‘I downloaded a dating app. We continued texting and never stopped. It was like a movie, where the girl goes to Europe and falls in love.’: Newly single woman travels to the UK, starts long-distance relationship

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“I had just gotten out of a relationship of about five years, 2 or 3 weeks before a New Year’s trip to Cambridge, UK to visit a friend. It was a trip that had been planned very spontaneously because my sisters and ex-boyfriend had bailed on our initial trip to Mauritius.

Then, between the months of July and December we tried salvaging our relationship, but our differences had just grown too large for us to overcome. One of us had to get off the rollercoaster and it ended up being me. I wanted to get married, I wanted kids, I wanted us to move in together, but mostly I wanted us to communicate better. Eventually I read the writing on the wall and that’s when I knew it was time to let go.

The weeks leading up to my trip, I was sad but I was okay. I knew I made the best decision for me and so I tried to focus on keeping busy with work and then with friends and family. My friends kept joking I might meet someone new in the UK, and who wouldn’t want that? It’s the typical movie scenario where the girl goes to Europe and falls in love. But alas, I did not have very high hopes or expectations. As far as I knew, I was rusty when it came to the dating game, almost like I forgot how to be single.

I arrived in London on December 28, 2019 (a Saturday), and once I arrived in Cambridge and got settled, I decided to download Bumble to see what the UK had to offer. My friend had already given me the rundown, so my expectations were at a 2 out of 10. But I pushed forward because what was old to her, was new to me, so I wasn’t too bothered. Plus, I wasn’t looking for my husband, so I figured how bad could it be?

So I started swiping and making matches left, right and center. It was really great for my ego because I got a lot of matches. However, soon after the initial boost of matches it started to slow down by Monday because I had gotten through most of the eligible bachelors in the area and there were no others for me to see. It did make sense because it was during the holidays, so the option pool was smaller as people were travelling.

One of my matches was Alex, and the minute I saw his picture, I thought ‘Oh my God, he is so beautiful!’ He just looked like a Latin god, and then I noticed his tattoos but I did stop and think about it, because I do not like tattoos at all. But then I thought to myself, clearly my type is not working for me, so maybe I should try something different, see how the other half lives. So I swiped right and then we matched and started chatting and he was just so responsive and talkative, just like me.

Having matched with so many guys and the conversations dying out eventually, it was so refreshing! I was thinking, ‘This beautiful male specimen is writing paragraphs back to my paragraphs, where the hell did he come from?’ As we talked more, I found out he was from Portugal and he too had gotten out of a relationship earlier in the year. He was so open about his ex and how he respected her and their relationship I thought, ‘Maybe he’s still in love with her?’ But I kept my thoughts to myself and eventually 2 days before I was supposed to leave I decided to ask him out.

When he arrived to pick me up, I had to fix my face because I realized he was way better looking in person, so that’s when the nerves really hit me and when I am nervous or uncomfortable I over-talk, which is exactly what I did. He was more reserved in the beginning, but still friendly, and eventually he loosened up a bit and we actually had a really good time. We laughed, tried some food I’d never tried before (like fried avocados) and he was like an onion with layers – I just really wanted to continue to peel back.

When our night came to an end and we got to my friend’s place, we stayed in the car for another 45 minutes or so just talking. It was just so nice, because we both were enjoying each other’s company. But then I started thinking, ‘What if he wants to go but I’m talking his ear off and he’s too friendly to say bye?’ So I eventually thanked him for the night and went inside and I remember thinking, ‘D–n, I wished he kissed me.’ And even though we had a great first date, I didn’t think anything would come from it and I definitely didn’t think I’d see him again.

Courtesy of Alex and Claire

The next day he texted me at 6 p.m. and just asked about how my last day in the UK was and I told him we didn’t do much because my friend was working, but we were going to go out later. During our conversation I mentioned I really wanted him to kiss me the night before and he laughed and said, ‘Well now that I think about it, I probably should have taken the opportunity, lol, because you are leaving soon.’ and all I could say was, ‘Yes, you should have.’ He then invited me out for some food/drinks before we went out so he could give me that kiss and I agreed, of course!

When he arrived, I was dressed to the nines because I wanted him to remember me. When I came outside he walked right up to me and just grabbed me and kissed me passionately right there in the street. Immediately my knees went a little weak cause my head and heart were in overdrive, all of us were freaking out. He then pulled away and said, ‘Hi’ with a smile and I said hi back and we continued kissing for what felt like forever, but was probably only about 5 minutes. And there it was, this spark that told me this guy is just too good to be true. The spark that didn’t want me to leave the next day.

We went back to the pub from the day before because Alex is very particular about where he likes and doesn’t like. And again we had a great time, but this time was different, we were both 100 times more relaxed. By him kissing me right when he got there, it removed the pressure of waiting for it to happen. There was no longer an elephant in the room, at this point we both knew there was something here and the chemistry was suffocating. I didn’t want the night to end, but I had promised my friend I would meet up with her when she was ready and ready she was, so we had to head back. I remember sitting in his car as we drove back and being filled with sadness because this was it. This car ride was the last bit of time together because I was going to be on a flight back the very next day.

Courtesy of Alex and Claire

It was a sweet goodbye and we both didn’t want it to end. Right after he dropped me off, we continued texting and never stopped. When I returned home I was smitten and told anybody who would listen about this guy I found in England. Our first video call lasted 6 hours and he went to bed at 2 a.m. on a Monday morning and I went to bed at 3 a.m. We eventually started talking about possibly travelling somewhere in the middle to meet up again. He had a wedding he was invited to in March in Portugal he wanted me to join him for. We just bonded like crazy and eventually, after talking constantly, we started talking about me moving to join him in the UK.

Courtesy of Alex and Claire

I knew he was special when he asked me if I slept on a silk pillowcase after he’d watched an episode of ‘This Is Us.’ That particular episode opened his eyes to a whole world he, as a white man, had been oblivious to. All of a sudden he was noticing more things about black people, black hair, black culture – everything was new to him because he’d never paid much attention before. And then here I came along and he wanted to know more about me and how to be the best man for me and it all started with a pillowcase. He just wanted to know if I needed one so if I ever forgot mine, he’d be prepared. To me, this just spoke volumes about who he really was.

By the end of January we decided we’re doing this and the same day Alex bought a ticket to come to Namibia. My family was very supportive of the whole thing because they could see I was so happy. I was always telling them about the cute or sweet things he said and my sisters just kept going on about how it was like a movie. My mom, who is very religious, said God filled her with a sense of calm every time she prayed about him and me moving. My friends were mostly supportive. Some were more shocked than others, but once it sunk in and they’d talked to him on video call (or met him), they all liked him.

Courtesy of Alex and Claire

One of the most notable meetings was when he got to meet two of my friends for lunch and when he went to the bathroom both of them were gushing about how great he was. They made jokes about how they too were going to go to Europe to find themselves some Portuguese guys. Everyone asked if he had brothers, cousins, or uncles because they wanted their own versions of Alex. Whenever I told him that, he’d always say I got the original version.

Courtesy of Alex and Claire

Fast forward to March when I quit my job and was supposed to fly out on the 30th when my country and the rest of the world went into lockdown. I was then stuck in Namibia, unable to travel and now not working. It was really hard because I had all this time on my hands, so in a way I did become more needy in terms of wanting attention from him. But we found a happy medium, eventually our frantic constant texting tapered off and we found our groove of texts and video calls.

Once I was able to leave Namibia and be reunited with Alex in August, our life together was finally able to start. I now am more sure than ever that taking a leap of faith and risking it all on a possibility was more than worth it. I know he loves me and he tries his best to make me happy and he does. He does this thing where he goes off on random rants about everything from dating to his love of technology. It is so funny, and we often have fits of uncontrollable laughter together.

We are a team and there’s truly nobody I would ever trade him in for.”

Courtesy of Alex and Claire
Courtesy of Alex and Claire

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alex and Claire of the U.K. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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