By Kaitlin Menza
When Paolo, a football coach, first joined Bumble, he’d recently moved halfway around the world from Colombia to Melbourne, Australia, and was looking to meet some locals. “It was a great way for me to practice my English and get to know new people,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘I want to find the love of my life.’ I was just curious about what was out there.”
Evelina, a content and copy writer, was less curious. “My housemate at the time kind of forced me to go on Bumble, because she was very active on it at the time,” she remembers. After years of living overseas—first exploring Europe after college graduation, and then settling into a job in Berlin—she had come home to her native Australia for the holidays and then wound up staying due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evelina was used to show-offs using corny pick up lines, which she didn’t find attractive. So she found Paolo’s “wholesome” profile refreshing. She liked that he showed that he was passionate about football, and that he seemed like a respectful person. Paolo was drawn to her for the same reasons. “Unlike other profiles, she had pictures showing more of her personality and her traveling,” Paolo says. “She looked very friendly, like the kind of girl I want to meet.”
Trying to arrange their first date in August 2020 was complicated. Melbourne was about to begin their strictest pandemic restrictions to date, with a nightly curfew and all non-essential businesses closed. “We were like, ‘Okay, let’s meet now, because if we keep waiting until this lockdown is finished, it might never happen,’” Evelina says. “And good thing we did, because the lockdown went on for six months.” With bars and restaurants out of the question, they met at Evelina’s home for a dinner she cooked. “I was nervous—it was a bit unconventional!” she says.
But the foundation they’d laid over Bumble messages and text conversations before meeting was a solid one; they’d discussed art, movies, their favorite ice cream flavors, their childhoods, their hopes for the future, and the places they wanted to travel to next. So when Paolo arrived at her house, Evelina’s nerves soon fell away. “After a few minutes, we started feeling more comfortable,” Paolo says. “It felt really natural.”
The rules of lockdown forced the pair to be pretty clear with their intentions and feelings. They had to spend their time together inside their homes, with no distractions, which deepened the nature of their conversations. “We got to know each other quickly,” Evelina says. “It felt very normal to be in each other’s company all the time.” For dates they watched movies and tried food from different cultures, took bike rides along the beach on sunny days, and exercised together in Evelina’s courtyard in the mornings. The dates started to blur, Paolo recalls, until they were spending days at a time together.
And she soon sensed it was the beginning of something big. “We knew our values were aligned, and we wanted the same things,” Evelina says. “We weren’t interested in something casual.” Things “clicked” for Paolo too. “I just realized that she was what I wanted,” he says.
Now, more than two years in, they’ve packed in plenty of adventure, even in a pandemic. With their shared passion for new cities and their careers, they moved to Brisbane in 2021—just before Melbourne began a nearly year-long lockdown. “I was getting itchy feet, and Paolo was keen to explore another Australian city,” Evelina explains. There, they both began to work for themselves, Paolo coaching soccer and Evelina working in UX design.
The couple welcomed a baby at the end of summer 2022, returning to Melbourne to be closer to Evelina’s family. Raising their daughter is one of many thrills on the horizon, as well as traveling around Latin America and Europe now that it’s safer to do so. Paolo is excited to visit his family in Colombia for the first time since the pandemic began, and for Evelina to spend time with his family in person.
They’re both grateful that, through the incredible complications of the last few years, they were able to find each other. “It was just never expected to meet the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with on Bumble,” Evelina says. “I’m glad I gave it a shot.”