Winning the Long Game in Love

Still, the two spent the next summer together and continued to casually date. They broke up when she left for school — Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., from which she graduated cum laude, with a degree in communications.

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In 2017, during Easter break, they ran into each other at the William Penn Tavern in Pittsburgh. They caught up over beers, and quickly learned that neither was dating anyone. After he walked her home, they kissed good night.

“It was great to see you,” she later texted, adding, “I love you,” to which he replied, “I love you, too.”

They texted constantly while at school, and that summer he visited her every weekend while he worked at a construction firm in Pittsburgh and she stayed in Manhasset, N.Y., while interning with a social media fashion influencer in Manhattan.

In July, during one visit, he pulled out a photograph of Ms. Cost when she was younger, which was given to him in high school by her mother. “On the back he wrote, ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’”

This time she replied, “Yes, yes.”

In September 2019, they rented a tiny one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and as Covid-19 locked things down they got a Bernedoodle named Bus, after Jerome Bettis, the retired Pittsburgh Steelers running back.