By Sara Gaynes Levy
One night over drinks, a friend downloaded Bumble onto Jariah’s phone. He was newly divorced with no real interest in online dating, but his friend insisted. “She said, ‘I can live vicariously through you!’” Jariah says with a laugh. After crafting a profile for him, they began looking through potential matches together. “A few swipes in, I saw Jenna,” he says. “The one that got away.” The pair dated nearly 20 years ago, when Jenna was just out of high school and Jariah was in his early 20s. Jariah couldn’t believe he found her profile. He took a screen grab and sent it to her on Facebook, where they were connected, though they hadn’t spoken in several years.
When Jenna opened the message, she was overwhelmed, shocked, and thrilled to see Jariah was on Bumble and that he had found her. “He was my first love,” she says fondly. They met while working at a TGI Friday’s in their hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though they were Facebook friends who had touched base sporadically over the years, Jenna had no idea Jariah was single until the fateful screenshot landed in her inbox. Jariah asked if Jenna would like to meet up for a drink sometime. “At first I thought it was a terrible idea,” she says. “I was devastated when he broke up with me! Seventeen-year-old heartbreak is so emotional.” She let the invitation linger, but eventually her curiosity won out and she agreed to meet up.
“I felt like a teenager again the first time I saw him,” Jenna says. “It was so fun and easy.” Jariah felt the same way. “It took me right back,” he says. “There was immediate connection.” After drinks, they met up with some mutual friends from back when they first dated. Once their smashing success of a first date was in the books, both Jenna and Jariah felt that fate had brought them back together for a reason. “The next day, we texted and I pretty much knew—that was it,” says Jenna.
That initial meetup was about a year and a half ago, and Jenna’s prediction was spot on. The two have only grown closer during the pandemic, which put them under the same roof unexpectedly. Just before their reconnection, Jenna had been planning to move away from Colorado Springs—which, ironically, was the same reason they broke up all those years ago, as Jenna was moving away and heading off to college. “I was like ‘wait, I’m not gonna leave again!’” says Jenna. “I made the decision to stay.” But she was suddenly without an apartment, so Jenna decided to move in with Jariah temporarily. Then COVID-19 hit, and their cohabitation became more permanent, much to their delight. “My friends joke that I’m living in a Hallmark movie,” says Jenna. “I really feel like it was meant to be.”
Both are glad that it was Bumble that brought them back together, rather than wishing they’d never split up way back when. “He’s apologized for breaking up with me, but it had to be that way,” says Jenna. “I was able to live a lot more life and come back to him at a time when I was ready for it.”