Ken Cullins, 28, fell in love with girlfriend Ciera Springer, 26, of Baton Rouge, La., after meeting online. Like most couples, they talk every day, discuss the future, and say “I love you.” Just one problem—it took them six years to meet in person.
After Ken, an IT tech, reached out on MySpace seven years ago, and the two maintained a long-distance relationship without ever flying to meet each other face to face. Sounds odd, but it’s the premise of Oxygen’s new show, Virtually In Love.
“We never met, I’ve always lived in New York, she’s always lived in Baton Rouge,” Ken explains. “As much love as we have between us, logistically we just couldn’t make it work. And then one day she says ‘I found this flyer for a show bringing couples together who never met.’”
Ken says during those years no one could manage to scrape together money for a round trip flight but that he always kept her in mind. The couple took one break, during which time Ciera had a baby with someone else. But she soon reunited with Ken.
“I always had affirmations, like ‘do this for Ciera,’” he says. “Neither one of us could make the plane ticket, things just always came up. Thankfully, Skype became a thing, we talked. She was my girlfriend, I couldn’t see her at the drop of a hat, but she had access to me whenever she needed me and vice versa.”
How did he know he wasn’t being catfished?
“Back then you didn’t really know, but through conversations I realized [she was real],” Ken says. “Naturally over the course of us talking we decided you’re my soulmate. We just connected so much.”
After Oxygen chose the couple for the show, Ciera flew to New York to meet Ken and his family, and he flew to Louisiana, where he says he experienced “culture shock.”
“Her family was...interesting," he says. "She was exactly the same in person, now I was just hearing her voice directly in my ear instead of over a phone line."
Ken says his own family thought his situation was a “little weird” in the beginning, and that they wanted him to find a nice girl closer to home.
Viewers will find out the status of their relationship on the show, which focuses on a different couple each episode.
In another episode, 33-year-old Iyanya Ukpong meets his Swedish girlfriend of seven months, Maria Ahstrom, 33. (Pictured up top.)
“In March 2015 I was headed to SXSW, and messing around on Instagram before the plane took off. We both commented on a Nicki Minaj post, and I’m like ‘who is this spunky character?’” Iyanya says. “So I friended her, DM’d her, started asking her questions. She had interesting features, and a natural conversation ensued. The chances of me dating her are slim to none, she lives in Sweden.”
Iyanya says the relationship happened organically and that the two liked the energy they had when they spoke and texted.
“We spoke on every platform known to man,” he says. “It felt right. Our bond was spiritual. It was a vibration.”
At the time of the taping, when they finally met in person, they had been together for seven months. Find out if they are still a couple on the show.
Oxygen’s “Virtually in Love” premieres Tuesday, May 24 at 9/8c.
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