How I met my Bashert

Worth the wait

For author and professor Hugo Schwyzer, a change in dynamics meant a change in chemistry

Eira and Hugo (photo credit: courtesy)
Eira and Hugo (photo credit: courtesy)

My wife was my student. It’s such a cliché, of course, that we’ve joked about coming up with an alternate story. But there’s no getting around the truth.

Of course, when we hear about professors romancing their students, we think about the ethics of relationships between instructors and those who are currently enrolled. That wasn’t what happened with us; we waited more than seven years to start dating.

Eira and Hugo (photo credit: courtesy)
Eira and Hugo (photo credit: courtesy)

I’ll never forget the date: January 9, 1995. It was the first day of classes for the new term at Pasadena City College. I was 27, in my second year of full-time teaching. Eira was a tall, stunning brunette with unearthly poise and a Mona Lisa smile, two years out of high school. “That’s the most beautiful woman I think I’ve ever seen,” I thought to myself as she answered the roll call for the first time.

Not only beautiful, but a magnificent student. I was married; Eira had a boyfriend, and though at that point in my young career my boundaries were far from what they should have been, my relationship with her was purely professional. There’s a difference between acknowledging another person’s beauty and actually experiencing sexual attraction – with Eira, there had been plenty of the former and none of the latter.

She transferred in early 1996, and in the next six years we exchanged perhaps five emails as she updated me on her academic achievements and burgeoning career in business management. Again, no spark, no flirtation, just an old student checking back in with a professor.

We didn’t meet again until 2002. I was divorced; Eira was single. We were both much older. The professor-student dynamic was long gone, replaced by a chemistry that was as instant as it was overpowering. A coffee date that was supposed to be a quick catch-up turned into a hike in Malibu. That hike turned into a romantic dinner and a first kiss on the beach. A decade on, we’re married with two beautiful children.

We do get second (and third, and seventeenth) chances at love. And so very often, those later chances come in the form of bit players from our pasts, suddenly promoted to starring roles.

Read more Tu B’Av tales here.

Hugo Schwyzer teaches history and gender studies at Pasadena City College in Southern California. A contributing writer for Jezebel, he lectures internationally on masculinity, changing gender roles, and combating perfectionism. A frequent guest commentator on CNN and the BBC, he is also the co-author of “Beauty, Disrupted: A Memoir” (HarperCollins 2011). Hugo lives with his wife Eira, and children Heloise and David in Los Angeles.

Have you found your bashert? Please share your story with us at, and we may feature it in our Times of Israel Tu B’Av Special.

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