Love at first site: Four Irish couples who found love online
A casual date can turn into a happily ever after, writes Denise Smith, who met four couples that found love online.
For the unlucky-in-love, Tinder can be a wasteland of crotch shots, perverted pick-up lines and creeps... but then, there are the success stories — the 'we matched, we met and fell in love' sagas that we hear, but never quite believe.
If you still think that love can’t be found online, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the couples whose love stories began on Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Grindr. And yes, they all live happily ever after...
Jillian and Ben
When Jillian Byrne (35) moved to Australia 10 years ago, she had no idea she’d find the love of her life on Tinder. Engaged and planning an October wedding, the Tallaght native explains how chance led her to Aussie man Ben Eldridge (36).
"I was on Tinder for about six months. I was chatting to a few people but didn’t go on any dates when I decided, ‘Right, I have had enough — I am over it!'
"But then, one night, I was sitting at home and I just said, 'I will go on it again,' and I ended up going on two dates… and the second date was with Ben.
"Ben told me he fell for me because I was gorgeous — my eyes and smile got to him and he loved that I was Irish.
"For me, I found him very attractive and I loved his cheeky smile. I knew he had a sense of humour because he had funny quotes on his profile.
"We met in a restaurant in Coogee Beach in Sydney. From the beginning, it was all chat — there were no awkward moments. His family actually originated from Galway, so he has that Irish banter.
"For our second date, we went for a swim at Coogee Beach. My family were visiting at the time from Ireland, so when he dropped me home, he came in for a chat. My brother wanted to go to the races and he said, 'I will go with you,' and they went off for the day. Of course, my brother loved him.
"I instantly knew that there was something there.
"Last October, we went to Hamilton Island in Australia and he proposed. His parents were on the holiday with us and his dad recorded the whole thing so I could show my family at home.
"We’ve been together 15 months so it has been a whirlwind romance.
"You hear these horror stories and that people are only on it for one-night stands, but you hear about so many relationships coming from Tinder too.
"When I told my mam I’d met a guy on Tinder, initially she said, 'He could have been crazy,' but she fell in love with him when they met. My mam always knows.
Of course, when she heard that he was Australian, she knew I wouldn’t be coming home to settle in Ireland.
"We are getting married on October 2 in Boyne Hill House in Navan. We hired the estate for three days — there are about 30 Aussies coming home and then we will have a party when we get back to Australia.
"Ben is definitely the love of my life — I’ve never met another man like him; he is so kind.
"Just think: he could have had a bad photo and I could have swiped left!
"My advice to people searching on Tinder for love would be:
- Read profiles on guys you’re 50/50 about before swiping — there might be something information there to persuade you to swipe right
- Arrange a date soon after a match — that way you know if you have a connection — instead of wasting time texting for weeks
- Be yourself on a date. Be honest as to why you’re on Tinder — whether it’s to meet friends, have fun, or you’re looking for a relationship/husband. (I was upfront with Ben from the start and said I was looking for a person to spend the rest of my life with. I was ready to settle down. That was on our first date.)
- Sit there and swipe left constantly just based on that first-photo look
- Don’t match with a person you like and wait for them to make the first move to say hi. (Ladies, it’s 2017 — it’s okay to ask guys out on a date on Tinder)
- Don’t go on a second date if you don’t like the guy after the first. Be polite. Unmatch and keep swiping for Mr Right.
Sarah and Luke
Sarah Shortt (32) from Wicklow had to vanquish her fair share of ‘oddballs’ before she found her prince charming, Luke (35), on Plenty of Fish.
"I was in a relationship for nine years and suddenly I was single. My little girl, Ella, who is five-years-old, was two at the time and my friend suggested I should join Plenty of Fish.
"Luke was the first person I ever messaged because I was waiting for people to message me. We got talking and, a week later, we went on a date.
"We have been together nearly four years now. We got engaged in April, and he is amazing in every way and like a father to my little girl.
"I fell pregnant and now we have a six-month-old baby together. Eva has completed our family.
"I did fancy him straight away from his pictures and, when we chatted, I knew he was really funny and good craic.
"There is still this taboo that it is a bit freaky meeting someone online but, for me, it was a genuine thing. I was in a relationship for nine years, so I wasn’t used to going out and I didn’t want to have to go to clubs and bars to meet people.
"Luke proposed in Glendalough; he really is a softie. Even though he was born on Valentine’s Day, the romance wouldn’t come naturally. His mam was going to call him Valentine, so he had a lucky escape.
"We are planning on buying a house this year and then the wedding will be next. You definitely can find your perfect match online!”
Nikki and Paul
It was case of opposites attract when Nikki McLacuchlan, 23, from Cork fell head over heels for navy man Paul O’Grady, 23.
"I was only recently out of a relationship and decided to sign up to Tinder but I was never looking for anything serious. Then, last January I matched with Luke and everything changed forever.
"He was the complete opposite to my normal type, I normally go for dark, short guys but he had these amazing bright blue eyes, he was blonde and so tall. He jumped out at me and I swiped right without hesitation.
"We were talking back and forth for two weeks, he is from Wexford but based in Cork with the Navy so it was two weeks before we went on our first date.
"Straight away we hit it off, we are literally the boy and girl version of each other.
"A year on and now we’re having a baby, it's absolutely surreal.
"We went for our 12 week scan last week and I got a notification from Facebook to say on this day, Paul O'Grady added you as a friend and we couldn’t believe it.
"So much has changed in a year. Every day feels like Valentine's Day now.”
Jason and Andrew
Newly weds Jason Burke-Hannon, 31, and Andrew Burke-Hannon, 29, who live in Carlow met and fell in love after signing up to the popular hook-up app Grindr.
"Myself and Jason met on Grindr, Yes, Grindr. Neither of us imagined we’d meet our husband on Grindr because of stories we'd heard about the app.
"It was August 2011 when we connected. We spoke for a couple of weeks before actually going on our first date. We went to Eddie Rockets and the Cinema. We are both huge Sarah Jessica Parker fans so we saw 'I don’t know how she does it'. The date went great; it was natural and we had so much in common.
"From then on we did the usual things, our first European Holiday together was Disneyland Paris – we are still big kids at heart. From there we went on our first USA Holiday for Jason’s 30th. We spent our first Christmas together, which is when we found out that our fathers' grew up together. They were Next door neighbours.
"In March 2013, I proposed to Jason and of course he said yes. We instantly started to plan our big day and to save for this Jason moved in with me in my family home in Clondalkin. We booked our Wedding and started the dreaded saving.
"In November, we moved back to Carlow where Jason is from to set up our little life.
We had our civil partnership on November 14, 2014 and it was the most amazing day. We loved every minute of it.
In May 2015 the people of Ireland voted on Marriage Equality and thankfully it was a massive yes. And, with that we decided we wanted to 'upgrade' our Civil Partnership to a good old Civil Marriage and we did that on our Anniversary in November 2016.
Are we happy we downloaded Grindr? Definitely."