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Meet-cutes: Do They Happen in Real Life?

It may be a common romantic comedy trope, but for these three couples, life indeed imitates art.

By Mary Lim

We’ve all seen it in the movies: A boy and a girl meet in the most hilarious or awkward way, but through the course of the film, they find a way to overcome the initial strange encounter and eventually wind up together.

But do such larger-than-life first encounters happen in reality? And do they lead to love? We speak to three couples to find out.

#1 He came by her house to sell something; she was unimpressed

It was in 2007, and Hema Latha just had a particularly busy day at work in the morning and then at her university convocation ceremony later. It was late when she arrived home, and she was exhausted.

But Hema had promised a friend that she would listen to her give a presentation on some medical products that she was selling. The friend brought her manager along, who turned out to be none other than Marippan.

Given her exhaustion, Hema wasn’t too enthused about the encounter. She listened politely to the presentation, but the man who later become her husband made no impression on her. “I didn’t even remember what her manager’s name was, nor how he looked like after our first meeting!” Hema confesses.

This feeling, however, was far from mutual. Marippan was instantly attracted to his new friend.

“I still recall how she looked when we first met,” he shares. “She’d just reached home and was still wearing her convocation gown!

A mutual friend told him Hema would never be interested in him, as she was very focused on building her career at that point of time.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in romance then, and I certainly didn’t set out to impress him,” Hema reveals.

For a less courageous person, the story would have ended here, but Marippan is nothing like that. “I have always been a confident person, and I felt she would be open to giving me a chance once we got to know each other better.”

It seems fate, too, had plans for them. As it turns out, the pair had quite a number of mutual friends. Marippan added her on Friendster, then the most popular social media platform, and the pair started hanging out, initially with other friends. As Marippan predicted, once they got to know each other better, Hema opened up to him. They began going on several dates, and eventually got together a few months later.

Today, the couple, both 35, are married with a four-year-old daughter. They admit their first meeting wasn’t exactly a fairy-tale encounter, but a relationship that has slowly blossomed into one.

“We are different in temperament. I am more reserved whereas he is outgoing and approachable. But he loves my family and friends, and knows how to get along with them. You can describe us as jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together!” Hema laughs.

#2 He prank-called her; she told him off*

It started as a prank call.

Daniel, who was then 19, had called Joan’s number as a joke. He had received her phone number through a mutual friend and simply thought it would be funny to call her asking for another friend of his, as a means of getting to know her.

For Joan, it was, needless to say, exasperating, and she found her patience wearing thin after having to repeatedly tell him she was not Ching. She angrily told him off. That would have been the end of their story, but their common friend convinced her to come along to meet Daniel at a fast-food restaurant a week later. Not expecting much, but decided to be open to meeting someone new, Joan agreed to meet. Sparks flew, and the rest is history.

“She looked like a nice girl next door, but her hair was styled like a mop,” Daniel teases.

Joan shares: “I noticed his broad shoulders. He didn’t talk much but I thought he had this down-to-earth vibe, so I felt I could trust him.”

They met frequently as friends and with other friends for movies, meals and other activities. As he was in National Service then, they chatted over the phone whenever he was allowed to make calls.

“We got to know each other more and gradually, our feelings developed,” says Joan, now 39.

He made the first move by holding her hand at a friend’s birthday party. They dated for nine years before getting hitched in 2006. Both are parents of an eight-year-old girl.

Daniel, now 41, admits their first meeting was quite a funny one in hindsight, and that he didn’t think Joan would have wanted to meet him after how annoyed she sounded, nor that they would end up together for the long term. “I’m definitely happy that she decided to give us a chance!” he laughs.

#3 He drove her to a date; she ended up going out with him*

Limei was on her way to a date and needed a ride. Her ride, via Grab Hitch, was Boon. She wasn’t interested in making conversation with him, but he was chatty by nature and wanted to know what her zodiac sign was.

“She appeared reserved but when she told me she was Piscean, I was blown away. I’m Sagittarian, and I’d read that we would make a great couple,” says Boon, 29.

Seeing this as a sign from the stars, he texted her that very evening. “I was very candid about my intentions; I asked if she was seeing someone – No? Yay!”

Limei, 27, was a little taken aback and did not know what to make of Boon’s boldness. “I found him intimidating because he was so outspoken. I’ve never had a Grab driver ask me about my zodiac sign.”

She nevertheless decided to give it a shot, and the pair struck up a friendship over WhatsApp in May. They texted each other a lot, talking about “everything, especially travel”. Limei found her new suitor “a sweet guy” who was fun to be with, and she was particularly tickled by his liberal use of emojis.

After a week, they went on their first date, which included stargazing in the Dempsey neighbourhood. “I am into astronomy and had a telescope in my car. I showed her the Moon, Jupiter and other stars,” Boon lets on.

The couple made their relationship official in July. “My mother was a little shocked by how we had met but after meeting Boon, she knows he’s a good man,” Limei says.

[*Names have been amended.]