6 Couples Who Fell In Love On The Subway

Nearly 8.5 million people live in New York City and more than half of them ride the subway’s 22 lines every day. Without question, the MTA is the lifeblood of Gotham City. But it’s also the cause of countless anxieties. As a result, we board the train with our iPhones, iPads, and Nooks in our hands and headphones snug over our ears as if we’re suiting up for battle every time we pass through those sliding metal doors (which, let's be honest, we kind of are).
Every once in a while, though, someone peeks out from behind the iBarricade and catches eyes with a stranger. You could say, in that moment, they might even fall in love. It happens a thousand times a day to millions of people. Missed Connections was created for a reason, right? So, we’ve scoured the Big Apple for tales of traded glances that spun into obsessions; conversations that turned into dates; email exchanges that started month-long flings. What we found? Engagements, marriages, and life-long commitments that all started with the simple swipe of a metrocard. And while these may sound like the stuff Rom-Com dreams are made of (we’re looking at you Gwyneth), these stories aren’t just fantasies. Here, six couples open up about how they broke all (the alleged) rules, and found love on the New York City Subway. Hey, you never know who it might happen to next.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Alicia & Seth
It was 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night at the end of August this past summer. Alicia got on the 4/5 at Union Square, heading south toward Brooklyn. “I wasn’t even supposed to be on the subway,” says Alicia. Her drink with a couple of friends had rendered her bicycle a-less-attractive option, though not all together useless.

From the opposite side of the crowded car, she made eyes with Seth. “I looked up and there were all these people,” he says. “But, sometimes there’s just a line of sight to someone.” Two stops later — and after more surreptitious checking out — the train completely cleared. “To me, it was like the Red Sea parting," says Seth. “I was just like, ‘This is a sign. I have to go over there.’”

Alicia, who remembers turning bright red, imagined a hundred different scenarios in the time it took him to cross the train. “He had a silly, stupid, sweet line; something like, ‘You can’t smile at a guy like that and expect him not to say hello.’” It was a move Seth had not prepared.

The conversation went to her bright blue bike, then their careers, and so on. “I’m thinking in my mind, I’ve gotta keep thinking of other things to talk about so I can keep talking to her,” says Seth. But, with a surprising number of commonalities, it didn’t prove too difficult. “It just seemed like all these things were happening for a reason,” he says. “It was just so easy to talk to her — we just clicked so well.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Both Alicia and Seth got off together at Franklin Avenue to head to their respective homes, but decided to continue their conversation instead. They wandered their shared neighborhood for a while until they landed at Alicia’s front step. “It was just seamless,” says Alicia. “Any kind of concerns I had had gone away by that point. The only thing that was going through my mind was that I really wanted him to kiss me.”

And, so he did.

At the time, Seth and Alicia couldn’t have been in more different places when it came to dating. “I was absolutely not looking for anything,” says Seth. He had just come out of a long-term relationship and was enjoying single life, playing the field with the help of his friends, and on occasion, JDate.

Alicia, on the other hand, had been single for the past three years, and was ready to find someone to love. Having worked her way through her own network and the algorithms of OkCupid, by the beginning of August she had sworn off dating. “I can’t look for this anymore,” she remembers thinking. “If it comes to me, then it comes to me.” And then, of course, it did.

Over the next couple of days, the pair kept in touch. On a whim at 4 p.m. on a Friday, Alicia asked if Seth wanted to see the last of the fireworks at Coney Island. “He had his chance to be brave, so I figured it was my turn,” she says. Seth said yes, and the two have been dating ever since.

“It’s just totally romantic,” says Seth. “It’s like a movie. It’s amazing.”

“In many ways it’s the most New York story,” says Alicia.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Jillian & Ulysse
Jillian boarded an eastbound L train two nights after Valentine's Day. She had worked long hours and felt rundown and disheveled, and “wearing an outfit that only girls would think is cute,” she says.

As her ride progressed, she was pushed by the flow of bodies to the railing beside a seated man, Ulysse, who had seen her get on the train. “I remember thinking she was a beautiful girl,” he says. But, like millions of other people we see on the subway, he didn’t think much of it.

Moments later, a woman wearing a kid’s plush monkey backpack and a scarf with a fringe of baby doll heads entered the car. Both Ulysse and Jillian caught eyes and began to laugh. “It was really strange and definitely worth commentary," says Jillian. Ulysse took advantage of the opportunity, and the two started talking. “It’s those kind of organic moments that get the ball rolling,” he says. “The opportunity came up, so I made the move.”

A few stops later, they both exited the train at First Ave — she for home, he to visit with a friend — and they took their walk together, talking the whole way. As Ulysse began to bear right, Jillian kept up, opting to go the back way home to maintain the dialogue. “I can’t describe it, but it felt like such a natural conversation — one that you’d have with a friend you’ve known for a while,” she says. Ulysse thought the exact same thing, “It literally felt like I knew her; nothing was forced,” he says.

Finally, they came to their point of divergence and traded their information, with a caveat. “It wasn’t just that we exchanged emails — everyone does that,” he says. “I wanted to be different.” So, he suggested that they each write up a fictionalized story imagining backpack girl’s day.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
As promised, the next morning he emailed her with his story, and she sent him hers in return. A week and a half later they met up for their first official date. “At the time I was on OkCupid, just having fun dating, feeling very nonchalant about it,” says Jillian. “And then he came along.” Ulysse, who was busy starting his own business, hadn’t dated anyone in two-and-a-half years.

After their second date, Ulysse told her about his past. She realized that many of the things he was telling her resonated. “I was in this place where I haven’t opened myself up to anyone in a really long time,” she says. “I got a little bit scared because I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t really know what to think.”

Jillian ended her other relationships, and she and Ulysse started dating exclusively. Nearly two years later, they’re still together.

“You never really know where you’re going to find love,” she says. “I don’t know if I necessarily believe in fate, but I feel like it’s just so funny that the person I felt most comfortable with in so many years — that I opened myself up to — I met in such a strange way: on a train among strangers. Who knows if we would have ever met otherwise?”

“That’s why I think meeting on the train is so perfect, because it’s so unexpected,” she continues. “People always say that the person you’re meant to meet will just come out of nowhere at an unexpected time, and it absolutely did.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Dane & Kris
One day in May, Kris boarded a very packed car on the R train. It was rush hour, and he had just gotten off of work. He should have been out having drinks with his coworkers, but when they cancelled on him, he headed for home instead.

Kiddy-corner to the seat he managed to wrangle, Kris spotted Dane. “He was attractive — totally my type,” says Kris. “I wanted to try to introduce myself to him.”

They were already in the tunnel and Kris had to think fast. “I figured I had to find out how long I had to talk to him,” he says, so he asked Dane at which station he was getting off. The two spent the next six or seven stops chitchatting. “Being very shy, I was very conscious of the people around me,” says Dane. “But I decided to continue the conversation with him anyway.”

At the time, Kris was tired of being single and was ready to start a relationship. “It’s hard to meet people here,” he says. “I would make any step I could to not be lonely.” And, while he’s a self-proclaimed people watcher and often the initiator in social situations, he had never picked anyone up on the subway before.

Dane, on the other hand, had more or less sworn off dating altogether. “I had actually given up,” he says. “I totally just surrendered myself, because I was trying so hard to meet someone. And, then it happened.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
At the end of his ride, Kris quickly took out a business card and scribbled out a note, handing it over the crowds around him. Dane grabbed it and put it directly into his pocket.

On the platform, Dane pulled out the note, which read, “It’d be nice to go out and do something sometime. If you want, give me a call.” It struck Dane as bold. “We’ve all been on dates where we’ve waited two days, three days, but I’m like, ‘No, I’m going to call him right away,’” he says. “It took balls to do that on the train.” So, as soon as Dane got home, he called Kris and they set up a date for the next evening.

“We've been together ever since,” says Kris. That was 11 years ago. “I was glad I did it. I didn’t want the opportunity to pass me by. We would have never been together if I hadn’t done that.” Now, the two joke about holding a flash mob wedding ceremony on the R train in honor of their chance encounter.

“A lot of people don’t play on their emotions anymore,” says Dane. “It was more about how we felt without even saying anything. How comfortable it was talking to each other. How easy it was. It felt like we knew each other before.”

“I was never ready to be in such a heavily crowed place, and be so open with someone,” he continues. “But, it happened, and it just felt right.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Jacklyn & David
Jacklyn had a habit of waking early to run in Prospect Park. She had just moved to Brooklyn, and was off for the summer before starting a new semester at NYU. One Friday morning in August, like many others before it, she and her roommate, Amber, boarded the R train.

“I was talking to my friend, and my back was to the door,” says Jacklyn. “I felt this heat on my body — the way you feel when you know someone is staring at you.” She turned and spotted a tall, attractive man with a red tie, pretending, albeit poorly, to read the paper. “Normally you don’t see his type looking at asses,” she says. And, she was flattered.

David had seen Jacklyn through the car window as the subway pulled up to the station. He claims it was her bright blue-green eyes and nothing else that first caught his eye. “I thought she smiled at me,” he says. So he sped up on the platform to catch her car, pulled out his paper, and started looking. One stop later, she had her headphones in, and she was gone.

The next week, Jacklyn got on the train every day in the same location, confident she would see “red tie guy” again. But, it wasn’t until Friday that she found him sitting across the train talking to a friend. And, like the time before, his eyes followed her as she jogged off the train.

The next day, David spotted Jacklyn and Amber standing in line at their local movie theater. Pretending to be on his phone, he walked to the front so they could see him and then returned to his place at the back of the line. Jacklyn spent all of Crazy, Stupid, Love. wondering if she’d ever see him again. Outside the theater, they crossed paths once more. This time, the eye contact was prolonged. Jacklyn turned quickly to break the stare and started walking away, convinced, at this point, that his silence meant he was taken. “I’m shy. I’m from Florida,” says David. “It’s just different.”

Neither Jacklyn nor David was seeing anyone at the time. They had both just come out of long-term relationships and were interested in testing out a single lifestyle facilitated by dating websites. “I felt like online dating was what you had to do in New York,” says Jacklyn. But this was something different.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
So both Jacklyn and David headed home from the theater, walking down parallel streets as rain started to fall. “Every time we would hit an avenue, I would look over and see him,” says Jacklyn. David, meanwhile, was doing his best to keep pace. Eventually, the roads converged and they shared the same street. But, once again, no one said a thing. “This is a kind of weird thing to say, but it was very predatory,” she says. “It felt like this exciting feeling when you keep seeing this same person.”

That night, the two went on craigslist's Missed Connections to see if the other had posted an ad. Neither had the courage to write. Instead, Jacklyn posted on her Facebook, “I like this game we’re playing,” and decided to hit every bar in the area in an attempt to track him down. David, meanwhile, spent the entire night curled up at home sulking for having wasted three perfect opportunities.

On Monday and Tuesday, Jacklyn took to her train routine again but didn’t find David. After two weeks of cat and mouse, she had given up.

The next morning, Amber found Jacklyn in bed instead of in her workout clothes. Jacklyn had had enough, and her roommate left for work alone. Waiting for her transfer at Atlantic Avenue, Amber spotted “red tie guy.” Taking matters into her own hands, she charged forward and offered him Jacklyn’s email. This time, he finally said something.

Later that day, David sent Jacklyn a long email introducing himself. “I thought it was endearing that he was telling me so much,” says Jacklyn. “He didn’t know me; he didn’t know anything about me, and he’s offering me all this information. I think it kind of made me feel safe in that sense.” She wrote back, and the two planned their first date at the Black Horse Saloon. Two years later, they're still together and getting married this winter.

“I think back to all of my past relationships, and they've always been either through a mutual friend, through work, or an online meeting,” says Jacklyn. “On our first date, meeting a complete stranger, I felt more of a connection than in any of those past relationships. That makes me have hope for those random encounters, because you don’t know if you’re missing something amazing.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Jess & James
One morning about four months ago, Jess started her commute on the R train a bit earlier than usual. From across the car, she spotted a guy reading Tender is the Night. “F. Scott Fitzgerald. I thought that was really attractive,” she says. James noticed her looking at him, and they made eye contact. “I by no means usually check people out on the subway,” says Jess, “but for whatever reason I was feeling really bold.”

For the next two stops, Jess and James took turns trading glances. “There’s a certain decorum to checking people out on the subway,” James explains. At Dekalb, they both got off to catch their respective transfers. Jess’s came immediately, and she hopped on. “I saw him through the doors and I just grinned,” she says. James reciprocated, unabashedly. “The doors close and you just assume you’re never going to see them again,” he adds.

The next day, Jess planned to board the R in the same spot, hoping she would find James again. Though they timed it right, the two ended up on opposite sides of the train, too far to talk. Right then and there, James made up his mind. “If I saw her three days in a row, I was going to talk to her and get her number,” he says.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
The following morning, James didn’t find Jess on the R, but, he wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip. So, he got off at Dekalb and, letting his transfer go by, decided to wait for her instead. He spotted Jess coming off the next train and followed her onto the B. “I think the first thing I asked him was ‘Can you take this train?’” says Jess.

And so, the two began their first conversation over the Manhattan Bridge. “It was kind of awkward because it’s the morning commute and everyone is really quiet,” she says. But, they went for it anyway, learning the basics of each other’s lives.

“We just had rapid-fire questions: Where do you live? What do you do? Where’d you go to school? Where are you from?” says James. “There was a certain momentum going.” At the end of her ride, Jess gave James her number and told him she was headed out of town for the week. After all of that, James was convinced they would never see each other again.

But, as fate — and some good planning — would have it, the two found each other once again in the same place, same time on the R the week Jess returned. James finally had the chance to ask her to dinner, and the pair went out for their first official date.

After that, they made it a point — separately — to see each other every morning. “We kind of figured out when we were taking the morning commute so we could take the same train every day,” says James. “That’s decently intense, having gone on only one date.”

Up until a few weeks ago — when James moved from the neighborhood — the couple kept up the tradition. “I was on time for like three months,” says Jess. “Now that he’s taking another train, I’m late again.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Jenny & Jon
Jenny met Jon while riding the C home from work one snowy day in January 2011. It was her regular commute home from Chelsea to the Upper West Side, but she got on the train a bit later than usual.

She looked up from her seat and noticed a “good-looking guy” standing about 30 feet away. “He was wearing glasses and looked really smart, kind, and thoughtful,” she said. “There must have been something about his body language that said, ‘I’m not a jerk.’”

Recognizing how quiet the train was, she chose not to strike up a conversation while an audience stood by. “I just didn’t want it to be a spectacle,” she said. Instead, she made a deal with the universe that if he got off at her stop, she'd find an excuse to talk to him. Three stations later, he exited the train at 59th Street. This was not Jenny’s stop.

But, rather than leave fate to decide the connections she made and missed, she ran off the train to catch up with Jon.

Jenny was 30 and looking to fall in love. She had tried online dating and other ways of meeting people, but she had yet to find the one. “I’m not shy,” she says. “I have a pretty go-getter approach to life.” Still, she had never followed anyone off the subway before. As she saw it, it was win-win no matter what. “If he’s taken, he’ll be flattered and then I have my answer,” she remembers thinking. “I won’t have to go home and wonder if I ever see that guy again in 8 million people.”
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Bundled in winter clothing and without a clue of what to say, Jenny tapped Jon on the shoulder. "Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you,” she began. “You're wearing gloves, so I can't tell if you're wearing a wedding ring. However, in the event that you're not married, you were on my subway, and I thought you were cute. Any chance I could give you my business card?"

“Stuff just came out of my mouth,” she says. Impressed, flattered, and slightly taken aback, he said, "Hi, I'm Jon." She handed him her business card, told him her name, and the two walked off in separate directions.

Jenny was actually the third woman to give Jon her information that night. “That doesn’t happen usually,” he says. He was coming from a Jewish networking event and heading to a friend’s house, and the fact that he was even using the subway was a particular rarity.

Five years younger than Jenny, he was dating casually on J-Date at the time, not looking for anything serious. But he called Jenny the next day anyway, and the two started seeing each other soon after.

“My whole life I wanted to have the adorable ‘meet-cute’ story,” Jenny says. “But, I had no problem being on J-Date and that being the way I met somebody. What was different here is that there wasn’t that expectation building of the written online profile and four perfect pictures that people have.”

“I’ve dated around many online sites and you know a lot of the stories because they’re up there,” Jon adds. “So, for us, meeting totally randomly, you get to discover each other that much more organically.”

“There was something really fun and different and special about the fact that we had this crazy subway meeting,” Jenny adds.

To make things even crazier, last month, Jon proposed to Jenny on the R train. The two are getting married this winter.
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Illustrated by Caitlin Owens.
Want to find love on the subway?
If you're as inspired by these connections as we are, than there's no reason it can't happen for us, too. To help step up our game, we chatted with subway matchmaker Erika Christensen, aka the “Love Conductor,” who scouts train lines with her team of cupids for viable singles.

Tempt fate
It takes more than just a close encounter to facilitate a first move. "We’re always asking the universe for signs but ultimately we’re looking for connections — whether it’s to the divine or what’s underground,” says Christensen. “Look for moments that allow you to connect in a natural, organic way,” she says. “The subway is rife with those sorts of experiences.”

Be real
“People are usually themselves on the train,” says Christensen. “Generally, what you’re getting is the person in their #realmoment.” As ill prepared as you might feel, there might be someone else who’s picking up on your au-natural vibe.

Take a risk
Everyone wants someone who's confident, says Christensen. “So put yourself out there, even if it doesn’t end in a win." All you need to do is make eye contact. “If someone is making eyes with you and then you get an expression out of them, it's like they’re begging you to come over and talk to them. I think that’s a very clear sign,” she says.

So, while we're not saying abandon your daydreaming or stash your earbuds on your commute, we are urging you to look up every once and a while; you never know who's looking back.

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