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For Anjana and David, First Came Love. Then Came Long-Distance.

When Anjana, a postgraduate business student in the U.K. town of Warwick, joined Bumble in early 2019, she wasn’t sure she even believed in love. She had always lacked confidence in dating. “I’m a very shy dater,” she says. “I find it quite intimidating.” Her last relationship of four years had ended unhappily 18 months earlier, and Anjana still felt bruised by the experience; she didn’t even attempt to get a date during that time. “I shut myself off. I thought, ‘I’m not going to expose myself to all that again.’”

Anjana had only downloaded Bumble after a gentle nudge from her friends. “They were like: ‘you can’t waste the best years of your life like this—you’ve got to put yourself back out there,’” Anjana remembers. She still wasn’t sure if she felt ready or not, but she was persuaded to join Bumble by her friends’ stories. “They’d been having such good experiences, and meeting people that they would never usually be exposed to, and broadening their horizons,” she says. “I just had to take that leap.”

But it didn’t occur to Anjana to ease back into dating after her long break. She’s “all or nothing” by nature, she says. “I’m not very good at doing things halfway. I thought, ‘well, if I’m on here, it should be with the intention of finding someone I can fully appreciate and commit to.’” As a result, she was focused—and keen not to repeat the same mistakes of her last relationship. “I thought, ‘I’m going to have high standards, I’m not going to settle.’ I knew what I was looking for this time.” On her wish list was someone easygoing, who shared her family values and her passion for education and travel, and was similarly looking for a committed relationship.

All the same, Anjana admits, she was rusty. After such a long break, Bumble was intimidating: “I felt as if everyone else were veterans,” she says. After a month or so of “tentatively swiping, light-hearted texting, panicking and unmatching,” in May 2019, she made her second-ever match with David. He, too, was a postgraduate student, studying medicine at another university in Warwick. Anjana was attracted to his photos with friends, suggesting he was sociable but not “laddish,” and his bio: “good vibes only” with a peace emoji. “I just thought that was fun,” she says. “He seemed like he was the sort of person who didn’t take himself too seriously.” Only his height gave her pause: David is 6’4”. Anjana is 5’2”. “I looked at it and thought, ‘hmm, I don’t know how this is going to work—it’s like a hamster and a giraffe!’”

David had only been on Bumble a month before Anjana’s profile came up, and coincidentally, Anjana was his second-ever Bumble match as well. David had also thought through what he was looking for in a connection: “something a bit more serious than I’d had before, somebody quite caring, who was engaged in politics, and who wasn’t in medicine as well,” he says. David had seen too many of his classmates get together, and knew that he wanted a more balanced family life. “Lifestyle-wise, you end up not seeing each other, and I want to spend time with my wife.”

Anjana understood his concerns: many of her relatives are doctors, though she herself was studying for a PhD in business management—focusing on the healthcare sector. “It’s funny, because I’m the closest thing that David could get to a doctor, without being a doctor,” she says.

From the moment they matched, on a Friday, “it just felt right,” Anjana says. She messaged David on Saturday, he replied on Sunday, and from then on the conversation didn’t stop. “We just spoke about absolutely everything: life goals, fears we’ve had, past experiences, how our childhoods led us to be the people we are today.” By the time they met on Tuesday, for a low-key drink at a student bar, they already knew a lot about each other. “It just felt like I was talking to an old friend,” says Anjana. “There were no topics that were off-limits. To be able to achieve that spectrum with someone you’ve just met shows how comfortable he made me feel.”

Their second date, two days later, began with a game of tennis, after which David taught Anjana some boxing moves, then she helped him buy a shirt for a night out. On the third date, about 10 days after their meeting, David confessed to Anjana that he would soon be moving to London for two years of further training. “I thought, ‘OK, well, maybe it will be more of a summer thing’,” she says. But the marathon dates continued: salsa-dancing, restaurant-hopping, nights at the movies. As David’s departure grew nearer, they grew closer. “I did think: ‘Gosh, it’s going really well. Is it too good to be true?” Anjana admits. “But it had been so long since I’d been in any kind of romantic situation, I didn’t really have a barometer.”

But David understood that they were onto a good thing. “We were seeing each other every other day,” he says. After three weeks of dating, before David’s move to London, he asked Anjana to be his girlfriend. He wasn’t certain that their budding relationship could withstand the distance and his gruelling schedule, David told Anjana, but he knew that he would regret not trying. Anjana says it was a nice surprise. “He’s a very intentional person: he doesn’t say or do things that he doesn’t mean. It was really lovely for him to be like: ‘I want to commit to you before I go away’.”

It was not without its challenges, including the 90-minute train journey each way and navigating London at rush hour. Anjana had only ever lived in the West Midlands: “That was a culture shock.” But, she adds, “it was something that I looked forward to: going to see David, and at the same time having new experiences”.

David had worried that he wouldn’t be able to give their relationship the attention it deserved during his intense training, but Anjana’s flexible schedule and online learning fit in well around his rota, and they were able to see each other once a week. For David, her visits were a welcome break, he says: “Anj was a breath of fresh air.”

Now they look back on their two years of long distance as having prolonged their “honeymoon period,” says Anjana. “It was something that I looked forward to, going to see David and at the same time having new experiences, seeing friends. We made so many memories in that short space of time.” In March 2021 they even got engaged while living apart, after a “very relaxed conversation”.

In August, as David finished up his training in London, they bought a house in the Midlands together, ready for him to move into on his return. Anjana says she never doubted their decision to progress their relationship. “It felt like a natural progression of our relationship at the time, and I think we were just over travelling.”

In May 2022, they were married, in two intimate ceremonies with family plus a party for friends. Now Anjana is finishing off her PhD and hopes to find flexible work in academia, while David plans to move to general practice for better work-life balance. Three and a half years since their first date, they are looking forward to a future together. “It all happened really quickly,” says Anjana – but, despite her slow start to dating, it felt right for them.