Love Around the World

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Love makes the world go round. I’m not sure if I first heard these words in Madonna’s ’80s ode to do-gooding, or if it simply one of those saccharine clichés that is culturally ingrained in our brains, but I never gave said phrase much thought. Then I got older and life got messier, and suddenly clichés became the ultimate crutch for rose-tinted philosophical rhetoric. No matter where we hail from or how much of a cluster*ck this world becomes, I prefer to believe that we are all bound by something larger than us, something that gives us purpose and drives us to tap into our better selves, something that ultimately keeps the orbit spinning: love.

While I can clearly write like a Hallmark copywriter, my own relationship with the High Holiday that is Valentine’s Day is about as complex as the US-Russia conflict – cold, impassive, potentially unresolvable. And yet, this year I decided to take the high road and use this day to celebrate the idea of love as a universal phenomenon. How? By cajoling every international couple I know into fessing up to their innermost secrets, of course.

Couples are filtered in ascending order according to years spent in each others’ vicinity. Questions vary mildly, double as an excellent Valentine’s Day torture test / drinking game. Enjoy!

 

Aimee Blaut Nord and Karl Nord

Aimee Blaut Nord and Karl Nord _DbagDating (1)

Stockholm, Sweden / together 5 years, married 2 years / 1-year-old daughter  

Aimee Blaut Nord: 33, Senior Digital Manager and Writer, Jewish American

Karl Nord: 30, Art Director, Swedish

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Aimee: Love at first sight.

Karl: Best friends first.

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Aimee: His accent, dashing good looks and kindness. It is pretty much the same though. Over time these qualities are only amplified, but I can barely hear his accent anymore, he needs to work on that.

Karl: When we first met I was swept away by her positive energy, with her anything felt possible! Now she makes me into a better person, keeps me laughing, is the mother of my child and just becomes more beautiful with every year that passes.

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Aimee: Karl keeps me in the moment, where I otherwise can get ahead of myself. He keeps me grounded and present.

Karl: Always work on your relationship, never stop and get lazy because we are in this for life.

What has been an important test in your relationship?

Aimee: Having a child is a constant compromise it has and will continue to test us but also bring us closer together.

Karl: I think just the fact that Aimee moved to Sweden from the US has been a test for our relationship both physically and emotionally in terms of friends, family, culture,you name it.

They say “love makes you do crazy things”. Name a crazy thing you have done in your relationship.

Aimee: Moving to Stockholm after spending four days together. We hadn’t seen each other in years, but he flew to Paris and won me over, thus prompting a trans-Atlantic move into a tiny studio apartment. Okay, living together in that apartment was also a test!

Karl: I think deciding together that we would become a couple and move in together in Sweden in my one-bedroom apartment after four days together in Paris seemed crazy to others. And many of our friends thought so!

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Aimee: I think it depends how old you are or life experience. When it comes to matters of the heart I am all for jumping in head first, though my judgement in my younger years was questionable. The older I’ve gotten, the more I can rely on instinct. If you feel sufficiently wise then go for it.

Karl: I was lucky enough to know Aimee for many years so we when we started dating again it all went fast and furious with getting married and having a kid, but it was all based on really steady groundwork.

Follow Aimee here!

Read more about Aimee & Karl here

 

Anta Kleschinski and Stephan Anescot

Anta Klée and Stephan Anescot_Dbag Dating

London / together 6 years

Anta Kleschinski: 30, Area Manager at Coach, German

Stephan Anescot: 32, “Startup Stuff”, French

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Anta: I definitely was intrigued, but the first time we met it was very late at night in a noisy, dirty Parisian nightclub so there wasn’t much space for love there. Then he didn’t call me back for 3 months, so again no chance – but I remember I never checked my phone that often in my life! When we finally met again, we clicked immediately and kept seeing each other every day, but not as friends.

Stephan: Love at first sight.

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Anta: What attracted me then still applies today – his wit and eloquence. Now that we know each other inside-out, I’d add the way he makes me laugh like no other, his manners, his love and his smile. And how he treats our little dog when he thinks I’m not watching.

Stephan: When we first met, I found her absolutely breathtaking. I still think she is, but this doesn’t matter anymore, I’m absolutely in love with her sensitivity and her strength. And her nose, ok.

Anta: He taught me to be more curious – about the things that really matter. He explains the world to me. Have I mentioned he is the smartest person I know?

Stephan: I have learned to be more sensitive and more open. And that was not easy.

What has been an important test in your relationship?

Anta: My repetitive complaints about smoking when we lived in Paris.

Stephan: We somewhat started dating from a distance.  

They say “love makes you do crazy things”. Name a crazy thing you have done in your relationship. 

Anta: Going out to buy a vacuum cleaner and returning home with our dog Arnold.

Stephan: I still have no justification for the stinky, snoring French Bulldog that’s been living with us these last years.

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Anta: It’s the right mix that counts. Not ever too slow though, I get bored too fast.

Stephan: “Fast and furious” but “never break skin that’s visible”.

Follow Anta here

 

Kenji and Megumi Sato

Kenji and Megumi Sato_Dbag Dating

Tokyo, Japan / together 7 years, married 3 years / 3-year-old daughter 

Kenji Sato: 35 / Business Entrepreneur / Franco-Japanese

Megumi Sato: 37 / Graphic Designer / Japanese

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Kenji: Friends first.

Megumi: Friends first.

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Kenji: Her smile, her kindness, her creativity. She is someone who shares love with people. Independent and a family woman. The same things attract me now.

Megumi: I was attracted when he told me about his dreams, which were similar to mine. And now he is taking more and more actions to make our dreams come true.

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Kenji: That it is important to put yourself second, not first.

Megumi: There ar so many, I can’t name one specially.

What has been an important test in your relationship?

Kenji: To accept the fact that she will be the one for the rest of my life.

Megumi: At one moment he went through a depression for few months. That was a difficult part of our relationship, but I kept supporting him and we were able to go through this test together.

They say “love makes you do crazy things”. Name a crazy thing you have done in your relationship.

Kenji: Make a baby. It was best crazy we’ve done.

Megumi: I used to wake up earlier than him to prepare breakfast, to do makeup, clean up, to be perfect for him. Not so much now anymore (lol) – it’s harder every day now because of our lovely 3-years-old daughter!

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Kenji: ‘Slow n’ steady wins the race’, because love is not a race. Better to take time to relish the happiness.

Megumi: ‘Slow n’ steady wins the race’. This is just my personality!

 

Rachel and Jeremy Schinazi

Rachel and Jeremy Schinazi_DbagDating

Paris, France / together 9 years, married 6 years / 2 children (2.5 and 1)

Rachel Schinaz: 32, Household CEO, Russian-American, “mixed Jew”

Jeremy Schinazi: 32, Advertising, French, “Ugly Jew”

Love at first sight or best friends first? 

Rachel: Lust at first sight. 

Jeremy: Lightning strike. 

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now? 

Rachel: His sense of humor and that hasn’t changed to this day. 

Jeremy: Then because she looked like a kinky doll and…now, because she is MY kinky doll

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Rachel: “Vis ta Vinaigrette” (French song that doubles as their relationship motto.)

Jeremy: “Ne troguy moyo pityo” – Don’t touch my drink (with russian accent). It came up very early in the relationship. 

What has been an important test in your relationship. 

Rachel: A sleep-deprived Jeremy.

Jeremy: Me

Apparently “love makes you do crazy things”. Name a crazy thing you have done in your relationship.

Rachel: I have walked across the Venetian bridge on foot (no pedestrian walkway) because of a fight over a chicken.

Jeremy: Got naked in a club, handcuffed her at diner, woke her up in the middle of the night to take her on a surprise trip to Morocco, asked her to move in with me after 2 months, got a dog when I really didn’t want a dog, proposed with a plastic ring, and many more than can’t be shared 😉

They say long-term couples start resembling one another. True or false?

Rachel: True, just like dogs and their owners.

Jeremy: One brain.

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Rachel: Fast and furious because you never know when you will get run over by a car. 

Jeremy: Fast and furious. We moved in after 2 months, married 18 months later, first kid a year after that and moved across oceans together. We eat life with the same appetite. Slow and steady is for amateurs. 

Follow Jeremy here & subscribe to Rachel’s birth control channel @layummymummy here

Read more about Rachel and Jeremy here

 

Maria and Andrei Suvorov 

Maria & Andrei Suvorov, Dbag Dating

Saint-Petersburg, Russia / together 15 years, married 7.5 years / 2 children (6 and 2.5)

Maria Suvorova: 30, Mother of 2, Russian 

Andrei Suvorov: Entrepreneur, Russian 

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Maria: Friendship first.

Andrei: Love at first sight.

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Maria: Back then I liked his voice and the fact that we could stay on the phone all night talking without noticing time pass by.  Now I like the fact that almost nothing has changed over the years, that we are just as fun and curious together. I also live the way he is with our children.

Andrei: Back then I was attracted to her looks and the way she carried herself. Now – her energy and ability to love.

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Maria: To regularly clean the house.

Andrei: To devote a lot of time to family and children, to set goals and work towards them.

What has been an important test in your relationship? 

Both: Breaking up 3.5 years after the beginning of the relationship. It became clear to both of us that we must be together.

They say long-term couples start resembling one another. True or false?

Both: Agreed. With time you start sharing the same habits, your needs become similar.

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Both: “Slow and steady wins the race.” It takes time to get to know a person, to see if you work well with each other.

 

Louise and Steve Raucher 

Louise and Steve Raucher_DbagDating

Cape Town, South Africa / together for 19 years, married 12 years / 3 children (10, 8, 5) 

Louise Raucher: Mother of 3, British

Steven Raucher: 41, Software Business, British – South African

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Louise: When I met Steven I did not really register him and in fact always confused him with his brother, but after our first date I told my mum I had met the man I was going to marry – it then took 8 years but hey!

Steve: I met Louise when she popped in to a dinner party.  She walked into the room and my jaw dropped. My brother’s then-girlfriend told me Louise was out of my league.  I think I pursued her for love and a challenge equally!

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Louise: He seemed so knowledgeable about everything and had this ability to make anything seem possible. If there was something he wanted he just went and got it. Nothing seemed impossible, “no” was not an option. Now I still love his energy and drive and enthusiasm for life. He has huge amounts of energy and this makes life with him exciting… He takes me out of the everyday and makes me do things I might not necessarily do.

Steve: She was elegant, funny and head-turning beautiful.. Still is.

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Louise: If you want something you can have it. Life is for the taking.

Steve: Love can be unconditional; never go to bed on an argument; and a baguette with jam and butter is the best hangover cure! 

What has been an important test in your relationship? 

Louise: Moving country and how we dealt with that as a family. Supporting each other day-to-day. Being there for one another.

Steve: Our first years of marriage were an incredibly stressful time – Lu had to deal with me losing my brother and the emotional roller-coaster of my grieving.  Lu showed true selflessness in accepting this process.

They say long-term couples start resembling one another. True or false?

Louise: I think you become a unit and this can sometimes make you appear as one person.. You know each other very well and this can make you resemble each other.. 

Steve: It’s true. we laugh at the same things, order the same drinks.  And know exactly how to piss each other off.

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Louise: For me slow and steady.. I like to feel safe and secure. But the element of surprise can also be fun now and then.

Steve: Without passion, we could all be good friends.  It’s the passion that attracts us that defines our relationship.  Of course we love each other and happiness has its own natural ebb and flow, but it’s the power of our love that pulls us back towards each other in our darkest times. 

 

Rachel Silver and Justin Boelio

Justin Boelio and Rachel Silver_Dbag Dating

Brooklyn, New York / met in kindergarten circa 1988 (!!!), together on and off since high school, married 3 years 

Rachel Silver, 33, Founder of Love Stories TV, Jewish-American 

Justin Boelio, 32, Sr Data Scientist at Penguin Random House, American

Love at first sight or best friends first?

Justin: Love at first sight

Rachel: I used to write “Rachel Jo Boelio” (Justin’s last name) on all my notebooks in HS… So…

What attracted you to your partner when you first met and what attracts you now?

Justin: Beautiful and 100% original. Then, and now.

Rachel: Justin is the smartest person I’ve ever met. Then, and now.

Name an important lesson you have learned from the other person.

Justin Boelio: You get more bees with honey!

Rachel: Oh man, everything? Especially how to be a responsible adult human.

What has been an important test in your relationship

Justin: Rach can be a little messy and I am OCD about cleanliness. There have been some struggles…

Rachel: I don’t think I’m a great roommate (lol) I tend to break things a lot, my cleaning skills leave something to be desired. Everyday I think Justin must love me so much to put up with me in a Brooklyn apartment.  

They say long-term couples start resembling one another. True or false?

Justin: False.

Rachel: Lol. I think it’s true in a lot of cases but we are the most opposite. I think that’s why we work so well together 🙂

When it comes to love – ‘fast and furious’ or ‘slow n’ steady wins the race’? Why?

Justin: Slow and steady.

Rachel: Wellllll we met when we were five. So I’m gonna go with slow and steady.

Follow Rachel here and make sure to check out Love Stories TV!

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