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L.A. Affairs: She boldly went where no woman had gone before — into my DMs

Two women enjoy a picnic in a park with the Los Angeles skyline behind them.
(Laurène Boglio / For The Times)
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My love story begins like most. With a notification on my phone.

But this notification wasn’t from Bumble or Hinge, and it certainly wasn’t from Tinder (come on, people, we’re all better than Tinder).

This notification came from Instagram. And more specifically, from a girl named Emilia.

“Emilia wants to send you a message,” the notification read. At first, I thought nothing of it. If you’re on Instagram, you know how often messages from those multilevel marketing bots end up in your spam folder, begging you to model for their jewelry line or clothing brand.

I also bought a Gucci shirt to get his attention. Would this turn into a meet-cute?

April 29, 2022

When I finally opened the message, mainly to clear that notification from my phone, I was a little shocked.

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Emilia wasn’t telling me that I could gain thousands of followers fast or sharing that she’s a wealthy woman looking for a sugar baby in her area.

Emilia was real, and she was asking me on a date.

She told me we matched on Bumble, but because neither of us messaged each other (oops), the match expired. And rather than pay $14.99 for Bumble Boost to extend the match, she boldly went where no woman had gone before.

Into my DMs.

No one had ever slid into my DMs until Emilia. Which meant I had to accept the date. Also, she was super cute, so that made saying yes easier.

We spent the days leading up to the date making small talk while I tried to lower my big expectations.

She seemed funny, and her Instagram proved that she was cute and clever. But I had been burned before.

I had spent the last five years writing about my dating life at a tiny Texas newspaper, and the number of failed dates I went on, and eventually wrote about, made me wary of my first date with a girl in L.A. Was she part of a secret cult? Did she want me to invest in her time-share? Or worse, was she looking for a one-night stand with a sweet, unassuming Texas transplant?

But when she arrived at the restaurant the night of our date, I knew something was right about her. Something was right about this.

The dating websites I used came up with some remarkable matches that didn’t work out. Would meeting ‘Jay from Long Beach’ change everything?

March 31, 2023

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Our first date was perfect. We had so much in common. We both like Harry Potter, unironically love talking about the weather, and we even wore the same outfit. I was smitten. That was the first time I caught a glimpse of what love looked like with my own two eyes. And boy, did I like the way love looked.

The following day, I asked Emilia out. I set up a picnic and then called all my friends to ask if that was too intense for a second date (they all said yes), but I went ahead with it anyway. We wore the same color scheme — black and white — on our second date too. We were blushing all over.

By our fourth date, something had shifted. She wasn’t like the other people I had gone out with in the past. I was falling for Emilia. And that scared me to death. Even though I’m 28, I had never been in love before. I’d never even dated someone long enough to consider adding the L word to my vocabulary (love, not lesbian — we are bisexual, after all).

The more time I spent with Emilia, the more I knew I wanted to stay with her. I always pictured my partner would check all my boxes. Emilia exceeded expectations I didn’t even know I had. For the first time in my life, I felt safe. Secure. Seen.

This North Hollywood native had effectively captured my heart, and the only thing for me to do was follow it — and her — into the unknown.

We met as interns at a magazine, and our friendship was based on humor. But how could I tell him in all seriousness that I had feelings for him?

March 24, 2023

Emilia made falling in love effortless. There were no mind games. No “waiting at least two hours to text back” rule. No walls, no secrets, no hardships.

Instead, it’s been clear communication since the beginning. Immediately after we met, I deleted my dating apps. She was the person I wanted to see again. She was the woman I needed to know.

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I didn’t know what I wanted and didn’t realize what I needed until Emilia entered my life. She’s shown me how to love and be loved. She’s also shown me some really cute spots around L.A. along the way.

With Emilia, I’m exploring parts of California I’ve never visited before. She’s seeing Los Angeles through my eyes, giving her a new appreciation for the city she’s lived in her entire life.

The trees on the drive on Laurel Canyon to get to North Hollywood are greener. The sky? Bluer and clearer than ever. Our love is everywhere I look. In books and in flowers (tulips, especially) and in all the places we’ve gone.

Over the last year and a half together, we’ve road-tripped to San Diego for my half birthday, Idyllwild for our anniversary, Wrightwood for a weekend getaway with lifelong friends and Oak Glen for apple picking in the autumn. Wherever we go, it’s a new adventure.

Ruben and I spoke by phone daily, and our relationship only deepened. I planned to visit him in Mexico whenever I could, and we’d enjoy whatever time we could spend together. Then came COVID-19.

Aug. 5, 2022

As for our next adventure? Moving in together this summer and creating a space that is wholly our own. I’m not sure how we’ll decorate it or what neighborhood in L.A. we’ll claim as ours. What I do know is that whatever we choose will be perfectly imperfect, just like our love.

There are only a few things I’ve been sure of in my life: writing, moving to Los Angeles and Emilia. She offers the type of love that makes the days last longer and the sun shine brighter. Falling in love is wonderful and terrifying and beautiful and anxiety-inducing all at once. But being in love with Emilia is easy.

When I moved to California, I fell in love with L.A. I just didn’t expect a piece of L.A. to love me back.

The author is a writer and associate producer for Entertainment Studios. She lives in West Hollywood. Find her on Instagram: @ave__babe

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.

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