Not every love story is perfectly scripted. From first-date flukes to an impromptu two-week isolation in the same small room, Tufts undergrads Phoebe and Sam weren’t initially dealt the best hand of cards. Yet after a year of wholehearted adventure and memory-making, the pair couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.
Like many Marriage Pact participants over the past two COVID-ridden years, Phoebe and Sam took the survey in an attempt to revitalize campus life with a splash of human connection.
Phoebe: It was a really weird year. It was hard to meet people organically, so everyone was super excited about it.
Sam: I wasn’t really expecting anything from it. I lived with a bunch of people and we all thought it seemed like an interesting thing to do, and at the very least we could talk to someone new. But once we got the match and she requested me on Instagram, I saw her thumbnail and thought, “Jesus, I’m never going to have this chance again.”
Phoebe and Sam’s story is somewhat unique: unlike most couples who meet through the Marriage Pact, their compatibility score didn’t even cross the 50 percent line.
Phoebe: We actually only had like 40 percent compatibility. The email we got basically told us, “I’m so sorry to do this to you, you have such slim chances.”
Sam: My theory about it is that I put very particular answers. I didn’t try to answer things generally, but gave really specific numbers.
Phoebe: And for me, there were so many questions, and I was like, “I don’t even know how to do this.” So I put a lot of middle-of-the-road answers.
Sam: But we really tried to figure it out, and see where the discrepancies were. Which is weird, because I think we’re really similar.
Phoebe: Yeah, I definitely think we are.
Fortunately, the numbers didn’t dissuade them. When the match email hit their inboxes in November 2020, Phoebe worked up the resolve to make the first move.
Phoebe: I was like, “Whatever, I’m feeling bold!” I followed him on Instagram first, but I also googled him because I wanted to know more. He’s in one of the a cappella groups and they had a homepage for all of their singers. So one of the first things I knew about him was that he’s an a cappella singer.
Sam: That’s the wrong first thing to know about someone.
After Phoebe’s initial advance, Sam wasted no time trying to connect after Thanksgiving break.
Sam: I don’t know exactly how long it was, but I asked you out pretty quickly. I wanted to impress her, so I kinda went the whole nine yards with it.
Admittedly, their first date was far from flawless — yet the series of fumbles and unfortunate events brought them closer together.
Phoebe: Our first date was a little silly. I was very nervous and had a little too much to drink right before. He picked me up in his car, and all my friends were like, pressed up to the window watching me.
Sam: It was the middle of winter, and I booked us a table outside at a restaurant in Boston on the river, for some reason. I think it was peak COVID times, so that’s probably why. But first of all, we couldn’t find the restaurant, and ended up walking around Seaport for like 20 minutes trying to find it, and we were late to our reservation. And when we got there, the waitress asked if we were okay sitting outside, and we were like “Yeah!” but then 10 minutes later we were like, “No…”
And by that time there were like 30 minutes before the restaurant closed for COVID protocol and stuff. So we ended up eating, like, a piece of broccoli and some bread and a bottle of wine for dinner. But my best play was definitely pre-ordering a bottle of wine for us. I think I really knocked your socks off. I just didn’t know she had pregamed, like, super hard before.
They both laugh at Phoebe’s decision-making.
Phoebe: But yeah, the bottle of wine was very cool. I didn’t really think people in college took people on real dates, so it was really nice.
When the holiday break rolled around, Phoebe headed home to Wisconsin, almost 1000 miles away from Sam’s home in New York. Despite the distance, Sam worked hard to keep the spark alive.
Sam: We were so far away from each other, and I thought she was way out of my league. I was afraid we were gonna go home and things would kinda end. So I really tried to talk to her. Phoebe’s not really good at texting, but we played a lot of iMessage games, and that’s how we stayed in touch.
Luckily, Sam and Phoebe reconnected for a second date shortly after returning to campus.
Phoebe: We went to a fun French restaurant that had outdoor greenhouse seating. I think he was still trying to impress me. It was a lot of fun. Except for the fact that I’m tall and uncoordinated, so–
Sam: Yeah, I think she’s like 3 inches taller than me.
Phoebe: Oh, that was another thing — on our first date he opened the door to help me get in the car, and I’m tall and love wearing platform shoes.
Sam: And I was wearing, like, the flattest pair of shoes that I own, which was funny. But the point is that leaving our second date, I think you knocked over a wine glass. And so we literally just sprinted away.
Phoebe: We paid! But we wanted to get out of there. And we couldn’t figure out how to get out the door.
Shortly following their second date, Phoebe and Sam encountered their greatest challenge yet.
Phoebe: I went over to his house for the first time, and one of his roommates’ girlfriends who lives in the house tested positive for COVID. So it was like our second date ever, and I ended up trapped in his house for like 9 days.
Sam: Our only choices were to go to the mods, which is the place where they keep COVID patients who are quarantining, or to stay in my tiny room in what was essentially a frat house. The only sustenance we had for four days was like a 24 pack of truly lemonades. I was worried you were gonna hate me and never talk to me again. But I guess it worked out.
As inopportune as it may have been, the whole ordeal didn’t hinder Sam and Phoebe’s burgeoning relationship.
Sam: I think at the time it was stressful for both of us. But looking back, it was a really formative thing for our relationship. Something I’ve always loved about Phoebe is that she has a really good attitude and is so excited about everything. Even in a stressful time, she did a really good job making the absolute best of it.
By the end of the winter, Sam was eager to make things official, despite Phoebe’s initial hesitation.
Phoebe: He asked me to be his girlfriend a couple of times, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted. And then I got COVID and was trapped in the mods for a good 14 days, and we started doing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Zoom every night. So then I was like, “Okay, yeah, I guess I like him, I guess I’ll date him.” So then I asked him to be my boyfriend, because I felt bad for making him wait.
Sam: I had asked her once and then brought it up a second time later, and I was afraid I had scared you away completely. But I couldn’t get enough of you, I guess.
The couple made it official in March, and spent the spring semester together before heading home for the summer.
Phoebe: Sam came to visit me in Wisconsin over the summer, and I showed him a great time. All the cheese and classy things to do here in Wisconsin.
There’s this really weird place called House on the Rock, and it’s this giant warehouse filled with a bunch of literal retired circus things. For some reason I thought it would be a fun daytime activity. So I took Sam there, and it was just so bizarre and fun.
Sam: It’s funny because you didn’t want to be there yourself, but you were trying to make sure I was having a good time. But we hit a point after a couple of hours where we were both like, “Why are we pretending to enjoy this?”
Phoebe: And then we were trapped, because it was this giant, three hour winding tour. And we were just trying to get out of there. But it was fun.
Later in the summer, it was Phoebe’s turn to make the trip out to New York. Sam recalls one particularly memorable moment during her visit.
Sam: At one point we went in the pool, and all of a sudden we started having a handstand competition. We asked my mom to time it and everything.
We also just got back from a trip to Universal, which was a ton of fun. We’re just total kids together and go crazy. She’s like my partner in crime, it’s awesome.
Despite their low algorithmic odds and the COVID pandemonium they endured last winter, Sam and Phoebe truly believe they make a perfect pair.
Sam: We’re just so comfortable with one another on so many levels.
Phoebe: Sam is very empathetic and just the greatest listener. I can get really stressed out sometimes, so just having him to talk through stuff with me is great.
Sam: She has the kindest heart of anybody I’ve met in my life. And she’s also the funniest person I’ve ever met. I feel like I’ve always been the “funny one,” so it’s great to not have to try. You just make me laugh nonstop.
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