To commemorate 365 days with each other, I’m featuring the one and only Jeff Pfeffer (peff-er)…that’s probably the most sought after question out of this whole thing! These questions stem mainly from struggles I’ve heard from talking with peers. While I fully realize my parents with 30+ years of marriage or couples with more trips around the sun are a bit more qualified to give relationship advice; what they don’t have experience in is meeting someone during a global pandemic and making it work better than the idea that Covid momentarily didn’t touch you once you took your mask off to sip your Starbucks inside (my parents dating 700 miles away from each other gives me a run for my money). Reaching the one year mark in general is no easy task itself! The blockers we face nowadays like feeling the need to work 24/7 (which results in using work terms like “blockers” in everyday vocab), the pressure to go back to school, or adjusting to adult life makes it even harder. This post is meant to convey that dating doesn’t have to be put on pause for Covid or busy times. While our last year might not have been “typical,” it had no negative impact on our relationship. In fact, we have so many “firsts” to still experience together that Covid prevented which makes it that more exciting. With that, let’s dive right in to the good stuff. Disclaimer: These questions were recorded in live time and his short answer to my long answer ratio is quite the norm for us!
1. How did you meet? Do you wish it was in a different way?
Jeff: We met on Bumble, and it doesn’t matter to me anymore.
Lauren: Between his one profile picture not showing his face real well, the fact it was a typical “bro fish pic,” and the lack of info in his bio; it typically wouldn’t have passed my psychoanalysis, but I credit God to taking over my finger to swipe right. I’ll always remember the first week we started talking; he was in North Dakota for work and I was so sure he’d ghost me after being gone for 8 hours every day, but he’d always surface after the work day the whole week and that created an odd form of trust right away.
As far as our medium of meeting…did we make up a “how we met” story at first? Yes. Did we forget the initial story and tell a different version every time? Also yes. At this point, it’s easier and a lot more anticlimactic than I thought it would be to say it was through Bumble. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to say we reached for the same dumbbell at the gym and touched sweaty hands, met through mutual friends (we kind of did since he grew up in Windom with one of my friends at Gustavus), or had an instant connection meeting “organically.” But we aren’t produce…organic, get it?….and he lifts dumbbells heavier than 20 lbs. Now, I’m just grateful we met, and don’t care how it happened, because I can’t think of any other scenario where our lives would’ve crossed. I didn’t go to Mankato bars in college, I’d never come across him at work since underwater bridge inspections and IT consulting probably results in electrocution, restaurants were take out only for a long time, and I had never heard of Windom in my life.
On a side note, I want to touch on the stigma that can surround dating apps because this was a concern I heard from a lot of my peers. I know people feel hesitant to use them for many reasons whether that be faith related, family expectations, or feelings of defeat. I initially felt guilty for using one because it made me feel like I didn’t trust that God would lead me to my person, and because there is no “thou shalt swipe right on a man of good character”- Psalm 12:34 anywhere in the Bible. But now? I view it as God being the one to put Jeff and I in the right place and time in order to show up on each other’s screens. If he didn’t turn down a job offer back home to take the one in St. Paul instead, and if I wasn’t sent home from Gustavus from the pandemic, we wouldn’t have happened! Lastly, dating apps are not a “last resort.” They are no different than how we use other apps to advance other parts of our lives. You could go deposit a check at the bank, fill a prescription at the pharmacy, or order your McNuggets at the restaurant, but it’s so much easier to do all that online. You could go to a bar or singles event in person, but it’s easier to do in an app, especially during a pandemic. See where I’m going with this? Just like these apps are a tool to keep you moving towards God’s plan, dating apps are a way to make the world a bit smaller, and are just another way to navigate you towards His plan for you, not away from it.
2. What did you do on your first date? How did it go?
Jeff: We went for a walk around the park by her place. She was a lot shorter than I thought, and she was quiet. After the walk we sat on her apartment balcony and I had to lead the whole conversation which is why I started talking about concrete. I didn’t mind that she didn’t talk my ear off, though. I liked that she seemed similar to me and had good qualities, and we shared views about family and God which is why I wanted a second date…plus she was hot.
Lauren: He says I was quiet, but I thought it was the other way around. I spent a solid few minutes pretending to gaze out at the Minneapolis skyline trying to figure out what to say before we sat down and stared at each other some more. When he started talking about the difference between concrete and cement as a conversation topic, I just thought who is this dude. But when we started talking about our values and background, that’s when feelings of doubt and that he was a weird concrete fanatic went away. I am one to look for “signs” and I took the fact that he had been to Kentucky before, and both our moms keep out a candy dish of jelly beans at Easter, as well as the fact we even got to that random point of conversation, as a sign. We had too many little quirks in common for me to pass up. It’s always been the little things that count for me as you all probably know by now!
3. What qualities did you see in each other that made them stand out?
Jeff: She was genuinely nice and had ambitious plans. We shared a lot of the same interests and she’d drop anything for me.
Lauren: My initial psychoanalysis was way off; I thought he was going to be a loud and obnoxious jock type; but I like that he proved that wrong. He was sweet and a good listener, and everything just lined up regarding opinions on the most random topics. He was patient, and not stuck in his ways about anything. His ambition with his career and his goals were attractive to me, but one of the most important ones for me was that he didn’t just say he had a faith life, but we talked about it and how it was for us growing up for our families. Lastly… I mean look at the guy, he’s a smoke show!
4. What is your favorite memory with each other?
Jeff: Either my cousin Carissa’s wedding this past summer, going to Wisconsin Dells with my friends, or going to the lake with my family. Really just being with her and my family and friends at the same time.
Lauren: One of my favorites thus far was his cousin’s wedding in Iowa, like he said. It wasn’t just a wedding for me, it was also being fully immersed in Pfeffers for a whole weekend and genuinely getting to know them. We stayed in a hotel with themed rooms and the one we shared with his brother was a needlepoint theme that had creepy dolls all over the place- the one in the bathroom freaked me out the most when the glass would steam up and that little face would be grinning at me through the fog. At the reception I pulled out my party trick of doing a handstand on the dance floor in a dress with another bridesmaid that was a former gymnast, too…no undergarments were revealed, that’s part of the trick. The Conga Line, dollar dance with the groom who I had never met until that moment, slow dancing with both of his brothers at one point, as well as the three way slow dance with Jeff and his aunt really broke the ice fast. I feel very much comfortable around all family members since then- (highly recommend to those looking to get closer to your partner’s family to do the Electric Slide together).
5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve argued about?
Jeff: We haven’t had any arguements, but it bugs me that after she is done using the bathroom she leaves the toilet paper roll too long so it is hanging in the trash can. We also spend a lot of time choosing a restaurant because I never care where we go, and then she says she doesn’t care but she actually does.
Lauren: We poke fun at each other a majority of the time, and for the record, I now roll the TP back up! I can’t say that we’ve ever had a real argument, whatever the definition of that is. Do we disagree on things sometimes? Of course, I think if we didn’t it means one of us is a bit whipped. The only ridiculous thing I can think of is if I feel bad about something FND related or something I said, and he says it’s ok, but I refuse that answer and keep coaxing him to tell me if it’s not ok, when he truly meant it was the first time around. I just hate making him feel bad so I have to check 10 times to cover my bases! It’s healthy to have occasional disagreements because there will be decisions to make in the future, if not now, and it’s good to learn to talk through them. We are good at explaining where our thoughts are coming from and listening to each other, and we’ve been honest and forgiving with each other from the beginning so we will say what is on our minds, or call each other out if the other said something that we didn’t like. I think that’s an important thing to have in a relationship so the other can learn what upsets the other. Being passive and the silent treatment only is effective in elementary school.
6. What are some ways you’ve compromised for each other?
Jeff: I haven’t had to give up anything which is the great thing about her. She encourages me to still spend time with my friends and family.
Lauren: I’ve compromised in the best way possible. Before him, I was rigid about breaking my routine out of fear my FND would flare up, and turned down a lot of fun things because of this. I’ve compromised being comfortable to let go of old negative habits in order to do “normal” things like weekends at the lake or driving heavy machinery like any average person would do when going home with someone, of course. These are all things that I should have been doing for years (maybe not the Bobcat, I wasn’t too great at that), but I never met someone who made me want to challenge my internal battles I struggled with all through college. Even though I still get nervous about my health in some situations, he meets me at the pace I feel comfortable going, and makes sure I am doing okay, even if that means he has to change his plans (this is where I have seen him make compromises even if he says they aren’t one). Other than that, we are a team and we support each other with whatever is the best decision for us.
7. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done in front of each other?
Jeff: The first time I brought her to the lake to meet my parents, extended family, and brothers and his friends; I passed out for a 5 hour nap after fun lake festivities and no one could wake me up from my nap. This led to leaving Lauren alone with all these people she barely knew, and my parents, but she did great and everyone loved her even with me not there!
Lauren: Now that I’ve gotten past the embarrassment of using the bathroom at his place (ladies, don’t deny this), wiping out on a pool noodle on the dock in front of his whole family, and being horrified from him witnessing my eyes roll back in my head during a Lyme seizure (gotta look cute even when unconscious, right?), nothing is embarrassing to me anymore. But if I had to choose one, the first time he brought me to the lake to meet his family, I was on Doxycycline for the beginning of my Lyme treatment. If you’ve read my past blogs, you know I have a problem of thinking I am immune to scientifically proven phenomenons. In this case, it was the “sun sensitivity” warning on the pill bottle. While his parents thankfully saw what I normally looked like for a few hours the night before, the rest of the weekend I had sun poisoning which turned my face into a swollen and red mess along with swollen hands and feet. The aloe bottle became my new boyfriend by the end of the weekend. There needs to be a point where nothing is embarrassing in front of your partner, because there will be moments where your dignity may be close to stripped and no one else can help you like they can.
8. What is your dream date idea?
Jeff: Vacation to Mexico and lay on the beach, drink some margaritas, swim in the pool, go zip lining if Lauren is heavy enough, and go parasailing.
Lauren: I have always dreamt of taking him to Danville, Kentucky, so luckily, we just booked a trip in October. I am so excited to show him around, eat Burke’s Bakery donuts together, go on runs (or walks, let’s be truthful) around Centre College-my top school if it weren’t so far, meet my KY cousins, and show him all the spots that have meant so much to me since I was a kid. But to be more “in the present” I do love me a good coffee date in the morning, followed by a Twin’s game as long as it doesn’t resemble the cold rainy games I got dragged to watching Christopher, and ending the night with Sebastian Joe’s ice cream even though dairy is a no no.
9. What do you think the key to a happy relationship is?
I paused for further explanation but did not get one until further prompting.
J: You just need to be with someone that makes you a better person.
Lauren: I’d say accepting each other for who they are, and don’t try to make them something they aren’t as cheesy and obvious as that sounds. A lot of people compare their relationships to others’, and that can end in disappointment if that other person doesn’t do certain things they see, or what you expect. Happiness comes from enjoying each other and what they can teach you.; I know that some of Jeff’s habits have rubbed off on me and have made me a better version of myself. Second, be transparent! Tell and show each other everything without fear, and learn to lean on that person. Be able to show all emotions to each other, even the ugly crying while sitting in a heap on the floor of your closet when you’re stressed out (oh, that’s just me?) I also think that having that constant want/need to be with each other shouldn’t feel like an effort. Even after a year I wish I could spend every single day with Jeff and it feels weird if I don’t because we were with each other so much during lockdown!
10. What’s your favorite physical feature about each other?
Jeff: Her smile or her eyes.
Lauren: Definitely the little grin he has on his face when I’m doing something weird….those biceps are nice to look at too, though!
11. What’s a tip you’d give to someone trying to find a relationship or start one?
Jeff: Be honest right away. One of the first things we asked each other about when we started talking on Bumble was what we were looking for in a relationship and where we were at in life.
Lauren: I think what helped me the most was noticing how I changed (or lack of) when I was with him. I was able to act the same around Jeff as I do my family, and was able to be myself every time I was with him (after the first date). Having different personalities in different situations shows you feel the need to hide something from others and it probably isn’t right. Be honest with yourself, and if it feels like you’re trying too hard to make yourself or your family believe it’s right for you, then it definitely isn’t. I’d also say that expecting awkwardness the first time you meet them isn’t a bad thing, and I did in fact straight up tell Jeff that I’m less awkward on second dates in a joking but not really joking kind of way. I have no issues saying blunt things like that but I feel like addressing the elephants in the room releases some pressure! When in doubt, humor is the way out.
12. How can others approach disclosing information whether it be a health condition or a flaw they’re worried about?
Jeff: When Lauren told me about her FND, my first thoughts were that it can’t be too bad because I haven’t noticed anything different about her. Even now I still don’t see it as bad, I just feel bad for her and do whatever I can to help.
Lauren: I told him everything the first night we started talking and I sent my blogs about FND to him because some people haven’t been ok with it so might as well not waste any time. I don’t share it with hopes they will be okay with it. I share it confidently with the expectation that they can see past it and it won’t define me. When it comes to dating, I’ve always seen my FND as a weed-whacker instead of a flaw: if they’re not ok with it, then they aren’t for me. It can be helpful in that sense, and it builds a source of trust when disclosing something personal (psychologically proven)! One of my spells happened the second or third time we saw each other and I was glad that I told him right away because in that moment it not only made it easier on him to see, but also me because I didn’t have to pull a “oh by the way I forgot to mention, I’ve been having non epileptic seizures for 12 years, but I swear I’m fine” convo as I keel over onto the floor. I think this should go for all things that people are worried about disclosing. It’s better for building a relationship to let them know literally right away, and it’s better to build a first impression of someone knowing the whole picture. It shows you are honest and confident in yourself, and plus, finding someone who accepts all of you after knowing you for a few hours is a good start!
13. Who initiated the first kiss?
Lauren: Jeff. It made up for the conversation about concrete.
14. Do you get along with each other’s families?
Jeff: Yes, we are all pretty easy to get along with. Her dad and I talk trash about Maverick hockey vs Gopher hockey. It also felt good that I impressed her step-grandpa, Dan, with my croquet skills at a family birthday party. I met a lot of extended family there and enjoyed playing a pretty competitive croquet game and corn hole with them.
Lauren: Yes! His family is so fun to be around and absorbed me into the bunch right away. I enjoy teaching his younger cousins gymnastics at the lake, joining their family zoom calls, and the late night bonfire chats. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like without knowing them now and I am happy that Jeff has such a close and genuine family that I always look forward to seeing. Both sides of his grandparents share a lot of the same qualities as all my grandparents. His Grandpa Peewee reminds me a lot of my Grandad who is no longer here anymore, and it is a nice feeling to be surrounded by that again. I know that Grandad would’ve loved talking basketball with Jeff and I wish he could meet him when he meets the rest of my family in Kentucky.
15. Do you know some of each other’s “favorites?”
Jeff: July 24th? June 23rd? No, July 23rd.
Lauren: His is September 30th. He thought I was 23 until he got our Christmas card this year and it said I was 22. I will forever hold that against him.
Jeff: Pink? Oh no, it’s maroon, duh.
Lauren: His is blue
Jeff: I don’t know, 4.5?
Lauren: Are you serious? That’s not even a women’s size. Yours is 11.5.
Jeff: Christmas? Easter? What are other holidays?
Lauren: Nope, 4th of July, what’s yours? Christmas?
Jeff: I like them all
Lauren: He takes a daily gummy vitamin. He won’t know all mine, good luck to you sir!
Jeff: Lauren takes everything, I just take a gummy vitamin because they taste good.
Jeff: A llama. Intense stares as there are alpacas all over my apartment. Alpaca!
Lauren: A dog?
Jeff: I don’t know.
Day of the week
Jeff: It depends on the week.
Lauren: Wow, that’s real helpful.
Jeff: Picking where to eat?
Lauren: No, this should be easy!
Jeff: Me breaking up with you?
Lauren: No!…I say it all the time!
Lauren: Yes, and I don’t even know if I know yours, it’s not heights or small places…something deep like disappointing others or something.
Jeff: Bees and wasps
Lauren: Oh I was way off, whoops.
16. Do you have any inside jokes or nicknames?
- I started calling Jeff “Bridge Boy” the week we started talking because of what Jeff does for work. He is a civil engineer and does bridge inspections. It has stuck ever since.
- Jeff’s terrible memory and the fact that I am his calendar/ tells me things to remind him to do or remember.
- Counting the number of pregnant ladies walking around the lake since there seem to be a lot whenever we are there. We have no clue how or why this started.
- Whenever we are driving together it always rains.
- Our teddy bears are BFFs. Jeff’s was a halloween prop for him when he was Mark Wahlberg from “Ted.”
- We have a building that’s “ours.” On our first date we sat and tried to guess what color the lights on a building in uptown would turn next (better than not knowing what to talk about). Since then it’s just become a thing for us.
17. What is your favorite thing that you do for each other?
Jeff: She folds my clothes.
I waited once again for him to say I write him letters, or that I sent him a potato with my face on it in the mail while he was at dive school, but that did not come up.
Lauren: He entered my life during literally one of my weirdest years health-wise, and treats me like a queen (always) but especially on days I’m not so peachy. I probably will start laughing during the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows because at this point that feels like it’s an understatement. On a more lighthearted side; he sends me Tik Toks he knows I’ll like, and has shown me that chivalry is not even close to dead. He still does all the things he did when we first started dating like holding my hand every time we go on a drive, walks me to my car, the goodnight/goodmorning texts, and shares his fries with me when I say I don’t want any but it’s a total lie (fellas, this is your cheat sheet). You know, all the Nicholas Sparks type things. Lastly, growing up in church, I’d always look at the couples sitting together in the pew and I hoped I would someday have a guy with his arm around me/holding my hand listening to the sermon together and I can finally say it has come full circle!
18. What are some everyday things you enjoy doing together?
Jeff: Napping, lake walks, and going out to eat. What more could a guy want?
Lauren: This is kind of an interesting question because with Covid, the everyday things like going to the grocery together were our dates and how we spent all our time together. For some odd reason, one of the “dates” I remember most vividly was when I went to Target with him for the first time to get strawberry cream cheese and bagels. Just Covid things am I right? But I enjoy going to the gym- I always make a point to go over and stand by him or give him knucks so I can let all the other girls staring at him doing his muscle ups know that he’s mine! But I also enjoy trying new places to eat once we actually decide on a place, going to church together, lake walks, watching a show together or hanging out after work together.
19. Do you consider each other to be your best friend?
Lauren: Definitely. I don’t wear matching outfits with just anyone!
L: Even more than the boys?
J: Best friend but different.
20. When did you know that you loved each other?
Jeff: When she met and got along with my family and they liked her.
Lauren: When he took me to the lake to meet his family. Seeing him in his element and that he was just as funny and genuine, or even more so, with his family is when I knew. Sitting there with him at the bonfire and seeing how loved and respected he was by his family made me realize that I felt that, too and was a part of the Jeffrey fan club. My mom always told me growing up that “you’ll know” when you find that person and I thought that was ridiculous and I was immune to that (along with sun sensitivity, caffeine withdrawal, and calorie surpluses)… but it actually is real unlike the “sugar bugs” that would eat away my teeth if I didn’t brush everyday that she told me were real, too.
I hope you all enjoyed this different kind of post, it was fun answering these questions together because it isn’t something we typically talk about on the daily. I am so thankful for the last year together during the weirdest year for me, but also in general. While this post does not do him justice and I could write a whole other post on how great Jeff is, I hope this allows you to see a glimpse into why I keep writing sappy paragraphs about him in my other posts 🙂 For those who are hoping to find a relationship this year, keep an open mind, but also know what you’re looking for! Those may seem like opposites, but giving something or someone a chance; whether that be a dating app, speed dating event, blind date, or giving someone another shot may be the key to what you want. It may require going out of your comfort zone and a few awkward moments to find what you’re looking for, and that is nothing to be afraid of. I am so blessed to have spent this last year with Jeff, and I can’t wait for many more years of memories, lake weekends, and rolling the toilet paper back up! 🙂