It’s no secret that The Collective is a good place to find connections. We’ve had members meet and go travelling together, form lifelong friendships, relationships and even some marriages. To hear just how the magic happens, we caught up with members, Stephanie and Ben who met one fateful night at the Collective Old Oak and have been together ever since.
Read on to hear how they met and started dating, what they think makes a good partner and their advice for singles looking to find love.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and when you moved into The Collective?
Steph : I'm from Australia, I work as a registered nurse here in London and I've been living in The Collective Old Oak for just over a year now.
Ben: I'm from the North of England, I have my PhD in Astrophysics and work as a senior software engineer for a tech start up here in London. I've been living at the Old Oak for 2.5 years now.
We’d love to know how you met, was it a meet-cute, digital story or modern day introduction?
Steph: We met at the newcomers housewarming dinner in February 2020. It was my 5th day living in the UK and Ben encouraged me to go to the Games Night. We then kept bumping into each other at Friday night drinks, and other events. It wasn't until lockdown that Ben messaged me concerned that it would be hard for me to meet new people and adapt to life in London. He offered to go for a walk to Sainsbury's to help with my groceries. (I actually didn’t need anything but I was more than happy to go for a walk with a cute guy!) He then tried to take me to a park on route which turned out to be a graveyard… we both still laugh about it today.
At what point in your relationship did you decide to move in together? When would you say is a good time to do it?
Ben: Well technically speaking we were already living together as members of The Collective! We started spending more time together and realised that we were spending all our time in Steph’s ensuite as she didn’t have a neighbour at the time. I was even working from home in Steph’s kitchenette. We decided I should take the other room in the ensuite so when my lease was up for renewal I asked if I could relocate. As a couple living in separate ensuites is great. We never have to fight over a bathroom, and we can each have our own privacy when we need it. Sharing a kitchenette also means we can make the space feel a bit more like ours.
I don’t think there is a good time to move in with a partner, you just have to dive in and do it. The great thing about having 2 ensuites is we are financially independent, we don’t have to talk about who pays more as we both just pay our own rent.
What hobby do you share as a couple and how has this mutual interest helped your relationship evolve?
Steph: We’re both quite nerdy and really enjoy video games. We often book out the cinema room to play co-op games together. I’m new to the UK and love to travel. Ben is more than happy to show me around london. One of our early dates was walking around London and going to all the sites which are normally swarmed with tourists but because London was so quiet we were able to get some great photos! We also did a road trip together across to Cornwall. We ate Cornish pasties and checked out Stonehenge on the way. It was an amazing experience.
Ben: I really like seeing the UK through Steph’s eyes and I have realised that I haven’t seen much of my own country outside of Northern England. Steph even took me along to Northern Ireland which I had never been to. We do have a lot of common interests but I really like how different we are culturally too. I feel since being with Steph I’m learning a whole new language ‘Australian English’. We always have a laugh when we realise what seems so normal to me is bizarre to her: the simple scotch-egg blew her mind!
Do you know what your love language is and can you tell us a little about how this understanding helps you be more authentic in your relationship?
Steph: I’m definitely a words of affection girl, and Ben is more about quality time. Early in a relationship you can see how they’re expressing their love to you, and that is their language. Early on Ben wanted to spend a lot of time with me, and I would often write him notes and send messages. I guess that’s how we learnt what was important to the other.
Communication is key. I know everyone says that but it’s a lot easier said than done. We asked each other all the hard questions, talked about topics most couples would avoid. We think it’s important to be upfront about what you want in life and in a relationship.
What is one of the most significant things you have learned from your partner that has made you a better person, partner in your relationship?
Steph: Ben really likes it when I’m honest and upfront about things, and he’s taught me to never assume he knows what I am talking about. It’s helped me in my professional life too. If there’s something I want or need, I just say exactly what it is, or how something makes me feel.
Ben: Steph has really helped me gain self confidence, she’s the first person who I honestly believe when she says she thinks highly of me. She’s really helped me see all the best qualities I have and because of that I feel I can just be myself around her and never doubt myself. It’s really helped me be an open and honest partner.
True or False? The Collective is a great place to meet singles and possibly fall in love.
Well we definitely met here and fell in love! The Collective is a great way to meet new people and find people with common interests. There’s always something going on for all kinds of interests - from cooking to games, dancing, crafting, music and so much more. Just give it a go. You never know who you will meet!
What advice would you give singles looking to find love?
I think it's really important to learn how to love yourself first. Date yourself! Take yourself out to dinner, try a new hobby on your own or go out to watch a movie or show on your own. It can be really scary at first to do stuff like that but once you have the confidence to do that then you’ll have the confidence to do it with a partner and be completely honest with them. You can’t really know what you want out of love and life if you haven’t really given yourself the chance to figure it out. The best way to grow together as a couple is to know where you want to grow, if not you can end up growing apart.