A.J. Amell and Aly Michalka celebrated an anniversary together — only to break up the next day

Howie Knepper writes about a couple whose long, happy relationship ended after a scary night together. The ninth floor of the Savoy may not be the most glamorous place to have a serious conversation….

A.J. Amell and Aly Michalka celebrated an anniversary together — only to break up the next day

Howie Knepper writes about a couple whose long, happy relationship ended after a scary night together.

The ninth floor of the Savoy may not be the most glamorous place to have a serious conversation. But in 2015, two engaged people quickly realized they just had to use the savoy, a trendy low-lit space with a wraparound rooftop deck, to talk about their life together.

It was just a month after The Washington Post’s online Dating Handbook came out. And just a few months after Allison Hora and Josh Braverman celebrated their engagement at City Winery with a classic $500 pizza. The ceremony theme was “On the Runway,” and the guest list was made up of friends and family from all over the world. The couple planned an awesome holiday party, but it turned into one of the saddest nights of their lives.

For Hora, “it was definitely the most out-of-context moment of my life,” she says. “I don’t think there was ever a moment where I said, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’” There were ongoing fights and dry spells — and poor dates. “My foot size wasn’t in line with what my husband-to-be’s was, and neither was our weight,” she says.

Braverman felt like their relationship was headed in the wrong direction. He didn’t want to be with her anymore.

As they unraveled, Hora and Braverman decided they needed an outlet. They wrote a story together in the Post, and the piece was the last thing they wrote before going their separate ways.

“I didn’t really think it would get this attention,” Hora says. It did. Readers asked the couple to write back, and their story would soon catch the attention of the media.

“We knew at that point in our relationship that something was off,” Hora says. They even joked about a fictional couple they made up, should they break up in real life.

The couple eventually found each other at a costume store on the weekend before Halloween. “There’s no way we’re going to tell someone how we felt about their costume before meeting them,” Hora says. But they did. She bought a sparkly dinosaur costume from a store she’d been visiting for ages. “We just started reminiscing about the exciting stories we had together,” she says. “He spent half of his first year with me being upset that his name was spelled a certain way.”

“We just talked about our life together,” Braverman says. “It was an incredibly cathartic thing for us.” He dressed as an astronaut, and they had their date through Gettysburg.

It wasn’t until later that Hora would realize that a Halloween costume could cause a life-altering event, which happened to her the next year.

Now, as this year’s Washington Post Dating Handbook hits the shelves, Hora and Braverman are reconsidering their relationship. They used the piece to gain confidence going forward. And, they have a twin sister who recently got engaged, making them wish they had used the guide to help them communicate better in person.

Braverman agrees: “I wished we had used it more a year and a half ago.”

More Washington Post Dating Guides

“Who Made it Out Alive?”

“The Bachelor: After the Final Rose”

“The Bachelor/Bachelorette: Who Gets Engaged?”

“How to Find the Love of Your Life.”

“Journey to Love: A Runner’s Guide to Matchmaking.”

“Dating: The After-Game.”

“Dating After Divorce.”

“Dating in the Age of Tinder.”

“A New Date is Born.”

“The Single Blog.”

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