Rebecca Lopez knows what she wants when it comes to finding a partner: Someone who is “stress-resistant, competitive, drive, self-reliant” and wants to improve themselves.
“I feel like I have a very firm idea of what I want in my mind, but these websites haven’t been delivering that,” Lopez said.
After multiple failed attempts with such dating apps as Tinder and others that cater specifically to those looking for partners to travel with, Lopez wanted to take matters into her owns hands.
That’s why she decided to place an ad, looking for a partner, in The Salt Lake Tribune. (It ran on the front page of Sunday’s sports section.)
“If you have a passport and you’re willing to get on a surfboard, you probably fit all these like criteria,” Lopez said over the phone from Iowa. “This is all really important to me, and I’ve kind of put my bottom line up front on Tinder and it hasn’t worked out great. I’d like to meet somebody who is willing to go someplace with me.”
In the ad, Lopez is seeking “a polyglot that speaks Tongan, Swahili and Lingala,” a Bantu language spoken in northern parts of the Congo. The ad also asks if the person owns “a significant number of AR 670-1 compliant coyote brown military t-shirts,” a type of shirt that meets U.S. Army regulations.
Lopez is 42, going through a divorce, a mother to two children with disabilities, and studying law at the University of Iowa. She doesn’t have a lot of time to swipe left or right.
She is multilingual, grew up in a multicultural military family, and has always loved to travel. Her parents even sent her abroad for college, and Lopez herself was in active duty in the military before she decided to leave for law school. She estimates she has lived in 16 states and 11 different countries.
She met her husband — they’ve been separated for about four years now — through the military, and the relationship was heavily long-distance. On their first Valentine’s Day together, she bought him travel guides to Costa Rica and Europe. They never took the trips.
They had a travel-themed wedding, but didn’t take a honeymoon because of their deployment schedules. Eventually Lopez bought tickets for the two of them, but they were never used. She recently came across the guide books when cleaning out a room — and decided to use the tickets for herself. She is heading to Costa Rica on spring break, and will go to Europe after finals.
“It’s actually been a very sad moment for me, taking these trips by myself with these two tickets that I had bought for us,” she said. “Now that I’m getting divorced, I have an opportunity to do better to find somebody that is maybe a better fit for me.”
She took out the ad because, she said, “to be honest, I try to do something nice for myself every Valentine’s Day — and I was having a moment of frustration because Tinder and these dating sites weren’t working out.”
She decided, she said, that “I’m basically going to treat myself to this and just see what happens.”
Lopez is not from Utah, nor has she ever visited, but she did apply to the University of Utah’s law school — where she was wait-listed. Utah is one of her “top three choices” to live after graduating from the University of Iowa but “she’s not married to the idea yet.”
Salt Lake City, she said, is “a highly educated city. It’s growing, [but] not growing really fast. The city seems progressive, but in a balanced way. It’s someplace I can see myself moving, potentially long-term, then making it a forever home.”
It’s because of her interest in Utah that she placed the ad in The Tribune, she said — but she added that she is open to meeting somebody anywhere.
Lopez acknowledges that some people — including her mother — might find the endeavor weird, but she doesn’t mind.
“I feel like it’s important for people to be able to laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously,” she said. “This is just kind of me rebuilding my life.”