You know how Christelyn’s always telling the college-aged folks to take every advantage of the dating pool at their respective universities because statistics show that college campuses are great places for love connections? Andrew and Brooke, both 24, are a great example of how a friendship in college can develop into something more if you let it.
Andrew grew up in a rural, farming community in Michigan. When he ventured into the city to go to college, he decided to push past his shyness and sent Facebook friend requests to a bunch of fellow freshman he’d never met. One of the people who began communicating with him was a cute African American girl named Brooke, who says she “accidentally” accepted his request. After chatting for a week, she invited him over to her dorm’s common area to watch The House Bunny with her and her friends.
Frequent movie nights soon turned into late-night walks filled with conversation about everything and anything. More than a few people noticed their connection.
“My friends were convinced I was secretly dating him because any free time I didn’t spend with them, I was with him!” Brooke says.
Brooke dropped hints about her romantic interest in Andrew, but he says he was a “poor oblivious buffoon whom never had a girlfriend before [and] was oblivious until one day she flat out said, ‘I like you.’” Stunned, Andrew says he “messed up” and told Brooke that he “didn’t think of her that way.” Things got a little weird after that but they continued to hang out – a lot less frequently than before.
Eighteen months later, Brooke was in summer school while Andrew was working back in his hometown over the break. After texting back and forth for weeks, Andrew volunteered to make the 5-hour drive back to campus one weekend to hang out with Brooke, who’d told him things were boring because all of their friends were away.
One of Andrew’s best friends from high school joked that Brooke must be something special for him to drive all the way up there to see her. “I think I was smiling for the rest of that day, because I knew it was true,” Andrew says. He determined on the drive up that he was going to officially ask Brooke out.
They took a walk in the park to watch the freighters go by, went for ice cream and, standing in front of a fountain, Andrew pulled a coin from his pocket and handed it to Brooke. “Make a wish for something to come true in the next semester,” he said.
“I wished that he would kiss me or at least tell me he liked me,” Brooke says. “We had been talking on the phone every single night for almost a month but he still hadn’t said anything yet.”
After they tossed their pennies in, Brooke asked Andrew what he wished for.
Just as he was about to tell Brooke how he felt about her, Andrew made contact with what he calls a “very scary looking park worker” and lost his nerve. Instead, he blurted out something along the lines of, “I want better grades.”
An aside, from Andrew: “I know all the women reading this now are laughing at how adorable of a little train wreck I was confidence-wise, or are grimacing at how painfully embarrassing this must have been for Brooke, but she gracefully let me get away with it.”
Brooke remembers things a little differently, saying that she imagined that there was steam coming off of her head because Andrew also took a step toward her, then side-stepped just as she thought he was finally going to kiss her. Instead, he pointed out the amazing flowers on a nearby rose bush.
On his drive home, Brooke grilled Andrew over the phone about his intentions for the weekend visit. He finally came clean about how he felt about her – something he couldn’t bring himself to do to her face. They went on several dates over the summer and, by the end of it, Andrew asked her to be his girlfriend. She said yes!
“My college friends passed around an entire year’s worth of ‘I told you so’s’ because all the while Andrew was claiming to only think of me as a friend he was bringing me soup when I was sick, and dropping surprises in the boots I left outside my door,” Brooke says.
Even though Andrew grew up in a very German household in a farming community and Brooke was raised in an African American family in a metropolitan area of Michigan, they share several core similarities – strong family bonds, an innate consideration for others, a deep need for respect and understanding, and a love for good food (although Andrew says Brooke teases him about worshiping food, not just loving it).
They’re also huge fans of games. “We like to play games: board games, card games, video games, PC games, etc.,” Brooke says. “You name it, Andrew and I will at least try it.”
There are differences, as well. Brooke grew up in a family that loves to touch, hug and kiss. It’s not unusual for everyone to pile onto one bed and watch a movie. Andrew did not.
Andrew grew up in a family where you don’t talk about things that bother you. Brooke’s family verbally processes to relieve stress.
“Before, Andrew would interpret my venting as I’m on the brink of action,” Brooke says. “It took a bit of explanation for him to understand I say things instead of doing things when I’m frustrated.”
They also have differing religious backgrounds.
“Brooke is a strong believer in her faith and I’m not a follower of any practice or faith,” Andrew says. “We had a very long discussion about this where we agreed that if the time should come that a large event was to happen within her religious beliefs, I would attend for support, but outside of that she respects my beliefs and does not try to get me to come to churches with her whenever she goes.”
This summer, Andrew and Brooke will have been together for 4 years. Now that they’ve both graduated from college, they’re in another season of being in a long-distance relationship because Brooke is in Michigan and Andrew is in Texas, where he’s started to build his career. Keeping the lines of communication going between them is a must, so they talk or text daily.
“We use every single form of communication available to us: texting, talking on the phone, skype, facebook, instagram, etc.,” Brooke says. “Any way I can let him know I’m thinking of him that’s what I use. Including the highly underrated and overlooked snail mail!! (Who doesn’t love receiving something in the mail that isn’t a bill??)”
“Anything to make the other one smile,” Andrew says. “We always like to do the tiniest thing for one another which could make us giggle.”
They’ve also talked about marriage and kids, and Brooke thinks there’s a chance she can talk Andrew into buying a farm someday. For now, they’re taking things one step at a time: Brooke is looking for work so she too can move to Texas.
Words of wisdom
From Andrew: Don’t search for the perfect fit. Brooke and I, there is a good amount of things that we disagree on – always have, always will. But we separately made a list of the ‘needs’ and the ‘wants’ and we sat down together and basically discussed what we absolutely needed to have in the relationship and what we wanted to have. Ninety percent of what we had matched up nearly perfectly, 8% we had to discuss/compromise and adjust, and the last 2% we realized was a number small enough that we could live with in our relationship. I feel like it makes it all the better knowing that we don’t have the perfect relationship. We have a perfect for us relationship.
From Brooke: The biggest lesson in love I’ve learned on this journey is that there are no rules. What is right for you isn’t necessarily what’s right for someone else. Looking at someone’s success in love is like trying to pick up something underwater while looking at it from above. It’s slightly warped and if you try to repeat exactly what someone else has done, you probably won’t be successful. Love didn’t find me until I stopped trying to use a template. I was just being myself, and letting that be enough.
Also, don’t be afraid to say something. I did and while it didn’t go how I expected, I’d like to think that it helped bring Andrew back to me. Someone saying no isn’t the worst thing that can happen – the worst is never knowing!
Wishing you both a life full of love, laughter, games, hedgehogs, movies, farming, food and wine, Andrew and Brooke!