Maya Ergas Shwayder left her first outing with Nicholas Anthony Quaranto in November 2017 thinking they would just be friends.
The two Americans living in Berlin, Mr. Quaranto, 34, had arrived six months earlier with his wife, who had taken a full-time job there, and their two young sons, then 2 and 4. Although not yet divorced or legally separated, he and his wife agreed that their marriage was over and they could see each other, he said.
Seeking companionship, he logged into the dating app Tinder and matched up with Ms. Shwayder, 33, who worked in Berlin as a news anchor and on-air correspondent at Deutsche Welle, a German satellite television channel.
Born and raised in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Ms. Shwayder is a graduate of Harvard and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. She had an extremely lively, outgoing personality, said Mr. quarantine.
“She was just an amazing person, someone who shone so brightly,” added Mr. Quaranto, a Buffalo software engineer and a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.
After two weeks of correspondence, they made plans to see the movie “Justice League” at a theater in a local shopping center. On what Ms. Shwayder described as “a cold, dirty, rainy November night,” she arrived to find Mr. Quaranto already on her at their prearranged meeting point.
“That’s a really stupid hat he’s wearing,” Mrs. Shwayder recalled, thinking to herself. She started laughing and Mr. Quaranto, who was wearing a blue newsboy cap, started laughing with her, although he wasn’t quite sure why (she let him talk about it later).
Ms Shwayder had another thought, she added: “He’s pretty cute.”
Midway through the movie, after the dim lights had long gone black, Mr. Quaranto muttered something to Mrs. Shwayder that she couldn’t hear.
When she asked what he had said, Mr. Quaranto answered nervously, “Can I hold your hand?”
“Certainly,” she replied.
After the film, they went to a nearby bar and started a serious conversation about Mr Quaranto’s relationship situation, “whereupon he said a divorce was imminent, although he hadn’t quite brought himself to it yet,” said Ms Quaranto. said Shwayder. “So I left because I thought he was going to be a really good friend.”
After enjoying each other’s company, they soon met again for what turned out to be an eight-hour excursion, including a trip to the German Espionage Museum in Berlin.
That day “he was just so sweet and smart, and when I said something, he listened to me,” she said. “As someone who dated a lot, it was nice to find someone who treated me like a human being.”
The following month, in December 2017, Mr. Quaranto and his family left Berlin for Buffalo after his wife’s job failed. “It was time for us to go home and sort out all the divorce cases,” he said.
Ms. Shwayder said, “He was going through a very difficult time in his life.”
The two kept in touch by phone and took turns visiting each other for the next 15 months, until in the summer of 2019, Ms. Shwayder decided to move in with Mr. Quaranto, who was then divorced and living in Boston. He now works as a manager at Wistia, a software engineering firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that provides video hosting services to businesses.
“All the signs pointed to the need to make a change in my life,” said Ms Shwayder, now a freelance journalist. “It just made a lot of sense for me to take a leap with him.”
In February 2021, the two got engaged in a movie theater in Portsmouth, NH. Just before the start of “The Princess Bride”, their favorite movie, Mr. Quaranto fell to one knee and moved her to tears when he asked, “Will you be my princess bride?”
They were married on April 20 at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, an event venue in Dexter, Michigan, for Julie Gales, a leader of the Jewish Cultural Association in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and 16 fully vaccinated guests.
“Nick has given me a great sense of comfort over the past four years,” said the bride. “All the traveling to see each other was well worth it. Now we will travel together wherever we go.”