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Not a lot of people make it to the 9-year mark in a relationship. In fact, one study’s data showed that 70 to 75 percent of heterosexual or same-sex unmarried couples break up before hitting the one-year milestone. Clearly, the odds are against us all.

This makes Megan Gehring’s long-term relationship with her boyfriend, Jack, an astounding feat.

Before they met, Megan had a few casual relationships under her belt, as well as an unwavering belief that her best friend would realize he was in love with her. You know, so they could live happily ever after. (Don’t ask her about this; her exact words were “Ugh.”) She’d kind of resigned herself to being “a lonely recluse” who spent her time playing with Legos and listening to audiobooks—quality time if I’ve ever heard it.

Freshman orientation camp changed everything.

“The story of how we met is pretty great.” Not being a fan of the “rah-rah” forced camaraderie that orientation thrives on, Megan was trying to keep to herself. On day two, she sat behind two guys and casually eavesdropping on their conversation. One of them, a tall, cute Asian fellow, mentioned an 80s hair-metal band that Megan happened to love.

“I can still remember it like it was yesterday—the mental gymnastics I was going through, trying to decide whether or not I should speak up and say something.”

Hours later, they were sharing headphones and ignoring the overly campiness of orientation camp. A week later, they were dating. That other guy? They didn’t see him again (which is something they still laugh about).

Megan didn’t think their relationship would last long.

Considering a lot of people came out of orientation paired up, only to crash and burn a few weeks later, it seemed unlikely they’d make it out of freshman year still attached. But, they survived beyond that first year, as well as her dropping out of school and moving back home. For the next four years, they were a long-distance couple and only saw each other every few months.

“Everyone I knew told me that [long distance relationships] are relationship-killers. But for us, that really wasn’t the case. If anything, it made us stronger and more likely to last.” Because of how young they were when they met, being long distance gave them a chance to slow down and really get to know each other. They had the space to grow out of the immature awkwardness that often clings to people fresh out of high school and develop a true connection.

“It made us into friends first and romantic partners second.”

After those four years, Jack and Megan were finally able to move in together and start a life.

And they haven’t gotten tired of each other yet! If I weren’t married myself, I’d be extremely jealous of the connection these two share.

“Loving Jack is fun,” Megan said. She’d heard, as we all have, that relationships are about work and compromise. But, they’ve been perfectly balanced from the beginning. He is the exuberant counterpart to her quieter temperament, which brings out her adventurous side. And she reins in his tendency to overexert himself.

“When you’re lucky enough to have found your person, I feel like it makes you much happier and unapologetic about who you are. As cliché as it sounds, I like who I am when I’m with him, and I think he probably feels the same way about me—he better!”

I asked when it became clear that this relationship was “The One.”

Megan said it happened organically—she asked Jack, and he joked that he’s still not sure—but noted that they started talking about “our” future about 3 years in. Megan’s back in school now, and they’re planning to elope once she graduates. (Although I guess now that people know this, it’s not really the surprise most elopings are.) And, call me an optimist, but I think these crazy kids are gonna make it.

“It’s been amazing to see him every day when I wake up. And now we co-parent our beautiful, angry, bratty, insane cat—our little family.”

N. Alysha Lewis

N. Alysha Lewis is an editor and blogger with author aspirations whose love can absolutely be bought with french fries.

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