Aafter Covid hit in March 2020, Bethan was furloughed from working as an administrator for an orchestra in Birmingham. “With spare time on my hands, I found myself scrolling Instagram more than usual.”
In April, Bethan commented on an image from one of her favorite Instagram accounts, which featured red carpet photography from film premieres in the 1980s and 90s. At the time, they had no idea it was run by Julio, a teacher from Miami.
“I was really busy with work and got lots of messages on the account,” says Julio. “I didn’t notice Bethan’s message until the summer. Then I saw their profile picture and thought they were really attractive.”
He responded to the message in August, but it wasn’t until later in the year that he and Bethan got chatting. In November, Julio requested to follow Bethan’s account and the pair began regularly liking each other’s photos. “I still didn’t know what he looked like,” Bethan says. “I sent him a message after he posted an image of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a leather vest – that’s what sparked a conversation. I started to see the man behind the account and he was really funny.” In December that year, Julio posted a picture of himself. “I noticed he was really attractive and responded with a heart emoji,” Bethan remembers.
“Over Christmas, we began chatting more,” says Julio. “There was this looming idea that there might be something between us.” Their online friendship progressed over the next few months and, by June 2021, they were talking on a daily basis. Bethan, who is non-binary, felt able to be completely open with Julio: “It was something we talked about really early on.”
In the summer, the pair set up their first official Zoom date, which lasted five hours. “I was completely enamored,” says Julio. “I knew at that point this was someone I could talk to about anything in my life. I was already falling in love and wondering how we could make it work. I was thinking ahead.
In December, he traveled to the UK so they could meet in person. “I was delirious from exhaustion when I arrived and kept saying, ‘You’re real, it’s real,’” he says. Although he had originally planned to stay for 10 days over Christmas, he was forced to extend his trip by a week when Bethan came down with Covid. As well as helping Bethan through the illness, Julio was also worrying about his dad, who had become very unwell in the States.
“Although there were challenges, I realized that maybe it could really work between us,” says Bethan. “We were going through difficult stuff but were also able to really support each other.”
Afterwards, the couple continued their relationship online, finding new ways to spend time together. “We would play the same games or watch the same movies,” says Bethan. “We always find time for proper Zoom dates, where we get the same snacks and talk, just like we would if we were in a real bar.”
In March 2022, Bethan visited Julio in Miami, and he returned to the UK during the summer holidays. After two years of long-distance love, the couple are making plans to be together permanently, with Julio moving to Birmingham in the summer. “It’s nerve-racking but also really exciting,” he says. The couple plan to marry in Miami next month.
“I find Julio’s unwavering kindness so attractive,” says Bethan. “I have never known someone so considerate to other people and their feelings. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone care so much about me.”
Julio also loves his partner’s caring nature. “Bethan has this genuine willingness to be there for people,” he says. “There’s an understanding between us and I know that I can share anything with them.”
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