Anna had come to Savannah, Ga., to open an office for her employer and was living a new apartment complex chosen for her by the company as part of a quick move. Although easy in terms of logistics, from a friendship standpoint the area was desolate. In talking with her it quickly becomes apparent that Anna is not one to sit around waiting for life to happen to her. Rather, she is a go-getter, and this case was no different. “I’ve got to figure out how to make friends and meet people my own age” she thought.
The online world of social networking and relationship-building was familiar to her and for the best of reasons—her sister had found her husband through another dating site. It was also the best choice for Anna, not just in finding a prospective spouse, but also in making friends in a new place. Furthermore, the best bars and general pulse of life, were a decent drive off, and “I didn’t want to meet someone in a bar anyway.” She approached Catholic Match with a positive outlook, but was not fixated on a need to find her future husband immediately. “I thought it would be fun to meet new men with a common interest (being Catholic), and even if we didn’t have a spark we might be come good friends.”
Phil was gung-ho, with the enthusiasm one would expect of a loyal soldier in the U.S. Army. He came to Catholic Match determined to find “the one.” He perused Anna’s profile, liked what he saw, and sent her a message. It was “impossibly sweet”, she recalled. But, she thought, anyone can sound sweet in an e-mail message. Determined to find out more, Anna did a little sleuthing. Phil’s photo showed him in his Army uniform, which had his last name sewn on it. Anna went to Facebook, and looked him up. And indeed, she liked what she saw as well.
After being given her number, Phil text-messaged Anna. Not one who is into text message conversations—“It’s fine for a quick ‘I’ll be late’, but not for anything more’, she said as she and the staff writer both laughed about their disinterest in the texting revolution—she just called him right back and caught him a little off-guard.
They had their first date—though we must note it was a “still just friends” date, we met on the steps of the Jepson Center for the Arts, building on a shared interest. They met with a handshake and walked around the downtown area getting to know each other in person. They walked…and they walked…and they walked. Phil started to show a little bit of limp. That’s when Anna remembered he’d had to do a 13-mile backpack walk for the Army that morning. They were still “just friends”, but Phil’s going the extra mile—or miles in this case—was a clear sign of someone who had a deeper interest, as did Anna.
“He became my best friend”, she said.
Having met in mid-September, they had each more or less cleared the decks of their lives for each other and by December they were exclusive. On the surface, it looks neat and clean, but Phil was moving a little more slowly, which in hindsight was a good thing. “I wasn’t sure how he felt”, Anna recalled. “I knew I liked him and wanted to be more than friends, but figured that if he didn’t feel the same I still wanted him in my life as a dear friend.” As the calendar inched toward the New Year, Phil planned to come down and spend time with her and her family in Florida. “I was wondering how I should introduce him to my family”, she said. “I mean I can’t call the guy my boyfriend if he hasn’t kissed me.” But she had strong allies—Phil’s friends, who were pushing him to make a move. “Just do it”, they told him. Before arriving to meet Anna’s family, he made his intentions and feelings clear, and all doubt was removed.
As 2009 arrived, Phil and Anna moved forward as a couple. In September, they came full-circle on the one-year anniversary of their first date. On that day, they went for a walk in the old neighborhoods of Savannah, which are full of the historic architecture both Anna and Phil enjoy. Much to Anna’s surprise, Phil entered the grounds of one of the historic homes, and beckoned for Anna to follow. Anna thought “you can’t go in there”, but, unbeknownst to her, Phil had already worked it out with the owners. They entered the yard and began to walk about. It was there he pulled out the ring and proposed. “It didn’t take him long”, she laughed later, “he was pretty nervous, the ring must have been burning a hole in his pocket, and within a few minutes we were engaged to be married.”
One reason the marriage went forward was that Anna and Phil were both convinced that it was not a deployment proposal; knowing Phil was coming up on being sent to Iraq for a year, they didn’t want to get engaged just to stay together. With much love and confidence the two have moved forward with their plans for when he returns home. As this story goes online, Phil is currently serving his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and we hope the Catholic Match community will pray for him and his fiancee. In the meantime, they are preparing for their wedding, to be held in Savannah on February 19, 2011. Their relationship happened because they both made a choice to actively seek that special match.