Shortly after connecting on the dating app the League in February 2019, Dr. Anastasia Grivoyannis and Brian Pujanauski began a discussion on the philosophy of consciousness and free will that was anything but small talk.
“From a scientific perspective, I understand how atoms make up molecules, molecules make up cells and cells make up organisms,” Mr. Pujanauski, 36, a data scientist for Mastercard in Purchase, N.Y., told Dr. Grivoyannis, 35, a pediatric anesthesiologist and professor of anesthesia and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“What I don’t understand,” he said, “is where does free will enter into that chain. I don’t think atoms have free will, I don’t think molecules have free will and I don’t think cells have free will. But all of a sudden, an organism has free will. But an organism is just atoms and molecules bumping into each other.”
Dr. Grivoyannis was beyond impressed by his way of thinking. “Wow, that’s a really lovely way of putting that,” she responded. “I wish we could meet in real life at some point.”
Mr. Pujanauski proceeded with caution. “Sure,” he said, “when would you like to go out? Is there a reason you can’t?”
Her response shook every atom, molecule and cell in his body. “Well, I guess this is as good a time to tell you as any,” she said. “I’m an artificial intelligence robot created by the dating app to ensure that you have a good time.”
He was, he said, “95 percent certain that she was joking, but 100 percent certain I had to meet her.”
So, Mr. Pujanauski, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, drove to Baltimore from his home in Arlington, Va. As he crawled in hours of traffic, his cellphone died, and with it, his GPS, and he was soon lost.
He found a Dollar General store in Baltimore, bought a new cellphone charger, recharged his own batteries with a few snacks and went back about the business of finding out who was behind the voice he could not get out of his head.
When they were finally together, they made a little more small talk — regarding the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus — and were soon bonding over a mutual love of cycling, camping, red meat and wine.
“Before I ever met Brian in person, I fell in love with his mind,” said Dr. Grivoyannis, who graduated from Cornell, from which she also received a medical degree.
“There are a lot of good-looking men in the world, but beauty fades with age,” she said. “The love I was feeling was this deep connection to his incredible intelligence, creativity and his cunning.”
The couple were married Sept. 20 by the Rev. Father John Vlahos, a Greek Orthodox priest, at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan. The Very Rev. Chrysostomos Gilbert, also a Greek Orthodox priest, took part.
After the ceremony, the bride and groom hosted a reception at the Foundry, an outdoor events space in Long Island City, Queens, with 40 guests.
Because of the threat of the coronavirus, the couple abandoned their original plan to marry on Sept. 20 at the Harold Pratt House in Manhattan, before 250 guests.
“The one thing that remains constant is our love and commitment to each other,” the bride said. “From the beginning, I felt an element of compatibility with Brian, it’s just that every now and then, I enjoy messing with his mind.”