“The universe put us both in the same place, at the time we were ready to do what we’re doing, and it seemed to fit too well to not believe that it was meant to be.”
Relationship Status: Dating for almost two years
*Update: They’re officially married!
What is love?
Will: I think love is family, that’s what comes to me. When I love somebody, they’re a part of my family, blood or not. It’s a different level of respect and what length I’d be willing to go to help another person.
Kate: I think it’s community, home, and the people you feel comfortable with. It’s the people you connect with, and you’re able to just be yourself, and just be around them. People that can just be around you—be real, honest, and support systems, and just people you connect with through the soul.
So what was your perception of love growing up?
W: I think there’s an inevitably jaded perspective of what love is, until you’re truly in it. I would imagine I could have thought it was in a couple of moments but it wasn’t what [my relationship with Kate] is. I don’t know how you get to this point, because I don’t know how you know it, until you know it. I don’t want to be with anybody else—it’s so simple, that concept, it’s not a conscious thought: it just is. So that’s how my perspective would’ve been different, because I didn’t understand what it could be. I had the general idea of what it was, but this is a multilayered thing.
K: As far as when I was a little kid, love was my family, community, and the people that I knew and wanted to be around.
Growing up—through high school and college—it’s a tough time figuring out who you are and you have all these hormones and strong emotions. It’s easy to see the media, to watch movies, or read books and think you know what love is or what it’s supposed to be, and assign that type to people in your life, whether it’s a romantic relationship or even just friendships. Growing up, you can feel alone a lot of the times when you’re trying to figure out who you are. So when you don’t want to be alone, you’re finding people to fill the space.
And I’m at this point where now I look at the people I surround myself with, and the friends and relationships I have… they’re real, compared to going through those previous relationships that weren’t necessarily supportive or helpful.
W: Love prior to this, is a form of—and it sounds worse than it necessarily is— infatuation and a void-fill. You can believe that you’re in love, because that’s what you need in that moment, whether you are or not. And the moment you don’t necessarily need it because you’re at peace with yourself, or because your family loves you, and you’ve got a good support group, maybe at that point,you’re ready for observing what love might actually be.
Like you said this relationship between you both has been more real than anything. So what’s different between this and your previous relationships?
K: With Will and this relationship, I don’t think there’s the next better thing. I’m not overwhelmed by the things I wish I could be doing, or the people I wish I could hang out with, or what another relationship could be.
It just feels really simple, peaceful, and at home, and it’s just the compatibility that we have. Also, communication is huge. We talk a lot and we’re really open with each other about how we’re feeling, and when things are hurtful, as well as when they’re there good. It’s not shying away from harder conversations, because when you love someone, you can love them so much but you still have to be open and honest.
There’s also a commitment there. I think at a certain point we both, early on, just decided that we were committed and no matter what, you don’t run away. The end goal is us. It feels safe, positive and healthy. And we spend a lot of time with family and that’s huge.
W: I think that the biggest thing is, I kind of knew when we were figuring out that all of our goals for later in life were either identical or so damn close, that it takes little compromise to get to a clear mental picture that we can both focus on.
Kate’s the only person that’s been remotely close to those possibilities lining up, without having to sacrifice everything I know I wanted. I still want the exact same things I wanted when I knew I wanted them when I was little. They’re not any different: it’s a house, kids, stability. It’s like what my parents have, a positive healthy relationship where they support one another.
And Kate’s also the only person that’s ever split things with me. There’s a dynamic of guys paying for the meal but then, for whatever reason, in my situations it always ended up being I paid for everything and it turned into a weird expectation that kept coming up. Kate’s the only one that’s been appreciative of that equality.
So when did you know you loved each other?
K: When I was running and he was literally running away from me. I was training and we were on a run and—this isn’t when I knew I loved him, but when I told him I loved him—it was the end of the run and I was exhausted and he wanted to sprint ahead and I was like, “Will just go.” And he’s like, “Oh no, no it’s okay I’ll stay with you, I’ll run with you.” And then I was like, “Will just go, please go and I love you, go” and he just runs away. And then he comes back and was like, “So I realized you said you loved me and I just ran away. Do you want to talk about this?” And I was like, “No it’s okay, just go!” [Laughs]
W: It was funny because I had just put on the afterburners and I was 12 steps away at a full rip and I’m like skkkkkkkkkrt, “Sorry, excuse me?”
You can only say I like you so many times before that slips. It was weird because I was trying to—I move very quickly, in my brain I’m moving quicker normally—but I was trying to move slow, so I didn’t think about it. And then when [Kate] said that, I was like yup, that’s when I knew.
I probably could have said [I love you] before and probably, if I were to go back to the first time I ever went on a run with [Kate], I could have known then. I hate running. I really hate running. And we ran a lot. I probably would’ve known [how I felt] if I would have let myself think.
What do you guys say makes a relationship or some advice for how you guys have lasted long?
W: It seemed like despite the odds of our age, and what we had just recently been through prior to dating each other, we were both in the same place. I don’t know how it happened. The universe put us both in the same place, at the time we were ready to do what we’re doing, and it seemed to fit too well to not believe that it was meant to be.
K: That was the initial reason why it worked out and it still works out because where we want to be going is aligned. You make a conscious effort to to have the other person’s feelings in mind and don’t hold on to things. It’s not a game, you don’t keep score. We’re a team and it’s a partnership.
One of the things I was talking to my friends about when Will and I were first dating was… I think people are so weird about sharing phones and information and tend to be really secretive and [Will and I] had our thumbprints in each other’s phones, really early on. There were no secrets, we weren’t hiding things, there was no drama, it was really simple and if you’re in a healthy spot and open there’s no reason to keep secrets. I just remember telling people that was really cool—I don’t ever feel stressed about him having my phone and he’s never cared about me having his.
Love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two.
W: It could be so many words, but I have to go with the one that I started with and that’s family. I was very much loved growing up, that was important. I love Kate with that same love and when I have kids I’ll love them just the same.
K: Like I said before, community, it’s the connection, that support system, home. Love is feeling where you’re home.
W: It’s where the heart is, you know.
K: It is! And it’s building a home, creating a home, and who you feel at home with.