When Nicole was filling out her online dating profile, she decided on three basic requirements for any dating partner. He had to be Catholic, enjoy hiking and own a dog--and not just any dog--but specifically a black lab.
At that same time, Cade was praying a novena to St. Therese the Little Flower for "a little light in life" when he got a message from Nicole.
The message was filled with humor and immediately caught Cade's eye due to a question Nicole had raised--did he have a dog? Cade replied that he did have a dog and they messaged back and forth for a few days.
After several shorter messages, Nicole replied with a long message, but instead of replying via email Cade decided to reply with his phone number. Nicole, normally apprehensive about releasing contact information exchanged text messages and set up a Skype date.
It was on the second Skype date that Nicole found out that Cade's dog, Bella was a black lab. There was only one hurdle left to clear on her list of requirements. "Do you like hiking?" she asked Cade. When he replied that he went hiking with Bella, Nicole was convinced he was "The One."
Their love for the outdoors and for dogs were a great starting point, but they also connected on the deeper levels of faith. Nicole also had a deep love for St. Therese and even owned rose-shaped rosary beads from the Little Flower's burial site. St. Therese's feast date in the Extraordinary Rite calendar, is October 3 which was the same date they committed to each other as a couple.
Even though distance was still a big issue, they decided to give a long-distance relationship a real chance. Cade decided to fly to Connecticut before Christmas, and Nicole made a return visit for New Year's.
The time spent in person convinced them that the personal chemistry that came through on Skype was indeed the real thing. Something else that convinced them was that Cade's mother and Nicole's father--normally tough people to please when it came to dating prospects--liked what they saw.
Cade and Nicole continued to work through the unique challenges that a long-distance relationship presents. "Skype was an asset to us because it helped keep us feeling like we were not that far away from one another," Nicole recalled.
The financial strain of flying back and forth was no small obstacle either. But between their flights back and forth, and what amounted to literally hundreds of hours of Skype time over the next five months, Cade was ready to make Easter weekend extra special. He flew north, and they spent Easter weekend with her family. After the Easter Mass Cade proposed.
Nicole was delighted to not only get the proposal, but to receive a ring she had wanted since high school. "I went on a trip to Boston," she recalled, thinking back to a trip her sophomore year. "I was on a Duck Tour and the Captain was giving us the history of Boston. He said Shreve, Crump & Low was the oldest jeweler in the U.S." Nicole was impressed, and in the coming years, she continually visited the website and fell in love with a particular ring. "I never wanted to bring up the ring that I wanted (to Cade)," she said. "But since he asked..."
When the ring began to show up as "sold", Nicole didn't get suspcious. "Cade didn't drop any hints and he's bad at keeping surprises," she said. Nicole recalled being told by friends and professors that "men who are about to propose act differenlty." In Cade's case, that meant being "cool as a cucumber" in Nicole's words and never tipping his hand that he had bought the ring she wanted since she was in high school.
The long-distance challenge is still one that has a few more hurdles to overcome. Cade and Nicole are fortunate to work with priests in the pre-Cana program who understand their situation and are helping them with their marriage prep work. The short-term plan is for Nicole to move to Texas, where he works for the city government and she is preparing for a career as a teacher. An eventual move back to Connecticut is possible and something they will work out together.
Nicole's suggestion to others on CatholicMatch dealing with or considering a long-distance relationship is: "Skype, talk on the phone, and keep communication constantly going." It's safe to say that neither Cade nor Nicole expected their true love would be a 25-hour drive away, but that's the way it worked out. "Where there is a will and devotion there is a way," Nicole said.
She hastened to add that a strong faith in long-distance possibilities also includes proper safety precautions. Regardless of how much trust has been built up over Skype, she and Cade both believe that the first meeting should take place in the presence of a friend or family member. But precautions don't have to be a reason not to act. "Send a message to someone despite their distance limit," Nicole suggested. "Sometimes, someone will go the extra mile for you." Especially if that mile is done hiking with a black lab.