Six Weeks After Kat and Stu Met, COVID Lockdowns Hit Australia. So They Moved in Together.
By Melissa Mason
Melbourne-based Kat says she’s usually a “bloodhound for details” when looking at a Bumble profile—she works with technical documents in her day job, after all. However, when she came across Stu in January 2020, she threw caution to the wind. “I didn’t even look at the details, I just swiped, which is not like me!” she says. Drawn in by his smile and a particularly “dorky” photo of him holding balloons, Kat instinctively felt Stu could be someone she’d get along with.
Stu, on the other hand, was feeling a little unlucky in love. On a quick work trip to Melbourne, the Sydney-based I.T. systems director was being hassled by his colleagues to put himself out there. He put off opening Bumble in Melbourne until one afternoon, when some plans to catch up with friends fell through. Finding himself alone in his hotel room, he figured he may as well try to salvage the night. “I thought, hey, I’m here, it would be lovely to find some good company and perhaps make a new friend,” he explains, adding that his work was going to be taking him to Melbourne more and more, so he figured that dating someone in the city wasn’t going to be that difficult if he did make a connection.
As soon as Stu got the notification that he matched with Kat, he was delighted. “She had a delightfully dorky aura,” he said of her profile. Stu felt like Kat was someone he could chat for hours with, but also saw a woman with her own interesting life going on. “She had a photo of her at a martial arts class, and I remember thinking that she could probably kick my butt,” he laughs.
Kat started the conversation with a reference to rollerblading, as Stu had a photo of himself on blades and Kat used to play on a roller derby team. From the first message, they both say it felt like they’d been friends for years. “We have a very similar sense of humour to each other and are both kind hearted nerds, so our chats flowed very naturally,” Kat adds. Because Stu was only going to be in Melbourne for the weekend, Kat made the spontaneous decision to meet him for a date.
They met up at a piano bar for a drink, and as they got to know each other, Kat was drawn to Stu’s excitement for his interests and his work. He spoke passionately about the I.T. industry thanks to a love of tech from an early age, and described how he ended up in a start-up business. The choice of a music venue wasn’t by accident, either: Stu is an avid guitarist and singer, and they had discussed his love of piano bars during their Bumble chat. Even though Kat went into the date with no expectations, she couldn’t help but start thinking about a potential future together. The feeling was mutual. “Talking with her on our first date was so insanely effortless,” Stu says. “I knew I wanted to spend more time with her getting to know her better.” Luckily for him, at the end of the night, Kat asked him out on a date the next day.
The following day, they met at a sports bar to watch a boxing match. It was Kat’s idea, and the fact Stu came meant a lot. “Stu hates sport!” Kat explains. “But he took a 45-minute train to where I live and came because he wanted to spend time with me.” Kat dropped him off at the airport that night. “I had this utterly stupid smile on my face, even when I was back in the office the next day,” he says. “I remember thinking that I had to see her again.”
They spoke every day from then on, and made plans for Kat to come up to Sydney in a few weeks for Stu’s birthday. But Stu decided he couldn’t wait until then to see her again. Just a couple of weeks after meeting, he suggested that they each drive six hours to meet in Albury, a small country town that sits perfectly between Sydney and Melbourne. The couple went on walks, ate at cosy country restaurants, and sat together listening to music late into the night, learning about each other and growing closer. Kat was coming to Sydney just a few weeks later, but driving away from each other after that romantic weekend was painful. “Right then, I knew without a shadow of doubt in my mind that I wanted to get serious with Kat,” Stu says.
Kat and Stu continued to make the distance work by alternating trips to each other’s home cities. Everything was going splendidly until, six weeks after meeting, COVID-19 lockdowns began. With Australian states on the brink of closing borders, Kat and Stu wouldn’t be able to see each other for the foreseeable future. “Stu invited me to move to Sydney for the time being and work remotely, so we could be together,” Kat explains. Within five hours of that conversation, Kat got the green light from her workplace to move temporarily and packed up her car with her belongings. She was in Sydney the very next day.
Not only did the couple suddenly find themselves cohabitating, they were also both working from home. It was a lot of time together after just six weeks of dating, but Stu credits their communication and ability to be sensitive to each other’s needs as the reasons for a smooth transition, saying that the first few weeks were surprisingly easy. Six months into living together, Kat decided to officially move to Sydney to be with Stu. “Best decision ever,” she says.
Kat says it’s Stu’s kindness and caring soul that had her hooked. “From the minute we connected, we’ve continued to bond and grow together,” she says. She loves how in touch he is with his emotions, and the way he’s able to communicate through conflict. Stu feels the same about Kat, adding that she’s his “best friend,” and for the first time in his life, he feels truly loved. ”Kat has loved me like I don’t think anyone else has ever loved me,” he says. “For so many years I felt I made all the romantic gestures in relationships. With Kat, she surprised me on Valentine’s Day with a donut bouquet! And she continues to surprise me with romantic gestures just to put a smile on my face.”
A little more than two years after matching on Bumble, Stu proposed. He took Kat on a trip to the rainforest in Atherton Tablelands, Queensland. Early in the morning, just as the sun began to filter through the trees, he got on one knee. Little did Kat know, her family was also in attendance, snapping photos from afar as Stu asked Kat to be his life partner.
But before the two get married, Kat and Stu plan to get a dog and hopefully buy a home together. “We’re cheesy, we laugh, we’re a perfect match,” Stu says fondly. “Kat makes my heart smile.” Kat feels the same. “His hugs are my home,” she says. “He is undoubtedly my person and I am his.”