Love, 10 Years After 9/11

The tragic events of 9/11 deeply affected us all, causing many people to reassess their priorities in life. Learn how the day's events changed these daters' outlooks on love in a positive way.

By Chelsea Kaplan

fter the tragic events of 9/11, many people revisited their thoughts and practices on love, romance and dating. These stories from men and women who were impacted in surprising and profound ways by the attacks illustrate how the way in which they
Life is really too short to waste in a dead-end relationship.
look at love and go about finding it will be forever marked by the experience — even now, 10 years after a day that no one will ever forget.

Don't waste your time in dead-end relationships
"I lost my older brother in the September 11th attack, and I'll never forget how a week or so before he passed away, he sat me down and asked me what the heck I was doing wasting my time dating the woman I was seeing — someone who was fun, yet completely wrong for me. The conversation really offended me at the time, but I understand now where he was coming from. Even though I was only 21 [then], he told me that I needed to date with marriage in mind and that dating a woman who you know you'll never have a future with is just a silly idea, and one that will only end up causing one or both of you pain in the future. He said that life was too short to waste with a woman who isn't right for you. At 21, I just wanted to have fun dating, and just thought his comments were out of touch and lecturing. After he passed away, I started thinking a lot more seriously about his comments — especially the 'life's too short' aspect. Now that I'm 31, I heed his words when I date so much more, and pick the women I date much more meaningfully. Life is really too short to waste in a dead-end relationship, regardless of your age."
– Sean P., 31, systems analyst, Hoboken, NJ (single)

Keep your dating and relationship dramas in the proper perspective
"I was planning on moving to New York City the weekend after that September 11th in order to be closer to a guy that I was dating at the time. Needless to say, the city was in a really chaotic state following the attacks, and I had to postpone my move and stay in St. Louis (where I was living) much longer than I had planned. I was so frustrated that I had to change my plans, but I realized that I had to keep my 'loss' in perspective; the upheaval in my life was nothing compared to what so many people in New York had actually experienced. Losing fiancés and spouses — that was real tragedy. Prior to that experience, I had seen every little bump in the road of my life — especially involving guys I was dating — as horribly heartbreaking and tragic. This experience made me realize that the love and dating-related dramas I'd experienced in the past and was experiencing at that time were not huge deals in the grand scheme of things. Though heartbreaking at first, that experience taught me to really keep dating 'tragedies' in perspective… which I still do to this day."
– Courtney J., 33, account manager, Joplin, MO (in a relationship)

Living authentically is the only way to find true happiness
"In 2001, I was living and dating as a straight man — but I knew inside that without a doubt, I was gay. Maybe one or two of my friends knew, but to nearly everyone else — including my then-girlfriend and
After the terrorist attacks I went through a serious period of soul-searching
family — I was hidden waaaay in the back of the closet! September 11th shook me to the core, as it did nearly everyone else. I started wondering what the heck I was doing living such a lie. I was hurting both myself and others, and I couldn't help but think how sad my life would have been had I perished that day as so many did, [having] never lived a truly 'authentic' life. Slowly but surely following the attacks, I began to come out to my family and friends, the majority of whom were incredibly warm and supportive about it. Ever since then, I have dated and looked for love as I know I probably always should have. I have never felt more alive. I can't think of a better way to honor the memory of so many people who we lost that day and [whom] no longer have the privilege of life."
– Carlos G., 42, dental assistant, Alameda, CA (in a relationship)

To find your perfect match, follow your passion
"When I was in college, I had always thought it would be really fun to work on a cruise ship (like Julie, the cruise director on The Love Boat) after graduation. Following graduation, I moved to New York City and saw all of my friends immediately jump into husband-searching mode — hanging out in singles bars and getting Hamptons shares in the summer in order to score a guy. It was hard not to get wrapped up in it and feel the pressure to land a guy before I was a certain age so that I could get married, have kids, etc. at the 'right' time. So, I put my cruise dreams on the back burner and focused on doing all I could to meet Mr. Right. Likely because my heart was never in it, I never did. After September 11th, I felt a major need to get out of the city — it was just too much for me, and I had lost a good friend in the attacks, which I was having a hard time handling. I finally signed up for a job with a cruise line and embarked on the career I had always wanted to explore. On the ship, I met the man who is now my husband — probably because he and I were like-minded and had similar interests, unlike those guys I met while husband-hunting in New York City! Now I'm employed as a dating coach and I always encourage singles looking for love to follow their personal passions if they want to find their perfect match. It worked for me, and [it] always does for others!"
– Jill S. 34, dating and relationships coach, Clearwater, FL (married)

Living a life without compromise beats a loveless marriage
"When September 11th happened, I was engaged to a guy who I knew I wasn't really in love with, but felt as though I 'should' marry because he was successful, the right religion, etc. After the terrorist attacks I went through a serious period of soul-searching, wondering what I should really be doing with my life and what I wanted it to look like. I realized that even though so much about this engagement seemed 'right' on paper, he really was 'wrong' for me in the end, and that I shouldn't be planning a life with someone I didn't love — especially after realizing that life is so precious. The following December I broke off my engagement and have been single [ever] since. Sure, I would love to be married, and [now] wonder if I ever will be. However, I know that was the best decision. To live a life without compromise — especially in the love department, for me, was the best decision I could ever make."
– Kelley C., 40, geriatric care specialist, Philadelphia, PA (single)

When D.C.-based journalist Chelsea Kaplan isn't helping you solve your relationship problems, she's making jewelry. Check it out at
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