How to Know You’ve Found the One: Danny and Dea’s Story 

When two people are truly fated for each other, the Marriage Pact becomes little more than a safety net—a redundant nudge down a road they’ve already paved for themselves. 

Stanford graduates Danny and Dea had found their way to each other almost two years before the algorithm paired them together—and though they’re grateful for the backup, they’re pretty content with the way things turned out. Their nearly 90% match was just the cherry on top. 

Despite having adjacent friend groups on campus, Danny and Dea hadn’t crossed paths before winding up in the same cohort for their study abroad program in Germany. 

Dea:

We met when we both went abroad to Berlin through Stanford our junior year. We were in the same cohort, and it was a small group, so we ended up hanging out a lot. 

Danny:

Berlin was awesome. I really liked our cohort. Everyone there was just having such a great time. 

Dea:

It was super fun. The program directors were like, “You guys are the happiest group we’ve ever had. Why are you always smiling all the time?” which I thought was very sweet. 

Danny:

It was a good mix of people who didn’t know each other super well but had heard of each other, and a lot of people were in neighboring friend groups. Dea and I realized we had a ton of overlapping friends, so it was really funny that we had never met each other before. 

Dea:

It’s funny because the spring before we went abroad, my friend came back from a darty. She had a photo of her and this other girl that we knew, and this random guy. And I was like, “Who is this dude in this photo?” and she was like, “I have no idea who that is.” I remember saying, “He’s so cute, what the heck! You should figure out who this man is.” 

And then when I met Danny in Berlin, I sent a photo to that same friend of us together. I was like, “Look at this guy I met!” And then she put it all together. She was like, “Oh my gosh, Dea. That’s the guy from the photo.”

Danny and Dea instantly clicked on the first day of the program, and their interest in each other grew over the next ten weeks. 

Danny:

The very first day I talked to Dea was during our trip orientation. As soon as I had a conversation with her, I was like, “She’s a cool person. I can tell she’s gonna be a friend of mine.”

But then there was a time a week in or so, when we ended up being the only ones on a train together. And at that point I was like, “Okay, I really like this girl.”

At the end of the quarter, Danny and Dea had the chance to step outside the group setting and explore their undefined relationship one on one. 

Dea:

We never really went on a date in Berlin. We’d hang out in big groups and go do fun things, but not alone with each other. But Danny was planning on going to Switzerland after Berlin, and I was like, “Oh, that sounds so great!” And he was like, “Well, you should come with me.”

So after Berlin we went to Switzerland for three days. And we like to say we had our first date there. When we got there, there was no snow, but that night, it dumped like 2 feet. 

Danny:

It was the first snowfall they had gotten all year, and it just happened to be the night we showed up. 

Dea:

So we just walked through the snow together. We also ate fondue almost every single day. 

Danny:

It was such a great trip. One of my favorite memories was when we went to this giant hilltop attraction, and there’s a bridge made of glass that sticks off this cliff about 100 feet up. And I’m afraid of heights. 

I just remember walking out a little bit in front of Dea on this glass bridge, and looking down and thinking, “Yeah, this is a little too high for me.” And then Dea walks out there past me and just laughs at me. I was literally shaking. I tried to play it off and pretend I wasn’t scared, but it was very obvious. 

But then we finished our walk across this bridge, and it was just a gorgeous view. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it weren’t for her. 

When the holidays rolled around, Danny and Dea headed home to Orange County and Woodside, respectively, before reuniting on campus the following January.  

Dea:

We weren’t really pressed to adopt the boyfriend girlfriend label. When we came back we were going on dates, and I thought it was really fun. I called him my boy thing for a while. It was casual, but also, you know, kind of not. We started dating officially a few weeks in. 

The onset of COVID unfortunately cut their first quarter on campus together short. They both took a leave of absence the following school year: Dea flew to Denver to live with a group of friends, while Danny traveled back to Berlin for work. 

Danny:

We were long distance for a little more than 6 months. I was back in Berlin, so it was a significant time difference. 

Dea:

I lived in Denver with friends the fall of 2020, and Danny came back from Germany that same fall. Danny flew out to Denver to help me pack up all my stuff, and we took a road trip together back to California. 

I just remember thinking that he didn’t need to come all the way out there to do that. He helped me so much and it just felt so supportive. And then we spent 14 hours in a car together in one day. It was just so easy and fun and comfortable. I just realized how much I’d been missing him.

Danny:

When I told my mom I was going to take a road trip with her back to California, she was like, “This is the way you figure out if the relationship is gonna work, because you might drive each other nuts.”

And I remember getting a little worried. But then we went on the road trip, and it was great. It ended up being one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. So that was proof that I’m with the right person. 

Dea:

The funny part is that I was speeding because we were listening to the best song ever, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. And I got pulled over with my huge car full of all my stuff. I had a California license plate and a Biden sticker on my car in Utah, which was… well, you know. I was so nervous. I was literally shaking, I’d never been pulled over before. 

And he asked me, “Why are you going over the speed limit?” I just kinda froze and looked at him. And then Danny just says: “Big hill, heavy car.”

And the cop goes, “Checks out, have a nice day!” I was like, “This man is such a smooth talker. He can literally get me out of anything, I gotta take him everywhere.”

Danny and Dea rightfully spent the rest of their winter and spring together to make up for the lost time. 

Danny:

After that drive, we ended up living alone with each other in a cabin during winter of 2021. We had gone from months of long distance to barely seeing anyone but each other, since it was during the pandemic. 

Dea:

I’m big into building snowmen, and I got Danny into it too, so we definitely did that a lot. We also did a lot of skiing. And we ate some more fondue. 

And that spring, we both lived at my dad’s house, which was close to campus. A lot of people who took the year off wanted to be near campus so they could see their friends graduate. 

After nearly 18 months away from Stanford’s campus, Danny and Dea resumed their senior year together that September. Both regular Marriage Pact participants in previous years, Danny and Dea eagerly took the survey that fall, expecting another fun connection with a new friend. 

Danny:

We were just kind of doing it for fun.

Dea:

I love it. I’ve reached out to all my old Marriage Pact matches. 

Danny:

We didn’t fill it out next to each other at all, at completely different times. They sent out the initials first, and I got hers. I remember thinking, “Oh, that’d be funny if this is Dea.” But the odds were so slim.

Dea:

And then I got Danny’s initials, and he messaged me like, “Hold on, this is actually hilarious.” At that point, we were like, “If this isn’t us, that’d be wild.” We were so excited to see what it actually was. 

We immediately FaceTimed once we matched. I told one of my friends about it, and suddenly everyone knew. They were all like, “How hilarious is it that Danny and Dea matched?”

I could tell some people were kinda mad. They were like, “Oh my god, you’re that couple.”

We never looked at our answers, but we have some ideas why we matched. I’d say we’re not very judgemental people. On some of the questions that might be more polarizing or about dealbreakers, I think we tended to not care too much. 

Danny:

We also both have big families. And want big families, kids-wise. We’re also both motivated, but not excessively ambitious. 

Danny and Dea also overlap when it comes to academic interests. 

Dea:

I’m studying computer science and aeronautics, and he’s in mechanical engineering. When we came back from Berlin that first winter we were dating, we actually got to take a class together. 

I helped him do the stuff on time and he helped me actually understand it. It was early on in our relationship, and it was honestly super fun to work together. 

Danny:

Dea definitely helps me be more organized. And I think I help her be a little more patient. It’s a good combo. 

Dea:

He definitely does help me be more patient. If I could describe Danny in one word, I’d say supportive. I can get so caught up in my own thoughts and all the craziness, and he’s always there for me to help calm me down. I’m so thankful for that.

Danny:

Well, I could list a million things that I like about Dea. But one that really stands out, just because it’s such an integral part of her personality, is how kind she is. In everything she does, she always puts other people above herself. 

Whether crammed in a car together for 14 hours or separated by 5000 miles, Danny and Dea have been endless sources of support for one another through every challenge. What better way to know you’ve made the right choice. 

Of course, even if they hadn’t, the algorithm had their back. 

Dea:

We always say that if we hadn’t met each other in Germany, we would have met through the Marriage Pact a couple years later. So thanks, Marriage Pact.

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