The anecdote that struck me the most from my conversation with UMich students Ari and Michael wasn’t from the first time they spoke. It wasn’t from their first date, or the many adventures that followed, either. It was from their breakup.
Their second breakup, to be exact, one that came minutes after an impromptu marriage proposal in the dining hall and the briefest of Marriage Pact-affiliated engagements, all while surrounded by dozens of other students.
Maybe some context is needed before we get to that.
Ari, an undecided sophomore, and Michael, a junior majoring in Biology, Health, and Society, hadn’t met before taking the Marriage Pact, but both were interested in meeting someone new. When the pre-match emails were released, Ari scoured YikYak looking for a user with the same initials as her match—
Michael: I would not have posted on YikYak…
—Before seeing a new follower on her Instagram page with the initials she was looking for. She reached out to Michael with a DM (after what she claims was 20 minutes and Michael asserts was 5) and the two chatted for a few hours before planning to meet for dinner a week later.
The days between Ari and Michael’s first DMs and their first date were not exactly filled with your typical first-impression nerves or awkward conversation. Instead, Ari explained the cross-campus game they'd started up in the meantime.
Ari: When we were texting on Snapchat at the beginning, we had this game we put in place. We were gonna meet a week later for dinner, but until then, we were playing tag on campus. Whoever saw the other person first had to go tag them. So the whole week leading up to it, I was in a state of constant fear.
Michael: I was making literal escape plans from my classes, like, ‘this girl’s gonna show up, and I’m gonna have to jump over this desk and get out the back door…’
Ari and Michael matched with a 99.8% quality percentile, and between their banter and fun, go-with-the-flow attitudes, it wasn’t hard to see why.
Michael: We’re both down for whatever. Like, I could text Ari and ask if she wants to go on an adventure and she wouldn’t know what I’m talking about but she’d be 100% down. I think… it’s very carefree, fun. That’s the main thing, or one of them.
Ari: I’m gonna second that, I feel like it’s not forced. We can do whatever we want and it’ll be fun because we make it fun.
A fitting segue, as this was typically when I’d ask about their favorite memories of things they’d done and adventures they’d been on together, but before Ari got far into recounting one of their escapades, she offhandedly mentioned that she’d won that game of tag. The Zoom call quickly devolved into the steady back-and-forth quips that I figured had become the cornerstone of their friendship.
Michael: You did not—
Ari: I did! I literally did! He came to pick me up from North and he let his guard down like a loser. And then became a loser.
Michael: Oh, you were talking about that. I forgot that we’d had to pause the game of tag we had before the first date, so you did win that tag, but I won at laser tag—
Ari: I won at laser tag too! What are you even talking about?!
They told me about a last-minute laser tag date, where the two faced off against the most fearsome of opponents: elementary schoolers. After the pair had, in Michael's words, kicked their assess, Ari explained that the day's fun had solidified her appreciation for her match.
Ari: I think that was when I knew that I really liked this person, that we clicked, personality-wise, when the competitiveness showed. He wasn’t the most humble loser, but not everyone's perfect.
After their first couple of dates, however, Ari and Michael agreed that they’d be better as friends. While the decision was mutual, Michael was the one to broach the subject, but later worked to ensure that they were on equal footing when it came to the who-left-who conversation.
Michael: When people would ask Ari about me and how it was going, she would have to say, “oh, he brought this up, he ended it,” and she kept complaining about that. So I was gonna be a gentleman. We were eating in one of the dining halls, and I got up and told her, like, “just go along with this. Trust me.” And I brought back some fried naan and I proposed to her in the middle of [the dining hall]. So we were engaged for, like, a minute and a half before I said, “Ari, do it,” and then she ended it. Now she gets to tell all of her friends that she ended it and I had to be embarrassed that my fiancée left. It was rough, but also a highlight of most things.
Ari: It just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe if it was in a different dining hall or something…
If their near-constant roasts and wisecracks are any indication, Ari and Michael’s friendship is a comfortable one, which they both welcome.
Ari: I feel like I have to try at a lot of things in life, and our relationship is just so effortless, it’s really refreshing. I feel like you tell me what I need to hear sometimes, which I really respect.
Michael: Generally, that advice is “cut the bullshit”.
Ari: And then I’m like, “yeah, I know, you’re right.” I feel like sometimes you know me better than I do in the moment. I trust you.
Michael: I appreciate that, thank you. I mean, for me, the carefree thing, just being up for anything all the time is a lot of fun. But she’s really easy to be around and talk to. I don’t feel judged, ever. I feel like I can sing as loud as I can, like, horribly, in the car, and she’ll always join in.