Finding Love During Covid

Wanderer
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A few months ago, we wrote about a FIRE dating app that someone had made. Apparently, that post triggered a flood of traffic to the app, and people actually started hooking up on it! We got an email recently from the creator telling us that there was a couple, both of whom were readers of this blog, that learned about the app from that post, signed up, got matched, and were now dating. How cool is that? We were their matchmakers!

So I reached out to them on Zoom to learn about their story. Meet FIRE dating couple Rebecca and Liam! 

Wanderer: How did you guys find out about the FIRE dating app?

Rebecca: Actually, I read your book in the spring, and I hadn’t been a reader of your blog before so once I finished the book I was like, I gotta check out this website! This is a great book and it answered SO many of my questions! I need to go and read this blog, like STAT.

The first post was the post about FIRE dating. I’m 35 and I’ve been in New York City for 15 years and I’ve had boyfriends, but I want to get married so I thought it’s time for me to get this shit locked down.

Wanderer: So Liam, she’s trying to “lock you down”. Hopefully that’s not the first time you’re hearing about this because that’s a lot of pressure you just put on him.

Liam: I’m the guy she’s drunkenly settled for at the end of the night in the club.

Bryce: Excellent! Liam, how did you find out about FIRE dating?

Liam: I work at the moment on offshore wind farms, surprisingly, not the best place to meet women. And I’ve read your blog for a couple years and around late June, I think, was the post. So I was like “I’ll try this.” The app gives you a few matches per day, and Rebecca was the fourth one. And, yeah, that was that.

FIRECracker: Do you find there’s a difference between finding someone who’s into FIRE and “More financially responsible,” as the tagline goes for the app versus Tinder or any of the other apps that are out there?

Rebecca: For me, a hundred percent, because it’s like this constant thing of having to explain to people about my lifestyle. People are just like “Wait, you’re gonna take the subway home? But it’s like 11 o’clock. Just, like, get a car!” And also constantly having to explain to people “I’m trying to not work. My goal is to never work again.”

So for me it was way easier because all we talk about is how we’re gonna live our lives in the future. We’re so aligned on what we want to do and how our future is gonna look that for me it’s been way easier. Like night and day.

Wanderer: Liam, how about you?

Liam: Yeah, like you’re saying, you already narrow down the type of people who are gonna be on there, they’re gonna have similar goals in life. Not just people who like sourdough or whatever.

Wanderer: Yeah, those sourdough people are weird. Okay, both of you also had an added challenge because Liam’s in the UK and Rebecca’s in New York. What was that experience like?

Liam: I was in Spain at first so I could still technically travel in Europe in the summer. So I think when we first started chatting the first couple of nights because of the time difference it was like one in the morning for me. And then did you drive to your parents in Boston?

Rebecca: I think I drove home from Boston. I think I was in Boston when we first started messaging.

Liam: Yeah, you drove back to Manhattan. We spoke for the entire journey, which is like from midnight to six in the morning for me.

FIRECracker: Wow, that is very epic and intense.

Rebecca: That was just the first time. Liam did that every day for a week!

Wanderer: So you two did that for a week and then what happened after that?

Liam: I went to work for six weeks in Poland, so six weeks of chatting. I think it was Rebecca’s lunch break because when I finished work it was her lunch break before I went to bed.

Rebecca: I work part time at home and part time in the office, so I just blocked my calendar for that hour every single day and just was militant about not moving that meeting. I would go hide in a conference room to talk to him.

Wanderer: So what at what point do you start to realize hey, this is something special and maybe I shouldn’t ghost this person?

Liam: I mean pretty much when we were just talking and it was incredibly easy and natural. So we already skipped the step when you’re gonna know if there’s a future there where we both want to have the same outcome. She wasn’t someone that just really wants that enormous house and the Porsche.

So you’ve broken that boundary already where you just get to know the person, knowing that in the long run you already know that you’ve sorted that. So it’s almost like the reverse of a regular relationship, where you sort the bit of liking someone, then you do the bit of “What will the future hold afterwards?” Whereas here, you’ve really established what the future would be like.

Wanderer: What was your first date like?

Rebecca: We didn’t anticipate this most recent lockdown in the UK so we thought Liam would be here by now because he’s, like, semi-retired anyway, but unfortunately, people from the UK cannot enter the United States directly right now. So when we met up the first time, we went to Barbados for two weeks so that Liam could then come back to the States with me, which was a little ambitious but, I don’t know, we felt pretty confident and it ended up working out.

Wanderer: OK, that IS ambitious! So your first date was in Barbados? That is baller!

Liam: Not the most FIRE thing ever…

FIRECracker: *laughs* Nope!

Rebecca: It was f*cking expensive! We were both, like, horrified.

Wanderer: So your first date was technically trapped in a quarantine hotel in Barbados.

Liam: Yeah.

Wanderer: That’s a reality show right there! And you didn’t kill each other?

Liam: Initially, you know, it was slightly awkward having never met someone apart from speaking on the phone and then being physically trapped in a room with them. Which is, potentially, the stuff of horror movies. But, no, it was lovely. The place where we stayed was really nice. People go and have honeymoons there. So for a first date it was, you know, not terrible.

Wanderer: *laughs* “Not terrible” is how Liam describes that. OK, good good. I can tell which one of you is the understated Brit. I’ve never seen a British person be all that enthusiastic about anything.

FIRECracker: But then they’re never super negative either. When they don’t like someone they’ve met, they say “I did not warm to them.”

Liam: Yeah, not my cup of tea.

Wanderer: Right, and the New Yorker’s like “F*CK YOU!”

Rebecca: Literally.

Wanderer: Yeah, you’re from New York and Boston. Those are not quiet cultures.

Rebecca: No, nobody has ever called me quiet.

Wanderer: What was traveling like in the middle of a pandemic?

Rebecca: I think for me to get out of New York was actually a little bit difficult because American Airlines wouldn’t let me fly because they said my negative COVID test was too old. It was less than 72 hours when I boarded but more than 72 hours by the time that I landed.

FIRECracker: Wow, this would make a really good reality show! There are so many ups and downs, like “Is she going to make it on the plane? Is she going to be stranded at the airport?”

Rebecca: I definitely called Liam crying with snot running down my face at 4 AM to tell him that I couldn’t get on the plane. I hadn’t really slept and I needed some coffee. So the New Yorker in me came out to figure out another solution so I just, like, went to the JetBlue terminal and bought a ticket. Without even addressing the American Airlines situation, they made it clear I wasn’t getting on the plane. I was like “You guys watch me get into Barbados.”

Yeah, so it ended up being fine. I got my ticket, I got my coffee. Everything started improving dramatically in a short period of time. But yeah, there’s been a lot of struggles.

But then when we flew home actually it felt pretty safe. We flew JetBlue. We had our own row, they weren’t putting strangers together. I haven’t flown since then so I don’t know what it would be like now but, you know, I would do it again if there was an opportunity to see Liam.

Wanderer: So when you were in New York were you guys living together?

Rebecca: Actually, since we had just been in Barbados and we had negative COVID tests, we figured it was safe to go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving. Which, hindsight being 20/20, I don’t know if that was really the most brilliant idea. But we were getting along so well that I was like “Yeah, I’m gonna bring Liam home to meet my parents!”

FIRECracker: Wow this is moving very fast!

Rebecca: So we went home for Thanksgiving, we stayed at my parents house for a few days and then came back to New York. So I think maybe we’re in New York only for five days because Liam had to go back and work.

FIRECracker: So what’s the plan for you two going forward? 

Rebecca: Basically, our plan is for me to try to get my job to let me go part-time remote, and then we’re just gonna travel for a while and I think ultimately we’re thinking about geo-arbitrage.

New York is really expensive. There’s no reason that we would need to be here. So we’re thinking about maybe Portugal because we’re big fans of surfing. That’s one of the things that we both had on our dating profiles. So yeah, there’s great waves in Portugal. I’m a potter so there’s all kinds of arts and crafts in Portugal. So yeah, that’s our big plan to reunite on a permanent basis this summer.

Liam: And then I think Rebecca’s plan was to try and max out her 401k for the next couple months.

Rebecca: Yeah, you guys will appreciate this. Basically, I just emailed human resources a month ago and I was like “I need to up my 401k contribution to 30%” and she wrote back “You want to put 30% of your paycheck into your 401k? Am I reading this correctly?” and I was like “Yep! Just trying to max it out early!” and she was like “Wow.”

FIRECracker: Way to make her question her entire life.

Rebecca:  So, step one is I need to max out my 401k. As soon as that happens, Liam and I want to spend a little bit more time together in person. Like, I’m pretty insane, but I do think we should probably spend like at least a couple more weeks together before I move to England.

So yeah, that’s the plan for this summer to be in the UK. I can meet Liam’s family and friends and we’ll be able to do a little bit of road tripping around England and Scotland and Wales. And then we’re hoping to be able to go to Portugal in September to check it out because I have not been to mainland Portugal yet.

We follow Our Rich Journey on YouTube. What they’re doing looks pretty good to us, so we’re definitely into the idea of traveling a bunch for at least a year or two and then try to figure out if we want to settle down somewhere. So we’ll see. Depends on what happens with COVID too.

FIRECracker: Awesome, wow that is quite the story. I love it.

After our conversation, Rebecca wrote me with the following:

We forgot one key point about why FIRE Dating has turned out to be great for both of us – it has accelerated our retirement like crazy. We each estimated that we had 5-7 more years working, but when we combine our net worth, I can retire this summer, and Liam will continue to work part time for about 2 more years. I don’t think either of us were really thinking about this when we joined the site, but it’s definitely an awesome bonus feature for us. Just wanted to make that point too since I’m sure plenty of your readers have 6 figure wealth and could suddenly find themselves way closer to that 7 figure goal! 

Now that’s an interesting angle. Date your way to Financial Independence. Want to give it a go? Check out FIREDating.me now! (Note: this is not an affiliate link. The app is completely free and the creator made it to give back to the FIRE community. So, single people, you can’t afford not to try it out!)

What do you think of Rebecca and Liam’s story? Do you have any FIRE romance stories of your own to share with us?

 


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27 thoughts on “Finding Love During Covid”

  1. This interview cracked me up! Congrats Rachel and Liam on being a FIRE love story!

    I’m really fascinated with Rachel’s post-note at the end with FIRE suddenly being a lot closer for both of them. That’s a topic in the FI space I’d love to see discussed more often, because time and time again I see couples getting to their financial goals much faster than the single people. Twice the income plus half the expenses (at least for housing) is no joke.

    1. I’d be really interested to hear more about FIRE for singles too.
      Regarding expenses, I’ve been assuming that a single has 75% of the expenses of a couple (and therefore needs 75% of the wealth of a couple to retire), based on the OECD household income equivalization formula and on an analysis of the expenses listed in the ‘Let’s Go Exploring’ series on this blog (if you add up the accommodation expenses and half of the transport, food, entertainment and miscellaneous expenses, you get about 75% of the total). I’m not 100% sure that this is right though, before I retire I’m going check how much I actually need by taking a sabbatical to live nomadically for a few months.
      Regarding combining wealth with a new partner (so each person needs 50%, rather than 75%, of the wealth of a couple to retire), this seems like a high return, but super high risk, strategy. I’d like to know how often this works out, and what happens when it doesn’t, both legally (would the person with higher wealth have to give some of theirs to their partner, even though a couple living together nomadically are arguably travel buddies rather than in a de facto relationship?) and in terms of how someone who retired with only 50% of the wealth of a couple copes when they find themselves single and therefore having 75% of the expenses of a couple.
      I’d also be interested to hear what it’s like for people who early retire as singles and then find a partner – a relationship where one person is retired and the other has to work seems likely to be a tense one!

    1. I’m still here, Renata. Losing my mind a bit from the endless lockdowns but still breathing 🙂

  2. This story is h*ckin’ adorable. I’m really glad I dropped out of the party/dating scene before everyone had internet-enabled digital cameras in their pockets and social media was a thing, but it’s nice to see folks with shared interests in FIRE find each other.

  3. What an adorable couple! I hope everything works out for Liam and Rachel and that we can follow their future endeavors on their own blog. Good is out there, but sometimes you need to work to find it!

  4. What a great story! This is an often overlooked issue with FI since most of the influencers are part of a couple so I’m glad you are shedding some light on it.

    It took me a year of full time dating and employing an online dating consulting company for me to find “the one” and I specifically moved to Denver because it had the highest number of hits on Match.com.

  5. I’m happy for them. It worked out.

    On the other hand, so many things could have gone wrong. Very, very wrong. Like getting robbed. Murdered. Raped. Contracting covid. Something else just as traumatizing. Instead of hearing it here first, it could have been reported in the mainstream media in all it’s goriness and we would all be shaking our head at how stupid they were.

    This sounded like a very impulsive decision. I take a lot of precautions with online dating (as a guy) and I can say that when I first meet with someone, it is in a public place with many people around and multiple exit (escape) routes in a location I’m familiar with. It is not in a hotel room in a foreign country with no ability of escape.

    Please don’t glorify this type of behaviour.

    1. Highlighting this one peaches and cream story is similar in marketing concept of those bankers who highlight only their best performing funds.

        1. Viktor. I have no issues with your dating site. I have an issue with the above story. It talks to unacceptable risk taking. What happens when someone gets hurt or worse because stories like this were promoted.

    2. Hey Dave, this is Rebecca, thanks for bringing up the subject of safety since it’s not something we had time to cover in our interview. While there is a certain amount of risk involved in this, we did everything we could think of in order to protect ourselves.

      Regarding Covid – we picked Barbados because it was the lowest Covid country we could both legally enter, averaging less than 1 new case/day at that time. We both had to have negative tests to enter and couldn’t leave the restricted area of the resort until we tested negative again. We also met in the lobby around other guests and staff, all masked.

      Regarding personal safety – we did several things. We’d video chatted for something like 130 hours by the time we actually met, that doesn’t include audio calls, emails or texts. Part of those 130 hours were video calls with each other’s parents – both as a precaution and so we could meet each other’s families. We also exchanged passport scans which we shared with our families. Additionally, we shared our hotel and suite number (yes, we had separate beds as a precaution) and flight info with our families.

      The practice of FIRE is based around evaluating past results and trusting that the future expectations will reflect past performance. Liam and I had spent nearly the equivalent of a full month of 40 hour work weeks video chatting, spread out over 3 months. I’d met his mom, seen multiple videos of his niece and nephew and seen his workplace.

      While this could have ended horribly, it would have been despite extensive protective measures, after a very committed, very long con. I’ve lived in New York City for 15 years, and part of that existence has taught me that trusting people is the only way to build happiness in this chaotic, intense place. While I don’t think your fear is at all misplaced, I’m 1000% glad that I trusted Liam and that we’ll be able to build a life and family together. I wouldn’t change a thing.

      1. Hey Rebecca. I’m happy for both you and Liam. It’s just reading what I read did not sit well with me. The two of you may have thought it through (good that you each had a room at the hotel – that’s not the impression I had from the blog article above), there are a lot of really stupid and naive people out there. We hear about them every day in the news. Trust definitely has to be earned. Apparently, I’m pretty much the only party pooper (shrug) on here but at least I feel that there’s a bit more balance as a result.

      2. Rebecca thanks for this detailed response to the safety precautions you both took. As a single woman, I am also very cautious when I’m meeting for a date. Your list has given me some new ideas about tools that I can add to the “security toolbox”. I’m so happy that it worked out for you and Liam. I wish you a long, happy and adventure filled relationship. Hearing your story has renewed my hopes that it might be my turn some day.

        1. Hey Veronica, it’s Rebecca – That sentiment of it being “my turn” really rings true to me. I wish I had a recipe for success on this front, but I don’t. I just didn’t give up and tried new things when they came my way – ie FireDating. I know there are around a dozen or so couples in about a year of the website being up, so maybe worth joining! Wishing you luck!

          1. So happy for you two and it’s lovely story! I met my husband through an app as well, and it went FAST too, so I totally understand how you guys felt and went through.

  6. Hi All. As the Godfather JL Collins once said about partners, “never marry one!” As said, finances are literally the #1 thing couples fight about. Using this dimension of compatibility as a foundation and yes marketing a platform is a great idea. Bravo, Viktor.

    I’m still curious to see how much of the next generation (I’m 41) will embrace FIRE. It takes a lot of discipline and our culture celebrates consumer debt and stuff so much. I guess time will tell. Good luck with your platform.

    1. Thank you! I don’t think there was any grand plan though, it just sounded like a fun idea and an opportunity to improve people lives 🙂

  7. On an average and in a general population…

    Successful partnerships are composed of members who are complementing of each other…

    Two of a kind does not always translate to a long term success. Most of them spent an extraordinary precious time and resource to out-do each other.

    If one of the couple in this love story can ease back on the FIRE pedal…

    These love birds will have a good life.

    Good luck kids!

  8. Great post! Enjoyed it very much, similarly to your aforementioned article about the website.

    For anyone skeptical about trying this awesome site, I highly recommend it.

    In fact, I signed up for FIREdating.me about a year ago to increase my FIRE network, as the I found the social media communities a bit impersonal, and built several strong friendships. The cherry on top is that I ended up meeting the love of my life as well! 🔥💘

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