‘Love nerds' who met in horror video game defy 3,700-mile long-distance relationship to marry over a video call
A pair of gamers from opposite sides of the Atlantic fell in love when they met through an online “survival horror” video game and spent four years in a long-distance relationship before getting married over video call during the pandemic and finally moving in together.
Lewis Relfe, 22, from Wales, was playing Friday The 13th on Xbox One, a video game based on the popular slasher movie series of the same name, where players must work together to escape a masked killer, when he met Ameila, 30, who was living 3,700 miles away in Saltville, Virginia in the United States and who would become his wife after more than five years of long-distance dating.
The pair, who now live in Talsarn, Ceredigion, hit it off in 2017 after they started chatting online and playing dozens of video games together for several hours a day, with Lewis having to stay up until the early hours because of the five-hour time difference between them.
It was not long before they started dating and a year later, in April 2018, Ameila packed her Xbox and booked her first flight outside the US to visit Lewis in the UK, despite her mother Mitzi, 51, and friends saying she was “crazy”.
Love conquered all when Ameila returned a year later and Lewis popped the question while dressed as the villain of Friday The 13th during a romantic trip to Aberystwyth for Halloween, but just when the young horror-loving couple were planning their wedding, the coronavirus pandemic struck and flights were grounded for months.
However, this did not stop the “love nerds” and on New Year’s Day in 2021 they were virtually married over video call.
While lockdown measures were eventually relaxed, Ameila’s application for British residency was delayed due to the war in Ukraine, but eventually – after quitting her waitressing job at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant – she was able to move to the UK to live with Lewis in March this year.
Ameila said: “Most people would probably not have stuck it out that long without being able to see each other.”
Lewis added: “We were never able to visit each other very often, it was usually months or even a year before we’d see each other again, so it’s been quite difficult.
“I think the fact that we are both gamers and communicated through the video games we played helped keep us together.”
Lewis sent Ameila a link to join his “private party”, which allows Xbox players to start chatting one-on-one, after finishing a game of Friday The 13th in July 2017.
She clicked the link without thinking before realising she was on the line with a complete stranger. She was about to leave the call when Lewis started talking.
“He said ‘hello’ and I realised it was a British person, so I decided to stay,” she said.
“From then on, we started playing games together every day and became really good friends and then it just kind of grew from that.”
The pair started developing feelings for each other and became more than just friends after Lewis plucked up the courage to ask Ameila out, but not before they had a video call to ensure neither was getting catfished – where someone tries to lure another using a fictional online persona.
Ameila upped the ante in April 2018 when she visited Lewis in Wales for the first time.
“I was a bit nervous because it was my first time leaving the US,” she said.
“A lot of people told me I was crazy to travel to another country to meet someone who I had met online.
“My mum wasn’t a big fan of the idea at first, but now she loves him.”
They met at the airport in what Lewis described as a “surreal moment” and spent the next two weeks together.
The trip was a huge success and Ameila returned to the UK for Halloween, her favourite holiday, and then again in June 2019 when she stayed for six months.
Dressing up is one of the couple’s favourite activities, not only for Halloween, but also themed events like Cardiff’s medieval festival, which they attended dressed as knights.
The couple were staying at a caravan park in Aberystwyth on Halloween in 2019 when Lewis, who was dressed as Friday The 13th killer Jason Voorhees, got down on one knee and asked Ameila to marry him.
“We went out on the town and we went to the pier,” he said.
“I distracted her by telling her to look at the view.
“When she turned around, I was on my knees and my words were ‘do you want to marry me or something?’
“And then she said to me ‘are you sure?'”
They planned to have their wedding on Halloween in 2020 until thwarted by the pandemic.
Lewis tried to book a flight to the US that year but was refused entry due to the strict travel restrictions.
But the couple did not let coronavirus get in the way of love and proceeded to virtually tie the knot on January 1 2021, over a video call.
“It was a video call between me, Lewis and the officiant who married us,” said Ameila.
“I was a bit sceptical at first – like, is this legit?
“Me and my mum opened a bottle of wine to celebrate and Lewis’s family were in the room with him on the video call, so we all celebrated.”
Married at last, Ameila began her application for a spousal visa, with the intention of moving to the UK indefinitely, but as part of the criteria Lewis, who had just finished college in the summer of 2021, needed to find a job.
A few months later in September 2021, he started work as a learning support worker for vulnerable adults with special needs, adding: “That was my first proper job.”
It would take another 10 months before Ameila was able to apply for her visa, which she says was further delayed because of the war in Ukraine.
She was finally given the green light in February this year and flew in to Heathrow on March 2.
“I worked at a fast food restaurant called Chick-Fil-A but I had already explained to them that when I got my visa, I would be leaving,” said Ameila who now works at a restaurant in Wales.
“I remember landing and thinking ‘well, this is my home now’.
“I was very excited and relived that it had finally happened.
“It was very rough being apart from each other but we got through it.”