Serendipity – an unplanned fortunate discovery. The story you’re about to read is one that I think defines the word serendipity! Rochelle had been taking a break from online dating when Ryan appeared one day with a message in her inbox – the very first message and the last he would send anyone on Plenty of Fish.
Where do you live?
Derbyshire. When we first met on POF in October 2018, I (Rochelle) was living in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and Ryan was living in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire. We moved in together just over 10 months ago in early February 2020.
What caught your eye on the other’s profile?
Ryan: Rochelle had written an essay about herself so I felt like I knew her better than I knew myself! (laughs) That really helped me as I was completely new to online dating. Being able to see what shared interests we had and in particular knowing certain life goals based on the questions that were asked on the Plenty of Fish profile like, “do you want children?”. There were other profiles that weren’t very detailed and I didn’t know if I would have clicked with those women or not. (A perfect example as to why it’s so important to fill out your profile people!)
I think it was definitely worth Rochelle investing as much time as she did in creating her profile, although I can’t say I did the same. I was only on Plenty of Fish for a few minutes before I found Rochelle’s profile and started talking to her; hers was the first profile I saw and she was the first person I messaged.
Rochelle: Ryan’s profile was short and sweet! I wasn’t even 100% sure what he looked like when we first started messaging as he only had one photo. I really didn’t have much to go on with his profile, but I knew he liked cozy nights in with ice-cream and that was a good start.
Similar to Ryan, I could see from his profile because of the set questions that Plenty of Fish asked that his values matched mine and we wanted the same things from a relationship, so that was promising. In his first message to me, he asked me what my favorite theatre show was so I could tell he’d taken the time to properly read my profile, which was a big plus, and that gave us a common interest to start talking about – and the conversation just grew from there.
What did you do for the first date?
I (Rochelle) didn’t think that I was going to be able to meet Ryan for a good week after we first started messaging because I was just about to leave to visit family and friends. That might sound harsh, but I’d been single for a couple of years before I met Ryan and my friends had been really supportive and made plenty of time for me. Because of that, I had a strong belief in not changing my plans with them just to go on a date with a man, no matter how much I liked him.
After a few days of messaging, we spoke on the phone and ended up having a seven hour phone call all through the night! I was supposed to be seeing a friend that evening, but she cancelled our plans in the afternoon. I told Ryan and he offered to drive to Sheffield to see me that evening. I was really excited to see him, so I arranged to meet him at the shopping center once I’d finished work. Unfortunately work kept me late, so Ryan was already there before I’d even left the office which I felt really guilty about. He was very kind and patient though – another sign to me that he was a keeper. When I arrived we went to get a hot chocolate as I needed a sugar kick! The connection we’d formed over text and on the phone continued in person and Ryan came back to see me the next day for our second date – and the day after that for our third!
What is your best piece of advice for those using Plenty of Fish?
Ryan: There are a few things I would do:
- Make sure you are clear in your profile about what you want because that helps you to get a good idea really quickly about whether or not you’ll be compatible with someone. It also helps to narrow down your search, and in turn makes it easier for others who will look at your profile too.
- I’d also say it’s a good idea to have an array of photos showing your hobbies and interests. I intended to put up more photos, but I wasn’t expecting to meet Rochelle as quickly as I did! I signed up on a Sunday night, started talking to her the same night, met her in person on Thursday and we were in a relationship by Saturday!
- Finally, be honest about who you are and don’t try to be someone you think others will want – if you are honest you’ll attract the right person and you’ll meet your one.
Rochelle: My best piece of advice is don’t give up, but also allow yourself a break if you need one. My online dating experience was very different to Ryans, I’d been on and offline for four years before I met him. It can get very disheartening to have quite a few first dates, but barely any second dates, let alone third dates – or conversations that didn’t go well, or just stop abruptly with no warning. Unfortunately, unless you are very, very, very lucky, like Ryan, (he agrees with me), these things are all part of online dating and it’s okay to need to take a step back every now and again to heal yourself – or just focus your attention on something other than finding your one as that in itself can become very overwhelming.
Ryan actually messaged me when I was taking a break from online dating, so as the saying goes, sometimes if you stop looking then love will appear. Also, be clear about what you want but also have some flexibility. Know what your deal breakers are, be honest with yourself as well as with other people, but be willing to compromise. For example, I want children in my future so if someone didn’t share this desire then I knew there was no point pursuing a relationship. However, I always used to say I only wanted to meet someone close to me because I don’t have a car and I didn’t want commuting to someone else’s city. When I met Ryan he was living in Nottinghamshire but we ended up clicking so well, I let that one go. Before I knew it, I was on a train at least every other Friday night for half an hour to go and see him.
How do you overcome challenges together?
It might sound simple, but the answer is we just talk things through. There have been some tough moments for us both during this pandemic; our work has been affected and we’ve both struggled with not being able to go see our families, but it’s true what they say – a problem shared is a problem halved.
Do you two have a shared guilty pleasure?
We can’t resist going out for afternoon tea! Even during the pandemic, we’ve had takeaway afternoon tea from a local cafe. In terms of films, we love Disney – especially Disney musicals. The Lion King was the first film we ever watched together so that one has a special place in our hearts.
What made you want to try online dating?
Ryan: I found my life very much revolved around work and frisbee (I play ultimate frisbee). Frisbee takes up a lot of time, I played most weekends, and that didn’t leave me much social time outside of those things to meet anyone. I knew I had to dedicate some time to meeting someone outside of work and frisbee and online dating enabled me to do this.
Rochelle: I’d been on dating sites since summer 2014, which is when I graduated. I was almost 21 at the time, although I didn’t meet Ryan till I was 25. At that point in my life a lot had changed, all of my friends had moved. While I was at university, I’d go out with friends and meet lots of other students (and potential partners) in bars or cafes, but suddenly, post-uni, all of that changed and my social opportunities reduced.
As mentioned previously, all of my friends were in relationships so (understandably), they often had date nights with their other halves and I didn’t want to go out for a drink by myself. I knew I had to do something so online dating felt like a good opportunity to meet people – I could send messages on my lunch break if I had time and I could also chat to people from the comfort of my own home. What I particularly liked with Plenty of Fish, is that with the set questions, (do you want children, do you smoke etc), you could easily find out the answers to some really big and important questions without having to have an awkward conversation or, even worse, find out that someone doesn’t align with you on one of these important topics when you’re already on a date!
What’s something you’ve learned from one another since you’ve been together?
Ryan: I’ve learned that the word ‘clean’ can mean two very different things to two different people! I have learnt to be more considerate since I met Rochelle, and I’ll think more about someone’s personal situation before I form a view on them or their behaviour and I’ll reach out to them first to see if there’s anything I can do to help them – rather than jump to a negative reaction.
Rochelle: I’ve learned to try and be calmer in situations, although I admit I don’t always succeed. Ryan’s taught me to not get panicked about the ‘what if’ of a situation and to deal with the reality of the situation in that given moment.
What’s one of your favorite memories from your time as a couple?
We both agree on this one; it was our long weekend at Cafe Royal in London. I (Rochelle) work as a journalist and I was lucky enough to be approached to ask to review the Cafe Royal hotel for a weekend stay, including meals and time in the spa. It was, without doubt, one of the most special and luxurious experiences we have ever had! The timing of the trip coincided with our first anniversary in October 2019 as well which made it even more special.
What special occasions or traditions do you love to celebrate together?
We love to celebrate our anniversary. Things have, of course, been very different in 2020 but we just managed to go out for a lovely Italian meal before the restaurants sadly had to shut again. In future years we hope to be able to treat ourselves to more weekends away, though we accept none will be as grand as the experience we had at Cafe Royal! We prefer to go away for our anniversary rather than buy each other presents as we like to have a new experience to share.