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How do lovers find each other? In lots of ways
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In this Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 photo, Charlie Breslin, background right, sits with his wife Nancy, background left, and their children, from left, Kate, 6, Alan, 9, and Lila, 6, in their home in Glen Ridge, N.J. Go to the AIDS Walk, the rabbis at Charlie Breslin's Manhattan synagogue urged. It's a good deed and "Who knows? You might meet someone." Charlie found the notion of chasing love while raising money for a heartbreaking illness "terribly tacky" -- until a friend introduced Nancy at the starting line. - photo by Associated Press

    No two Valentine's stories are alike.
    Still, there's inspiration to be found in the way couples meet and realize they'll be weaving their lives together.
    For example, if you feel like playing matchmaker for single friends, it might be an OK idea. A fourth of those who are married or in committed relationships say they met through friends — the most common way for U.S. couples to get together, an Associated Press-WE TV poll found.
    Looking for love at school or work remains ever-popular.
    Less than 10 percent of serious couples say they met at a bar or party. About the same portion credit a dating website or app, although those are trending upward in more recent matches. Meetings at religious services are close behind, the survey shows.
    Of course, romance isn't meant to be pigeonholed in neat categories. Here are just a few of the how-we-met stories that these couples celebrated Saturday:
   
    Go to the AIDS Walk, the rabbis at Charlie Breslin's Manhattan synagogue urged. It's a good deed and "Who knows? You might meet someone." Charlie found the notion of chasing love while raising money for a heartbreaking illness "terribly tacky" — until a friend introduced Nancy at the starting line.
    "I was instantaneously smitten," he says. Nancy remembers noticing Charlie "had a nice smile, but I didn't think that much of it." She was there to honor the memory of a beloved mentor, not to mingle.
    Nancy purposefully plunged into the throng, leaving Charlie to search for her along the route. Finally he glimpsed her ahead in the distance. A strategic shortcut through Central Park allowed Charlie to catch up and "accidentally" bump into her again. His idea of breaking for cookies was a hit; that led to coffee after the walk.
    Fourteen years later, Charlie and Nancy Breslin, both 46, are raising their three children in New Jersey. They mark special occasions with donations to the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the beneficiary of AIDS Walk New York.

    Thomas Baytarian was at sea when he found love. His sister talked a lot about her cool new friend Lisa. Thomas, a Marine corporal, looked up Lisa on Facebook to say hello, just before deploying for nine months aboard the USS Kearsarge. While the ship crossed the globe, helping flood victims in Pakistan and civilians in the Libyan civil war, Thomas and Lisa messaged and talked. Working two jobs cleaning houses and delivering pizzas back in Florida, Lisa gave up sleep to reach him in her only free time. Thomas had to wait his turn for a ship computer or phone.
    "It was nonstop, trying to find time to communicate with each other," Thomas says. They started talking marriage, even though they'd seen each other only in photos. Lisa nervously awaited his return alongside jubilant Marine families in North Carolina: "I felt like, is this going to be real when we meet? Is everything going to change?" Nothing changed, except they could finally kiss. "It was just like we'd been in each other's presence for that nine months," Thomas says. They married a month later, June 2011. He's out of the service now.
    Thomas and Lisa Baytarian, 25 and 27, are raising their 2-year-old son in Florida.

    It all started on Stone Mountain. Nearing age 40, feeling new aches taking hold of her joints, Jane Watts began serious training for her final multisport "adventure race." Needing a training partner to keep her motivated, she recruited longtime friend June Riner. That meant trekking together up Stone Mountain near Atlanta early every morning.
    "Doing that day after day, you start talking about life, and what's good and what's bad and what's great about it," Jane says. Says June, "You get to know each other on a different level." Jane had been hoping to expand her business, and one mountain morning it dawned on her that June would be the perfect business partner. As she urged June to invest her life savings the conversations intensified, and grew more personal. "Before the papers were signed, we were a romance," Jane says. They've been a couple for a decade now and own four Batteries Plus Bulbs franchises together in Atlanta.
    Jane Watts, 52, and June Riner, 50, say they'll wed someday, if Georgia's ban on same-sex marriages is lifted.

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