Couple who met on Neopets as children gets married as adults
If you're searching for love on the Internet, your first thought is probably to use a dating app like Tinder, Bumble or OKCupid. But do you know what website worked for one couple? Neopets.
If you're a 90's kid, you remember Neopets (although you probably don't play it anymore and by now all your animals have died of starvation). Neopets is a virtual pet website where you can create characters, play games and explore a virtual world with other users (similar to other online communities like World of Warcraft). There's no set objective, so players have the freedom to do whatever they want. And over the course of seventeen years, two people completed one pretty impressive mission: falling in love.
In the early 2000's, 12-year-old Kristin from Little Rock, Arkansas signed up for an account at Neopets. Well, actually five accounts. Her rotating roster of the colorful Pokemon-like creatures included a Kougra, Lupe and fire Draik. When she joined the role-paying guild "Evil Jellies," she met a 10-year-old user from Ohio named Michael. He went by 'Doctor;' she went by 'Zepher_Cat.' They all became fast friends, and she even draw a sketch depicting everyone.
In the "Evil Jellies" guild, Kristin roleplayed as a virtuous "good guy," and Michael roleplayed as a villainous "bad guy." But despite their clashing morals, they instantly connected. Every day, they logged on to "playfight" and "talk stupid drama" in the chatrooms about the various guilds. As the years went on, their relationship progressed, and they got closer. They learned each other's real names, and shifted their conversations onto AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, for you super old people and super young people).
"We went from silly rivalry to talking about school and life," said Kristin, in an interview about her and Michael's relationship. "It took a long time from having talked pretty much daily when we were younger teens when he finally sent me pictures of himself and we would sneak phone calls." Kristin told her parents about Michael, but Michael wasn't quite so open, due to the stigma about online relationships. "He was afraid that if he told his parents about me, they would tell him he can't talk to strangers online," Kristin explained.
When they became teenagers, their friendship blossomed into romance. Every morning before school, they checked in online to say hi. And every day when they left school, they said "love you" before logging off. On one occasion, Michael said "love you," and Kristin replied, "Do you really mean that about me?" Michael admitted that he did, and Kristin confessed she had the same feelings. That's when Doctor and Zepher_Cat officially started dating online.
As a senior in high school, Michael started applying for colleges, and noticed an interesting liberal arts school called Hendrix College. And perhaps the most interesting about it? It was located near Little Rock, Arkansas, where Kristin lived. Finally, the couple had an excuse to meet in real life. They decided to have dinner at a restaurant and Kristin brought her mom with - pretty responsible teenagers, huh? Today's teens would probably go for a first date in a seedy alley and eat pods of laundry detergent, while being chaperoned by Logan Paul.
At the restaurant, Kristin says she "was dressed super cute" and when she saw Michael in person, she felt so overcome with emotion she ran outside without talking to him. "My mom said he was watching me so intently he tripped over a curb," said Kristin. "She thought it was really silly." However, the couple got over their awkwardness. Michael went to college at Hendrix, they started dating and in real life, and yada, yada, yada, now they're married. (Michael proposed in 2014.)
There's still a stigma about talking to strangers on the Internet - with good reason - but in Michael and Kristin's case, their correspondence as children laid the foundation for a healthy, successful relationship. "We learned growing up as kids talking to somebody on the internet that you got to know how to communicate — otherwise you won't have a friend," said Kristin.
Today Michael and Kristin are in their late 20's. Recently she rejoined Neopets, as part of a community of adult users, and thinks it's "sweet" to see "grown people go back to something so innocent." When Kristen tells people how she met Michael, they're often surprised. But she hopes their story proves "you can cane make real friends and have real relationships" on the Internet.
So, delete Tinder, Bumble and OKCupid, and sign up for Neopets! (The community of adult users, of course.)