I had tried every dating site and app out there with varying degrees of success, and I was totally over them. I was tired of the "first date" and even more tired of never going on a second date. Then a friend told me about yet another app — Bumble. This one sounded different: The girl has to message the guy first, and she only has 24 hours to do it after you match, or the connection disappears forever.
It doesn't hurt to try, right? I hit the download button and started swiping.
After a few right swipes I made a connection with a beautiful brunette. I waited, but no message.
The following day, to my surprise, I got a ping!
What am I supposed to say to that? Even though her first impression wasn't a very good one, I didn't want to screw mine up. I had to think fast.
"Help what? Need a hammer to break the ice? *Hammer Emoji*
Luckily she likes corny humor.
"Haha! I meant hello…"
We began chatting and were able to power through the awkward introduction. We quickly learned that we are both vegan and into health and fitness. Score!
Ironically, I was her first right swipe, and she was my first and only connection. We texted all night and decided to meet in person the following day.
The "date" was very laid-back. I suggested we ride bikes around the Long Beach harbor and just get to know each other. Then, if things went well, maybe we could get dinner.
Darlene was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't take my eyes off her. We had great conversations and decided to continue the date at a Thai restaurant in Long Beach's East Village arts district.
After dinner, we sat on the couch in my apartment talking all night. I didn't want her to leave and couldn't wait to see her again. I finally got that chance a few days later when we watched fireworks together on the beach for the Fourth of July last year.
Things were going great. A little more than a month went by, and as we were eating breakfast on my balcony a feeling came over me like I never had before. I was hesitant to say it out loud at first, but it eventually came out: "I could get used to this." It was a simple phrase, but I knew exactly what it meant, and she did too. The feelings were mutual, and we both knew it.
Less than a month later we took down some of my personal photos and replaced them with pictures of her family and us. She moved in, and my apartment became our apartment.
Exactly one year after our first bike ride we celebrated with a weekend getaway to Catalina Island. I knew she was expecting me to propose while we were there — it was a layup.
On the night of our big anniversary date we went to the nicest restaurant on the island in some new clothes we bought just for the occasion, but there was no ring to be found. I could sense her disappointment as we went to bed that night. The next day, as we stood in line to board the Catalina Flyer the look on her face was disconsolate. Her finger was still bare.
However, she didn't know I had a surprise waiting for her back in Long Beach.
After we got off the boat I put my bags down and asked her to wait while I went to the restroom. My friend was in the restroom waiting with a change of clothes and the most beautiful diamond ring you could imagine. I quickly put on my suit coat, grabbed the ring and took a deep breath. It was go time.
Her mother and brother had flown in from New York for the special occasion and, just as planned, they came out from where they were hiding to surprise her. After a long embrace with her mother, she turned around to find me on one knee. I asked her to marry me in Polish — her first language. The scene was right out of a movie and couldn't have been more perfect.
We've now been engaged for four wonderful months, and we are getting married Sunday. On Monday, we are flying out of LAX to travel the world for more than three months as we grow our relationship as newlyweds. Even more exciting news? Our baby is due May 30.
Neither one of us could have ever imaged we'd find someone so perfect to share life with — and especially not through a dating app.
But we are proof that even the pickiest people can find the right match in L.A.
L.A Affairs chronicles the dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments, or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com
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