There’s so much talk about love this week, but how do people actually meet in the first place? After Friday ran a story on the difficulties of starting a long-lasting relationship in the UAE, we asked readers in our weekly Storytellers feature about how they met their current partner. Here’s how they did it – with a little help from parents, friends, work or simply lightning striking.

In the weirdest way possible. My widowed aunt got married for the second time about even years ago. I saw my now husband when he came to my aunt’s house to meet her with his father – the man she was marrying! So my match was written in the stars with the son of the man my aunt would marry. I barely knew him, but we began to like one another as we got to know each other. We have been married for five years and will be celebrating this milestone on February 23! – Maddie Khan

During my holiday in 1999 in India, my mum insisted that I somehow get married. I agreed and attended all the meetings arranged by my family. But for some reason or another, all were rejected. It was the 25th day of my month-long holiday and we were all losing hope of finding my soulmate that year. Then my brother, who was working as a Kannada lecturer, found a suitable girl who was studying in Bangalore and showed me her photograph. Somewhere in a corner of my heart, I felt a spark that she is my love, she is my soulmate. On October 20, I first met her in person.

Me and my family were impressed and was ready to take the plunge. But the girl’s family was wondering how to send their youngest daughter so far away, to the Middle East. It took a while to convince them it’s just a matter of four hours’ journey. They agreed – one hurdle was overcome.

My heart still beating fast, fingers crossed – but the girl, Rajeswari, still had to complete her post-grad. No worries – my heart was ready to wait for a lifetime for my love at first sight. We were engaged on October 22, and my half-dream was truly turned into reality. When I returned to Dubai, I felt that I was leaving something very special, very precious, behind. It was hard. But to my surprise my love was there at the airport. I was on the top of the world.

I used to call her every Friday throughout the year. On November 22, 2000, we were married and I am truly blessed to have her in my life. – Nandeeswar Seelavanth

I met my boyfriend, now hubby of almost 23 years, during a weekly walk organized by our trekking club in Mumbai way back in 1991. It was love at first sight. We had to convince our parents that we were serious as he is a Roman Catholic and I am a Palakkad Iyer. 23 years later, our marriage is going strong and we have two beautiful daughters to complete our family. – Vimala Benjamin DeSouza

My husband is my mum’s sister’s relative. During one of his holidays, he visited my aunt, where they discussed him getting married. He enquired if she knows about any eligible person and at that moment my mum called her. And that is it. We got married. Everything happens as per God’s will. – Sheena Jishu Thomas

I saw my life partner for the first time on my wedding day. I saw him on the nikkah day, three days prior to the wedding. It was a completely traditional and typical arranged marriage. My husband was working in Dubai. He was not there for the engagement. As our marriage was a union of two strangers, that’s why it has been fun exploring each other every day. We developed a good relationship very quickly. Seventeen years have passed, Alhamdulillah. Friendship is the most special component of our relationship and it has given us strength through the hard and tough times of our life. – Mrs. Asif

While I had a huge social circle at Wilson College in Bombay, there was one girl whom I was drawn to for her compassionate spirit, selfless attitude and a strong character. Of course, her flawless complexion and long straight, silky hair helped as catalysts in the attraction. While I never summoned the courage to talk to her, when February 14 came closer, I decided to order her a whole bouquet of red roses. Unfortunately on Valentine’s Day that year, I had to travel very early in the morning to another city for an exam and I only got back to Bombay late in the evening. As I got down from the bus disappointed that I could not see Susan and her reaction, who else should I see at the bus stop but none other than the girl I realised I was in love with. I knew then that she was my destiny! This Valentine will be our 27th, and each year has seen a bouquet of red roses reaffirm our love. – Gladson Ronad

To make my long story short, I would say I met Sandeep for the first time on a trip arranged by the company that we both we worked for. It was a beautiful evening when everyone got into the bus with full of excitement to visit Goa. For fun, we started playing antakshari [a sung parlour game] and I was amazed by his singing talent. Later we became good friends and now we have been married for five years. It is a dream come true for me. – Saritha

It was the second week of August 2011. It is also the time in India when the monsoon hasn’t yet completely bidden adieu. We had invited their family over the breakfast. At about 10am on a Sunday morning, it had just started to drizzle. I peeped outside the window to check as I heard the vehicles and to my disappointment was only able to see few umbrellas going inside the building. The doorbell rang. Holding on to my anxiety, I stayed inside my bedroom waiting for them to settle. Just a few minutes later I heard my father calling my name and I went into the drawing room. It was a very typical setup made for that particular day.

The guests were sitting on the couch, my father was on the chair diagonally opposite to them and mine was placed exactly opposite the would-be groom. There is an awkwardness and discomfort in this kind of meeting, especially for the would-be groom and bride, but I guess over the years I had seen my own elder sister and cousins practice the same, which helped me find my comfort zone. I greeted them with a hello and a smile and made myself comfortable in the chair.

Now this is the time when a lot of basic questions about likes, dislikes and thoughts are exchanged from both the sides – if you ask me now, I remember none. The only thing that I remember of that day is where my husband was sitting and what he was wearing. This wasn’t sufficient – we wanted to know more about each other. So few days later, we met over lunch in a restaurant, and a few days later for a coffee, and later for an ice cream. The meetings continued and finally one day we told our parents that we would like to get hitched. – Amita Chatari

Marriage is bondage of L.O.V.E (a sweet blend of longevity, originality, virtuality and emotionality). Meeting a partner who touches your soul is a mere miracle. But, miracles do happen in a arranged marriage, too. A first meeting through a marriage bureau, being aware only of his bio, profession and family background will be, in fact, thrilling. I passed through the same phase, that moment when I fell in love with that dimpled smile, that simplicity, and my heart was grabbed by his talkative nature. A trust developed for a lifetime. A lovely partner is the one who lets you be you – and I have one. – Purnima Arun

Ours was an arranged marriage, our parents hooked and booked us together. It was never a romantic tale; we never said I love you to each other but he made sure that every birthday of mine is a special one. He never express his love in words but he is the person who loves me a lot. Someone has rightly said marriages are made in heaven. After meeting him it seems to be true – I could have never asked for more. He is my perfect soulmate. Today through Friday I want to express to him: I love you lot my hubby, and hum the Bollywood song Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (‘a match made in heaven’). – Nivedita

My first real job right after graduation is where I met my husband, partner in crime and best friend, Vivian. It may sound silly, but I had an immediate connection and feeling of familiarity the moment I laid eyes on him on induction day even though we had never crossed paths. We were friends for about a year, dated for six years and have been married for three years. We were recently blessed with a beautiful baby boy. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship with our fair share of ups and downs but have always emerged stronger because of that connection we share and the mutual respect and love we have for each other. I look forward to growing old together and experiencing whatever the future has in store for us with my husband by my side. – Gwen Saldanha

It started on a cold night in January. I heard my mother screaming and we ran to her to find that my grandmother had become unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital. I called an ambulance and we took her to the hospital, however, unfortunately we forgot our phones at home and could not contact anyone.

The doctors asked us to bring a some medicines, one of which was not available in the hospital’s pharmacy, so I decided to go and bring it. The area was not familiar and I lost my way. I was young at that time and the city was not good in those days. I wanted to cry but I told myself to stay strong. I saw a boy who was opening the car door for his mother and I didn’t want to miss my chance. I ran as fast as I could and told them the whole situation and asked if they could help me. They not only dropped me at the hospital, but stayed until my grandmother was conscious again. A few days later, my mother told me of the proposal sent from the mother of the boy who I had met that night – and the rest is history. – Sadia Mohsin

It’s very vivid and clear in my mind, the first time I saw my partner in the presence of my parents and a battalion of my relatives in my house in a traditional so-called bride viewing ceremony. It’s with great difficulty and with the help of my Aunt that I managed to wear a traditional outfit 'Sari' for the function. I really envied my partner who came in smart, easy to wear casuals with only his friends. – Vineetha Sasikant

I met my husband through a matrimony website called shaadi.com. We both initially were not very certain about the online search for life partners. But on our first telephonic interaction, we started liking each other and chatted until late into the night. In fifteen days, our Yahoo chat turned into making future plans. Finally, after a month, we involved our parents and the best part was that our parents met both of us on the engagement day, which happened three months later.

Now eleven years of marriage and lots of ups and down later, we still feel it was the right decision to login that winter evening on our desktops. – Sanchita

It’s been 24 years of happy married life, Alhamdulillah. Ours was an arranged marriage. I was 18 and my husband was 23 and had just completed his MBA. As we were quite young, there were questions posed to my father in law, as he was getting his son married so early and my husband’s elder brother was not married at that time. So to stop all those queries, my father in law told neighbours, friends and relatives that it’s a love marriage and so the marriage had to be fixed earlier. The next day in my sasural (in-laws), whoever came to meet us started asking us where and how we met, how love blossomed between us. As I had no idea of this, I was shocked and later came to know about “our love marriage” from my father in law. Many still think it’s love marriage. Well, yes, we are in love all these 24 years, and inshaallah, more years to come. – Fathima Kauser