In The Artist, a chance encounter leads to a lifetime love affair. How much do we wish for the same kind of destiny to take hold of us in real life?

Story time! My first real boyfriend and I met in the bleachers at a football game that our home team was losing terribly.  The seats were clearing out quickly, but we were both the stubborn type who believed in staying the whole time to support our team. I noticed his friends because they were all loudly bad mouthing our team, and I was really against them all for it.  It wasn’t long before he turned on the charm and set himself apart from them.  He later said he noticed me in front of him and saw an opportunity to meet me when he noticed my soccer jacket because he played soccer too.  He asked me if I played for the school, and he was in. We hit it off and talked the whole rest of the game.  At the end of that game, our team had lost by probably four touchdowns, but I walked out happy because I had met an awesome guy.

I loved that meeting story, because it was all us. We sat near each other by chance.  The seats between us cleared out by chance. He had the courage to talk to me, and when he did, we just happened to have everything in common. It seemed so meant to be.

The other day I met a man while I was riding my bike.  He rode up next to me and we chatted side by side until my tire got destroyed by some monster staple that just happened to be on the side of the road.  Neither of us had a  patch kit so we walked our bikes and talked for quite a while until someone came by and helped me out.   He gave me his number and told me he hoped to hear from me and then we rode our separate ways.

Normally, this guy would have been completely under my radar.  I think if we had met in any other situation, I wouldn’t have thought twice about him.  As it is, I’m kind of excited about seeing him again, and I think he’s pretty cool.  The meeting situation helped me get to know him and the story is kind of enticing.  I like the thought of dating someone I met on my bike completely by chance.

“Meet Cute” is getting to be more and more of a common term these days.  It’s been mentioned in a few TV shows and movies, and it’s defined in Wikipedia.  If you don’t know, a meet cute is a way for two people to meet in some amusing or adorable way that makes it seem as if destiny has brought them together.  They bump into each other on the street and drop everything they’re holding, they rush to get the last ticket for a concert, they’re the only singles at a cooking class and are paired together.  Good meeting stories are the crux of any good romantic comedy, and everyone who asks the question hopes to hear a similar charming tale at the end of that always prevalent, “Soooo… How did you two meet?”

My biking meet cute got me thinking about why these stories mean so much to me.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been charmed by circumstance, and online dating never seemed quite right partly because of the insipid nature of meeting.  I couldn’t imagine a more unromantic meeting story than, “We just happened to be online at the same time, and I looked at his profile and we had an 87% compatibility matching!” Online dating really works well for a ton of people, so I’m not knocking it, but for me, it really seems to matter. I need some more choice in the matter.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one with strong feelings on the subject.  I asked some friends to rank on a scale of 1 to 5 how important a meeting story is to them in terms of dating someone. Everyone I asked had some opinion on meeting stories and what they mean to either them or other people.  Contrary to some beliefs (one guy dismissed the inquiry by saying, “that’s a girl thing”), gender doesn’t play a major role in this either.  It seems that a person’s feelings about the importance of how they meet someone is directly tied to some set of principles.

Low raters (1):  These people had just as strong of feelings for not caring about meeting stories as some people did for placing high importance on meeting stories.  “I could care less.  That’s important to people who obsess over prom, and their wedding day, etc.  They live for the moment as opposed to everyday.”  That person went on to say, “You meet a person. It’s not the meeting, it’s the person that matters.” Some variation of this was the common outlook among those in this category.

Kinda care (2):  This was the most common answer. One guy had a lot to say about why the story doesn’t matter much to him. “In a good relationship, I think that there will be many shared stories over which to reminisce. I think that if the two are constantly looking back at their initial meeting, they’re not really paying attention to each other in the now, or with regard to the future.”  He went on to explain why the story held any importance. “It’s nice to have a good meeting story, but it says little about the longterm relationship.  I think it’s more important for others than the two actually in the relationship.” One girl concurred and summed up feelings many others shared.  “I don’t really care about how I meet the person…people meet everywhere these days..at bars, online, in church, and I’d be fine with any of that as long as I meet a person with the right values, etc.”  She paused a beat before concluding,”i mean…I wouldnt want to tell my kids a met my husband at a bar, which is why I put a 2 and not a 1.”

Middle of the Road (3):  These people were pretty game for any way of meeting as long as it met a couple stipulations. One girl confessed how she really likes good meeting stories, but that it doesn’t have to be spectacular, as long as it’s authentic.  “You could meet at work or through friends. I don’t really care, just as long as it’s organic. I wouldn’t want to meet someone online.” She reasoned, “It’s forcing a situation. Like you’re selling yourself like you’re putting a house up for sale…here are all my good traits and you should buy me.  That type of story just isn’t organic.”  More than any other sentiment, meeting “organically” was a common desire among pollsters.  Some who initially considered themselves a 1-ranker changed to 2 or 3 when considering the fact that they would rather not meet someone online or in a bar or club.

High Importance (4): Getting into a little more polarized territory here, one girl said with no hesitation,”I purposely don’t date online because I never want to have to admit that I met my husband online. I am too prideful,” she then went on, “I am not a fat, socially awkward cat lady with bad teeth, So why the hell would i have to resort to the internet to meet people?” She was the only one who envisioned that stereotype of online daters, but others did share her emphasis on importance of how they felt about the way they met people based on having a fun story.

VIP (5): Actually, only one person I questioned thought this was of crucial importance to the relationship.  “It’s very important. It’s how a relationship starts.” Basically, he felt that the way you met set the tone for how you interact in the future.

Most of us either are happy we met someone or would be happy to meet someone, bottom line.  However, it seems most of our feelings about really diving in and finding a person are somewhat influenced by how we meet them. Maybe we believe in fate or destiny or maybe we think in more practical terms.  I think the important thing is to put ourselves in situations where we can meet people and to be open to meeting people anywhere.  The more enthusiasm and excitement we have when we find someone may just lead to a better story when we remember it later.