Finding love is almost never like the movies. Most people meet their significant others through school, work, friends, or dating apps. For most people, there is nothing magical about their relationships, and many are jaded enough to say that true love doesn’t exist.
However, sometimes, a love story is so strange and wonderful that it truly could be the plot of its own movie. These 10 stories prove that love can be found in really strange places, even when we least expect it.
10 Tarek And Hadil
Living as a refugee is incredibly difficult. Refugees must leave behind their homes, hitting “pause” on their personal goals in exchange for a place to survive. Refugees have to sit, wait, and simply exist in a constant state of uncertainty before their new lives can begin.
In 2016, 25-year-old Tarek and 19-year-old Hadil were Syrian refugees living in the “EKO Camp” in Greece, which is a former truck stop lined with white tents. Hadil was alone in Greece and hoped to be reunited with her parents, who had been moved to a camp in Germany.
When Tarek saw Hadil, it was love at first sight and he tried flirting right away. Hadil hesitated to talk to him at first because she thought it would be impossible for love to blossom in such a difficult situation.
Eventually, Tarek won her over and they fell deeply in love. It didn’t matter that they had nothing left in the world to call their own as long as they had each other. There was just one problem: Tarek is Muslim, and Hadil is Christian. She called to let her parents know about their relationship, and her entire family disapproved.
In a last-ditch effort to keep them apart, Hadil’s cousins showed up to beat Tarek, and they took her away to another camp in Greece. Broke and helpless, Tarek had no way to get back to the love of his life.
One reporter from NPR’s This American Life was there after Tarek was beaten. The reporter intervened by giving Tarek $100 to get a taxi and run away with Hadil. Now, they are married, so they can never be separated again.
9 Emmy And Vic
A 30-year-old Swedish woman named Emmy Abrahamson was on a trip to Amsterdam. She was waiting to meet up with a friend, so she sat on a park bench. A young homeless man approached her. His beard was long, and he smelled awful. But Emmy saw a handsome man with intelligent eyes underneath the dirt.
He asked, “Excuse me, miss, do you know what time it is?” They both glanced over to a gigantic clock that was in front of them, and Emmy burst out laughing at his cheesy pickup line. They talked for a few minutes.
Emmy learned that this man’s name was Vic, and he was from Canada. He became homeless after a backpacking trip gone wrong. He spent most of his days begging for money, drinking, and stealing food. Without any money to fly back home, he was sleeping under a bush every night.
When her friend showed up, Emmy turned to Vic and asked, “Can I see you again?” They met up a few days later at the same bench and had a picnic in the park. Emmy had to go home to Vienna, but she gave Vic her number. He knew that if he wanted to see her again, he needed to clean up his act. No more drinking or stealing.
He saved up the money to catch the train to Vienna and called her. Fast-forward a few years, and Vic had finished his college degree in mechanical engineering. The two got married, and now they have two children.
8 Jose And Brie
When he was only 16, Jose Perez was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder. After spending his entire adult life behind bars, Jose had a lot of time to reflect on the mistakes he made as a teenager.
He started taking college-accredited classes from inside prison and signed up for a website called PrisonTalk.com, which connects inmates with people who are willing to be their pen pals. Jose met Brie Morris, and they connected right away. They would send each other letters that were 20–25 pages long.
Brie had never seen a picture of Jose, but she fell in love with him before she had even set eyes on him. She felt that through his experiences, he had a really deep value for life and a maturity she had never seen in other men.
After writing back and forth for over a year, Brie visited him in prison. Jose kissed her in the visitor’s room, and the real-life chemistry was undeniable.
A year after visits, phone calls, and more letters, Jose proposed to Brie. They were married in 2013 when they were both 23 years old. Brie planned to go to medical school while she waited for Jose to be released, which won’t be until the year 2020.
7 Helena And Franz
It was 1942, and a young Jewish Slovakian woman named Helena Citronova was sent to Auschwitz. Helena was beautiful, and she was given one of the easiest jobs in a section of the camp nicknamed “Canada.” Helena’s job was to sort through objects that had been stolen from the Jewish families and to send the valuable items back to Germany. She could keep her hair long, and she was not in danger of being killed.
However, many people in her family had been killed in other parts of the camp. So she had a bitter hatred for the Nazis, just like every other prisoner. When a 20-year-old SS officer named Franz Wunsch tossed her a note that said, “I’m falling in love with you,” she immediately crumpled it up in disgust.
Helena refused to even look at Franz. Despite her rejection, he continued to be friendly. He brought her extra food and protected her from the other guards. One day, Franz rescued Helena’s sister from being killed in the gas chamber and personally escorted her to live in the “Canada” section.
The sisters were reunited, and this was enough for Helena to finally give him a chance. They began having an affair. When the war ended, they went their separate ways. However, Helena testified for his character when he went to court for war crimes and his life was spared.
6 Victoria And Jonathan
A girl named Victoria followed one of her favorite local bookstores, Waterstones, on Twitter. She noticed that whoever was in charge of updating the business’ social media account was incredibly funny and clever. She tweeted that she was “in love” with him. Victoria’s friends dared her to ask the mystery man on a date. She publicly joked to her friends that she had already had drinks with him.
In reality, the Twitter account was run by a boy around her age named Jonathan. He was working at the bookstore part-time, and the owners had put him in charge of the Waterstones account. He tweeted Victoria on his personal Twitter, asking her what she meant by the drink comment because they had never actually met. They had a conversation about her admiration for his writing, but it never went any further.
One day, Jonathan tweeted that he had a craving for doughnuts. Though they had not met face-to-face yet, Victoria showed up at the Waterstones bookstore with a bag of doughnuts. She slid them across the counter and ran away because she was so embarrassed. When he got off work, Jonathan messaged Victoria, asking her if she’d like to go on a proper date. She said yes. Three and a half years later, Jonathan now works as a professional writer and they are happily married.
5 Emma And Adem
Emma Perrier was a single French woman living in the United Kingdom. She felt that her busy work life prevented her from socializing very much, so she signed up for a reputable online dating website.
Considering that she had to pay a monthly fee and the site required ID verification, Emma thought she could trust that a handsome man named “Ronnie” was real. Several months went by, and she fell in love with this man, even though they had never met. However, it turns out that she was being catfished. The photos of “Ronnie” were actually a model named Adem Guzel, who lived in Turkey.
Emma mustered up the courage to message Adem, letting him know that someone was using his photos. Over the course of a few months, they talked and fell for one another. Unlike “Ronnie,” the real Adem was more than willing to get on Skype to prove that he was real. They met in real life and eventually moved in together.
4 Mark And Zoe
In 2003, Zoe Folbigg took the train into London every day for work. One day, a man whom she had never noticed before was reading a book in her train car. She thought that he was very handsome and deduced from his literature choices that he must be intelligent and deep.
Zoe made a few attempts to flirt or steal glances, but the man was always too focused on his books to notice. One day, Zoe got up the courage to slip a note to him when they were getting off the train.
In the letter, she explained that she had noticed him every day and thought that he seemed lovely. Would he like to have a drink? Zoe signed with her email address.
That same day, the man wrote her back. He said that his name was Mark and he already had a girlfriend. Zoe accepted defeat, and they continued to commute on the same train without speaking. Eight months later, Mark was single. He emailed Zoe to ask her out for a drink. Today, they’re married and have two kids.
3 Kristen And Michael
Millennials will probably remember Neopets, the website where players could take care of imaginary pets and compete with other players. Kristen was a 12-year-old girl when she found a role-playing guild on Neopets called “Evil Jellies” to talk with fellow kids.
Michael was just 10 at the time. He played the role of the evil “Doctor,” and Kristen was one of the good guys. The group had a lot of fun together. So when they became teenagers, Kristen and Michael moved their online friendship from Neopets to AOL Instant Messenger.
They learned about each other’s personal lives and began dating online. They also talked on the phone almost every day. When Michael was 17, he applied to a college in the city where Kristen lived so that they could finally meet and date in real life. After spending some time together in real life, the two childhood friends got married.
2 Jahed And Sean
Jahed Choudhary grew up in a Muslim family in the United Kingdom. As a child, he knew that he was somehow different than the rest of the kids at school. He was bullied on a daily basis, and he wasn’t sure why everyone hated him.
At 18, he did some online research about his feelings and realized that he was gay. He tried to tell his mom, but his family told him that it was a “disease” or a phase. So they sent him to mosques where they performed rituals and made him take medications to “cure” his homosexuality.
Jahed didn’t want to be different, so he willingly went along with these rituals to try his best to change. When he couldn’t “fix” his homosexuality, the mosque he was attending excommunicated him. He attempted suicide.
The very next day, he sat down on a park bench and started to cry. He prayed to Allah for an answer to his suffering. A young man named Sean saw him crying and sat down on the bench to ask what was wrong.
Sean and Jahed ended up dating for years. Jahed’s mother learned to accept her son’s sexuality. When Jahed was 24 years old, he and Sean became the first gay couple to have a Muslim wedding in Britain, which was performed at a courthouse.
1 Erica And Arte
Erica Harris lived in California, and Arte Vann lived in New York. Even though they were thousands of miles apart, they found each other through Instagram. They were both part of an online poetry community that used the same hashtags to follow each other’s writing.
Arte had written a poem that included #sevendeadlysins, which is how Erica found him. She left a comment, and the two began to talk. For a year, they exchanged photos, videos, and phone calls. Obviously, these two amateur poets were true romantics at heart. They fell deeply in love and decided they should get married—even before meeting face-to-face.
In 2016, Erica and Arte met for the first time at an airport in California. Arte got down on one knee and proposed. They immediately got married by a justice of the peace. A news crew was there to film the entire thing. Arte told them to “follow your heart” when it comes to love.
Shannon Quinn is a writer and entrepreneur. You can find her on Twitter.