My online Valentine: Twin Cities couples who met on the Internet

These four different love stories share one common thread — they all met on the Internet.

Updated 2/12/2015

“So where did you two meet?”

In the past few years, that once cringe-inducing question has become a lot easier to answer. Now, people basically expect a reply of “the Internet.”

– easier than ever.

The following Twin Cities couples met in different corners of the Internet. We asked them to share their online love stories, from their first messages to this Valentine’s Day. We also asked them to write a thank-you valentine of their own to their respective online medium for introducing them to their significant others. Here’s what they had to say.


Kate (Raddatz) Zwanziger, 26, WCCO-TV reporter & John Zwanziger, 26, consumer loan underwriter

Status: Married since 2014.  Met: Nov. 29, 2013, on Tinder.

Q: Who messaged first?
Kate: I definitely “swiped right” first, but he messaged me first. I probably asked him if he was a serial killer.
John: I think I just asked how her night was going. She said she had just downloaded Tinder. I’m not sure if I believed her.

Q: What did you like about each other?
John: All I had to go off of were five photos. She was gorgeous. Beyond that, I could tell she was goal-oriented and proud of her work and the people in her life.
Kate: He was driven but also goofy, and he wasn’t hung up on my job. So many guys wanted to know if I knew this or that co-worker. Oh, yeah, he was super handsome, too.

Q: Where did you go on your first date?
John: Bunny’s [Bar and Grill]. At first, it felt like an interview! She was not afraid to be direct. By the end I knew I wanted to be with her.
Kate: We had a crazy snowstorm that day and so I tried to cancel. He ended up driving hours in traffic to get there and was still on time. I remember we talked about kids! I think we just knew.

Q: Was the other person what you expected them to be like?
John: I’d say 50 percent. She was honest about everything she wanted. But the other half you can’t know about someone from photos and texts. Her laugh, sarcasm and the way she carried herself in person were surprises.
Kate: Honestly, yes. His smile was even better in person.

Q: How are you spending Valentine’s Day?
Katie’s working. Wouldn’t be surprised if she makes pink pancakes, though.
Kate: Thankfully, I married someone who can go with the flow.

Their valentine to Tinder
John: Thanks for making an app that didn’t make me feel like I was “wife hunting.” The fact Tinder led me to my amazing wife is the best part.
Kate: Our friends joke we’ve become the Tinder poster success story. If it gives people hope they can find something meaningful, I’m OK with that. Kudos, Tinder.


Lisa Needham, 45, attorney, adjunct, blogger and dilettante & Tara Jenson, 40, IT/Linux system admin

Status: Married since 2013.  Met: In 2006 via Craigslist’s Casual Encounters.

Q: Who messaged first?
Lisa: Tara posted the ad and I responded, so both of us. I am sure I was nervous and spent hours revising a 500-word email.
Tara: [The post] was along the lines of, “Looking for no-strings, I don’t need a friend, I already have friends, I don’t want a relationship, so don’t even.”

Q: What did you like about each other?
Tara: From Lisa’s e-mail I knew only that a) she was an attorney, b) she wasn’t scared off by my posting and c) the picture she sent was totally my type. So based entirely on c) I chose her from the respondents to my ad.
Lisa: In her picture she was wearing a Chrome bike bag, and I was super covetous. I am perfectly aware how shallow and ridiculous that sounds.

Q: Where did you go on your first date?
Lisa: Wilde Roast [Cafe]. I got there early so I could be seated when she came in. She arrived even earlier. She brought a book I’d read and loved, so it gave me something to talk about.
Tara: I got there at least an hour early because I was nervous as hell and wanted to be settled and chill by the time she got there. I thought, “Dang, she’s even cuter than her pic.”

Q: Was the other person what you expected them to be like?
Lisa: I didn’t expect to like her that much. I was the one who broke the deal about a month in and told her I actually really liked her and she should probably go away because I was breaking the rules.
Tara: I was the one who laid out the “no strings” ground rules, and there I was wanting to talk endlessly with her about philosophy, our reading endeavors, politics, everything. I wasn’t holding up my end of the no-strings bargain.

Q: How are you spending Valentine’s Day?
Lisa: Apart, because of not really caring about Valentine’s Day. I am going to see Sleater-Kinney [at First Avenue] with a friend. She is going winter camping with a mutual friend, because she is crazy.

Their valentine to Craigslist
Lisa: Dear Craigslist Casual Encounters, you’re the redheaded stepchild of Craigs­list, the section everyone looks at but no one admits to looking at. Your bad rep is sometimes deserved, but I owe you for the great fortune of meeting my person.
Tara: Dear Craigslist Casual Encounters, thank you for being the entirely unexpected agent of my gay marriage. I know, that’s not how Casual Encounters is supposed to work. However, by outfitting me with your armor of deliberate casualness, I stumbled into connecting with an actual dating prospect who, eight years later, I cannot fathom living without.


Laura VanZandt­, 33, receptionist and blogger at & Chris Luhman, 35, IT guy and blogger

Status: Dating.  Met: Sept. 28, 2014, on Twitter.

Q: Who messaged first?
Chris: She messaged me about a Veg Fest tweet in 2013. We then started following each other on Twitter and our blogs. After we met in 2014, she friended me on Facebook and we became friends in real life.
Laura: Punk Rawk Labs had retweeted him, and I commented that we had tried the same things at Veg Fest after looking at the rest of his feed.

Q: What did you like about each other?
Laura: He was interested in food! He is also a blogger, so I liked that we both like to write. There honestly wasn’t much else to go off of because he wasn’t tweeting that much. I didn’t even know his name!
Chris: She seemed to be interested in food and was an active blogger.

Q: Where did you go on your first date?
Chris: Gorkha Palace for dinner, Whole Foods for dessert and Driftwood Char Bar for some local music. We got along great.

Q: Was the other person what you expected them to be like?
Chris: I didn’t have much of an expectation. However, she was shorter and much more fun than I imagined.
Laura: No! The profile picture he’d been using on Twitter made him look like he was 15. He hadn’t been tweeting much so I had little sense of his personality.

Q: How are you spending Valentine’s Day?
Dinner, then seeing our friend Mistress Ginger perform at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

Their valentine to Twitter
Chris: I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and met a lot of interesting people because of @twitter. #ThankYou
Laura: Thanks for creating a fun way to interact with people. I’ve met some pretty awesome people, including Chris (@EverydayTasty), who’s a wonderful boyfriend.


Colette Fletcher, 25, financial coordinator & Ben Stoner, 30, design consultant

Relationship: Dating since 2013.  Met: On OkCupid in October or November 2013.

Q: Who messaged first?
Ben: I made some inane banter about some board game mentioned in her profile. Told her she would have to teach me to play someday. I’ve never won.

Q: What did you like about each other?
Colette: I’d love to say it was his well-written profile, but let’s be honest: It was the classic good looks, Red Wings and motorcycles.
Ben: She was witty, succinct and well-spoken, with a lot of non-contrived interests. That plus heart-melting eyes totally did the trick.

Q: Where’d you go on your first date?
Colette: We had a low-key weeknight meetup at Mortimer’s. I remember wishing I had made fewer Taco Bell jokes.
Ben: She had definitely done more homework on me than I had on her.

Q: Was the other person what you expected them to be like?
Colette: Nope. It’s easy to use a dating profile to create a personality in your head. I thought maybe he would be a little rough around the edges. I sat down to a guy who was nothing but smiles. It was exactly the change I needed, even if I didn’t know it right then.
Ben: Not even close. I had pictured her being way more gregarious and bombastic. Turned out she was more the subtle, sleeper kind of hilarious.

Q: How are you spending Valentine’s Day?
Colette: Sleater-Kinney [at First Avenue], baby!

Their valentine to OKCupid
Colette: Dear OKC Web Wizards, thank you for this FREE dating medium on which I could brazenly list my body type as “Jacked.” Without it I’d surely be wandering the streets of Minneapolis without a best friend and boyfriend at my side. Nobody wants to see “The Raid 3” solo.
Ben: I have a hard time believing that Co and I wouldn’t have crossed paths at some point, with all of our shared interests. The truth is, without OKC to smoosh us together when we were both single and looking, who knows what would have happened.

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