When a university professor was asked by a student how he knew he wanted to marry his wife, he gave a sweet story of a seemingly mundane event that changed the course of his life.
Assistant professor Dan West teaches the lecture portion of the Introduction to Human Communication class at Ohio University, which recently dove into the subject of love and relationships. During his Oct. 24 lecture, West invited students to ask him anonymous questions using notecards, and was presented with the seemingly complex question, “How do you know when you’re in love?”
With that, the 51-year-old professor dished out his own story about realizing he wanted to marry his then-girlfriend, Vicki, in 1993.
“We had just come from a movie and stopped by a grocery store so I could buy some food for the next day. We were looking at ice cream and as I watched her choosing I realized that I was going to be buying groceries with her for the rest of my life,” he said, according to BuzzFeed. A short time after this revelation, West proposed to Vicki and they married a few months later.
“It just hits you, you can’t expect it and you can’t plan for it,” he told his class of more than 450 students.
Victoria Helmke, a student in West’s class, tweeted about the adorable story, and it quickly went viral, garnering over 340,000 retweets.
“He’s super lively, and super open about everything,” Helmke, 19, a Child and Family Studies major at the university, tells PEOPLE of Professor West. “He pretty much answered every question that people asked him, even the ones that were a little more questionable. He talks about his wife and kids all the time in class.”
Hundreds of people replied to her tweet, and many seemed to agree that grocery shopping with their significant other can reveal a lot about their relationship.
“I feel like the story gave everybody a little bit of hope, even the people who were cheated on or hurt in relationships,” Helmke adds. “I feel the same way about that, too”
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West told BuzzFeed that he understands his student’s confusion when it comes to navigating the ever-changing dating environment of 2017. With so many young people looking for love on dating apps like Tinder, West said he hopes students make time to go out and spend time with each other in person.
“My advice is to keep the relationship as real as possible. And to give each other some electronic space,” he told BuzzFeed. “Knowing you are going to spend time together at night —even if it is studying, or doing laundry, or even ‘Netflix and chill’ — [it] can be far more rewarding than hundreds of useless text messages.”