Adam Hammond came across the ad the weekend his wife was away with another man. She’d told him the previous week that she’d met someone else and thought it was love. He begged her to try to save the marriage, but his entreaties failed. As he sat alone in the Annapolis house they had recently purchased, friends and relatives urged him to get out — do something.
Adam responded to Amy’s ad, and as they spoke by phone each shared a little of their personal stories. Once she was convinced he wasn’t a weirdo looking for a quick thrill, Amy invited Adam to meet her at a Pros in the City seminar on dating. They spent the evening passing notes back and forth and then ditched the workshop in search of a beer.
Soon Adam, who works in IT for a government contractor, was making the trip from Annapolis to the District several times a week to watch movies on Amy’s couch, go to dinner and discuss their respective broken hearts. Amy’s last relationship was brief but intense, and as a 37-year-old when it ended, she feared she might never meet the right guy or have kids. Adam, then 42, had been married since his mid-20s and had no idea how to even contemplate dating again.
To get him “date ready,” Amy dragged Adam out shopping for new clothes one afternoon. As he tried on outfits, she began to grill him, asking, “What’s the perfect girl for you? Who are you looking for? What do you want?”
Before he could even respond, the thought flashed across his mind: “Oh, no. It’s you.” Amy was vivacious, smart and always up for new adventures. “And she was my best friend,” he says. “She heard everything.”
But she’d made it very clear that she wasn’t looking for anything beyond a platonic relationship, so he tamped down his feelings as best he could. In March, she invited him at the last minute to come along on a group trip to Mexico. When they returned home, she could see from the way he was looking at her in pictures that he was falling for her.
They spent more and more time together, and finally Adam began pestering her for a date. Each time, she declined, worried that one or both of them would be hurt again. “There were, ‘Go away, leave me alone’ phases and then 10 seconds later when I was halfway home it’d be, ‘Can you come back and hang out with me?’ ” he recalls. “So as much as it was ‘Go away,” it was ‘Please stay,’ also.”
Adam just kept showing up, certain that a friendship with Amy was infinitely better than no relationship at all. And in May, he finally persuaded her to give the romance a shot. “I flat out said that she was totally worth the risk. Something along the lines of, ‘I’d rather have my heart torn all apart again. It’s worth rolling the dice for you.’ And I’ve never been that brave before.”
He chartered a sailboat on the Chesapeake, and by the end of the night, “I was smitten,” Amy recalls. “It was the consistency. That’s what got me. He was just super, super consistent. If I needed him to be there, he would be there,” she says. “It was comfortable, and it felt good. I liked being with him and he made me laugh. We liked the same things and were annoyed by the same things.”
They dated all summer, but she could feel herself keeping a few walls up between them. That October, Adam drove with Amy and her grandmother to New York. After they dropped him off, her grandma advised, “Amy, if you ever let him go, you’ll be making the biggest mistake of your life.”
The comment made Amy reflect on what had gone wrong in previous relationships and wonder if the common denominator was her — and what she was looking for. “You know, love isn’t always what you see in the movies. It takes a lot of work and isn’t always butterflies and whatever,” she says. “There’s a lot to be said for being in a relationship with your best friend. And he’s my best friend. We have so much fun together and he always has my back.”
Over Christmas with some of Amy’s family, Adam asked her father for his blessing to propose. Her father happily consented and then announced to everyone in earshot — including Amy — “Guess what Adam just asked me?”
Adam was still determined to make the proposal a surprise, although his plans seemed to be thwarted at every turn. During a trip to Portland, Ore., in May, Amy silently said a prayer asking God for confirmation that she’d finally found the right man. She heard something in her head say, “Let the sign be a butterfly.”
As they hiked to a waterfall that morning, a white butterfly flew directly into Amy’s face. Soon after, Adam pulled out the ring. “I always say ‘God hit me in the face with a butterfly,’ ” says Amy, now 39.
Although their lives changed dramatically in just a year and a half, “it doesn’t feel like it was fast,” says Adam, now 44. “It feels like somebody I knew all along. There’s plenty that’s different — I’m more quiet and laid back, she’s more driven. But we’re so on the same page about everything. We complete each other’s sentences a lot of the time.”
On Oct. 19, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as their backdrop, the pair exchanged vows before 150 guests at Shenandoah Woods in Luray, Va.
“I never doubt that he loves me,” Amy said before the wedding. “I wake up and there are cards in my sock drawer or in the medicine cabinet.”
“You wouldn’t believe the things you can find on Craigslist — and he was free!”