Sarah's father coached Danny's father in Little League baseball. Their aunts, moms, and uncles grew up and went to school together in Buffalo's Lovejoy neighborhood.
Danny's grandmother sold Sarah's grandfather's house. Sarah's father dated Danny's godmother. They both went to UB, and they even worked across the hall from each other in the psychology department.
Yet, the first time they met was after finding each other on Match.com.
"I was working in a psychology lab that studied dating," Danny said. (The couple didn't want last names published.) "It was suggested at a lab meeting [that] we should look at the metrics being used on online dating sites to see what they were doing and asking. So I tried it to see the data."
Online dating seems to be less taboo these days – one in five relationships start online, according to statistics on Match.com. Still, couples like Danny and Sarah feel the stigma attached to meeting online.
Danny even jokes, "The first rule about online dating is lying about how you met."
Their "story?" They met at a karaoke lounge. Danny was singing, and the relationship blossomed from there. The lie stuck until they felt comfortable telling people how they met. Sometimes they still are leery about sharing their real story with people other than close friends or family.
"At first, I was a little apprehensive of saying we met online because I didn't think it was so common, even though it was only two years ago," Sarah said. "Now, to say you met online, I don't think it's a big deal."
Sarah was also a little nervous to try online dating; she had many questions going into the experience.
"Do you know if the picture you are looking at is really the person you are talking to?" Sarah said. "Are they being themselves or are they putting up a front because they can hide behind their computers and can create an online persona?"
She signed up because – at age 25 – she was busy trying to get her Master's degree and working to help pay for school. She was simply too busy to save much time for the social "scene." Sarah had gone on a few coffee dates, and she "went out with a guy a few times" – nothing serious, that is, until she met Danny.
Danny had forgotten about his dating profile; he thought he had deleted it after he completed his psychology studies. The profile was created "strictly in the name of science." During the original studies, he tried a few dates with girls he described as just "plain crazy," and decided online dating was not for him.
He rediscovered his profile at 27 years old and decided to give it a few more clicks. Sarah's profile was one of the first he discovered.
"I got lucky," Danny said. "I forgot my account was on and met the single most wonderful person in my life."
They talked for while – online, then progressed to phone conversations, and then spent time getting to know each other – before meeting in person for coffee.
"We had talked on the phone and I really liked her," Danny said. "So like all dating, I was very nervous, even more so as I liked her before I met her."
Sarah and Danny decided to meet at Starbucks for coffee for their first date; the date lasted nearly four hours. Danny still remembers how Sarah showed up late because she was repainting her room. He joked she looked a bit scruffy with paint on her face.
But, they still consider the first date a success – the couple has been together for almost two years now.
"I would say we are a little bit like ying and yang," Sarah said. "I like to think that our strengths and weaknesses play off of one another well in that we are always challenging one another mentally, physically, spiritually and are also trying to become better as individuals and as a couple."
The couple advocates finding potential matches online, but both hope people are cautious in their searches.
Sarah had rules for herself: talk for a few weeks via email and messaging on the site before giving out her number, progress to talking on the phone, and finally meet in a public place if the interest remains. But, both Sarah and Danny stressed that you don't have to take any more caution than meeting a stranger at a bar.
"Don't expect a thing [to come from online dating]," Danny said. "When I was doing work at the university it was joked that online dating is just as accurate as throwing a dart in a room and going with that guy or that girl. I giggle a bit now, as I guess I hit the bull's eye."