Love is a High-Scoring Word


By Out Contributor

Ryan Pfluger & Jeff Strack share the story of how they met and fell in love

Photography by Rob Howard

Ryan, Photographer: Jeff was the first and only person that I messaged on OkCupid because he was the epitome of the guy I thought was really attractive but would never, ever date me. He just seemed a little more straitlaced, not the kind of person that’s ever been interested in my personal style, and I thought that he’d be put off by it. I come from a very difficult family life, and I’ve always been very particular about who I let in, but with him, right off the bat, I was spewing out my dirty laundry. There’s a real honesty about the way he deals with people, and there’s something about him that’s not jaded, able to find joy in very simple things. He’s a very, very generous person in really unexpected ways. He’ll randomly pick up a unicorn figure because he knows I love unicorns, or a book on animal behavior because I love animals.

A year into dating I was in L.A. I had just started shooting regularly for The New York Times. He had a box of cookies delivered to my hotel room to congratulate me. It was very out of character—he’s not a materialistic person at all—but he knew that would be really important to me. I still have the card he sent with it.

Both my parents were drug addicts and alcoholics, my mom had cancer three times, and I was bullied all through high school, so any idea of security was foreign to me as a child. I grew up with a constant fear of losing things—that’s why I started photography. And, with Jeff, within a month or two I had no reservations about him. He made me feel so comfortable, and loved all the aspects about me—even those I was uncomfortable letting people know about. It made me feel like I finally had a sense of security. It was an emotional thing for me to have his whole family at our wedding supporting us—it was the first time, since I was a kid, that I felt like I had family.