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(Jimena Peck)

Looking for love has always come with obstacles, and they've only been magnified by COVID-19. Nevertheless, many Austinites continue to navigate these uncharted waters. We'll be sharing their stories every week right here.

"What do you have to lose?"

Kristen Hubby thought that she found a promising match on the dating app Hinge recently.


She had been talking to a man via text for several weeks, but when she asked if he wanted to chat via FaceTime or have a socially distanced picnic, he ignored her invitation.

"We've remained texting, but I have no end in sight," Hubby says. "I don't know if I'm ever going to meet this guy."

This exchange exemplifies the challenge daters face of finding somebody who respects their boundaries and shares their priorities. It was no small feat pre-pandemic, and it's taken on a new level of difficulty and gravity during a time when simply meeting in person can be risky.

"It's hard to date in general, and the success rate of graduating from the app to in-person is so low in normal circumstances that it's been almost impossible to get that same result in COVID times," Hubby says.

Hubby has maintained a fairly rigorous quarantine for the last several months, limiting her in-person socializing to a few close friends. She says she would be willing to go outside her quarantine bubble, however, if she met the right person who was willing to take the same precautions.

"I really want to find a partner, and I want to date someone," she says. "And I'm willing to put my mask on and go out and meet you in the circumstances that I feel comfortable with, aka outside, not at your house and not at a bar."

For now, though, Hubby has had to get used to getting to know people almost exclusively via digital communication. It can be awkward or feel like a game with no defined end, but it does have a few perks.

"Because meeting up isn't so readily accessible right now, I've been able to be more of myself and try to just let my guard down and just be, I guess you could say vulnerable, when texting and just really owning who I am," Hubby says. "My friends and I always tell each other, 'What do you have to lose?'"

Hubby has also witnessed and practiced more empathy lately, as pandemic dating requires people to be mindful of each other's mental health as well as their own.

"I've become more attentive," Hubby says. "I think about how the other person is feeling or care to know about how they're feeling. And I actually ask them more now than I ever did, because of what's going on. It can be the time we live in right now. It's very taxing emotionally and mentally, so I always make sure to ask, 'How are you doing today?'"

Check back next Monday for another installment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the response of Hubby's Hinge match.

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