Chatting Safely Online

How we met: “We chatted on puns and fell in love”

Sarah, who is 59, and Martin, who is 56, met in 2019 while playing Words with Friends. They live on opposite sides of the world but long to be together.

Sarah had never realized that her addiction to online word games was more than just a hobby. However, at the end of 2019, it led to an unexpected long-distance relationship. “I live in Germany, but I spend a lot of time with my son in Switzerland,” says Sarah, who left Britain with her husband in her 20s. “I have my third child and need some extra help. I was also widowed in 2018 and still a bit confused.”

Playing Words with Friends quickly became a fun game. “You can play with anyone in the world,” she said. “I often sit in my nephew’s room and play while waiting for him to fall asleep.”

When she chats with Martin in-game, they start talking via text. “He congratulated me on my performance. I don’t know how we got along because I’m usually an internet freak.”

They are attracted to each other as soon as they start talking. Martin works as a nanny in Adelaide, Australia, and lives part-time with his ex-husband’s teenage daughter. “I use this game to kill time after work,” he said. “But I like Sarah’s sense of humor. We talked on Words with Friends for about three months before switching to Facebook Messenger and starting live video chats.”

They know they share a love for dogs, books, and music. Sarah said: “We also started watching movies together online and started a book club where we read the same things and write messages about the books and send them to each other.

They had planned to meet in March 2020, but the pandemic made it impossible for them to travel. Nevertheless, their online relationship is thriving despite the challenges the world is facing. “It helped me to cope because I was alone in Germany,” Sarah said. “It’s great to be able to share with someone.”