“They Said We’d Never Last!”

Think a 4,000-mile long-distance relationship is doomed, or that a one-night fling could never turn into the real thing? These couples say “No way!”

By Katherine Dykstra

ou know how people judge their pals’ new relationships, right? The predictions typically range from “They’re, like, meant for each other!” to “They’re good together, but I’m not sure he’s The One for her,” to the dreaded, “Those two are never going to last.” This last snap judgment is usually reserved for the unlikeliest of matches—couples whose logistics scream too extreme. They live too far apart. Their jobs are too different. They’ve moved too fast. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty. Here are five couples who met under “they’ll never last” circumstances, and ended up hitched and really happy—proving that, when it’s right, it’s right, no matter what the situation.

“Our one-night fling turned into the real thing”

The couple: Lisa Byrne, 26, and Brian Byrne, 28; married 3 years; Simsbury, CT

Their story:
Out drinking with his friends one night, Brian had no intention of meeting the woman he’d marry. “I was never really so much a meet-random-people-and-hook-up kind of guy,” he said. Even so, at the last party they hit, within 15 minutes he was necking a cute
It’s easy to project the end of a relationship before it’s barely begun. But by doing so, you’re just stacking the cards
against you.
stranger named Lisa. “My friends started throwing things at me because I was pretty drunk,” recalls Lisa. The two ended up spending half the night in a marathon make-out session and then…nothing. “I figured it was a one-night thing and I’d never see him again,” Lisa says. It took months—and a few awkward bump-ins through mutual friends—for the couple to venture out on their first official date. At that point, they realized they really liked each other…and a real relationship bloomed.

The lesson:
Getting physical early on, even on the first night, doesn’t necessarily doom a relationship. It may just boil down to timing. “I had it in my head that I would ask my friend how to get in touch with her after that first night,” says Brian. “But I got busy and never made the connection.” So if you think you really like someone you casually hooked up with, give them the benefit of the doubt and get in touch!

“Even 4,000 miles couldn’t keep us apart”

The couple: Lisa Keys, 29, and Julian Volog, 31, married 1 year; Queens, NY

Their story:
When Julian and Lisa first met there was an instant connection. The problem? Lisa lived in New York and Julian lived half a world away in Brussels, Belgium. Not exactly convenient—plus, there were cultural differences. “While drinking margaritas, I told him I had a crush on him. And he didn’t even know what ‘crush’ meant, he was like, ‘You want to crush me?’” In spite of these challenges, they decided to try to make it work and saw each other ten times over the course of the following year. When Julian proposed, saying he would be willing to move to New York, Lisa accepted. “I’m sure a lot of people thought I was insane, but anyone who knew me well or had seen us together knew that it was the right thing to do,” she says.

The lesson:
Dwelling on what’s wrong with a relationship will get you nowhere—the right attitude can conquer any challenge. “When you’re faced with a crazy situation, you have to believe that it’s going to work,” explains Lisa. “And it will.”

“Having vastly different careers doesn’t mean we can’t connect”

The couple: Loretta Henry, 36, and Brian Henry, 34; married 4 years; Long Island, NY

Their story:
Out at a bar with her friends one night, Loretta, a certified public accountant at a large firm in New York, hit it off with a great-looking guy. The catch? “He told me he was a crane operator,” says Loretta. “At first, I didn’t think he was the type I would normally date.” Even so, it wasn’t long before the couple started to get serious. “Once my friends heard he was a crane operator, they were like ‘Reeeaally?!’” says Loretta. “They looked down on him because he was a blue-collar worker, but at this point it didn’t matter to me at all. He had his act together. That’s what really mattered.”

The lesson:
Your career is not your identity—and the more differences you and your sweetie have, the more you may have to talk about. “I always kind of thought I’d marry someone who was in the business world, but I dated those guys and they were boring to me,” says Loretta. “I realized that I’m in the business world twelve hours a day, and I don’t need to hear about your business!”

“We saw our racial differences as an opportunity, not a setback”

The couple: Melissa Tepe, 29, Mike McFarlane, 32; married 1 year; St. Louis, MO

Their story:
When Melissa and Mike began dating, the fact that he was black and she was white was of little consequence to them. Unfortunately, the same wasn’t true of Melissa’s family. “My mother didn’t understand why I would start dating anyone black because ‘obviously’ it couldn’t go anywhere. She said our kids would have it ‘so rough,’” she recalls. “My dad thought it was my mom's fault
Look on the bright side: The more differences you and your sweetie have, the more you’ll have to talk about.
somehow and refused to talk to her for about a week.” As a result, Melissa avoided introducing Mike to her father for five years to avoid further family drama and only did so once they got engaged. “The more my parents see and talk to Mike, the more they can’t help but like him,” she says.

The lesson:
Only you know what, or who, is best for you. If you feel strongly about someone and stick to your guns amongst unsupportive friends or family, you can only hope that they will take your side once they realize you’re serious. “It was a long, uncomfortable road, and at times we thought it wasn’t worth it,” admits Melissa. “But it has all worked out, and by the time our wedding took place, everyone was genuinely happy for us.”

“Dating someone you work with is complicated, but worth it”

The couple: Pam O’Keefe, 33, and John O’Keefe, 35; married 3 years; Westchester, NY

Their story:
John and Pam, accountants at the same firm, started out as work buddies—chatting during lunch breaks and heading out to happy hour with their colleagues. “Then one night we were sharing a ride home and he told me he wanted to be more than friends,” says Pam. “I was reluctant. My girlfriends were like, ‘Isn’t this going to be awkward if you split up?’ I’d hear stuff like ‘Don’t date where you work,’ but then where else are you going to meet people? I felt on some level that we would be mature enough if we were to break up; that I could handle it. Luckily it didn’t come to that.”

The lesson:
It’s easy to get ahead of oneself and project the end of a relationship before it’s barely begun. But by doing so, you’re just stacking the cards against you. “I figured I liked him and I wanted to give it a shot,” says Pam. “I didn’t think about what would happen if it didn’t work—and maybe that’s why it did.”

Katherine Dykstra is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Post, Time Out New York, Fodor's travel guides and Redbook.
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