From Woofing on an App to a Lifetime Together: How They Fell in Love

Credit: Will McKinney-Raphelt

Finding love can be a tricky thing when you’re in a geographically undesirable scenario. It’s one thing when you live in a different city or state but it’s another huge obstacle to climb when the person you think is your husband in the making resides in an entirely different continent.

This was the case for Will & Alex, our latest to be featured in Instinct’s ongoing Couple Series. The former (pictured on the right) was enjoying a fun-filled life in New York City before he backed into his now husband on a popular bear app. 


Things got so serious between them that Will decided to make a major life choice by leaving The Big Apple for a life of beer and sausage (no pun intended) overseas in Germany with his now husband.

And guess what? It worked out beautifully as so many wonderful things have happened in the years since including them swapping vows and finally being in the same place after so many years apart.

They spoke about all of this in our interview with them below. 

Credit: Will McKinney-Raphelt

How did you two initially meet and was it love at first sight?

Will: Growlr actually lol. I was browsing the global page and saw his profile. I woof’d at him and he woof’d back. I was living in New York and he was in Hamburg, Germany.

Alex: It was more like lust at first sight lol. We talked on and off for months, stopped talking for a while and then Will reconnected with me via Facebook after a mutual friend added me on the social media platform. His friend mentioned it to him so he reached back out.

Will: After we reconnected, Alex asked me to FaceTime with him and then it was like “WOAH!” He convinced me to let him come to New York for ten days and here we are almost five years later. 


What is your favorite thing to love about each other? 

Alex: I love his heart of gold. I love that he is a beautiful and kind soul and has an endless depth of love. 

Will: I love his passion. He lives and loves fully and is always very transparent about how he feels. He’s very rare. 

Credit: Will McKinney-Raphelt

Are you monogamous or in an open relationship? How do you make either work?

Will: Hard to answer simply. We have been in a long distance relationship for nearly 5 years. We opened up after 3.5 years of monogamy while living apart in 2 different continents! 

Alex: It was a conscious conversation that we had from day 1. We started as closed to build a solid foundation for our relationship but we consistently discussed it over the years so that it was an organic evolution. 

Will: We are still learning how to make it work but we tell each other everything – even though it’s not always an easy pill to swallow. We just want to ensure each other that we are safe while keeping one another informed.


What has COVID been like for the two of you? Has it brought you closer together?

Will: Absolutely! Literally and figuratively. We have been able to spend more consecutive time together in the last year than we have in the past four years due to home office ability. We are finally getting the chance to spend extended time together and learning what its like to cohabitate even though we’ve been married for two years.

Credit: Will McKinney-Raphelt

Has the topic of adopting or having kids via surrogate ever come up?


Will: It was one of the very first questions I asked him when we FaceTimed. 

Alex: And we both were on the same page. We are better off as Guncles. 

What is the best advice you would give to anyone who is looking for love out there but hasn’t found it?

Will: Be upfront and honest about what you want. It cuts out a lot of wasted time and smoke & mirrors. The right person will match your energy. And don’t be afraid to outsource your love. Look outside of your city. It can be tougher but anything worth having takes effort to keep.

Alex: Echoing what Will said. Know your worth, be brave, and trust your gut.

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