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It all began in 1989, when Michelle Robinson was an associate at Sidley & Austin–the sixth-largest corporate law firm based in the United States. Michelle had just completed her first year in the firm as an intern when the buzz started. The word around the office was that there was a promising first-year law student who was—at the time—enrolled at Harvard, who would be joining the firm.1 Even though the office was buzzing with this hot news, Michelle kept in mind that first-year law students hardly ever get this type of opportunity, considering the size and degree of the firm. So she assumed he was some sort of super geeky nerd. She also assumed, because of their similarities—such as the law school they attended, and their alike characteristic of being a minority—that they would be paired to work together, with Michelle as his adviser.2

Michelle Obama standing in the
courtyard at Princeton University | Courtesy
of The Princeton Weekly Bulletin

When Michelle first heard about Barack, she said she “probably did what a lot of people do when they hear about Barack Obama.”3 She explained that she had been taken back by the name, unique in its entirety, and she wondered where he was from. As she read more into his biography, she learned a lot about him, including the fact that he grew up in Hawaii, and that he was biracial.

Barack was in fact placed under her wing a few days later, and Michelle took him out to lunch on his first day as a way to establish a professional relationship.4 Little did anybody know that one day they would be much more than just co-workers. Since she had already made the assumption that he was a weird nerd, Michelle was prepared for a geek to walk through the door. However, what happened was her future husband walked through the door, and out to lunch they went.

Even though the lunch outing on Barack’s first day at the firm went extremely well, and she was completely intrigued by his humorous, down-to-earth personality, one couldn’t smell the romance beginning just yet because Michelle was not open to dating anyone at this stage in her life.5

Even though she was positively surprised by the much cuter man that walked in—not the nerd she expected—and completely intrigued by him at their lunch outing, she knew she needed to be focused solely on her career.6 Besides the fact that they were co-workers, she was his adviser, and Michelle took that very seriously. Since she knew it would be wrong to pursue anything romantically in the office, she settled for a mere friendship with Barack.

But Barack wanted more than that. He insisted time after time on her letting him take her out on a date, and she told him, time and time again, no—because it wouldn’t be right. Barack’s persistence eventually led Michelle to agree on going out with him, under the circumstances that it would not be called a date.7

Michelle and Barack’s Wedding Day | Courtesy
of Michelle Obama’s Instagram [@michelleobama]
The “non-date” was an all-day affair. Barack took Michelle to the Art Institute in Chicago, and he wooed her with his knowledge of art. Following the wooing at the museum was a lunch at one of the outdoor cafes at the Institute. “They were playing jazz so that was really sweet,” Michelle says in an interview for CNN.  They then walked up and down Michigan Avenue on a beautiful summer day. They concluded the “non-date” with a movie by Spike Lee titled Do the Right Thing and a drink on the 99th floor of the John Hancock building overlooking a breathtaking view of the city.8

After the negotiated “non-date” that anyone else in the world would consider a date—including them at the end of it—Michelle was completely head over heels for this man. And well, the rest is history—literally.9

  1. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  2. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  3. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  4. “Michelle Obama,”, November 08, 2017. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  5. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  6. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  7. Peter B. Slevin, Michelle Obama (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 126.
  8. “How Michelle met Barack Obama,” YouTube, January 30, 2009. Accessed November 20, 2017.
  9. Liza Mundy, “When Michelle Met Barack,” The Washington Post, October 5, 2008. Accessed November 20, 2017.

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Ashley Tumlinson

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Recent Comments


  • Aidan Farrell

    This was a great article to read, Ashley. The story you decided to tell was interesting, and they way you told it was as well. Not knowing much about the Obama’s besides their lengthy time in the white house, it was fun to learn about their honestly cute story of how they fell in love. You had good grammar and word choice, and I love the images you used to move the story forward. Well done Ashley.

  • Maria Obregón

    What a sweet article! I had heard of Michelle and Barack Obama’s love story before reading this article, but I love coming across it every time. One thing I love is how even though Michelle found Barack interesting, she did not want anything with him at first because she just wanted to focus on her career. Though that is the case, I am so glad they ended up together. I admire their relationship so much!

  • Lesley Martinez

    I love hearing love stories, and nothing is better than reading about Barack and Michelle Obama’s. This shows you what a small world we live in, considering that Michelle and Barack both attended Harvard University and ended up working at the same firm. It’s even more shocking to think that Michelle was right about Barack being a “geek” as he turned out to be the President of the United States. This was a great article to read and learn more about such a fascinating couple!

  • Patricia Arechiga

    The Obama’s have always, and will continue to, carry an aura with them that is irreplaceable. Both Michelle and Barack have always helped one another in regards to growing mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Despite their time in the White House, it is obvious that they did not allow the change of their circumstances change their ways and mindset. As a matter of fact, they used their platform to change mindsets on certain societal views. It is obvious that there has always been a connection between both since day one that drives away from just the way they view certain beliefs.

  • Gabriella Urrutia

    I really enjoyed reading about the story of when they first met. I didn’t know much about their life before in the office. It was interesting to learn that Michelle was Barack’s adviser when they were younger. I liked the fact that Michelle was focused on her career so she didn’t want to get into a relationship right away. But Barack was persistent and continued to ask her on a date until she agreed and it led to where they are today.

  • Cristianna Tovar

    I found it so refreshing that Michelle was so focused on doing well in her career that she didn’t pursue a romantic relationship with Barack Obama at first. I also thought it was really sweet that Barack insisted on letting him take her out on a date! This article was left me smiling throughout, and I am so glad that we had such a great President and an amazing First Lady.

  • Olivia Tijerina

    Resonating in the message I have read in the article, I find myself in awe. And I was aware of the story but sometimes we see a different story when it comes into the light perspectives we didn’t seem to take in before. The Obama’s had their cup full in the direction each of them were going but with the love they become the most powerful people in the world. Love does take us far, but we got to be prepared ,like each were, and they only went up from there. Deeply am I in awe with the message.

  • Ashley Martinez

    I absolutely admire the Obama’s, they are both so intelligent and hardworking. This was a great story to hear about. I really had no prior knowledge about the Obama’s before we saw them in office. I think that is really neat that Michelle mentored Barack back when they were just getting exposed to their jobs. I think this story demonstrates why it is so important not to judge a book by a cover. Michelle had this idea about Barack in her head, but once she got to know him she was able to see what a great man he was and eventually fell in love with him. This was great to see Michelle and Barack as people and get an insight on their life rather than just see what the media portrayed the two while in office.

  • Stephanie Cerda

    Their story is very sweet. I had never heard about her actually being his mentor. She’s so accomplished on her own, I would love to hear more about her life and how she got to where she did. Hearing their story now, after his presidency makes them seem more familiar. They really are just people. I’ve heard about their love story before, and seen all the pictures. I remember hearing about the little monument that they have where they first kissed. On a curb after eating Baskin Robbins ice cream, I believe.

  • Courtney Pena

    I only know about the Obama’s while they were in the White House so it was interesting for me to read about how the two got together. I think that it is funny how Tumlinson wrote that Michelle was prepared for a geek to walk through the doors of the firm but her future husband walked through the doors. Michelle had no idea that she would have a future with Barack but he seemed to have known this whole time.

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