Let’s just get it out of the way: my wife and I met each other online. This was more than 15 years ago, when “online” meant either chatrooms or some sort of personals-based website. (It was the latter.) We had the internet, but not in our pockets; texting and emoji had yet to worm their way into the mainstream, so we learned each other’s rhythms before read receipts and the tyranny of the three dots. There was no pin-dropping, no , no Instagram archaeology. Instead, we flirted over email—long, performatively casual, even more performatively jokey emails. If we wanted to learn about each other, it was either those emails or whatever meager scraps Google could scrounge up about the other person. We didn’t know any other way.

We also didn’t know any other people who had met like we had, so we felt a little weird about it. OK, I felt a little weird about it. I made up a fake meet-cute story and everything, just so I didn’t have to tell people the truth: that she had seen my profile and emailed me with a joke about the New York Times crossword puzzle. I got over that false stigma quickly enough, but even looking back at that brief period, I'm stunned that I thought anything about it warranted secret.

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