Ian Randolph, 25, London

Ian Randolph almost wrote off Joy before he got a chance to know her. They’d worked in the same office for two years with nary a sideways glance.  

“I had always imagined myself ending up with someone just like me — a tall, blond, intellectual, Ivy League-educated volleyball player,” says Ian, an Unstuck reader who is currently head of cognitive modeling for the fashion portal Handpick, a London start-up.

That was his comfort zone, after all. Women who would reflect back his own self-image and offer uncritical support. 

Then, at the office Christmas party, he had a proper conversation with Joy — a 5’2”, South African, and a former professional soccer player. She quickly began to knock down all his assumptions about the right partner. And, she asked him out.

“I started to realize, This is an incredible woman,” Ian says. “I found more and more things to love about her. She consistently challenges my views, helps me see beyond, to the field of possibilities.”

He also realized that the success of a relationship comes down to deeper things than shared race or background. 

“No one is going to have exactly the same thoughts, interests, pasts,” he says. “The willingness to be able to create together is what matters. With her, my life can mean much more than without her. I’ve chosen an equal partnership.” 

And he believes he’s better for it.

“She makes me play the game at a higher level. Seeing where we are now, we’re thinking of going all the way.”