Erica and Rob
I signed up for eHarmony while I was teaching English in Japan in 2004. I went through a few "duds" (nice guys, but not for me) and eventually met Rob in August 2004, who was in grad school in Detroit. We were only matched because I used my mom's address in metro Detroit, and I put my location in Japan in parentheses because I planned on returning to Michigan when my teaching contract finished. He had his range set to within 100 miles! He was more than surprised when he paid attention to the parentheses!
We were very impressed with each others' profiles, and he asked to jump right to open communication. I accepted, and within a few emails it was clear that we had many things in common. So, as our mutual interest increased and feelings grew through many daily emails and international phone calls, we had to confront the issue of my being in Japan for the next 11 months.
First, as a form of protection for myself, I had him meet with my grandparents in Michigan, whose judgment I completely trust. They wholeheartedly approved of Rob and I took it as a green light. I knew if I came home for a visit after being in Japan for more than a year, as much as I loved it there, I might not want to finish my contract, so we decided to meet face to face for the first time in Rome, Italy. Rob had never traveled outside the country before except for Canada, and so he had to get a passport and explain to his family. He must have really liked me, because he took his family's questioning and flew for 10 hours to see me for the first time!
I arrived in Rome first to spend Christmas and the New Year, and picked him up on January 3, 2005. We went to dinner and the image, voice and words merged with the flesh and blood person, and we realized we were a couple "for real." He was just as sweet, fun, respectful and romantic as I knew he would be. Rob spent five wonderful days in Rome with me, and finally had to return home. I held myself together until he passed through security and out of my sight, and then I cried in the ladies' room and all the way back to my hostel room. It was a small comfort that he emailed me from the plane.
I returned to Japan and our relationship returned to the familiar emails and phone calls, until he visited me in Japan in March, 2005. I was finally able to show him the country I had spent so much time in, which was dear to my heart. We sang karaoke, ate sushi and visited beautiful temples and gardens. Rob was also able to meet some of my friends, who were apprehensive about my "meeting a guy online" at first, but once they met him, fully approved. After another wonderful week together I couldn't hold back the tears when I thought about not seeing him again for four months. For the next months I had all the days and weeks counted until I would return to America and my Rob. I did my best to enjoy the rest of my time in Japan, but my heart was thousands of miles away.
Finally, I flew home on July 25th, and Rob picked me up at the airport and took me to my dad's house until I got my own apartment together in Toledo, OH, where he was living. We enjoyed finally being able to see each other every day, without the stress of knowing it would end all too soon. On September 17, 2005, Rob took me to an Italian restaurant (of course) and after dinner invited me for a walk, during which he proposed. I happily accepted, and we were married on February 4th, 2006.
I never thought I would have such an unusual love story, but the early stages are all recorded in the hundreds of emails we sent each other, and the letters we mailed each other across the sea. I don't recommend a long-distance relationship for the faint of heart or the undiscerning, but for us it worked! We took the proper steps of getting input from our families, much prayer, and tons and tons of communication while looking for red flags or inconsistencies. We also appreciated that eHarmony screens potential members, though no screening can be completely foolproof. We also had realistic expectations that eHarmony is a tool to meet people and we take it from there, not a mail-order spouse service. My friends use our example as proof that eHarmony works! I know we've found lifelong love. I never expected to meet my husband while living in Japan, but I wouldn't change a thing.