With additional reporting by Stephanie Lee.
Every couple has their own dynamics and, by understanding the needs of each, we can be better in our own relationships. We’ve interviewed five couples—some readers, some staff members, and one YouTube star—about their relationships and what advice they have on how to make it work.
The Best Friends: Vicki Tsay and Michael Hsu
Vicki and Michael first met during summer camp in 2004. Although there were no sparks of romance at the time, it was the beginning of a close friendship. It wasn’t until another program in 2010 when, as Michael says, “It all started.”
“We went through a lot to be where we are today, but I’m glad we beat the odds, and it’s made us a stronger couple,” says Vicki, 21, also the director of marketing at Mochi.
As best friends, they’ve always supported each other over the years. And as a couple, they’ve continued to push each other to their full potential. Michael, 21, says that it is Vicki’s ambition and work ethic that pushes him to be the best he can be, and Vicki says that Michael pushes her to live in the moment, and to be more confident about everything she does.
Michael also says that, of the many things he admires about Vicki, one thing he admires most is her laugh. Vicki, conversely, says that it is his ability to make her laugh that she admires most. She recounts a story in which they were both on a bus, and Michael was goofing around with cinnamon rolls, making them look like eyes or ears.
“Who does that?” she says. But it’s not just his sense of humor that attracts her. She adds, “Michael has this charisma that’s really infectious. He’s not cocky or boastful—most of the time—but he’s confident. It really shows when he’s doing something he loves, like dancing and performing, or playing sports.”
However, with Vicki at the University of Michigan and Michael at Rutgers University, their relationship had to withstand both time and distance.
“Being apart from each other is the hardest thing to live with in my opinion,” he admits. “Texting and video-chatting can only do so much, you know? It’s difficult at times, but it’s worth it to me.”
When asked about how they resolve their arguments, Michael says, “Whenever we do argue, it’s usually about the miscommunication between us. We know that almost everything we bicker about is because of distance and the fact that we can’t be physically together. Being patient and wanting to talk with each other, even though we may be unhappy, can really mend a lot of uncertainness and doubts in our relationship.”
The First Love: Melia Sigmon and Greg Berzinski
Brought together by a mutual friend, Melia and Greg were immediately attracted to each other. After a month of non-stop texting and hanging out, they officially started dating at the end of January this year.
We asked Greg what he finds most attractive about Melia, 19, an aspiring model and staff photographer at Mochi. “I’ve yet to find out because she’s always 100 percent attractive,” Greg, 21, says. “I’m still trying to find a time when she could possibly look bad. She always tries to bring out the best in me and just being around her automatically alleviates any negative situation I’m faced with. Her smile works wonders.”
“Greg is most attractive when he smiles. It makes me happy to see him happy, ” says Melia.
Ah, young love. And according to the both of them, they’ve never had an argument! Melia believes it is because of their good communication skills—if there is ever something that’s bothering them, they talk about it before things get worse.
“I think the only obstacle we faced was spending most of the summer apart,” she admits.
But with school now in session, they can continue to build their relationship and deepen their bond. Melia says that she once read a quote by the oldest living couple on Earth (86 years and counting), and it has stuck with her since then: “Remember marriage is not a contest—never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.”
“I think all relationship advice boils down to this idea,” she says.
The Power Couple: Alexa Yoshimoto and Alan Ladan
Alexa and Alan met at a friend’s EP release show. Alan was playing the keyboards for the artist and Alexa happened to be a fan of that particular artist. Alan, 25, had told her that he was coming to visit a friend in Long Beach at the time, Alexa says, and that he “inferred” that he wanted to hang out with her. It just happened to be the day before Valentine’s Day, two years ago.
“Our first official date was on Valentine’s Day and the rest was history!” says Alexa, 21.
When it comes to describing the other, they both have much to say.
“Alan is so enthusiastic, unbelievably intelligent and his passion and devotion towards anything and everything is so admirable. But overall, his greatest trait would have to be his support. Both Alan and I have had career changes within the past few years and he supports every choice I choose to make wholeheartedly,” she says.
Alan says, “Alexa is the most regal and wildly entertaining woman I have ever met. She is my rock. I admire her so much, whether it be her fashion sense, her circle of friends, her music, and the list goes on.”
So what’s the key to their successful relationship?
Alan credits their success to their honesty, which he says is her most attractive trait. They also make each other better because they know how to balance each other out.
“Having Alexa makes me feel like I can do anything,” Alan says.
They also both say that you should always work to better yourself, and to learn more about what your significant other is doing. Additionally, you should let the other person know that you care every day—something that is heard more often during the beginning of relationships, but often forgotten later on. Most importantly, Alexa says, it is important to have fun with your relationship: “I used to want to plan every step of the relationship, but learned to go with it and have fun. You don’t disappoint yourself as much, and you’re in for much more excitement.”
The Age Difference: Trang Vo and Alexander Le
First impressions can sometimes result in second chances. Alex, 21, and Trang, 23, met at a mutual friend’s birthday party, but it definitely wasn’t love at first sight.
“She basically ignored me all night and I thought that she didn’t want anything to do with me. I ended up flirting with two other girls and I gave her the impression that I was a player,” Alex admits. They met again three months later, it was only after watching their first movie together that sparks started to fly.
However, like all new relationships, things can start rough. Their first major obstacle? The age difference. “I was a freshman in college while she was just finishing up her junior year,” says Alex. “As you can imagine, there were some life experiences that I had not yet had that she had already gone through.” It can be difficult, especially in college, where the experiences from freshman to senior can be quite drastic.
Luckily for these two, their different experiences made them a stronger couple. For Alex, it’s Trang’s strength that sets her apart: “I have never met a person who was so self-driven in everything that she did, with such great self-esteem.” For Trang, it’s Alex’s youth that is appealing: “I love his creativeness, how he walks through life seeing things in such a different light. It’s so refreshing.”
Despite their age difference, their relationship experiences were actually quite similar. Both point out their problem-solving abilities, a must-have in the world of relationship and communication. “We both know from past relationships that when a problem begins to form, it is best to fix it right there, so it won’t linger. We never try to resolve problems on the phone, text, email, or Facebook. Face to face is the best way. Hiding behind all the other ways of communication just gives you a false feeling of security that allows you to say whatever you want.”
This strategy of facing difficulties head on and embracing their initially opposing personalities has allowed this couple to stay together and grow for almost two years now. Alex has gained more confidence in his abilities, while Trang has become a more effective communicator. Their last word of advice to other couples is to remember that relationships are a privilege: “Relationships are supposed to be fun and exciting! Sometimes it needs extra work and care, but what you get back is worth it.”
The Long-time Lovers: Melanie Croos-Dabrera and Gaurav Kulkarni
As debate teammates, Melanie and Gaurav first started dating secretly in high school. Their road was never easy.
“Both of our parents were super against dating in high school and we kept our relationship very hidden for the first whole year, and still were nervous talking about it with parents for at least another year after that,” says Gaurav, 21. But they persevered and their parents eventually approved.
Now, four years later, it’s still a struggle for this long-distance long-term couple. Since they’ve been together, they’ve spent every summer two to three months apart. Melanie, 21, explains that “long-distance episodes were easier to handle earlier on, but as we’re getting older and realizing that we’ll be forced into a long-distance relationship with [college] graduation, and it is really testing our relationship.”
How do they manage keeping the flame going for so long? According to Gaurav, “It’s not that hard. Just be yourself and, most importantly, respect your significant other. Respect is probably the most important thing in any relationship.” Melanie adds, “You won’t reconcile with someone you don’t respect! And communicate. Even if in the moment you’re upset and you stay silent, that’s okay as long as you communicate with your significant other later.”
Considering the amount of time they’ve spent dating, it’s no surprise that this mature understanding of how to make a relationship work has also nurtured personal growth in both Gaurav and Melanie. He has become a better person over the years because she “makes me see good in people, even when I don’t want to.” For Melanie, there’s a good kind of change occurring within herself: “He shows me that I’ve [got] a life worth living, no matter what I do.”
Though it may be hard to deal with long-distance, this couple understands that, when you find someone who promises to continue loving you for many more years to come, maintaining an intimate and meaningful relationship regardless of any obstacle seems “not that hard” after all.