Elite Daily

This Couple Met On Upward & Credit Their Faith For Keeping Their Love Strong

Are you dying to know what a couple's relationship is really like? Elite Daily's series ILYSM celebrates couples who met on dating apps and dives into the inner workings of their relationships. How did they know they were falling for each other? Who sent the first awkward message? What's the one thing they fight about? Are they astrologically compatible, and do they care? By the end of each story, you'll love them both so much.

Dulce “Candie” Fernandez and Elias Escamilla were both open to finding long-distance love when they matched on Upward, a dating app for Christian singles seeking faith-centered relationships, in the summer of 2020. Candie lived in Texas and had her app’s radius set to 300 miles; in Colorado, Elias’ radius was unlimited. They bonded through messages and phone calls for a month before Candie visited Colorado for their first official date.

Since then, the couple has traveled back and forth between the two states every few weeks. They made their relationship official after praying and talking the decision over with the people closest to them, and they realized they were falling in love while dancing to a country song at a friend's wedding. After a picturesque Colorado mountain proposal in the fall of 2020, they’ll tie the knot in Texas in July 2021. Once they’re Mr. and Mrs., Candie (and her Yorkie, Dutchess — a very important part of their family) will move to Colorado.

Here’s their story:

Dulce "Candie" Fernandez

Elite Daily

Graphic designer, Enneagram 9, Yorkie lover, homebody.

Elias Escamilla

Clinic administrator, small-town kind of guy with a huge passion for traveling and storytelling.

Which app did you meet on?

Dulce “Candie” Fernandez: Upward.

How long have you known each other?

Elias Escamilla: Ten months.

How long have you been dating?

CF: We dated for four-and-a-half months and have been engaged for four-and-a-half months.

Do you live together? Are you engaged? Do you have a pet you share? Any other relationship markers?

CF: We are engaged and in a long-distance relationship. I have a five-year-old Yorkie named Dutchess that Elias is now daddy to.

Photography by Cristy

What initially attracted you to each other’s profiles?

EE: She had a family photo that resonated with me. It was always important to me to find someone who valued family. That photo was a clear depiction of what was on her heart.

CF: I liked that Elias seemed down-to-earth. I could see myself being with him based on his values, beliefs, and sense of adventure.

Who sent the first message, and what was it?

EE: I did. I said, “Hey Dulce! How is your week going?”

How long did you exchange messages or texts before your first date?

EE: For about a month before she visited me.

What was your first date like?

CF: Our first day together was really sweet. Elias picked me up and took me to a German restaurant, and then we walked around downtown Colorado Springs and went to several candy stores. We talked, laughed a lot, sat together, and listened to music. Then he dropped me back off at my Airbnb.

EE: It was fun, awkward, and exciting… all at the same time!

Describe the DTR conversation.

EE: We had a deep discussion about what our goals were and what we had planned for the future. After confirming that we could see each other in those visions, we decided to move forward in our relationship!

CF: We prayed and talked to our peers and mentors in our lives. Once we both felt that God was leading us to this and that our communities and families were there for us, then we decided to date.

Describe the moment you first realized you were falling for them.

EE: It was at her friend’s wedding.

CF: That was the first time I introduced Elias to my friends and family. We danced together for the first time to “Diamond in My Pocket” by Cody Johnson. There was something so special about the way he looked at me and sang to me. I felt his genuine care and affection.

EE: I’m an introvert. I absolutely do not like dancing in front of people. But in that moment I felt peace. I didn’t worry about the cameraman or the thoughts of the people around me. It was truly blissful.

CF: In that moment, I knew that I didn't want to live my life alongside anyone else but him.

Candie Fernandez and Elias Escamilla

Who said “I love you” first?

EE: I did.

CF: But he didn't straight-up tell me that he loved me. He would say, “Love you bunches,” at the end of phone conversations until I asked him if that meant that he loved me.

What was your first fight about?

EE: We haven’t fought yet. We just share our opinions and discuss them with an open mindset.

CF: Whenever we do have a disagreement, we sit and talk it out, listening to each other, and seeking to understand each other's point of view. We are quick to apologize and forgive each other whenever we have misunderstood each other or miscommunicated.

What's your favorite underrated thing about each other?

EE: I love how passionate she is about our faith, and I enjoy her humor and playful banter.

CF: I love how goofy he can be and the way he laughs when he's being mischievous or playful, and the way he calls me BB!

What was the last thing you texted about?

CF: I texted to ask if we were both in on doing this survey.

How often do you text throughout the day?

EE: Quite a bit.

CF: We're in different time zones, so we text on and off throughout the day.

Do you know if you are astrologically compatible? Do you care?

CF: Nope and nope.

EE: I personally don’t care for my zodiac sign.

Which TV show do you marathon together?

EE: None at the moment but we do watch plenty of movies over FaceTime!

What was your favorite date you’ve ever been on?

CF: Charcuterie board night! We ate cheese, drank wine, listened to Christmas music, and decorated a desktop Christmas tree. I learned a lot about teamwork and patience.

EE: Definitely an at-home wine night in one of the Airbnbs we’ve rented while visiting each other.

Photography by Cristy

Why do you think your relationship works?

CF: I didn't ever go into this thinking that I would be in a long-distance relationship. I was just open to whatever God had for me. I never thought that Elias might be wasting my time, or was afraid of the [long-distance] commitment even if that meant we'd be hours apart — he was and is worth it to me. I knew his intent and he knew mine, and that was enough for me to want to continue to pursue a relationship with him. We are committed to God, to each other, and to making this relationship work!

EE: I know our relationship thrives because of our faith. It allows us to find a safe place to reside in when things get rough, like when we disagree.

CF: We know how to have the hard conversations that come with being in a committed relationship and we choose to love one another. We also know how to be friends and have fun through it all.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from each other?

EE: We both make up for what the other lacks and that requires patience. Being willing to sit down and listen to the other person's perspective is absolutely necessary for growth.

CF: I've learned that it's OK to let love in. It's OK to make mistakes. It's OK to let your guard down. Being in a relationship won't always look like what you want or what you expect, but in my experience, it's been the most challenging and the most rewarding thing that I have ever said "yes" to.

What’s your best piece of advice for people on dating apps?

EE: Be intentional and honest with the person you are speaking to. Allow them to show you who they are and lay a road map with your goals for them to follow. Most people who are serious about seeking a relationship will give you a genuine response.

CF: Don't make it so "high stakes." The person you're talking to does not have to be your husband or your wife. Learn to lean into your process, learn to trust, and lean into what God is doing in your life — let that be enough. He will lead you to the person you're meant to be with. Have fun and let this experience challenge and shape who you are.