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Love Made Me Do It: Grand Gestures to Cure Your Cynicism

From rogue flights to strange cities to ignoring lactose intolerance

02.07.17
Tory Burch Love Relentlessly Perfume Man Repeller-24

In partnership with Tory Burch.

I love love. I know you’re supposed to roll your eyes when you see a way-too-happy couple making out on a corner under a shared umbrella, but unless I fear they have bad breath, I usually want to stand under that umbrella with them. Let me feel that osmosis of your love.

When I see a dad on the playground with his kids, I grab my heart so that I don’t take a photo of them. (You never know what others will find creepy.)

Friendship! I could watch brunch-adjacent strangers bask in belly laughter all morning because it makes me think of every time I’ve been unable to breathe over a joke with friends.

I love rom-coms, happy endings and big, cozy families. I love love.

As a writer who does a lot of relationship-based interviews, I’ve realized that part of what I love about love are all of the stories that are born from the emotion. People do really weird, totally out-of-character things in the name of love, whether it’s for a parent or a kid or a friend or a partner. And then they want to tell you about it!

MR paired up with Tory Burch for the launch of the brand’s new fragrance, Love Relentlessly, to share three grand gesture stories done in the name of love. They range from WHOSE LIFE IS THIS to a tale about cheese. Grab your tissues and join me, won’t you, as we scroll through a whole lot of love.

Alison and Ilan, New York

Love Perfume Alison Man Repeller-9

As told to Amelia by Alison:

“In March of 2013 I had a chance to visit Israel. I didn’t want to go. I almost didn’t. I was in the midst of a transition: I’d just gotten out of a relationship, I wanted to quit my job, my lease on my apartment was almost up and nothing — apartment or job — was lined up.

But I went.

I met Ilan (which means tree in Hebrew) at the airport on my way to Israel. He was part of the same trip and had also just ended something. We became friends immediately and fell for one another fast over the course of ten days together. It took us both by surprise. It came out of nowhere. Previously, the idea of spending my life with someone gave me so much anxiety. I couldn’t imagine it. The night before we left Israel, I remember watching him from across the room and thinking about how I could do that with him. I felt a sense of peace and happiness and excitement.

I went home and he went to off to Europe with a backpack. He had one pair of shoes, one pair of pants, a couple of shirts and a guitar. He was a musician on perpetual tour. He had no real place to live. He lived out of a van, crashed on couches and had no real income. Meanwhile, I had to deal with my life back home.

When I returned to New York, I kept thinking that I wanted more time with him. I knew in my heart that if we had more time, we would fall in love. We talked every day, and when I finally quit, he asked me to come meet him in Paris.

Now, remember that I had no job. No apartment secured. And I had student loans (which would eventually triple). My parents are really strict. I grew up as the goody-two-shoes kind of girl, always listened to my mom and dad. I considered how terrible of an idea this was. What if I went and he broke my heart? What if he got sick of me? What if we had no connection?

Like an idiot in love, I did it. I sold some stuff to buy a ticket. It was a huge financial hit to take on a guy who I’d known for less than a week, but I took a chance.

It was awkward for like, a minute when I arrived, but we fell into place like puzzle pieces snapping together almost right away. Cooking, grocery shopping. Domestic bliss kicked in and we realized we were perfect for each other. We realized that we were meant to be.

I was only supposed to be there for 10 days. He asked me to stay longer. I knew I was in love with him but I didn’t want to tell him because I didn’t know what was actually going to happen with us. What if this was some crazy, magical fling? I’d whisper it to myself sometimes when I knew he couldn’t hear because it was painful to keep it in.

Then one night, at a cafe in Paris with music playing and candlelight and the both of us lost in each others’ eyes, two French women interrupted us in French. Ilan doesn’t speak French, but I understood them: “We can tell you are so in love with each other, and it’s so beautiful to see.” That pushed me over the edge. I told him that night and he said it back.

He asked me to stay. Reminder: I don’t have any money. No job lined up. This was a terrible idea. But the night before I was supposed to fly home, we changed my ticket. I bought a ticket from Marrakesh back to Paris two weeks from then and, with nothing booked in between, we went on an adventure to Morocco.

This seriously happened: I asked him, “Where are we going to sleep?” He said, “In each others’ arms.” He wrote a song for me about running away together and sang it for me later. I had never been so happy.

We did so many things I never dreamed of. We slept overnight in a car in a field of wildflowers under the stars. We visited Toulouse. We hitchhiked to Barcelona. I’d never hitchhiked! We caught a last minute train to Malaga by the skin of our teeth. The whole thing was out of a movie.

I was so sad when the trip was over. I didn’t know what was going to happen or when I would see him again. He gave me his favorite sweater and I gave him this amethyst necklace that I had been wearing.

He came to New York a week later. He called me to say that I was the one. He took a train to my parents’ where I had been living  (no apartment, remember) and brought a big bouquet of roses. It was real. That crazy, beautiful thing became real.

We moved in together exactly three months to the day we met and never looked back. This March it will be four years total.

He still makes me do things that I never would have done before. He always says, “If not now, when?” I guess love makes you do crazy things.

Jamie, New York

Love Perfume Tory Burch Jamie Man Repeller-11

Max and I met on Bumble. He asked for my number and never called me. But we had a mutual connection — my best friend, his former college acquaintance. They hadn’t spoken since graduation. A few months after I gave him my number, on Valentine’s Day, I had my best friend invite him to a party we were going to. She was like, “This is so awkward, we aren’t really friends anymore, we haven’t kept in touch.” I said I didn’t care. I thought he was cute. The whole thing was so out-of-character for me. But he came. He walked in the door and I went right up to him and said, “Hey, I’m Jamie.” And that’s how we met.

Max took me to an Italian restaurant for our first date and, trying to be polite, he said, “Get whatever you want.” I saw burrata on the menu, which is my favorite. We kept going out to dinner and I kept ordering it as an appetizer for us to share. It became a thing, “Max, we gotta get the burrata!” “Jamie, we gotta get the burrata!”

Three months later he found out he was moving to Hong Kong for work. That’s another out-of-character thing for me: the long distance. That we’re doing it and making it work. Back when were still in that “what are we?” mode, though, we went to dinner with a bunch of his friends and burrata was on the menu. So I said, “Max, they have burrata! We have to get it.” His friend goes, “Jamie, Max can’t eat that.” I was like, “What do you mean?” His friend replied, “He’s lactose-intolerant. He can’t eat that.”

I told this guy that Max and I had been ordering and splitting burrata once a week for three months. I looked at Max for back up. “Jamie,” he said, “I’ve never had a bite of it. You’ve eaten the whole thing. Every time.” He had never even hinted it. He was like, “You really enjoyed it and you never noticed so I figured why stop? It made you really happy.”

Jessica and Patrick, New York/LA

Jessica Hendricks Yee

Patrick and I met in New York five years ago at a karaoke birthday party in Koreatown. I was on a date that night. He was in town visiting from L.A.

At the time, I knew I wanted to start The Brave Collection, the jewelry company that I have now. I knew it would be made in Cambodia and I knew what I wanted the message to be. But I hadn’t started it yet. I was trying it on for size. When I met Patrick, I told him all about it as though it was already a real thing.

He thought it sounded really cool. He worked in fashion and seemed to really care about it and get it. That was sort of the end of that. He went back to L.A.

A few weeks later he emailed me and said he was coming back to the city. We went to a party and spent the whole night talking. Later, we left with two of his friends and had one of those amazing New York nights. The next day we got drinks and I came clean about Brave. I told him I hadn’t launched it yet and he was like, “You have to.” He was so positive about it, such a cheerleader, that it helped me to make the leap and actually put it in motion.

We started talking on the phone every day, late into the night. I’d wake up exhausted but so happy. This was pre-Tinder. There was no game playing. We just could not stop talking.

I started to realize that I was falling in love with him over the phone, and either this was real or we had talked ourselves into a fantasy. We’d bought a plane ticket for me to visit L.A. but it seemed too far away. He was like, “I have to see you this weekend. This is insane. Let’s just meet in the middle this weekend. Where do you want to go?” I suggested Austin, Texas. Neither of us had been there before. 10 minutes later I got an email with my flight information.

Just before I left I got a blowout and the guy doing it was like, “Why are you getting this blowout?” I told him the story and he was like, “You are going to get killed. You are going to Texas to meet this stranger.”

I was so nervous about what to say and what to bring because we had built this up so much. My flight arrived an hour before his and I spent the whole time in the bathroom fixing my makeup. I knew he was going to come down this tall escalator and I planned how I was going to sit on my suitcase to look effortless. So awkward, so anxious. Then we took this awkward cab ride together to the hotel. I think we were both scared the other person was going to be like, “I’m not feeling this.” We got to the hotel room — we were staying at this amazing B&B — and then left it immediately. We got food and started relaxing, then explored the city. We realized we had the same taste in everything. There was so much discovery.

We each had a friend in Texas, so later we went out to eat, the four of us. It was really fun, until Patrick was like, “I have to get some air.” He stood up, started walking out and then just collapsed! He passed out. I was crying, called 911. He was fine but it was so weird. It had never happened to him before or since. He was like, “I literally fell for you.”

At the airport, when we were waiting to fly back to our respective cities, he told me he loved me. I didn’t say it back. I was like, “You don’t know me!” And he was like, “I don’t care. I love you.”

I said it back when I visited him in L.A. two weeks later.

Three months after that trip, he moved to New York, I launched Brave, he took a job at Refinery29 and we moved in together.

We still celebrate January 14th — the weekend in Austin — as our anniversary. I launched Brave on February 12th. The whole next five years of my life happened in that couple of weeks.

I still can’t believe we did that. I knew ONE person in the whole state of Texas, and it was not him. For whatever reason, I just felt good about this situation and knew it was going to great. It was pretty nuts in retrospect. I was only 23! But we just knew.

The whole thing was surreal. It still makes me smile. It’s magic, when it first clicks. It’s a miracle that we found each other. Time stopped, and we got to know each other in this other planet on Austin. It could have gone horribly wrong. We could have hated each other and been stuck — two strangers in Texas. Instead…

We got got married in February 2016. We’re about to celebrate our one year.

In partnership with Tory Burch. Photos by Krista Anna Lewis. Jessica and Patrick photographed by Shelby Duncan.

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  • These stories are so beautiful and I relate to the burrata bit 100%

    • Amelia Diamond

      same 110%

  • streats

    Thanks, I needed this. I love love, too, and am an absolute sucker for grand gestures and when I’m really into someone I think of all these things I could do to surprise them or just show that I care, but I always chicken out because a) it’s scary and b) I feel like when women do them for men there’s a crazy stigma around it. My only serious relationship to date started out as long-distance, full of those whirlwind weekends all over Europe (I lived in Paris, he in Ireland) until we could be together full time. It was wonderful and carefree but also got really serious really fast. Now 8 years later I’m kinda, maybe, in a similar situation, and it’s the first time I’ve felt something strongly about a person in nearly a decade. We already have a few crazy adventure stories and it excites me to think what it could become – though I’m still mostly chicken to do anything about it.

  • tmm16

    Ugh I love love too. I admit I’ve been a lil salty these last few days since I won’t be celebrating v-day with anyone, but these stories, especially the last one, made me smile 🙂 love is great!

  • Abby

    I love this! Reading about other people’s love makes me so mushy. I adore grand gestures (although that is maybe because my husband is an ultra pragmatist who proposed to me in a grocery store while doing the weekly shopping).

    • Amelia Diamond

      oh but that is romantic in its own right!!!

  • chunny

    wow, tears are flowing, i love love too.

  • Caro A

    Get. outta. town. The burrata story makes me L-O-L. I think this story just pulled me out of the funk I’ve been in. Jesus!

    • Amelia Diamond

      it was just weird to have “and max” but no pic of max because max is in china!!

  • Mun

    Ah beautiful.

  • Melissa

    Omg Jamie is my new favorite person. Eating a plate of burrata once a week for three months is my new life goal.

  • Bonnie Goodwin Sargeant

    Burrata, the things we do for love. My husband pretended he was not allergic to dogs in the beginning of our relationship. I did wonder why he insisted on only hanging out on my terrace. When I finally caught on he assured me he would “get over it” which somehow…he did! Love finds a way.

  • emilyisabean

    This is encouraging…I’m flying across the country next weekend to stay with someone I haven’t seen in 2 years, so it’s nice to know that if I’m totally out of my mind at least I’m in good company!

  • Savannah ϟ

    10/10 made me cry at work

  • Kneecole Peaupetty

    Dig the article but a little shocked they’re all heteronormative couples. I guess I just expect Man Repeller to be on the pulse of what’s actually happening in dis world, so I just assumed like of course they’re will be at least one gay/LGBTQ couple in here. Unless (not pictured: Max) is a trans man, these couples were pretty antiseptic and I’m a little disappointed!!! 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • Georgi Dan

    Made my heart melt! just what I needed ! Food for the soul