Related Rates of Change: Adam and Isabel

Soul mates, twin flames, kindred spirits. Whether or not you personally subscribe to the concept, the odds are high that there’s someone out there that you’re incredibly, if not eerily, similar to, from your personal values to your hobbies and interests. However, due to distance or circumstance, there’s no telling what obstacles stand in your way of meeting them. What are the chances that you and your other half actually find each other? Low, right?

Maybe, unless you’re Adam and Isabel, seniors at Case Western Reserve University.

During their junior year, Adam, a math and physics major, heard about the Marriage Pact from friends and took it because it seemed like it could be funny. Isabel, an anthropology and environmental studies major, was bugged by a friend until she finally relented and filled out the questionnaire. She wasn’t looking for anything in particular and figured that she could potentially meet someone interesting that she might not find otherwise.

Might not find otherwise is right— despite their whopping 99.5% match quality percentage, Adam and Isabel had never met before. On top of that, as the two were in entirely different programs and neither was on social media, the odds that they would have become friends any other way were pretty slim.

Isabel: When we matched, I went to all my friends who have social media and I was like, “can you look this guy up,” and they said, “he doesn't exist on social media.” So I was like, ‘I guess I'll just have to meet him in person.’ I'm not really a socially awkward person in the fact that if I want to talk to someone, I'll just be like, ‘fuck it,’ and I'll just talk to them.

Adam: I remember you sent an email with your phone number in it and I texted you within a few hours. We talked a little bit for two or three days, and then it was a Friday afternoon and we met up at a coffee house.

The two’s first meeting was a little awkward at first, but pleasant overall.

Adam: Warm, too, but that’s because I’m just a very warm person.

Isabel: I know, like a hot pack.

Adam: A space heater. We sat outside, and I felt a little awkward at first because it's like, ‘what are the implications here, exactly?’ But then as soon as Isabel had said it was something casual and for friends, it eased up a lot from there. And… very quickly we found out we're the same exact person. Very quickly, with interests, our responses and thought processes… even though we're so different in major, we just quickly learned that… it's like I'm talking to myself.

Isabel: It would be, like, weird if it were romantic.

Isabel explained that the two felt more like intellectual siblings than romantic prospects. According to her, people in a romantic relationship should differ a bit, and there’s an optimal amount of similarity between couples. If you go over it, you’ll find someone that you’re very compatible with in a platonic context, but maybe not anything beyond it.

Isabel: I’m happy it was a friendship thing because I would much rather find a good friend than someone I might date. I think… I don’t know. Making friends when you’re an adult is hard, especially during college after COVID. I didn’t have many friends when I came back because freshman year we got cut off before I got really close to anyone.

As they talked further, the pair found more and more aligned hobbies and interests—they’re both fans of Studio Ghibli, fitness, sharing memes, and having deep, spiraling conversations about just about anything.

Adam: Whenever a conversation would come up, and we’d be talking about something, whatever it was, we would always agree. I can't think of anything in particular because it's so circumstantial, it's based on the conversation, but we always hold the same or similar opinions. I don't think we could ever fight on anything because we agree on everything.

Isabel: We like having deep intellectual conversations about things, even if we don't understand what the other is talking about. He can go deep into a physics thing, and I can appreciate that he's really enthusiastic about it, but also I have no idea what he’s talking about, but it’s still so fun.

Distance has made it hard for the pair to hang out as much as they would like, as over the summer Isabel was in Israel and will finish out the year in Germany, but the two are looking forward to meeting up again for graduation.

When asked what the two appreciated about their match the most, Isabel shared that despite his intimidating frame, Adam is incredibly gentle and loves animals. Adam described Isabel’s “unyielding kindness”, and that it’s always clear she cares about everyone, anything, everything.

Isabel: You have to care, too, because we're both kind of… I don't know. Relationships are give and take, and sometimes you're at a time in your life when you have to take a little more than usual. I think we were both at a time when we were in need of that. We were both incredibly stressed out and struggling with school for different reasons, whether it was overwork or anxiety about the future. I think it worked that we were both takers because we were also both givers, so anything we took for ourselves was given back.

Adam: It just balanced out so perfectly. Not to make this a confusing math analogy, but it’s a related rates of change thing. We were at a point where we were both taking and pulling in, but the amount of support we were pushing out in order to keep each other balanced… it was a perfect equilibrium. It worked out super well.

Isabel: Perhaps the sweetest math analogy I’ve ever heard.