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.
Brittany Hallberg has no trouble meeting people under normal circumstances. Before the pandemic hit, the New Jersey-born Austinite was a marketer, event coordinator, music photographer and journalist—the latter two under the moniker Brittany NO FOMO—trekking across the country and making music-industry friends along the way.
Hallberg, 30, spent the first several months of 2020 planning SXSW corporate events. She moved into a new apartment, her first without a roommate, the day before Austin officials canceled the festival, effectively halting her career and cutting her off from her community.
Suddenly, Hallberg faced daunting questions on a personal and professional level. How would she meet new people without a career that facilitated those connections? And how would she present herself to the world without the work that had become a cornerstone of her identity?
"It's been really weird introducing myself without a career because I'm so tied into my music community and representing myself as Brittany NO FOMO instead of Brittany Hallberg," says Hallberg, whose @brittanynofomo Instagram account has amassed more than 13,000 followers. "It's [hard] to try to find my confidence and sexiness when meeting someone new—when I have nothing."
"He was one of the five people that would actually see me during this time."
Seeing her social circle—and the opportunities to add to it—shrinking drastically, Hallberg downloaded Hinge, marking her first foray into the world of dating apps.
"A lot of my close girlfriends here are taking COVID extremely seriously, so I haven't seen them for like five months," she says. "So I was like, 'You know what, if I have to make friends or find company through a dating app, I will.'"
Hallberg soon connected with Aaron (who requested to have his last name withheld for privacy reasons), and the two shared immediate chemistry. Over the last three months, they've spent a lot of time walking through parks, going to bars that implement good safety measures and hanging out at each other's apartments.
Hallberg admits she and Aaron have seen each other a lot more than they might have under normal circumstances. It's hard to avoid when the pandemic has wiped out the social calendar. A trip home to New Jersey gave Hallberg some perspective, and reminded her to slow it down.
"When you have a career and friends to hang out with and gigs and projects, when you date someone, you give them one day a week or maybe two times a week," Hallberg says. "I was putting way too much value and way too much energy into time with him, because he was one of the five people that would actually see me during this time."
It's hard to know how their relationship will look post-pandemic, so Hallberg and Aaron are enjoying each other's company and keeping things casual during a tough time.
"It is hard to put your best self forward when you're going through this depression," Hallberg says. "We've kept each other company during a time of increased loneliness, and we always make it clear that we appreciate one another. I think that's all that matters right now."
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