Valentine's Day

In Real Life, Their First Date Lasted 9 Minutes

"It's not all fiction... It really can work out."

Marco Govel/Stocksy, Sarawut Wiangkham/EyeEm, PM Images/GettyImages

Few entertainment genres are as intrinsic to Bustle's identity as the rom com. Valentine's Day, of course, features prominently in the genre — top of the Empire State Building in Sleepless In Seattle, anyone? — so this week, leading up to our national celebration of love, Bustle is partnering with the podcast Meet Cute to explore the real-life romcoms unfolding all around us.

The idea behind Meet Cute is simple but also revolutionary: release original, fictional, refreshingly inclusive romcoms as 15-minute audio narratives. Every so often, Meet Cute also adapts true, lived love stories into Meet Cutes. This week with Bustle, they are rereleasing six of these "IRL" stories, one per day.

Today's Meet Cute, "Only The Weekend," is based on a decision Arianne Young, a virtual assistant in Toronto, made after having barely a coffee with Luke Vaughan, a travel agent based an ocean away.

Luke Vaughan only recently found out that Arianne Young, his partner of two years, submitted the story of how they met to be adapted for a Meet Cute. While he's happy with the final product, he tells Bustle, he wants to clarify two things. First, their first date, in late 2018 when he was visiting Toronto for work, did not last three hours as it does in the Meet Cute, and second, Young did not wait for him to invite her to meet him in New York the following weekend. "We met for probably 9 minutes the first time, on Sunday for coffee. Arianne bought her ticket to New York on the Monday." When you know, you know.

The rest is true. The weekend was amazing, and they decided to try to make a go of it, even though Vaughan was based in Melbourne.

That's where the fictional Meet Cute leaves off, but the real story continued. At the end of the weekend, "There was still some uncertainty about how it could actually manifest," Vaughan recalls, but "without having any idea of the chances of success, it seemed certainly worth it." As in the Meet Cute, they texted constantly — "the Whatsapp [was] quite full," Young says. Vaughan flew back to Toronto for New Year's Eve 2018, then they were long distance for all of 2019. About a year ago, in mid February, Young quit her job to start her own virtual assistant service and flew to Australia to visit Vaughan and his family. "We got stuck for the past year," she says. Suddenly they were living together, in quarantine, with Young thousands of miles from home.

Like everything else about the pandemic, it was unexpected, but after the whirlwind of their first few dates, they were used to big leaps. By the fall, they did need a change of scenery, so they relocated to Mexico. They got back to Toronto two days before Christmas.

The plan now is for the two of them to stay in Canada. Vaughan has applied for residence. Canada is ... very different from Australia, but Vaughan says he doesn't mind. "I tend to galavant around the world. There was nothing that was really holding to Australia," he says. "This is now our home."

For the writer of the Meet Cute, Kyra Noonan, the story was wild — how does a rapidly entered, long-distance-turned-no-distance relationship ever work?— but it was also inspirational. "It's so much more moving to have a real story to translate into a rom com," Noonan says. "So you know it's not all fiction. People really can meet other people. It really can work out."

Listen to Arianne and Luke's IRL Meet Cute "Only The Weekend"; subscribe to Meet Cute for more totally enchanting 15-minute audio rom coms; and stay tuned for the premier of a brand new fictional Meet Cute, "Thief of Love," on Sunday, Feb. 14.

Meet Cute is looking for more real-life love stories to turn into feel-good rom coms! You can send them the story of how you and your partner met here, or DM them on Twitter (@listenmeetcute) or Instagram (@meetcute)!