think for both of us it was sort of instantaneous.”
Early in 2019, a few months after they had met, Connie moved into Aoife’s ground-floor apartment, in part to recover from a knee injury. They became even closer as Aoife looked after Connie. “It all just seemed so natural, the highs and the lows,” says Connie. “In every aspect of life she is literally the other half of me, whether that means laughing ourselves delirious at silly jokes or pointing out different perspectives on something serious.” Aofie was surprised by how right it felt to be with Connie: “It was, and still is, so easy. We’re best friends.” By six months of dating, it was clear to both of them that they wanted a life together.
One day they were visiting Belfast Castle, a landmark building in the north of the city, and agreed that it would make a lovely wedding venue. “Then we thought: When can we have it?” says Connie. They spontaneously booked a civil ceremony for their two-year anniversary in November 2020. “We weren’t going to tell people, but then we got too excited,” says Connie. When the time came, the COVID-19 pandemic meant they ended up pulling the date forward to October, and switching to a smaller service at Belfast City Hall with 20-odd family and friends. With same-sex marriage having been legally recognised early in 2020, they were also able to be married. “We walked through the town from the venue,” says Aofie. “Connie had a big dress on, and all of the taxi drivers were beeping. It was a perfect day.”
Two years later, they’re happier than ever. “Being married has been the best fun and the biggest adventure,” says Connie. “We have four beautiful cats and have just moved into a new house. And all because I logged into Bumble one hungover afternoon to see a message from a beautiful woman called Aoife!”
Main photo credit: X + O Photography