A Modern-Day Long-Distance Love Story A few years ago, Elizabeth Schunck was living near Detroit, stuck in an unhappy marriage and feeling more lonely than she says she'd ever been. Looking for connection, she went on a random chat app.
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A Modern-Day Long-Distance Love Story

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A Modern-Day Long-Distance Love Story

A Modern-Day Long-Distance Love Story

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now the story of a modern-day love affair - one in which the couple doesn't even get to hug each other until nine months into the relationship because they had never met in person.

ELIZABETH SCHUNCK: Being in love with someone that you've never touched before is scary and weird.

MARTIN: That's Elizabeth Schunck. A couple of years ago, she was living outside Detroit. Her marriage was falling apart. And she says she was more lonely than she had ever been in her life.

SCHUNCK: I think that had a lot to do with why I started seeking relationships online. I think that feeling of isolation made me so hungry for some kind of verbal interaction with someone on a deeper level that I was willing to put myself out there and say hi to someone on Omegle.

MARTIN: Omegle is this chat app that pairs you with strangers to have conversations. And the second person that Elizabeth chatted with on this changed her life. His name is David Reese (ph).

SCHUNCK: I remember being like, hi, there, stranger.

(SOUNDBITE OF PARRONDO SONG "I'M LOST WHEN YOU SLEEP")

SCHUNCK: First thing he asked was ASL.

DAVID REESE: ASL stands for age, sex, location.

SCHUNCK: Twenty-eight.

RESSE: Twenty-two.

SCHUNCK: Women.

RESSE: Male from...

SCHUNCK: Outside of Detroit.

RESSE: South Wales.

(SOUNDBITE OF PARRONDO SONG "I'M LOST WHEN YOU SLEEP")

SCHUNCK: So yeah, I was like, OK, is that like England or something?

RESSE: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHUNCK: David and I talk to each other every single day. It was like a door opened, and light started coming through that door. And it was him there. And I just felt like a person again.

I'm about to call David. I'm logging into my computer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SKYPE RINGTONE)

SCHUNCK: Well, hey, there.

RESSE: Hey, cutie.

The way we stayed in contact was very much a sequence of using Snapchat through the day. And then when the two of us were off work, we would call each other on Skype and just talk. And we would talk for hours and hours.

I love your hair.

SCHUNCK: My hair?

Before I'd met him, I had only seen him in two dimensions. So there's just this energy that's lost. I would pine for him and miss him, and I love him. And I've never even touched his skin before. I don't even know what he smells like. And I was so worried that some biological sense inside me was going to be like this person does not smell like a good mate for you, you know?

RESSE: It was around in the summer, I think, we just entertained the idea of wanting to meet. And Elizabeth took the first step and said, I want to meet you. Is that OK? I was like that's more than OK. I want to meet you too.

SCHUNCK: So I was just going to go to Wales, and hopefully it worked out. And there's a long-distance subreddit, and I wanted to ask them, how do you get over the anxiety of meeting this person that you don't know but you do know?

RESSE: So me being the detective that I am, I googled Reddit long-distance relationships.

SCHUNCK: The headline was I've fallen in love from someone across the ocean.

RESSE: I opened it up, and I read it out to her.

SCHUNCK: And he looked up at me, and he said...

RESSE: I love you too, Elizabeth.

SCHUNCK: (Laughter).

RESSE: And I think it took her a second to process that.

SCHUNCK: And I said, I love you, too. I said this is crazy. I miss you, and I love you. And I've never even met you before.

Hi.

So I remember walking through the gate with my luggage...

This is a tiny airport.

...And seeing him. He was sitting down in a chair.

RESSE: And as soon as I saw her, I thought, oh, my gosh, she's here.

SCHUNCK: He shot up out of the chair, and he came like bounding over to me. And we just had this like epic hug.

RESSE: I actually said to her - I said you're here.

SCHUNCK: I am here.

And I remember smelling him for the first time. And I was like, ah, thank goodness. He smells good, OK, yay.

All right, let's go.

(SOUNDBITE OF PARRONDO SONG "I'M LOST WHEN YOU SLEEP")

SCHUNCK: In olden times, when you'd have a long-distance relationship, you'd send romantic love letters back and forth. And then the couple has those love letters that they can reflect back on later in life. And I think that we'll look back on the way that we communicated now in the same romantic light - that this is the love letter of our time - Snapchat, iMessage, email. Emails are the love letters of our time period.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M LOST WHEN YOU SLEEP")

PARRONDO: (Singing) I've never seen this picture of you.

RESSE: I love you.

SCHUNCK: Love you.

RESSE: Bye.

SCHUNCK: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M LOST WHEN YOU SLEEP")

PARRONDO: (Singing) Who could recognize you?

MARTIN: There's a blissful epilogue to this story. Elizabeth Schunck and David Reese are now engaged. David bought a house for them in Wales, and Elizabeth plans to move there later this year. For more on our dating series, What Makes Us Click, you can check out npr.org.

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