Fitting Into His Schedule, Then Into Her Royal Family – The New York Times

When Mr. Robinson’s coffee meeting with Ms. Makonnen exceeded his time limit and ran to 60 minutes, he saw it as an auspicious sign. “We had a beautiful conversation,” he said. “I was attracted to her right away and really wanted to get to know her.”

He reinforced his interest with eye contact so intense that she was compelled to comment. “I was like, ‘I notice you’re looking directly at my eyes,’” Ms. Makonnen recalled saying to Mr. Robinson. He told her that was intentional. “I said, ‘I want you to have my full attention.’”

His ensuing courtship of Ms. Makonnen started slowly. The day after they met for coffee, he left for a two-week leadership program in California. He promised to call Ms. Makonnen on FaceTime as soon as he returned. When he made good on that promise, the wheels of romance were set in motion. “Jamal was very consistent with me,” Ms. Makonnen said. “I loved that.”

Though the feelings were there on both sides, so was a desire to avoid rushing intimacy. A first kiss didn’t happen until May 2015. Mr. Robinson said he wanted their developing relationship “to be different from other dating situations,” adding, “I didn’t want it to be about infatuation.”

He became somewhat obsessed with Ms. Makonnen’s ancestry, though, after she told him about it in the summer of 2015. “One of my best friends is from Ghana,” Mr. Robinson said. “When I told him I was seeing Edna, he said, ‘Bro, do you know the lineage of that family?’ He broke it down for me as an individual from the continent.”

Then “I went straight down the rabbit hole,” Mr. Robinson added.

That summer brought another milestone for the two: In August 2015, they became an official couple. “Jamal said to me, ‘My intentions are to date you, then to be engaged to you and then to marry you,’” Ms. Makonnen said.