Reflections On A Decade Together

By Iman Johnson

Our love story begins online, as so many do in this technological age. Typically, the first thought people have when they hear we met online is that we met through a dating website. The truth is, our story isn't so straightforward. We weren't seeking love, but it still found us. This August we’ll celebrate ten years together. With this new milestone quickly approaching, I feel a sentimental pull to reflect on our journey and to share some of the lessons we've learned along the way.

I'm originally from a small city in southwestern Ontario, Canada. When we met, he was a student living in Rochester, New York. As fate would have it, our mutual interests brought us to the same corner of the internet on a music forum full of colorful characters and endless topics of conversation. His screen name was BusyB. He was an active and bright member of this online community where I spent most of my free time after school. Although I made friends with several forum members, BusyB was different.

From the day that we met in this virtual space, we talked regularly. We had tons in common, including a similar sense of humor. At the time, video chatting was in its infancy, and international phone calls were expensive, so most of our conversations were via AIM, AOL's now-defunct instant messenger. Because we were practically anonymous, we felt comfortable expressing exactly what we were thinking, feeling, and going through at the moment. We’d discuss relationship problems, help each other with schoolwork, and share funny stories. The conversations were interesting and always flowed freely. Through thousands of messages and countless late-night chats, we formed a deep bond. Over the years, we established a strong foundation of friendship, mutual respect, and trust.

We would often talk about traveling to see one another, but it was rarely more than a passing thought. As I was planning my college graduation party, I invited BusyB on a whim. To my surprise, he gladly accepted. After eight years of online friendship, we were finally going to see each other IRL (in real life).

Brad was every bit as charming and quirky as he was online. Even better, he actually looked like his profile picture! Meeting in person was a surreal experience, and we hit it off right away. After that first visit, we couldn't wait to see each other again. When I flew out to meet him in his home state of Maryland a few weeks later, he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. We were smitten! We married a year later.

No relationship is perfect, and ours is no exception. When we first moved in together, Brad and I would argue frequently. We’re both only children, so we're used to getting our own way. To be honest, the beginning of our marriage was incredibly difficult. At times I wondered if we would make it as a couple. Thankfully, we have an amazing support system of family and friends who took the time to help keep us on the right path. We still have conflicts from time to time, but how we handle them has evolved. We've learned that compromise is necessary, that disagreements should never involve personal attacks, and above all else, we must keep love in the mix.

Because we started as a long-distance couple, we valued every minute we could spend together, and we still do. We have always been intentional about planning activities that create lasting memories. Whether it's something simple like taking a walk in a new neighborhood or more involved, like organizing multi-country vacations, we love to explore the world around us. Experiencing new things together keeps us excited about life, strengthens our bond, and keeps our spark alive.

Through the years, so much has changed. We've grown as individuals and as a family. We've moved a few times, traveled extensively, and are raising two beautiful girls. After eighteen years as friends and nearly a decade as a couple, we're still learning new things about each other and ourselves. Having a foundation of friendship has carried us through many highs and lows. Remembering all that brought us together keeps us humble and appreciative of what we have.

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