He Always Chose Career Over Love. But for Her, He Changed His Mind.
Tina Liu is not afraid to admit that she chased Michael Ghory.
The couple first met on the dating app Happn in 2014. A self-described “sneakerhead,” Mr. Ghory posted photos of his outfits — some taken by street-style photographers like Tommy Ton — on his dating profile. He hoped that the right woman would appreciate his sense of style. Enter Ms. Liu.
They began with a three-hour phone call that went smoothly, and then planned their first in-person date. But Mr. Ghory, who is from Lexington, Mass., and Milwaukee, canceled at the last minute, saying his brother was in town.
“I wasn’t entirely honest,” Mr. Ghory, 39, said. “My brother lived in town. It was hard to say to him, ‘No, we’re not going to hang out because I’m going to go on this date with a stranger.’”
“I was furious, like, screw this guy,” said Ms. Liu, who moved to Federal Way, Wash., from Hunan, China, with her family in 1992. “I was just on to the next.”
That winter, they matched again on Tinder. Ms. Liu, 33, decided to give him another chance. “Dating in New York is really hard,” she said. “So I was like, OK, nothing better has emerged, so I’m going to swipe right.”
Mr. Ghory planned a date at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. But to test the waters, they first met for coffee at Via Quadronno, an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. Excited but nervous, Ms. Liu borrowed her friend’s Acne Studios sneakers because she didn’t think she owned anything “worthy of the shoe guy.”
Mr. Ghory noticed the sneakers and, to equally impress her, he surprised her with a spaceship figurine, as Ms. Liu had once mentioned that she was interested in space.
“I think, probably subconsciously, it was a little forgiveness gift — please forgive me for flaking last time,” Mr. Ghory said.
Six dates followed, but work became too demanding for both of them, and things fizzled.
Then, in March 2016, they ran into each other at Bed Bath & Beyond on a Friday night. Mr. Ghory was preparing to leave for a new job with Adidas in Portland, Ore., but he asked Ms. Liu if they could catch up over dinner. She said no.
“I was so horrified that I did not look the way I was hoping I would when I ran into him,” said Ms. Liu, who had just emerged from a workout class. Instead, she suggested that they go out the next day.
They went to the Trailer Park Lounge and realized that their connection was still strong. Even though he was moving across the country, Ms. Liu didn’t want to let him go.
Mr. Ghory messaged her every time he returned to New York, and she visited him once in Portland in September 2016. After that trip, Ms. Liu knew she loved him. She told him a week after her trip, but Mr. Ghory didn’t say it back.
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“It was my last Hail Mary,” Ms. Liu said. “I know I did everything I could to make something that I really believed in happen.”
Instead, they stopped talking.
In May 2017, Ms. Liu noticed on Facebook that it was Mr. Ghory’s birthday and sent him a “thirst trap” selfie of her wearing a formal dress, hoping it would spark something again. They rekindled their relationship through text messages, and soon attended weddings together as each other’s dates.
Mr. Ghory decided to move to Cambridge, Mass., to be closer to his father, who had prostate cancer, and secured a job there as the director for North America merchandising for Converse. In November 2017, he saw Ms. Liu before moving and gave her a notecard that read, “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Now that they were on the same coast — Ms. Liu in New York, and Mr. Ghory in Cambridge — they took the bus to visit each other every weekend. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, Ms. Liu moved into Mr. Ghory’s apartment for two weeks, which turned into two years.
“She’s the first person in my entire life who I can just spend every hour of every day with and not get annoyed or need separation,” said Mr. Ghory.
On March 12, 2022, Mr. Ghory enlisted Ms. Liu’s brother, Kevin, to photograph the proposal at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, underneath an arch leading to the courtyard. Afterward, they celebrated in a suite at the Kimpton Marlowe Hotel.
The couple married Aug. 12 at Peirce Farm at Witch Hill in Topsfield, Mass., by Mr. Ghory’s brother Joseph, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church. Their 133 guests included Ms. Liu’s parents, who moved back to Hunan in 2004 and have lived there since. The couple celebrated with both Jewish and Chinese traditions. They plan to host a traditional tea ceremony in China in a few months.
Ms. Liu, who holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology from New York University, works as the director for global social content at Supergoop, a sunscreen company. Mr. Ghory, who has a master’s in business administration from Columbia and a bachelor’s in English from Tufts University, recently left the sneaker world to become the vice president for apparel and lifestyle at Yuga Labs, a web3 company.
“I told Tina in my vows, ‘I promise to love you more than shoes,’” Mr. Ghory said. “I’ve always made these decisions for a shoe career. And now, I’m making decisions for a family.” Next month, he plans to move to New York to be with Ms. Liu.
“If I had a thousand lives to live,” Ms. Liu said, “I would make the same choice to pursue him every time.”
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