Which app did you meet on?
Richard Mata: Bumble.
How long have you known each other?
Isabel Calkins: Four months.
How long have you been dating?
RM: l consider us to have been dating since our first date (Oct. 16, 2019), although we didn’t officially consider ourselves together until a month later (Nov. 10).
Do you live together? Are you engaged? Do you have a pet you share? Any other relationship markers?
IC: We decided we wanted to live together probably a month into the relationship, but because our leases didn’t match up, we decided I would break my lease so we could move in together in May. But on Jan. 3, he had a break-in at his old apartment and he needed to move, so we just decided, why not now? I broke my lease and less than a month later, we moved into a gorgeous four-bedroom house with our three cats (and one other roommate, his best friend whom he was living with before). Although it hasn't been that long since we got together, we both firmly believe we are "meant to be" and have already discussed our future in great depths.
What initially attracted you to each other’s profiles?
RM: She looked like an extraordinary person — someone who was full of life and absolutely stunning! I knew anything with Isabel would end up being amazing because she’s amazing.
IC: He had a lot of great pictures that showed him outdoors hiking and biking. I also loved that he wore glasses and had a floral half-sleeve tattoo. He also mentioned his love of music.
Who sent the first message, and what was it?
IC: I sent the first message since it was Bumble. I told him I loved his tattoo and that I had one in the same place.
RM: To this day, it still makes me happy that she sent that message.
How long did you exchange messages or texts before your first date?
RM: We exchanged messages for about a week.
What was your first date like?
RM: The first date was a bit of a fail on my part. The place l originally chose was closed, so it was a pretty awkward start when we both rolled into the empty parking lot at the same time.
IC: From there, we both got out of the cars and walked to another bar. It was slightly awkward at first, as all first dates are, but then we ordered Moscow mules and just sat and talked for a few hours. We weren’t ready for the night to end, so we went to another bar for some food and listened to some old-guy classic rock. As we walked back to our cars, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, because he had been super shy. But then we kissed, and it was so good, and I got butterflies in my stomach immediately. I still do whenever I think about that kiss.
Describe the DTR (define the relationship) conversation.
IC: It was three weeks after our first date. We went to a coffee shop one day after work and he kept staring at me when I talked. Like, that look you give someone when you have something you want to say really badly but are holding it in. Then, as we walked to the beach, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I told him I had to think about it because I had just moved to California from New York and was still healing from a really traumatic breakup. To top it off, I was dealing with a lot of emotions regarding my sexuality and was scared to DTR because of that. We sat on a bench and he told me he loved me and had wanted to tell me for a week. It was overwhelming, but I’m grateful he told me. It took me a few days to give him my answer, but finally I said yes. I felt such relief.
If you're Instagram official, what was your first photo together?
IC: I posted the first photo of us on Halloween, about a week after our first date. I didn’t care how long we had been together — we both just looked so happy, I wanted to share it.
RM: This was the first photo l posted of us on my Instagram account.
Describe the moment you first realized you were falling for them.
IC: For our second or third date, we went for a long hike in Laguna Beach and talked about our pasts, and I realized how similar some of our experiences had been. He was so open and vulnerable with me. He also packed an incredible lunch. He was just treating me the way I deserved to be treated, which I know should be the standard, but coming from an abusive relationship, I really valued the mutual respect we had for each other early on.
RM: From the day l first met Isabel, l knew something was different with this girl. I had this huge infatuation with her from the day we first met that never really went away, but l really started to fall for her after reading a memoir she wrote as an undergrad at NYU. In it she had a poem titled “A Love Letter to Myself” where she describes everything she loves about herself. I loved those things about her, too. After reading the poem, I knew I had fallen for her.
Who said “I love you” first?
RM: If you couldn’t guess based on the last answer (LOL), l was the first to say “I love you.”
IC: He did. He pulled a Ted Mosby.
What was your first fight about?
RM: I believe our first fight was about a friend of mine (who also happens to be my ex) coming to visit while she was in town.
IC: I don't know if I would call it a fight, but about a month into our relationship, we had talked about hanging out, but then he said he had to finish up some work and would come over after. Later, though, he texted me that he was going to Macy’s with his roommate. I was annoyed. We didn’t really fight, though. Even to this day, we haven't really had a proper fight. We have conversations about how we are feeling, then work it out before it becomes a fight.
What's your favorite underrated thing about each other?
RM: I can’t help but smile when I hear her voice.
IC: He opens the car door for me every single time. Even if I’m driving, he’ll walk around to open it for me. Besides that, I love the way he says, “Mhm, mhm,” when he listens to me talk and doesn’t know what to say. It’s his way of making sure I know he’s listening, even when I’m talking about something random like musical theater or cats.
What was the last thing you texted about?
IC: It was about a haircut I’m getting on Saturday.
RM: She sent me a link about hikes we could potentially do.
How often do you text throughout the day?
IC: When we’re both at work, we don’t talk much except for maybe a check-in once a day. I always call him after work, though.
RM: We text at least once a day.
Do you know if you are astrologically compatible? Do you care?
RM: We looked this up together once and found we are very compatible. I’m not someone who takes these compatibility articles seriously, but our compatibility appears to be spot on.
IC: Honestly, I don't know and I don't think I care. All I care about is if we think we are compatible and if we love each other, which we do.
Which TV show do you marathon together?
IC: We constantly watch reruns of The Office.
RM: We watch a few things together: The Mandalorian, The Office, any cooking/baking/interior design show.
What was your favorite date you’ve ever been on?
RM: My favorite date we’ve been on was our day trip to San Clemente — being able to walk across the beach with our feet in the water, getting to know one another. It was the start of a wonderful thing.
IC: Last weekend, we walked through some super fancy neighborhoods and talked about our future home and picked out the houses we would live in. Then, we walked along the beach and played in the water and just enjoyed each other in the sunshine. It was a really simple activity, but it made me feel so grateful for him.
What's one word to describe your sex life?
Why do you think your relationship works?
IC: We share some very important values: loyalty, respect, compassion. The respect for the other person comes first and we are both constantly making sure the other is happy and satisfied.
RM: We’re both pretty accepting and compassionate. We both care about the other person’s wants and needs, and we’re not afraid to communicate our own wants and needs.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from each other?
IC: I've learned I need to chill the eff out and slow down. He was born and raised in California, so his way of life is very different from the one I grew up with in New York. Here, you take things as they come every day. I am constantly planning and thinking ahead. He’s taught me to slow down and enjoy the present.
RM: The biggest lesson l’ve learned with Isabel is to not be afraid to open up. She’s an open book.
What’s your best piece of advice for people on dating apps?
IC: Take risks and swipe on people who may not be exactly your type. He was not who I thought I would end up with, just based on his job and life, but I am so glad I took a chance and met him. He is exactly what I didn't know I needed.
RM: Be patient. There will come days when you feel like there’s no one out there for you, but patience is a virtue. The right person will present themselves when you least expect it.