When Things Finally Click

When Things Finally Click

Online dating can be rough on intimacy, but for two couples real chemistry prevailed.

I’ve spent the last few columns pointing out the downside of online dating. Now, in honor of Valentine’s Day, a couple of stories about clicking (excuse the pun) via the computer.

Emily, 28, an investments analyst, and Josh, 33, an attorney (names have been changed), met on OKCupid.com in January 2008. Last week, sitting on a cozy couch in the living room of the Murray Hill condominium they recently bought together, they recalled the path that led them to coupledom.

Each had each been on dozens — if not hundreds — of online dates before they met. Josh, dark-haired with a wide smile, was 27 at the time, and had done online dating off and on for four to five years. Emily, then 22, had been going on about two dates per week for a year.

Emily, who is slim, with a Jewish-girl-next-door look, showed up for their first meeting at Stumptown Coffee in the Ace Hotel toting several Anthropologie shopping bags. Josh showed up in a baseball cap.

“I thought he was bald,” Emily said, adding that she liked Josh anyway.

Discussing their college theses (Josh went to Yale; Emily to Barnard), they quickly felt physical chemistry and intellectual rapport.

“That’s why you need to go on a greater volume of dates [with online dating] than you might if someone just walked up to you in bar,” said Emily. “It’s difficult to assess those things till you’ve met up.”

Josh helped Emily carry her bags to the subway.

To their second date, at a Mediterranean restaurant on the Upper East Side, Emily, who was returning to the city after spending a weekend with her parents in New Jersey, brought along several bags of clean laundry.

“I guess everyone’s got baggage,” said Josh. “At least she didn’t show up with dirty laundry.”

Their pragmatic approach to life, as it turned out, helped them get past a third date they both describe as “blah” — an improv comedy show at Upright Citizens Brigade, and drinks afterward at Mustang Sally’s — which Emily describes as “generic.”

“I remember thinking, ‘He never says anything negative,’” said Emily. “I felt he wasn’t processing things and wondered if there was any chemistry.”

Saying goodnight at the turnstiles at Penn Station, both felt a bit let down. But Josh offered to pay for a cab.

“[Josh] and I are equally frugal,” Emily said. “So that shows how smitten he was.”

Despite the mediocre third date, they decided, in Josh’s words, to “keep pushing forward,” and for the fourth date, Emily came to Josh’s place to cook a curry dish together. That spiced things up, though Josh didn’t make the move.

“He told me he felt uncomfortable trying to kiss me in his apartment because he wasn’t sure what I wanted,” said Emily. “He was the ultimate gentleman.”

Within weeks, however, the two had become close, and Emily told Josh, “I don’t want you seeing anyone else.”

“I studied mediation; I like to phrase things mutually,” he said. Glancing at Emily, he added, “But I knew how you meant it.”

In June 2011 they moved in together, and have been a couple ever since. “We don’t even have to be doing anything in particular,” said Josh. “We just have a good time.”

Like Emily and Josh, Jeff and Michelle Sadowsky of Park Slope, Brooklyn met online — JDate to be precise — and fell in love in the winter. They met in December 2002, married in March 2005, and have a 5-year-old son, Ben. Like his parents, Ben, who watched Donald Duck cartoons on his iPad during the interview at Rodeo bar and restaurant in Murray Hill last weekend, has large, beautiful brown eyes.

Neither Jeff, who is trim and owns a promotional products company, nor Michelle, an attractive, curvaceous attorney, had been in a serious relationship before they met, when she was 27 and he was nearly 30.

“I was extremely immature until I met Michelle,” said Jeff.

Michelle was about to close her JDate account when she agreed to go out with Jeff. Their first date was at Angel’s Share, a small second-floor restaurant-bar in the East Village.

A second, less successful date followed: they saw a play called “Wrong for Each Other.”

“It was about an unhappy couple,” said Michelle. “It wasn’t good.”

“I wanted to give her an artsy experience,” said Jeff. “To this day I’m not allowed to pick out plays for us.”

On the third date, they made ravioli at Michelle’s apartment — something Michelle recalls with some amusement.

“The ravioli came out pretty well,” she said. “It wouldn’t normally be my idea of a fun thing to do because I hate cooking.”

“It was easy,” said Jeff. “The silences weren’t painful. I remember saying to my roommate after I came home, ‘This one’s different.’”

Michelle recalled that, unlike in previous situations, she wasn’t analyzing Jeff’s behavior after they first met.

“You know how you talk and analyze everything with your girlfriends?” she said. “But I felt like with Jeff, there was nothing to say.”

“I’m an empty vessel,” said Jeff.

“What I mean is there wasn’t a lot of drama,” Michelle clarified.

Neither feels they missed out by not having serious relationships before they got married.

“We had no bad experiences to make us afraid,” said Michelle.

But both are quick to point out their relationship is not a fairy tale.

Each, for instance, had very close friends who needed to understand they would be spending less time in the cocoon of the group.

“If we fought, it was about that,” said Jeff, who believes these challenges might be a function of having met online.

“When you meet in a very natural, organic way maybe it’s different,” he said. “We met each other online and we joined each other’s worlds. It’s crazy.”

They moved in together six months after they met.

Although they weren’t entirely in agreement on certain major issues — such as whether to have kids (Michelle wanted them; Jeff wasn’t sure) — and they didn’t agree ahead of time on where they wanted to live, both consider themselves “lucky” with the way things have turned out.

“It’s probably a good idea to discuss that stuff beforehand,” said Jeff.

With a laugh, Michelle pointed out that Jeff is the one who cooks for Ben.

“He even made his baby food from scratch,” she said.

“JDate works,” said Jeff with a smile.

Table for One appears monthly.

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