Swipe Right: A Northern Love Story

I never thought I’d get married, and I certainly never thought I’d meet my husband in a town of 40,000 in northern Canada, but the fates of the universe had different ideas.

I’ve traveled a lot over the years, I’ve visited 55 different countries and Canada is the 12th country I’ve lived in. I’ve always been alone and was pretty certain I was always going to be.

From my article in What’s up Yukon, “Swipe Left, Swipe Right” (2017), on the difficulties of Tinder dating in the Yukon, I figured if Whitehorse was to be my home, then I was going to be single.

The fresh Tinder “meat” would arrive in spring, and shortly afterwards you’d swipe out of your possible matches within days. If you did actually match with someone, it was often with an inappropriate solicitation of dick pics or requesting my “bits” pics. No thank you! Block. Ignore. Repeat.

Then one day I was enjoying a glass of wine (or five) when this guy named Ryan popped up. Unable to see his face (as his primary photo was a cat on his face), his profile and pictures made me smile and outwardly giggle.

Swipe Right and instantly match.

Nothing shocking there. As females, we actually review Tinder profiles, debate in our heads before committing to a left or right response. Some men, on the other hand, seem to just swipe, swipe, swipe—the splatter-gun approach, where you throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

Instantly we start chatting, and either he’s hilariously funny or I’m a tad bit intoxicated—or it’s a mixture of both. We chat some more and eventually realize we live 250 metres away from each other in Riverdale!

I figure I should meet this guy (to verify he’s not a weirdo) and invite him over. 

Directions: Go ’round the back of the house … there’s a door that leads to the basement down the stairs.

Ryan eventually makes it to my apartment and said, “I really thought I was being catfished or I was going to be killed when you said to come to a basement in the dark.”

We laughed that I was not, in fact, a killer of Tinder men, and I realized this guy was at least a legit human and that we should go on a date.

The next day we decided to go for a mountain bike ride. He pulled up in his black truck and we noticed we had the exact same bike! If nothing tells you destiny like two cheap people owning the same green giant Fathom 2 mountain bike, then nothing will.

I’ve always been one to go 100 percent into anything I try. As such, I was all in. Ryan and I practically lived together once we met and he moved into my newly purchased condo. 

What I learnt very quickly is how annoying another person can be! Seriously, I had been alone my entire life, and even when I shared dormitory rooms I would always have my own private space. Now I would have to share everything! It was extremely overwhelming. Did you know that men don’t know what a laundry basket is?

There were a lot of other overwhelming things happening … I had just bought a condo, started a new job … new everything. I had a mental breakdown!

Throughout my life I’ve experienced anxiety and depression, but had just dealt with it. I’d run away and live somewhere else, be someone else. But this time was different. I didn’t want to be or feel this way. I wanted to keep Ryan in my life and knew that if I didn’t change or try to deal with this stuff, he would run away.

One night I was extremely low … tears streaming down my face and the incomprehensible desire for death, soI woke Ryan up from bed. “What’s wrong?” he asked. I erupted into tears and couldn’t speak. He hugged me and I never knew I wanted to be hugged so badly. He had no idea how to deal with me … I didn’t even know how to deal with me. I just needed to get through it. “I love you,” he said as he kissed my forehead.

I picked up the phone and got into therapy. Therapy helped me start to address things that have happened and to process feelings. I was put on medication to help and it changed/saved my life. I continue to take them to this day and will possibly take them forever.

One day I looked at Ryan and I knew I wanted to have him in my life as long as he would let me. He’d already told me that he knew he loved me, straight away, but didn’t want to scare me off by telling me. So I decided I was going to ask him to marry me.

Did you know there are very few websites to help women propose to men—yet thousands for men to propose to women? It made it very challenging to figure out what I was supposed to do.

Obviously, keeping it secret was the first step. The second was asking for permission.

I phoned Ryan’s mum and asked her over the phone if I could ask for Ryan’s hand in marriage. “Yes!” she cried.

Now the ring. What do men want? Websites were telling me the masterful ways to figure out a woman’s ring size or the type of ring she wants, but nothing about men. Until I came across one that said, “Men don’t care, just get something cheap and buy something nicer later.” OK. So I did. The tricky part was living with someone and hiding the ring. It was no easy feat!

The ring was to be delivered in the post, and everytime I received a package, Ryan would watch me open it. How would I get him not to watch me open this one? How could I not give away that it was a ring!

Luckily, the company had sent a free charm necklace with the ring. I opened it stealthily and pulled it out and was like, This is what I bought, as I took the package and hid the ring box. Phew!

The next step … When and where?

When Ryan and I started dating, I told him that I was a traveler and always will be. My dream was to visit every country in the world. He had been to the US but had never really traveled, so I wanted to make sure he was on-board with this change. He jumped in with two feet and we booked our first trip to Cuba. What a perfect place to pop the question! Cienfuegos, Cuba, on January 10, 2020 (Ryan’s birthday).

We had just arrived at our fancy hotel after a hot, sticky shared taxi ride from Viñales. When we arrived at the hotel, the owner started to talk with Ryan. “Oh no!” I interrupted and told Ryan to check in, have a shower and I would talk with the owner.

“I’m the one proposing!” I exclaimed to the owner.

“Oh, okay, okay,” he said, confused that a woman was doing the proposing. “So, we have your special wine here,” he said. We went over the plan and I headed to our room.

The bed was covered in red rose petals in the shape of two hearts, and there was a bouquet of red roses. Our room was stunning. I was really nervous because today was the day I would ask him.

Ryan came down the stairs from his shower and I got my fancy red dress, quickly showered and got changed and came down the stairs.

“Hey, Ryan, can I read you something?” I asked. He nodded as I pulled out my phone. I took a breath … ready to read what I had written down …

I love you, and every day since I've met you, I can't remember being so happy.
You've been there at my darkest, lowest moments, but you love me anyway.
You put up with all my flaws and crazy, and just encourage and support me to be happy and healthy.
I love that you will do and go to anything I say, and even when it's a horrible experience or weird as f***, we laugh and remember the good and bad moments … The best part is we did it together.
I want to see and be with you every day. You give me everything I ever wanted in life.
You are the most sexy, smart, funny weirdo I've ever met.
You are my best friend.
I'm so lucky I found you, my partner in crime … my partner in life.
I can't imagine my life without you.
I want to celebrate that love with you and with our friends and family.
So I want to ask you ... Will you marry me?

I pulled out the ring as I got down on one knee. Ryan was crying and nodded yes as I put the ring on his finger. We kissed and I got the champagne and we toasted to our lives together.

Covid happens, and life goes pretty topsy turvy. All of our trips were canceled. Instead, I sold my condo, we bought a house and we got two dogs and a cat. Our original wedding was for August 2020. It got pushed to May 2021, and then finally we married each other on August 28, 2021.

I sometimes can’t believe everything that’s happened. Life has thrown some curveballs our way and it hasn’t been easy. But I think to myself, Of all the things that had to happen in my life, and all the things in Ryan’s, so that we would meet at that moment in time, when we did, was pretty incredible.

The day before, I may have swiped left instead of right. Of all the places in all the world, I met the love of my life in a northern Canadian city of 40,000 people.

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