How we met: ‘He was this big, strong, handsome man. I fell in love straight away’


As an aspiring singer, Kseniia regularly performed with a cover band at a pub near her home in Kyiv in 2011. One night she spotted Andriy, who had come to enjoy a drink and check out the live music. “I knew one of the members of the band,” he says. “After the gig, we were all invited back to her house for an after party.” It was there that he and Kseniia got chatting.

“I discovered he worked for an IT distribution company,” she says. “We started talking about religion and politics. I think I wanted to show off how smart I was.” Andriy noticed she had a great energy. “I admired how passionate she was,” he says. Although they hit it off, they were both in relationships at the time. “There was nothing romantic between us then,” she says.

Several years later, in June 2014, they met again at another party hosted by mutual friends. By then, they were both single. “We were more relaxed and open with each other than the first time we met,” says Kseniia. “We started talking about a book that we both loved and I noticed a spark between us. Over the course of the evening, it was clear we were getting closer to each other.” A week later, Andriy invited her to watch a football match with him. “I don’t like football but I really liked him, so I agreed to the date,” she says. “We went to a bar in Kyiv and had a really great time together.” While Andriy admired her zest for life and her creativity, she found him smart and intellectual. “He was this big, strong, handsome man. I just fell in love with him straight away.”

They became a couple from that moment on, going on regular dates around the city and travelling together. “We really loved visiting Asian countries together and trying all the local foods,” says Andriy. In 2018, they got married in Seychelles. “We had a very beautiful wedding prepared, with lots of flowers near the ocean,” she says. “Nature had other ideas and the waves swept the flower arch away! We had to Photoshop it into the pictures, but luckily we saw the funny side.”

Andriy and Kseniia on their wedding day in Seychelles in 2018. Photograph: Handout

In 2020, shortly before the Covid crisis, Andriy had a stroke. “I started to lose orientation and then blacked out. I don’t remember anything,” he says. Kseniia rushed him to hospital, but admits she had no idea how serious it could be at the time. “It was 50/50 whether he’d survive.” After many months in hospital, he was able to come home to continue his rehabilitation. “It was so hard because Covid restrictions at the hospital kept us apart. We also couldn’t risk him catching it. I was so happy when he finally came home,” says Kseniia.

When the war broke out in Ukraine last year, the couple moved to Moldova. “It had been very difficult for Andriy to go to bomb shelters every time the air raid sirens went off,” she says. “It was a big dilemma because you can ignore the sirens and risk your life or struggle to get to the shelter. Nobody knows when the missiles will come and nowhere is completely safe.” Since moving, they have been able to access rehabilitation facilities and health services, which are crucial to Andriy’s recovery.

Andriy now works remotely and Kseniia continues to sing, as well as working for a charity and as a fashion blogger. Unable to travel because of the war and Andriy’s health, they make the best of things with movie date nights. “We also moved with our two fluffy white dogs as we could not leave them behind. Even when we were struggling to get to the bomb shelters, they came with us. They’re like our kids,” says Andriy. “But as soon as things are safe enough, we hope to return.”

Kseniia says her relationship with Andriy is “everything she ever wanted”. “I love him so much, especially his sense of humour. He’s my dream man. I didn’t believe that I could fall in love like this and he makes me incredibly happy.”

Andriy loves the way his wife makes him feel. “I admire her open-mindedness. She makes me the best person I can be.”

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