By Kaitlin Menza
When Dan moved to Chicago from Providence, Rhode Island in the summer of 2020 for a new job as a cyber-threat engineer, he decided to download Bumble to meet people. “I was on both Bumble Date and Bumble BFF,” he says, and looking to explore the city with a romantic connection or new friends. Yet a person he matched with, and eventually fell in love with, couldn’t exactly help with that goal: Luis actually lived in Chicago’s suburbs, about 40 miles away.
To this day neither is sure how their Bumble radiuses allowed them to see each other, but Dan couldn’t look away from Luis’ profile. “One of the most distinct things I remember is he had these two pet birds. Not a lot of people have pet birds!” he says. “And I remember that he liked to dye his hair a lot, because almost every other picture was a different color.” Dan admired his boldness. On the other side, Luis found Dan’s vibe refreshing; many of Dan’s photos were from the east coast, and “it was really intriguing to me to see how different he was compared to people I’d already matched with in my area.”
Luis messaged first, and they discussed how Dan had originally intended to study baking in college before making the giant pivot to cyber security. “I work at a restaurant, and I love cooking and baking, so that’s something we really bonded over,” Luis says. In fact, it was the first way Luis suggested bridging the distance between them: “He said he would bake me a cheesecake if I ever came and visited him in the suburbs,” Dan laughs.
Because of their locations and schedules, it took about two weeks to plan a first date. “I work night shifts, from 11:00 p.m. to 10 in the morning, and he worked from about 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., plus we were almost an hour train ride away, so trying to coordinate wasn’t easy,” Dan says. They landed on an early morning date, but quickly realized finding an open public venue was a challenge. A solution was found in their shared hobby: The pair grabbed doughnuts, then went up to Dan’s apartment to watch baking competition shows.
“I definitely felt a spark right away,” says Dan. The first time he saw Luis, backlit in the morning sun, and shockingly tall, still lingers. “That was my first impression of him. There was definitely an immediate connection.” As they kept finding things in common, including enjoying the same TV shows, music, video games, and a shared love of drag. They couldn’t stop talking. “I even called work, like, I’m going to be late, I’m sorry,” says Luis.
Almost immediately, the couple began seeing each other all the time, which Dan admits took “a lot more effort on Luis’ part,” he says. “Because I wasn’t familiar with the city, he was way more comfortable taking the train to me—even as our relationship started to ramp up, and I would see him five to six days a week.” Luis would sleep over just to wake up early to head back to the suburbs for work. The commuting time was a huge sacrifice, he admits, “but it was all worth it to spend time with someone who I ended up cherishing and caring for,” says Luis.
Three months in, Luis and Dan shared an experience now very familiar to many. “We were hanging out and I said, ‘I don’t feel good,” and he was like, ‘I don’t feel good either!’” Dan says. “It turned out that we both had COVID.” Luis’ work managers and his family in the suburbs asked that he stay put at Dan’s apartment to quarantine, so they lived together for two weeks. “Seeing him every hour of the day, I just learned so much—and I really enjoyed it!” Luis says. Dan agrees that amid all the coughing and aches, they loved making soup together, taking care of each other, and watching TV. It was a key moment, both say, in realizing that they’d found their person. “I felt like, okay, I just spent two weeks straight with this person that I barely know, and it was the best time of my life,” Dan says.
Eventually, Luis transferred jobs to live in downtown Chicago, and the couple moved in together in summer 2022. Around their two-year anniversary in August of that year, they got engaged; they’d discussed marriage, and Luis had expressed he wanted Dan to be the one to propose. Dan plotted with family and friends, and asked while they were vacationing in Dan’s seaside hometown in Connecticut. They were out on the water, powerboating with friends. “He stopped the boat and turned around and proposed to me, and there was this beautiful sunset,” Luis remembers. When they returned to the dock, their family and friends had set up a big party with drinks and cake.
The couple are planning to travel to Mexico to meet Luis’ extended family, and thinking about getting a dog—ideally, a corgi. They’re still in early planning phases of the wedding, as their families are so far apart. “We’re feeling it out to see what would be the best way to have everyone involved,” says Dan. “We just have to balance the logistics of it.” Of course, the couple are experts at scheduling, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem!