Why Meet-Cutes Matter in the Age of Online Dating

A fun or funny 'how we met' story could spark your next relationship

<p>Studio4 / Getty Images</p>

Studio4 / Getty Images

Like any other day in 2008, Dana was walking around her Chicago neighborhood with her new puppy, a black lab. By chance, she walked past a man, Brett, who was walking his Shih Tzu puppy. Over a few weeks, the two kept encountering each other on dog walks, until one day, they realized both their dogs were named Tucker.

The coincidence sparked a conversation and Brett asked Dana on a date. She said “yes.” Their courtship lasted 3 years and in 2011, they got married. A special wedding photo was dedicated to their dogs: Big Tuck and Little Tuck.

Funny and charming “how we met” stories, also called “meet-cutes” like Dana’s and Brett’s can help foster the development of a relationship. “Every love story is unique, and often, it’s the meet-cute that sets the stage for the romance that blossoms,” says Amie Leadingham, certified relationship coach.

Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship and professor at Oakland University in Michigan, said how people meet doesn’t determine how a
relationship will develop, but rather it is what transpired during their entire dating journey that allows them to have a shared fun, funny, or romantic story to share with others.

“When couples have this joint full story, they have a shared meaning about their relationship and
how it began that they can jointly tell and laugh about together,” Orbuch says.

Famous Rom-Com Meet-Cutes

In many romantic comedies, there are funny or charming first encounters between two characters that lead to a relationship.

For instance, in the infamous movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” characters of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal meet on a road trip from Chicago to New York that was arranged by a mutual acquaintance who knew they were both headed to the same city. The two don’t like each other, but five years later, they cross paths on a flight and then five years after that they run into each other at a bookstore, which leads to getting coffee and eventually romance.

"Every love story is unique, and often, it’s the meet-cute that sets the stage for the romance that blossoms."

Amie Leadingham, Relationship coach

In “The Big Stick,” characters of Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan meet after she heckles him while he is performing a stand-up comedy act. When he approaches her about it afterwards, his annoyance turns to sparks.

In “Hitch,” Will Smith plays a date doctor who pretends to be the boyfriend of Eva Mendes’ character when he sees her being hit on by another guy at the bar. At first, she is just as annoyed by Smith’s character, but eventually, they end up together.

Related: What Happens When We Feel Romantic Chemistry, and How Much Does It Matter?

Do Fate and Serendipity in Meet-Cutes Matter?

Leadingham says a meet-cute is not just about two people crossing paths but also about how destiny pulls them toward each other at the right moment when both are open and available for love.

“And of course, these stories highlight memorable moments where two souls serendipitously meet and fall absolutely in love,” she says. “It’s like a fantastic rom-com real-life story.”

Fate also plays a big part, says Connell Barrett, founder and executive coach of Dating Transformation. He points to a client of his Jason, who met his now-partner Jessica, on a commuter train.

“They were sitting on opposite sides of an elderly woman who had dozed off and started loudly snoring. Jason and Jessica started talking because they could not help but smile and laugh at this loud, snoring woman,” says Barrett. “Fate made sure that they sat together, but fate also had that woman snoring loudly.”

However, he notes that fate can be helped by in-person interactions. “You have to go out into the
world and give fate a chance,” he says. When meet-cutes do happen, they can make a couple feel like they were meant to be together.

“After all, it’s unlikely that in 50 years you will gather your grandkids and say, ‘Let me tell you about how I swiped-right on your grandma’s profile.’ But if you met because you were paired up in a dance class you both took on a random Wednesday night, that story will last a lifetime,” says Barrett.

Related: Karmic Relationships: Navigating Intense Connections for Spiritual Growth

How Putting Yourself Out There Can Help You Meet Someone

Putting yourself out in the real world can increase your chances of meeting someone you might be romantically interested in, says Orbuch. However, she says meeting that person isn’t necessarily about the meet-cute.

“Instead, the mere-exposure in psychology states that when you see the same people often (repeatedly) you can begin to feel familiar with them, and then you're more likely to talk and start liking them,” she says.

In other words, the contact or repeated exposure to others increases liking them and the likelihood to meet someone that you might be romantically interested in. “So, join a group that meets regularly, an interest of yours that meets face-to-face in real life—that is what will increase your chances of meeting someone you might be romantically interested in,” Orbuch says.

Ways to Expose Yourself to a Potential Meet-Cute

  • Instead of having lunch at your desk, Barrett says go to a bustling restaurant and sit at the bar—who knows who might sit next to you.

  • Find a passion project, take up a hobby, or join a group that puts you in direct contact with other people. “Join a soccer league or take an Italian-cooking class or sign up for an acting or improv class. Or take dance lessons,” says Barrett.

  • Embrace the art of being present with your surroundings. “Keep your head up and your device down, and engage with the world. Take your headphones off when you are at the gym and start connecting,” says Leadingham.

  • Go to new places, such as a bookstore, art workshop, restaurant, or a local event. “Spark up conversations and initiate dialogue with a genuine compliment or an insightful reflection,” says Leadingham. “It’s your opportunity to brighten someone’s day…and possibly start your own meet-cute story.”

Dating Apps Can Initiate In-Person Meet-Cutes

Online dating is the biggest enemy of the meet-cute because a majority of people meet and date on dating apps, says Barrett.

“Online dating has made it easy for many singles to get dates and to swipe until their dating dance-card is full. But the consequence has been a stark decrease in meet-cutes,” he says. “It used to be, two singles would lock eyes at a grocery store, coffee shop, or a bar, and then they would talk. But online dating has reconditioned us to avoid social encounters with strangers and look for love online.”

But you don’t have to ditch dating apps completely. In fact, according to a report from Pew Research Center, one-in-ten partnered adults (those who are married, living with a partner, or in a committed romantic relationship) met their partner on a dating site or app.

Leadingham says if you’re spending 100 percent of your time inside and only using a dating app to connect, then you’re not giving yourself opportunities to connect with people in person. 

“That is why I always recommend doing more than just online dating, ensuring singles get out of the house and meet people in person too. Whether doing an activity they love or trying a new hobby, the key is to put yourself in a situation to create meaningful connections,” she says.

"Online dating has made it easy for many singles to get dates and to swipe until their dating dance-card is full. But the consequence has been a stark decrease in meet-cutes,"

Cornell Barrett, founder and executive coach of Dating Transformation

She adds that there can be serendipitous moments with online dating, using her own experience as an example. Before she became a dating coach, she met her husband through an online dating app. “I canceled my date with him at the last minute due to having cold feet, and I ended up calling him. He actually picked up the phone, and I sat there explaining my nervousness and asked him if he would still like to meet in person. He hesitantly met me,” she says.

On the date, she recalls him being standoffish at first, but as the hours passed, they began falling for each other. “He could have decided not to go on that date with me after my confusing, mixed messages. But he did. And as fate would have it, our souls aligned as a couple, and we fell madly in love. Thirteen years later, we are still going strong.”

Whether a couple meets online, in person, fixed up, or through a matchmaker, Orbuch says, “it’s
the story that they create together about how their relationship started and developed that is important.”

Read Next: Verywell Loved: Ditching the Dating Apps

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.