By Ashley Edwards Walker
When Dean spotted Lisa across the hotel lobby where they’d agreed to meet for their first date, his first thought was, “I’m in trouble.” Both in their 50s with seven children between them, they each felt confident in themselves and what they were looking for in a partner. As Dean puts it, “It may be later in life, but I know who I am and I know who I want to be with.”
Lisa, a wellness coach and dog trainer based on the Gold Coast, Australia, had only been on Bumble for a month when she matched with Sunshine Coast-based Dean in February 2020. Dean, coincidentally also a wellness coach and author, swiped right after falling for Lisa’s smile. “She had this gorgeous smile and cheeky nature in her photos,” he recalls. For Lisa, it was their obvious commonalities, evident by the fact they’d both used words like “playful” and “adventurous” on their profiles. “I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s ticking some boxes here,’” she says.
Once they matched, Lisa didn’t waste time. Within half an hour, Lisa used Bumble’s Voice Call feature to chat with Dean and see if they really clicked. (She liked that she didn’t have go through the “awkward conversation” of “‘what’s your number, I’ll block mine.’”) After talking late into the night, they discovered they were both planning to be in Brisbane the following Friday. They arranged to meet at the hotel where Lisa was working for the day to start their first date. After meeting in the lobby, they took a walk along the Brisbane River before going for dinner and drinks. They discussed their commonalities, like the fact that Lisa and Dean are both “oversharers” who prefer an “active, outdoorsy lifestyle.” They marveled at all the instances when they’d almost crossed paths before meeting, like when they were both working as aerobic instructors or vacationing on Phillip Island, a popular tourist destination just off Australia’s southern coast. The longer they talked about their spirituality, thoughts on aging, and their hobbies, the more aligned they felt. “It was awesome,” says Lisa of their first meeting. “It was like coming home. Soulmates, instantly, as soon as we met.” Dean agrees: “We just needed Bumble to find one another.”
Their relationship continued to progress quickly from there. For dates two and three, they met up for concerts. They’d start the morning with coffee and then “go out and play,” whether that be taking a stroll through town or riding their bikes together. For their fourth date, they took their relationship to the next level by moving in together. “The urgency we had was that we wanted to be together, very fast,” says Lisa. But COVID-19 was also a factor. Dean lived about three hours away from Lisa’s home in Burleigh, Queensland, and they decided he would move in with her so they didn’t have to worry about any of the travel restrictions that were accompanying lockdowns. “The rulebook of how dating is supposed to happen—we’re supposed to do this, we’re supposed to do that—we just threw it out the window,” says Lisa. “We moved in together and got engaged at the six-month mark. And have lived happily since.”
If their friends and family were concerned by how quickly Dean and Lisa’s relationship evolved, any worries went away once they witnessed the two together. Lisa admits all four of her adult children were surprised when she told them she and Dean were moving in together. But after Talia, Lisa’s oldest daughter, and Dean met, “she told me, ‘I finally understand what you’ve been waiting for this whole time,’” recalls Lisa. And once Talia brought news back to her siblings that Dean was indeed The One, they all relaxed. “Once everybody met him, they understood,” says Lisa. “There were no reservations at all.” Dean’s three children, who are younger than Lisa’s, also warmed up after meeting their future stepmom. “When they met Lisa and realized she had an incredible sense of cheekiness, playfulness, and she doesn’t take herself too seriously they went, ‘This is a good mate for dad,’” he says.
In August 2020, just six months after they first matched, Dean proposed. Although their wedding, planned for October 2021, had to be rescheduled for 2022 due to COVID, Dean and Lisa have already exchanged wedding rings, which they designed and made together. “We’re wearing them now because we’re totally committed,” says Dean. “We’re not following the rulebook, we’re following our heart.” Lisa agrees. “We knew very early that we had something special that so many people pray for,” she says. “We made a pact right at the start that we would honor the space that we had not let anything sully that.” COVID and dating rulebooks be damned.