By Sara Gaynes Levy
Mario, a high school teacher, and Thinesh, a lawyer, first matched on Bumble in 2016. But before either one of them had a chance to reach out, their 24-hour window ran out. Almost a year later, in late 2017, they matched again. (Mario couldn’t resist swiping right on Thinesh’s distinct bio, which said “Nazi puncher, grape thief,” a second time.) Thinesh was pulled in by Mario’s bio as well, which said “always get the halloumi.” Thinesh is a fellow cheese-lover, and liked that one of Mario’s profile photos featured him drinking wine in Greece. When Thinesh reached out, they began by talking about wine. “We were discussing the different types of wine that we’re into and then we just delved into a conversation about books,” Thinesh says.
They swiftly decided to meet up, but due to their winter holiday travel—Thinesh, who’s from Canada, was heading home to Toronto to visit his family, and Mario was staying in Sydney where they both live—they weren’t able to set up a date. So even though they’d been chatting for weeks, it wasn’t until January of 2018 that they actually met. Their first date was, appropriately, at a wine bar, where Thinesh and Mario walked in to discover they were both wearing similar pink shoes. The compatibility continued from there as they chatted more about books, their travels, and art for so long that the restaurant closed down around them.
For their second date they went to an outdoor movie, and on the third date, Thinesh took Mario to see a musical. Mario was unsure about the date—“I don’t like musicals!” he says. But despite his initial scepticism about Thinesh’s choice of activity, he started to get into the performance, and at one point put his hand on Thinesh’s knee, feeling proud and happy to be by his side. Whether or not Mario had been converted into a musical theatre fan, he was sold on Thinesh.
But Mario had a bit of a secret. He was supposed to be moving to Singapore in just a few weeks, to go teach there. “I’d lived in Sydney all my life, and I thought it was time for a change,” he says. Actually, in between his early dates with Thinesh, his friends and students were throwing him goodbye parties. Thinesh had no idea. “This probably sounds really corny, but sometimes you hit a period in your life where there’s just a ‘sliding door moment’,” says Mario. He had been excited about Singapore, but after meeting Thinesh, he was capable of seeing his life going another way. “He came bolting into my life and I just thought—this feels right,” says Mario. Thinesh was unlike anyone he’d ever met, something Mario says was evident even in their initial conversation on Bumble. “[Those first few conversations] weren’t about like, oh, how’s your day. Or oh, my boss is so annoying. They were about how we want to live our lives, how we value the people around us, and what type of son we wanted to be,” says Mario.
The connection was too strong. He decided not to go to Singapore. “My students would see me walking the halls in Sydney and ask ‘how’s the weather in Singapore?’” he says with a laugh. “And my friends joked that they’re never buying me a gift again!” Sticking around was, without a doubt, the right choice. Thinesh and Mario understood each other in a way that they’d never experienced in a relationship before. “We’re both only children and we’re both ethnic kids, and we’re queer,” explains Thinesh. “There’s just so much mutual understanding, and a lack of explanation required. It just made our relationship so seamless.” As their relationship progressed, they found out that they had the same values, goals, and purposes, but pursued them in their own ways. In other words, “we dream of the same destinations, but use different maps,” says Thinesh.
After about two years of dating, Thinesh decided he wanted to propose. He began planning a getaway about six months out, booked a cabin, and started ring shopping. The following weekend, they went to the Hunter Valley, an Australian wine country a few hours from Sydney. The first night, they stayed up late playing a card game they often played where the cards offer prompts for deep, emotional discussions. Two hours into the game, Mario segued into a proposal of his own. “I had no idea that he was going to propose,” says Thinesh. “And in fact, when he did propose, I thought he was joking!”
Mario laughs at the memory: he’d been so nervous to ask Thinesh to marry him that when he finally worked up the nerve, they were interrupted by a knock on the door (someone was asking them to turn off the light). He couldn’t wait any longer, and spat out the proposal while Thinesh was futzing around with the music on his laptop. “And then I looked up, and I realised he was actually proposing! With a ring!” Thinesh said yes—and he returned the proposal six months later, at the cabin he’d booked (though the next day he did tell Mario that he’d been planning a proposal of his own).
They got married in December 2021, on a day Thinesh describes as “miraculous.” Not least of all because Australia’s frequent COVID-19 lockdowns were lifted a week before the ceremony, and a vicious rainy season had threatened the outdoor event. “But during the wedding, there was a sun beam,” says Mario.
The couple often discuss how, if it hadn’t been for Bumble, their paths never would have crossed. And boy, is it a good thing they did, because their marriage has brought them so much joy. They hope it inspires joy in others: “Not only because of the love and respect we have for each other, but because we know that the opportunity for us to get married has been hard fought by so many in our queer community,” says Mario. It’s part of why they chose to get married where they did—the North Head cliffs where a notorious hate crime against a gay man occurred decades ago. “We recognise what a privilege it is for us to dedicate our lives to each other with our loved ones by our side, especially when so many others are unable to. We pray that living out our dreams encourages others to do the same.”