Ride the Wave

Surf camp brought these two strangers from New York together

At first glance, it looks like the perfect Meet Cute. 

Jon and Dana met at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Dana was fresh off a breakup and Jon was immediately smitten by her cool surfer vibe. The only problem? Dana was more interested in the other guys she met at the weeklong getaway than she was in Jon. 

But Jon didn’t let a brief case of unrequited interest derail their romance. The two New Yorkers became friends during their trip, and when they returned to the city they quickly began spending much of their free time together. 

One fateful night, the pair found themselves hanging out over drinks with Dana helping Jon set up a dating profile for himself. While she was helping him pick the best photos, she realized that she might have made a mistake overlooking him in Costa Rica. 

And while the romantic feelings might have been a surprise to her, it was all going according to plan for Jon. 

“I was laughing at Dana helping me with my profile,” Jon told Meet Cutes. “ Because ultimately, she was the one I was trying to impress all along.”

Here’s their story.

How’d you meet? 

Dana: We met six years ago when we were both at a surf camp in Costa Rica. We didn’t know each other prior to the trip. We were friends at first. I was going through a breakup and sort of playing the field, so I wasn’t really looking for anything. 

Jon: The surf camp had two hotels, and were staying at the same one. When I went to the front desk to ask where I was supposed to go, the guy said “Follow that girl, I just gave her the instructions.” So my first view of Dana was her in a super badass surfer rash guard, very surfer chic. I was some surfer noob who had no idea what he was doing, and I was a little intimidated. 

What were you doing at surf camp? 

Dana: It was a 30th birthday present to myself. 

Jon: I was tired of waiting for my friends to plan an interesting vacation. So I just said, I need to go do something fun. What can I go do in Costa Rica? Oh, look, there’s a surf camp. I guess that’s what I’ll do. 

What were your first impressions of each other? 

Jon: I was like, Oh, I’m in trouble. I like this girl.

Dana: Unfortunately for him, the first couple of words that we exchanged involved where we both worked in New York. And the place that he named was where my ex worked. So my immediate reaction was Oh, not again. Not this company.

Jon: It’s a very large company, so I didn’t know her ex. But it was still a little too close to home.

What happened during the camp? 

Dana: It was a seven day trip. Pretty much every single day, everyone kind of got together after our lessons. We basically partied and hung out every day. I was actually sort of playing around with other people. 

Were you aware of this at the time? 

Jon: Oh, 100%. Once I realized the short game wasn’t working, I switched to the long game. 

We became friends at the surf camp. And at the time, Dana was also starting to prep for the New York City triathlon, which I had done two or three times before. So after we got back to New York, I kind of became an impromptu coach of hers. 

We worked out a bunch and I kind of helped her stay on track for her training. I wasn't actually signed up to do the triathlon that year, but I ended up signing up for it anyway because I ended up doing  all this training with her. But between you and me, I was just doing it to hang out with her.

How did you get together? 

Dana: So, I hadn’t been single for a while. I was having a lot of fun and getting to know myself as a single person when we were back in New York. But in doing that, I did a lot of things. I went out a lot. I was training for the triathlon. Jon and I would go surfing. So we just ended up just doing a lot of things together.

And I slowly realized that we were basically best friends. We liked all the same things, we did all the same things. So for me I think it was when I started helping him with his dating profile that things started to switch a little. 

What happened there? Were you jealous?

Dana: It didn’t make me feel jealous. It was more that like while I was thinking of his dating profile, it was like we were sort of on a date. We were eating food together and making his profile, alone, as we have done other times before. And I guess I realized maybe we could do that. 

Jon: It was surprisingly a pretty romantic evening. It wasn’t planned, but we ended up at a bar overlooking Manhattan on the night of a super moon. 

What did you like about helping him with his profile? 

Dana: I consider myself an amateur photographer, so I was making him pose, and I sort of dressed him up. And so I’m putting together this perfect image for Jon’s profile and I’m like Hmm, he’s kind of cute

What were you thinking during this, Jon? 

Jon: I was internally laughing the entire time. I knew I was playing the long game, nothing had ever changed for me. So whether or not we called it a date, I knew it was a bit of an accidental date. I was laughing at Dana helping me with my profile because, ultimately, she was the one I was trying to impress all along.

How’d you start dating? 

Jon: We don’t really know when it fully transitioned over. Eventually we went from doing activities together to “Hey, what are you up to? Let’s grab a bite.” And then New Years Eve 2019 is when we first decided to give it a shot. Our first kiss was that night. 

And then over the next few weeks it was a little bit of a will-they-won’t-they story. Were we going to risk our friendship to see if this worked? And that went on for probably about a month. And then we started to get a little bit more serious. But we joke that our first official date was a three-week trip to Australia together a year after we met.

Did you surf? 

Dana: Oh, we surfed a lot. A lot. It was intense. And I want to say like a week after we got back from Australia we sort of made it official. 

What can people take away from your Meet Cute? 

Jon: Especially in this world of people getting pushed into meeting on dating apps, the best way to meet someone in real life is by going out and trying things that you may enjoy. You never really know what’s going to come from it. Maybe you find a new hobby or a new place you like going, or a person.

Dana: I’d say don’t dismiss people too quickly. And date your best friend. 

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📊 Last Week We Asked…

  • [poll] “What's more crucial for a relationship to flourish?

    • 53% said “friendship as the foundation”

    • 47% said “connecting at the right time”

Thoughts from the Meet Cutes NYC community: “100% friendship is crucial! That's what you need to maintain a relationship throughout the years.”

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Interviewed and transcribed by Nicolas Vega. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.