Tiny Love Stories: I Said, ‘I Love You.’ He Said, ‘Thanks.’

Things Tinder Dates Offered Me

Some things Tinder dates offered me (that are not sex): jars of jam, help hanging shelves, a ride to the airport, hangover sundae with peanuts, shortcuts across Durham, Costco visits, a planning commissioner’s phone number, a medical consultation, a visit to a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit, sympathy, homemade pumpkin bread, stories about their mothers, the best swimming holes, long hugs that stay hugs. I thought online dating would be about physical need, but instead I’ve cataloged so many small intimacies between strangers. Still about need. Almost about love. — Sarah Morris

Don’t Send Nudes

We were online content moderators taking down nude photos. All day, we sorted through thousands of photos and messages flagged as inappropriate on a meet-up app. We sat nearby, but our office had a strict no-talking rule, so our relationship began in silence as we sent each other funny things we found via Gchat. This led to more messaging until one day we grew tired of talking about nudes and decided to see each other naked instead. — Kristine Murawski

Searching for Self-Love

Throughout my hardships with obsessive-compulsive disorder, parents, boyfriends and social media celebrities have sent me on a frantic and mostly unsuccessful search for self-love. I have tried to exude self-love in its various costumes — a perfect Instagram, an overflowing social calendar, a forced smile at the office. Yet these outward expressions aren’t enough in the quiet moments when worry and doubt creep in. When all seems lost during solitary train rides home, my greatest triumph is finding the courage to whisper, “It’s all right. I’ll get through this. I love you,” and boarding the train again. — M.C. Connors

An Unexpected Sign

I was 30 and knew I couldn’t have a baby. Accompanying my pregnant friend shopping one day, I pined over a striped onesie with a crab sewn on the backside. I told her if I ever had a son, I would want him to wear it. Eight days later, I went to church and saw an infant snuggled in his grandmother’s arms. He was wearing the same onesie. At the end of that day’s service, the reverend announced that the baby was in need of an immediate home. Two days later, he moved into mine. Now he’s 5 and my son. — Sarah Mouracade

I Said, “I Love You.” He Said, “Thanks.”

We were in my hammock when I looked at the socks I was wearing, the ones he had lent me, and told him the words I was so scared to say: “I love you.” The hammock swayed, crickets chirped. “Thanks,” he said, “but I don’t yet.” He pointed at my feet. “Those don’t fit me. Do you want them?” I thought the hammock had tipped, thrown me violently out; he didn’t love me, this was it. But years later, we still lie in my hammock and I still wear those socks. He was right; they are too small for his feet. — Madeleine Fawcett

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