"How did you two meet?"

This is the inevitable first question to new (or no-so-new) couples. It's partly due to curiosity, partly to see what "worked" for them, and partly because it seems like a natural first question. But my question is this: Should this be what we ask couples? Why is it that so many people place such weight on where or how a couple met, as if that tells us something about their relationship? We hear things like this all the time:

  • "She met her husband on Match.com, so it must work to find long-term relationships."
  • "He got stalked by someone on Grindr, so I'll never try that app. It's too scary!"
  • "I got stood up by a guy on OkCupid, so I think I'll delete my profile from that site immediately."
  • "They met on Tinder?! Wow! I thought it was just a hook-up site. Guess not."
  • "I never thought someone like her would join Bumble... interesting."

It's amazing how much people attribute the quality of a relationship, or a person, to how the couple met. Of course it's wonderful when two people meet online! (As an online dating coach, it obviously makes me happy.) But, does their relationship work out because they used Match.com or Bumble? Of course not! It works out because the two people are compatible, are able to work out their issues, and know how to communicate (we hope, anyway). The same goes for relationships that don't work out. If you met someone at church, dated for six months, and then decided to part ways, then would you assume that church is a terrible place to meet a compatible partner? Not even remotely.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Each story is just that — a story. For every love story, there's a "meh" story. For every Match.com couple, there's a co-workers couple. And for every Hinge breakup, there's a potluck dinner breakup. None of these stories actually has anything to do with the venue in which the couple met — it has to do with the couple itself.

So, let's stop lingering on or making assumptions about how people met now that we know how little relevance it has. Let's instead find out what they love about each other, how they overcome their differences, and what they enjoy doing together on the weekends. How they met is only one data point. A small one. Each day in the relationship, however, provides the necessary context for knowing what works and what doesn't in the relationship. And that has nothing to do with how the couple met.

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. ©2020 Erika Ettin Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.