I Followed a Stranger on Twitter, 3 Years Later We Are in Love

Twitter Love
Nina Gonzales/Thrillist
Nina Gonzales/Thrillist

Relationships that begin on social media are no longer a rarity.

Everyone knows a couple who met online and successfully bridged the gap from internet strangers to real-life partners. The may pretend they met in the aisle of Trader Joe’s, but the connection is real -- regardless of any embarrassment by their origin story.

I'm a perfect example of this. Because while I never got the hang of dating apps, I had much better luck on Twitter. Not a dating site in the traditional sense, Twitter is a great place to impress people with your wit and candor. That’s what my current boyfriend, previously known as Twitter Guy, did three years ago.

Twitter lets you "follow" someone in a totally non-creepy way

Flashback to 2013. Miley Cyrus was coming in like a wrecking ball and I was matriculated in college, lazily scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw a particularly hilarious retweet:

"The letter S just taunts you. There and back, there and back."

I found my way to its original author and followed him: a stranger, and potentially harmful internet-man. He kindly followed me back.

Once Twitter Guy’s tweets started popping up in my timeline, I become more impressed. Not only was he hilarious, we seemed to have a lot in common. Socially progressive, liberal-arts college student, good with 140 characters. What a babe!

I favorited his tweets sparingly because I am incredibly cool and chill. Whenever he favorited one of my tweets, I grew inappropriately excited, and also felt like a comedic goddess. My Twitter crush was strong -- but it was also silly and not something I ever thought would go anywhere.

All the flirts go down in the DMs

Three years later, I was focused on other things besides Twitter. Most notably, I was slogging through what appeared to be a dwindling relationship, along with a massive snowstorm that blanketed DC. In all this gloom, a direct message appeared in my Twitter inbox from (you know it) Twitter Guy, asking for my advice on finding housing in the city.

It was exciting (and let's admit it, also completely bizarre) to have someone I'd admired from a distance ask me such a mundane question. I answered him as helpfully as possible; and, remembering I was still in a relationship, let the conversation meet its natural end. Then I stopped thinking about him.

A few months later I was post-breakup, sitting at a bar, and feeling powerful with gin. I had already done my obviously not-stalkerish research; and knew that Twitter Guy was single and living somewhere in the area. I wanted to snatch him up before some hotter, funnier tweeter slipped into his DMs.

With a drink in one hand and cellphone in the other, I sent a message: "Were you successful in finding a place?" I hoped this question would demonstrate my compassion toward others and also my extreme sex appeal.

After some staggered conversation and a few more glugs I wrote, "Hey so would you like to hang out in real life sometime?" With this question I hoped to convey my superior intelligence and feminine sensuality.

Bantering over text made my virtual crush a reality

To my great relief, he said yes and we moved our conversation from Twitter to texting. By texting, I mean bantering. Insufferable bantering. If I thought this guy was clever online, he was twice as funny over text. I kept my phone in view but always a few feet away so that I could pretend to be nonchalant. When the screen lit up with his name, I would abandon all sense of pride and somersault my way over to read the message.

My Twitter crush was now a real-life crush. I felt happier than I had in months.

Though Twitter Guy and I had vague plans to get a meal once he moved into the city, our first in-person meeting ended up being much less formal. One Saturday night he texted me that he was headed to a bar, which I happened to be standing in, three drinks deep.

An impromptu meeting revealed a very real connection

I was in no way prepared to meet any crushes, but this set-up meant I didn't have that much time to get nervous. Yes, I wish I had been wearing different underwear, but when Twitter Guy showed up my ill-fitting floral boyshorts were no longer a concern.

Here was this person who I had known only virtually for three years, holding a beer and standing in my favorite bar. I, being a young professional, shook his hand. We began talking, and the bantering that worked so well over text message started up in real life. We spent the next few hours out together and then went back to my place for some "gin."  

Meeting by chance that night kicked off a slew of food-based dates. Meeting Twitter Guy in the clear light of day always made me nervous, but within a few minutes I would be laughing way too loudly, completely relaxed. While his humor did not surprise me, his kindness did. He treated me with a sweetness and familiarity that surpassed the time we had known each other. Even from when we were only texting, he was extremely open and because of this we grew close quickly.

After a few months of eating our way across DC, I eloquently asked, "Will you be my boyfriend?" With this charismatic gesture I became official with Twitter Guy, who I began calling by his actual name, Walter.

In matters of the heart, you have to be willing to climb out on a few limbs

Sure, I like to tell this story because I'm in love and want to gush about it. But I hope my experience is also instructive: more proof of what you can find when you stay open to possibilities outside your Tinder feed. Don't go jumping on Twitter in hopes of finding love -- but when you see someone you like, definitely follow your instincts.

I’m grateful that I risked making a fool out of myself in front of a stranger and gained the most mature and healthy relationship I've been in. My connection to Walter goes far beyond our affinity for short-form jokes. He is my boyfriend and my best friend, my love and my companion, and I even still favorite his tweets.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Jane Garfinkel is a writer in DC who drinks a perfectly healthy amount. Follow her on Twitter @JaneGarfinkel, but don't expect to be asked out.