The New York Times’ “How to Fix the Person You Love” explores a possible contradiction in modern-day relationships. We desire a life partner who can do two things: love us unconditionally, and push us to become the best version of ourselves. How can our partners cherish and value the person we are now, while also motivating us to grow into the person we can become? It isn’t easy to achieve, but for the couples who can pull it off, “something extraordinary awaits.”
Kahlan and Jake are one of those rare couples. As I listen to their story, I’m blown away by their authenticity and the admiration they share for one another. They are each other’s cheerleader, best friend, and biggest fan — all in one.
The pair met for the first time through the Marriage Pact in the fall of 2019, during their junior year at Stanford, and have been together ever since. They graduated in 2021 and both moved on to law school: Jake remained at Stanford while Kahlan headed to the University of Texas, in her home state.
Kahlan: Long distance has never felt like a chore. I’ve never felt like it was too much, or that we had a lot of trouble communicating. When we got into different law schools, we were just like, “Okay, we can do this.” The only thing that’s hard about it is that I miss Jake.
Jake: A few times a week, there comes a point where I want to hug you so badly that I wish I could tear a rift in the universe and just teleport to you.
They take me back to the start of their relationship more than 2 years ago, which began with an email and a 99 percent compatibility match.
Admittedly, things were a bit complicated at first.
Kahlan: When we first took the survey and got our results, I had a boyfriend at the time, but that just all went downhill. That relationship was incredibly complicated — not because he was objectively a bad guy, but because we were just really, really incompatible. And it was actually the second time he had broken up with me, so I was like, it’s time for a clean slate.
That’s actually part of why I took the Marriage Pact — I was interested in what it really means to be compatible with me. I just wanted to try to be really true to myself and see who I get.
Jake: I didn’t reach out at first, because I got the name, and I did my sleuthing, my stalking. And I was like, “Oh, she cute. But I see she has a mans in all of these photos.” So I was holding off.
Once things settled, Kahlan took the initiative to reach out.
Kahlan: I was having a rough time that quarter, and I just really wanted to meet new people. And I just feel like there’s so much hype surrounding the Marriage Pact, and they told me this was a 99 percent match. So I just thought, “He’s cute, I should just go and figure this out.”
Jake: So in January, Kahlan sent me a DM and was like “Yo, you a cutie.” She didn’t actually say that, but you get it. But then we went to Coupa, and we went on a nice little walk and talked for like three hours.
I asked the pair about their favorite moments from their first meet-up.
Jake: I don’t really remember, I just remember staring at you. I do vividly recall that you wore boat shoes and a Patagonia quarter zip, and have never worn that outfit again since.
Kahlan laughs wholeheartedly.
Jake: But I also remember we talked about our anxieties and the world being so big, and that the small space we got to have with each other was so nice and comforting.
Kahlan: I remember at the end of our walk, as we were heading in separate directions, we joked about what the color palette for our wedding was going to be. I remember being super anxious about that, like, “Does he think I’m a total weirdo?”
Kahlan and Jake crossed paths again at Full Moon on the Quad, a pre-pandemic Stanford tradition in which students were invited to kiss or hug strangers under the stars (you can probably guess what happened).
Jake: We did a smidgen of smooching. And then we had our first official evening date a week after that.
Kahlan: On that date, I remember that we did the New York Times “36 Questions that Lead to Love.” I remember feeling so emotional and vulnerable. And I thought, “Wow, this is getting really deep, and I haven’t really known this guy for that long.”
But at the same time, I just felt so at ease. Jake just has a really wonderful presence, and I love the space that we create when we’re together. I always feel like I have a teammate, and that’s how I felt in that moment. I wasn’t being judged at all, and he was so compassionate. I just thought, wow. Jake is just a really good guy.
Jake: I asked Kahlan to officially date me for about a month and a half. We were basically low-key dating during that time, and she kept being like, “I don’t know if I’m ready,” but I was just thinking, like, I’m gonna date the crap out of you.
Kahlan and Jake made it official on February 15. Things flowed beautifully over the next few months.
Kahlan: Literally from that first day we met, Jake has just been so kind and compassionate and open. It was just the easiest thing in the world to talk to him. And it kept getting easier, because in the beginning I just thought, “Okay, let’s just see where this goes, no expectations, no pressure.” But then the ball just kept rolling. I was having a really hard time, and Jake was so supportive and compassionate. And I thought, wow, he is a really incredible person. Over the course of those three months before we had to leave for the pandemic, I was just like, damn.
When COVID hit Stanford in March 2020, Kahlan and Jake were forced to part ways, heading home to Houston and Las Vegas, respectively. Though the distance seemed daunting, the couple charged forward with conviction, uplifting one another at every step along the way.
Kahlan: When we first left to go home, I thought, “Oh my gosh, this new relationship is really wonderful, but I know distance makes things complicated.” So I went to talk to Jake about this and said, “Do you want to take a break? What’s the plan?” And Jake was like, “What do you mean? We’re gonna call, it’s totally fine.” He just had utter confidence, and I was like, “Woah, you’re right! It is gonna be fine!”
Jake: We really put in the work, and called every night, and we came out stronger because of it. Kahlan has just been my one constant through everything. She’s truly a teammate.
Luckily, Kahlan and Jake didn’t remain apart for long. They embarked on a plethora of adventures during their time away from campus, traveling everywhere from Colorado to Tahoe to Beverly Hills.
Jake: There was a while where we counted how many different beds we had slept in. We’ve met at Laguna, we’ve met at my place in Vegas, I’ve been to Houston, we stayed in a house in LA. We’ve been to Colorado, we had a house in Tahoe, all over the place.
Kahlan: For my birthday, which is during the summer, I just really missed all of my friends, and I was like, “Hey guys, I’m gonna get a house by Lake Tahoe, and once we’re all tested we can meet up and spend a week together in this house.” So we went up there in July, and after that I came down to Vegas with Jake to meet his parents. And they are so wonderful. I was just like, “Wow, what a family.”
And then after that, we went to Laguna, which was our last hurrah before starting school again.
Jake: That trip was just so magical. It was really just us against the world for the first time. We drove from Las Vegas to LA, and normally I’d be nervous for a four hour drive, but we were just vibing the whole time.
Kahlan: Oh, it was so fun! We were just listening to different SoundCloud remixes the whole way there. We were like, giving our reviews of each one and were debating like, “Wait, which playlist should this one go on?”
Jake: And when we got there, it was just a cute little cottage, and it was just the two of us. And it was so fun to see how we could have a house together. There was one point where Kahlan was commenting on this circular clock on the wall, and she just goes, “It’s such a perfect circle.” And I was just like, “I love you so much.”
Kahlan: There was one night where we were just sitting on a beach together, looking at the ocean. It was just magical, and I was just like, “This is my buddy.”
I don’t have any favorite trips because as cheesy as it sounds, my favorite is just being with him. I have just so thoroughly enjoyed every small trip ever since we have been together.
Kahlan and Jake returned to campus with the other Stanford seniors after a “a year of Exodus,” as Jake explains it. They ended up across the hall from one another — which only had one downside.
Kahlan: Twin sized beds are harder to cuddle in.
Jake: I’m a big stickler about my sleep. And so I told Kahlan, like, I don’t think we can sleep together in the same bed. But that wasn’t doable. And I regret every night that I didn’t spend with you.
Kahlan and Jake graduated that spring hand-in-hand.
Kahlan: We were in line together, we sat by each other for our graduation, we went to the same graduation parties together afterwards. I’ve shared so many big moments with him. He’s been such a big part of my life.
Jake: You have been the defining person in my adult life, absolutely.
Kahlan and Jake have been partners for each other in every sense of the word. The love that runs between them is clear upon first glance. They admire each other, encourage each other, bring out the best in each other, and find joy in one another’s accomplishments. They even looked to each other for inspiration when it came to choosing career paths.
Jake: I think the pandemic created a lot of job uncertainty. So neither of us were really sure what was gonna happen next. But like, dude, Kahlan’s brilliant. I always thought you were gonna go to law school. You’re a champ, and just so articulate, your brain works fantastically. But we both just kind of decided that this is the thing we want to do. But I love that we have that as a point of commonality, even though we’re at different schools. It’s really wonderful.
To wrap things up, I asked them to share one thing they loved about the other. They passed the test with flying colors.
Kahlan: We just have so much fun together. He’s just so steadfast and makes me feel much better about the world. He’s really taught me how to take up space without apologizing, and just be unapologetic about who I am. Early in our relationship I would apologize for things, and he would be like, “Why are you apologizing?” and I would think, “You’re right, why am I apologizing?”
I feel so much more optimistic when I’m around him. He’s the best man I know. Like, truthfully. I can go on rants about the patriarchy and he’s like, “Yeah babe, you’re right, go off.”
Jake: You’re so kind, you’re so warm, you’re so empathetic. You’re unapologetically loud, and I hate when anyone in the world says that like it’s a bad thing. Your laugh is magnificent, and when you sing in the car or in the shower, it’s just my favorite thing. With you, I just feel like I’m a better me.
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