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.
At the start of 2019, model/actor Jarry Lee (you might’ve seen her work for Maybelline and Urban Decay, or her reality TV turn on Netflix’s Dating Around) wrote a list packed with everything she hoped to find in a relationship. Setting intentions must really work, because within a week, Jarry met Sam Merker on Raya, and it was the first and last date from the app for both of them. Sam, who runs business operations for several companies, had all of the qualities she was seeking and more: thoughtfulness, emotional intelligence, compassion. He felt the same way about her — he admired her honest communication skills and the way she instantly put him at ease. A few weeks later, as Jarry was beginning to fall for Sam, she met a psychic who predicted that he was “the one.” A whirlwind year has passed since they first met, and now, as their first anniversary approaches, they live together and share an adopted cat named Potato.
Here’s their story:
Which app did you meet on?
Sam Merker: Raya.
How long have you known each other?
Jarry Lee: A year.
How long have you been dating?
SM: A year.
Do you live together? Are you engaged? Do you have a pet you share? Any other relationship markers?
JL: We were spending every day together after we met, so we moved in together after three or four months because it just felt like it made sense. Two months later, we both had a dream about a cat the same night so we decided to get one, a tiny bengal kitten we named Potato.
What initially attracted you to each other’s profiles?
SM: We had similar backgrounds (we both went to boarding school and NYU) and had mutual friends.
JL: He seemed creative and cool.
Who sent the first message and what was it?
SM: I did, and knowing myself, it was probably, “What’s going on?”
JL: It was something generic I wouldn't normally reply to, but I felt compelled to give him a shot for some reason I can't explain. I had just joined Raya, and it was the first (and last) date from it for both of us.
How long did you exchange messages or texts before the first date?
SM: Not long. We sent a couple of messages before making plans to meet up in a few days.
JL: Both of us had a preference for feeling out people in person rather than over text.
What was your first date like?
JL: I was super sleep-deprived and went into it with zero expectations, but it turned out amazing. Originally, we were only supposed to meet up for dim sum (and I had planned on going home afterward to sleep), but we kept talking and ended up spending the whole day together. He was so earnestly excited about sharing his favorite tea and music with me, it was adorable. I felt completely at ease around him and the conversation flowed so naturally. I distinctly remember the way his eyes would light up when he smiled at me, like he was smiling with his whole being. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen. (Still is.)
SM: It felt really natural, like I didn’t have to “try” to make a good impression. In retrospect. I admire her commitment to actually show up after only getting an hour of sleep instead of rain-checking.
Describe the DTR conversation.
SM: It was very casual because we were basically already dating.
JL: We came back from a nice dinner and were playing video games. He asked if I wanted to officially be in a relationship and I said "sure" because it already felt like one at that point.
SM: Then we went back to playing video games.
JL: We'd decided to be exclusive after the first week and a half so it wasn't remotely a big deal.
If you’re Instagram official, what was your first photo together?
JL: This was the first photo we both posted. I’ve never been one to think much about “deciding to be social media-official” or anything — whatever or whoever is in my life generally ends up on my social media by virtue of being part of my life.
Describe the moment you first realized you were falling for them.
SM: It was just a gradual accumulation of respect and admiration that made me more attracted over time.
JL: The week before we met, I had written out a list of exactly what I wanted in a partner. He was everything that I wanted, and also everything I didn't know I could hope for, or didn’t allow myself to. Immediately and innately, I felt I could trust him. I couldn’t have imagined being treated this well, and feeling completely supported and respected. A couple weeks after we met, I ran into a psychic at a New York Fashion Week party. When I asked her about my career, she somehow pulled eight to 10 tarot cards about love instead, and told me that if I was seeing someone, they were "the one" and to not be afraid of showing them how I felt. I had already been sensing that maybe this was the ~real deal~ but had been holding back. We ran into her a couple months ago at another NYFW event and she said she’d been following along and viewed our relationship as proof of her magic, which was really sweet.
Who said “I love you” first?
JL: I did, because I was worried I would blurt it out at an inappropriate time by accident. Also, you know, because it's good to be open and honest about how you feel!
SM: I appreciated that she said it just to tell me how she felt, not because she expected a reply. (I said it back.)
What was your first fight about?
SM: We don’t really fight because we’re both really good about communicating with each other.
JL: Of course, we don't agree on everything 100% of the time, but we're good about talking through everything and expressing how we each feel.
What’s your favorite underrated thing about each other?
JL: He is by far the most thoughtful and emotionally intelligent person I've ever met. For example, he hates running, but will go with me when I run at night because I mentioned that it makes me nervous about my safety.
SM: How good she is about articulating the way she feels, whether it’s a positive or negative emotion.
What was the last thing you texted about?
JL: Potato, duh.
How often do you text throughout the day?
SM: Fairly frequently, but usually just like memes or pictures of Potato.
Jarry, you’re an Aries; Sam, you’re a Pisces. Do you know if you’re astrologically compatible? Do you care?
SM: No and no.
JL: I think we might be? I don't remember. But it doesn't matter to me because of how consistently amazing our relationship has been.
Which TV show do you marathon together?
JL: He got me into some anime shows, like One Punch Man, Death Note, Made in Abyss, or Tokyo Ghoul.
What has been your favorite date together?
SM: I’ve really enjoyed going to see Broadway shows with her because I had never gone before, and it’s cool to see how excited she gets about how talented the performers are.
JL: We got invited to spend a weekend in a cabin in the Catskills, and it was so re-energizing to be surrounded by nature, and also cool to see his fire-making and grilling skills. It was pretty badass. He's pretty badass.
What’s one word to describe your sex life?
Why do you think your relationship works?
SM: We communicate well and we operate on similar values and logic systems.
JL: It’s about being a team. We both put in the effort. We support, respect, appreciate, and admire each other. We want the same things in a relationship, and have a similar sense of humor. We're both committed to helping each other grow, and growing together; we prioritize each other and our relationship. It’s really felt like we’ve brought out the best in each other this past year. And I feel grateful every day that we met.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from each other?
SM: To not be ashamed of things that I believe in or am proud of.
JL: It's OK to ask for help. I've always been really independent and self-reliant, but he has taught me it's OK to lean on others emotionally. As cliché as it sounds, he's definitely been my rock.
What’s your best advice for people on dating apps?
SM: Just go on the date. Don’t debate whether or not it’s worth going on or make an excuse beforehand. Don’t overthink things.
JL: It's easy to be jaded when it comes to dating apps, especially if you've been on them for a while, but remember that people can surprise you, and be open to that. I never would have expected to find someone who makes me so happy and loved, but life's funny like that sometimes.