After a Slow Start, and a Break, Things Moved Fast

Olivia Rivera liked what she called Version 1.0 of Harrison Shanklin a lot. But Version 2.0 — the “committed and available” man who emerged after the couple took a break just a few months into dating — was something else entirely.

“Once we hit that 2.0 version, we were so sure,” she said. “I tell him that I could not have dreamt up a person who would be more perfect for me than him.”

The two met through the dating app Hinge in the fall of 2019, but plans for a first date were ultimately canceled by Mr. Shanklin, who told Ms. Rivera he was too busy with work and that he’d get back to her to reschedule.

“So often on dating apps, that’s it,” said Ms. Rivera, 35, a social worker at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco, who graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and received a master’s degree in social work from the University of California, Berkeley. “You don’t hear from them again.”

After a few weeks, though, he did circle back, and the couple had their first date that October. A second date came a week later, and with it, their first kiss.

Mr. Shanklin, 36, a program manager for university relations at Google who graduated from North Carolina State University, said that, by then, “Things were going well, but I was getting a lot more responsibility with work and was incredibly busy.”

“I was not always super available,” he said. An outdoor-recreation enthusiast, Mr. Shanklin was also struggling with back issues, and in January 2020, he realized that he needed to start taking the matter more seriously when he injured his back while tying his shoes.

At around the same time, Ms. Rivera told him that she was accustomed to seeing the person she was dating more than once a week, and making plans more than a few hours in advance.

“That was a big reality check for me,” said Mr. Shanklin. “She hadn’t even gotten to see the real version of me, I was so unavailable. That really bummed me out.”

About a month later, Ms. Rivera sent Mr. Shanklin a text message saying that she missed him. The feeling, he said, was mutual.

“It just clicked that I missed her a lot and really wanted to reconnect and be with her,” said Mr. Shanklin, who received her text while on a work trip.

When he returned, on March 4, 2020, he went to meet her straight from the airport. The two then decided to give their nascent relationship another chance. Version 2.0 had launched — and not a moment too soon, Ms. Rivera said, as two weeks later, the pandemic arrived.

“I feel like if we hadn’t decided to be official then, we might not have made it,” said Ms. Rivera, who added that she initially remained romantically reserved. “But with Covid, things got really, really quick very fast — we were spending half of our time together.”

That May, Mr. Shanklin told Ms. Rivera he loved her. “In the statement around sharing that he loved me, he said, ‘You make it feel like home when you’re here,’” Ms. Rivera said. “Once he said that, I was like, OK, I can let myself enjoy this.”

Of the moment, Mr. Shanklin said, “I was just feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of being in love with her.”

The two moved in together in July 2020, got a puppy that September and talked about their future. In April 2021, on a trip to Healdsburg, Calif., they were engaged in a spontaneous double proposal.

The couple, who live in Pacifica, Calif., married on Dec. 21 in the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve in Half Moon Bay, Calif., before eight guests. Lindsay Isaacson-Willman, a friend who is a Universal Life minister, officiated.

If the timeline of their relationship seemed accelerated, Ms. Rivera said that, given the pandemic, it really wasn’t.

“In a turbo relationship — the amount of time in a pandemic relationship versus real life — we’ve been together three to five years already.” she said.