Living in Austin is pretty much paradise, but dating in Austin? Well, that’s a different story. In fact, even the term dating might be a little generous. So instead of deeming this a list of the people you’ll date in Austin, let’s call it a catalogue of types you’re destined to swipe right on, meet for drinks, maybe hook up with, and then awkwardly avoid for the rest of your life.
Romance, y’all. Romance.
*Note: Musicians and those in the music industry were intentionally omitted because this is Austin... and everyone’s a “musician” or “in the music industry.”
Neighborhood: Within lunging distance of that garage that’s been converted into a CrossFit™ gym... no, the other one... no, the other one
After chatting briefly at a mutual friend’s birthday party, you decide his ability to bench-press you might outweigh the fact that you’re 100% sure none of his shirts have sleeves. You decide not to follow him on social media so the inevitable gym check-ins and #PR posts don’t turn you off before you even hang out.
The first date: A pilgrimage to My Fit Foods or that place that, hey, I heard has paleo options. You admire that he’s demonstrated commitment at least in the dietary sense, but begin to question your decision when he cuts you off mid-sentence to inquire about the calorie count of steamed cauliflower for his food diary app.
The inevitable breakup: After suffering through six weeks of lectures on the evils of gluten, you finally snap when he makes a passive aggressive comment about your croutons at the Central Market salad bar. You contemplate breaking a baguette over homeboy’s bicep and, in a particularly dark moment, find yourself screaming, “DO YOU EVEN LIFT, BRO?!”
After getting kicked out of a grocery store, you mutually decide to go your separate ways (him hitting the barbells... you hitting, uh, the bar). Then you enjoy carbs guilt-free for the first time since your first date, and do the totally natural, totally mature thing: pray he gets fat.
The Package Deal
You first cross paths with Britney at J. Blacks, and then run into her at The Ranch and eventually Dogwood, so you know there’s a higher power... or at least proximity... at play. You offer to buy her a shot and somehow get suckered into buying them for five of her friends as well. After they all go to the bathroom together, you panic, wondering if you’ll be able to differentiate blonde from blonde, Britney from Brittany... and Britneigh and Whitney. Then you realize that it doesn’t really matter.
The first date: She picks the spot... and everything else. After dinner at Uchi, you head back to Dogwood, where you’re surprised to find all of her friends. You try to participate in the conversation, but you haven’t watched The Bachelor since the Juan Pablo season, and therefore don’t really have anything to contribute. While you could probably leave to meet your friends at Star Bar without anyone noticing, you wait it out in hopes that your patience... and those Moscow Mules... help you seal the deal.
The Inevitable Breakup: At one of the many group brunches you’re forced to attend at Trace or Taverna, one of the other Britneys looks up from her gold iPhone and references a very specific sex move that you totally tried out with your Britney last weekend. It soon emerges that everything you’ve done, said, or sent has been shared via group text and that every single one of them has the ability to perfectly imitate your O-face. You’re noticeably angry, but before you have the chance to say anything, they all retreat to the bathroom and take a vote, and Britney comes back and breaks up with you.
The Actual Hippie
Neighborhood: Hyde Park
You spot each other from across the shore at Hippie Hollow. This is your first time here, and you’re not quite brave enough to shed your bottoms, but you admire the fact that Spirit is not only comfortable enough to bare his gnarly man bush, but to partake in naked Tai Chi. After 12 seconds of conversation, you determine your astrological signs are totally compatible so, really, what could go wrong?
The first date: You’d hoped to go out to an actual restaurant, but he has dishwashing duties at the co-op on Wednesdays, so instead you head to his place, where you smoke weed with some dude named Topaz, listen to stories about Burning Man back in the day, and try to be cool sharing a couch with the naked couple in the living room.
The inevitable breakup: While at first you admired his “all-organic” approach to, uh, everything, after three months, the lack of deodorant just isn’t cutting it. Plus, you’re beginning to run out of restaurants where shoes and shirts are optional.
After he discovers you’ve been eating beef jerky behind his back, he makes some ugly comments that seem pretty un-zen for a guy with such an extensive crystal collection. After months fantasizing about cutting off his dreads, you decide to just cut your losses and turn him loose.
He seems upset, but not hang-himself-with-his-slackline upset, and -- for karma purposes -- you anonymously send him a stick of Degree via Amazon Prime as a parting gift.
You receive a notification that someone has viewed your LinkedIn profile, and moments later Jennifer emails you about an “awesome opportunity” that she thinks you’d be a “perfect fit for.” Given your desire to explore options in your field and grow professionally and the fact she looks totally hot in her headshot you message her back telling her you’d love to hear more.
The first date: Coffee during your lunch break. It’s technically more of a meeting, but as she continues to compliment your background, skills, and experience, your ego -- along with something else -- begins to swell, and you start to wonder if her request to connect on LinkedIn could develop into a love connection. Whether it’s the three extra shots she put in her latte or her actual personality, she’s pretty aggressive and demands you get on a phone interview that afternoon. By the time the hour is over, she’s also recruited you for another position: boyfriend.
The Inevitable Breakup: You worry like you jumped into this new job and relationship really quickly, and frankly you feel pretty unfulfilled in both. When she accuses you of commitment issues, you’re not sure whether she saw Monster.com or OKCupid in your browser history, but have a sneaking suspicion that she’s more worried about professional than personal loyalty. You put in your two-week’s notice at work, and she immediately fires you from the relationship.
The Pedicab Driver
Neighborhood: Still-Affordable East Side
It’s 9pm on the second night of Eurphoria, and you would sell your first-born to avoid walking one more step. Fortunately, there’s a line of pedicab drivers ready and willing to take advantage of the stumbling, tired, and lazy. While Jade kind of looks like he hasn’t bathed in a few days and is, without doubt, incredibly stoned, his facial hair and ratty T-shirt are hot in an IDGAF way, and the way he effortlessly hauls your body weight up the hill makes you feel beautiful and free in a way you’ve never experienced...
Or maybe that’s just the remnants of some extracurricular festival entertainment still in your system, who knows.
The first date: Sure, there was technically some cash exchanged, but that magical moonlit ride through downtown that brought you two together was strangely sensual, and you insist on labeling it as date -- namely, to justify the fact you totally banged him in the pedicab warehouse later that night.
The inevitable breakup: After making $3,000 during South By, he upgrades to a used Camry, starts Ubering, and never calls you again. Somewhat disappointed, you take solace in the fact that, at the very least, his calf muscles have probably lost some serious definition.
The Unapologetic Gentrifier
Neighborhood: Trendy, Expensive East Side
Lindsay left her affluent family behind in Dallas to pursue a job in PR that she got from an affluent friend of said affluent family. Although she lives in the kind of massive, shiny, recently erected concrete box that you constantly complain about, her pretentiousness is kind of cute. Plus you heard her place has a really sick pool.
The first date: You meet at a new café that boasts vegan pastries, a sweet selection of craft beer, and fair-trade coffee that, somewhat ironically, comes from the same region as the person whose piñata store was recently bulldozed across the street. After passing a panhandler, Lindsay launches into a 45-minute rant on how the homeless just need to work hard like the rest of us.
You bite your tongue and don’t mention her trust fund.
The inevitable breakup: Again, it’s a seriously rad pool, but you still have some lingering concerns about the detrimental effects of Austin’s eastward expansion. You try and adopt an “if you can’t beat ‘em, hang out at their vintage-store-cum-café” attitude and embrace the city’s changes with open -- albeit super-white -- arms, but the more Austin Chronicle articles you read, the guiltier you feel enjoying that phenomenal French press in a spot formerly occupied by a seventh-generation Austinite and her four kids.
You broach the topic with Lindsay, and one argument with uncomfortably racist undertones later, your relationship -- much like that piñata store -- is no more.
Neighborhood: East Riverside
You first cross paths on the sidewalk outside Krave where, in the blue-lit glow, he thrusts a neon-hued leaflet advertising some party into your hand. You normally know better than to give guys your number on Dirty Sixth, but he promises he’ll waive the $10 cover if you bring 14 other girls with you, and in your current state, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal. He texts you at 4am and, half-conscious, you agree to go out with him.
The first date: His car is filled with boxes of fliers and can’t seat two, so you agree to meet him at his apartment at University Estates and try to convince yourself it’s not weird that he lives with college kids. Upon his insistence, you take a few shots of whipped cream-flavored vodka before heading out. You end up at a sleazy spot with no discernible name, and he initiates an elaborate handshake-hug interaction with every individual working there and then orders multiple rounds of shots consisting of whiskey and, based on the look and taste, green poison. They are, of course, “on the house for you, brotha.”
The inevitable breakup: When you forget to answer a text one Tuesday, he accuses you of using him for free drinks. You consider explaining that a $4 bottle of Wycliff doesn’t constitute bottle service and that you would quite literally slit your wrists before going to another bar with a name like Krimzon Lounge, but -- after imagining the paper cuts he could easily inflict with 10,000 fliers -- just decide you’ll avoid him by never, ever going to Sixth St again.
The Grad Student
Neighborhood: North Campus
You meet her at Spider House, where she’s been camped out with her laptop, alternating coffee and cigarettes and working on her thesis for the last four hours. When the furious typing pauses for a moment, you cautiously approach and ask if you can share a table so you can plug in your laptop. You end up chatting, and it turns out you two have a lot in common: a passion for travel, a love of Kafka and Kerouac, and, of course, crippling amounts of student debt.
The first date: You know you can’t win her over with beer and burgers, so you step up the sophistication and take her to a wine bar with tapas. As the Malbec flows, you talk art, literature, and philosophy and learn more about her hopes, her dreams and -- about halfway into the second bottle -- the years she spent “experimenting” in undergrad. You’re incredibly turned on... by her vocabulary, of course.
The inevitable breakup: All the cultural and intellectual stimulation eventually transitions from exciting to exhausting and while, yeah, you like books, sometimes you just want to talk basketball. You start fibbing about actually watching the foreign films she recommends, and when she finds Anchorman in your Netflix queue where Amélie should be, le shit hits le fan and she storms out.
The Tech Bro
You meet him at Gibson Bar, where he’s attending the happy hour of some digital meet-up group, and immediately find it refreshing to talk to a guy who didn’t peak in high school. While his social skills are less than legendary, making six figures right out of college has bestowed upon him a cool confidence that belies the fact that he lost his virginity approximately a week ago. He thinks of himself as the next Mark Zuckerberg, and you willingly plug your number into one of his three iPhones.
The first date: Ignoring that he makes an absurd amount of money, he convinces you to meet at the office of the startup where he works to take advantage of the stocked beer fridge. You put back a few while sitting in beanbag chairs, let him feel you up in one of the company nap pods, and wonder if the NDA you signed at the door prohibits you from talking about this experience later.
The inevitable breakup: You start to get sick of dates consisting of free lunches at his workplace, and while your ping-pong game has improved dramatically, if you hear the word “innovate” one more time, you might throw one of those hideous ergonomic chairs out the window. Even though you’re not interested in the S-E-X, you try to hold out for S-X-S-W and cross your fingers that this non-platonic relationship results in a platinum badge.
Unfortunately, he ends up moving to work in his company’s San Francisco HQ a month before South By, leaving you with nothing but memories... plus half a dozen hoodies emblazoned with his company logo.
The Serial (Online) Dater
Neighborhood: Based on all the apps, four-miles away from you
After matching on OKCupid, Tinder, Hinge, Happn, and Bumble, you decide that fate (or at least some seriously effective algorithms) make actually meeting this chick a necessity -- for process-of-elimination purposes, at the very least.
The first date: She suggests a drink at her neighborhood bar, and when she’s in the bathroom, the bartender breaks his vow of silence and reveals he’s seen her bring dozens of dates here within the last year. Despite this news, the date goes surprisingly well -- as one in 10 Internet-initiated dates tend to -- and she invites you back to her place (located conveniently around the block) to listen to that band you both love. It ends, uh, the same way one in 10 Internet-initiated dates tend to.
The inevitable breakup: You notice one day that she’s mysteriously disappeared from your list of matches, which, you determine, clearly means she’s not dating anyone else. Despite the fact that she didn’t scream “HUSBAND!” when you threw out the typical “What are you looking for?” question, as a paranoid human with clear commitment issues, you worry she’s getting too attached, so you do the mature thing: disappear.
A few months later, you hear through the grapevine that she found Jesus... which is actually just the name of the boyfriend she met via Christian Mingle.
The Over-Enthusiastic Alum
Neighborhood: Manor (or anywhere walking distance of DKR)
Doug’s just a solid guy who loves nothing more than he loves the Longhorns. You meet on a Saturday night at Plucker’s after Texas has just won their first home game, and after exchanging what feels like 400 high fives, he gallantly offers you a coupon for five free wings (foreshadowing what will become your primary food group for months to come).
The first date: A tailgate, obviously. You never thought you’d find yourself impressed by keg-stand skills, but when everyone’s chanting “Doug! Doug! Doug!” as he guzzles down lukewarm lager at 11am, you get caught up in the excitement and forget that he has a total dad bod and is over a decade older than the kids currently holding him up and inverted.
The inevitable breakup: A few months into football season, you invite him to be your date to a wedding, assuming there couldn’t possibly be Texas-themed formalwear (you’re wrong). It happens to be the Horns’ bi-week, so he agrees to tag along. However, when he goes to the bathroom and doesn’t come back for 45 minutes because he’s watching Big 12 highlights on the toilet to “keep tabs on the competition,” you face the reality that, while he adores you, he definitely harbors stronger feelings for, uh, Charlie Strong.
You return every piece of rhinestone-encrusted UT apparel he’s given him.
The Lake Rat
Neighborhood: San Marcos, actually
The magic happens Memorial Day weekend when your boats are tethered together at Devil’s Cove. You compliment her belly button chain, and she asks if you’ll take a picture of her and her friends posing provocatively with plastic, jello-shot-filled syringes. A few hours, a frightening amount of Fireball, and way-too-many Pitbull songs later, you paddle your way over to her noodle, where you enjoy a sloppy makeout session surrounded by floating empty beer cans.
The first date: You worry you won’t even recognize her fully clothed, but fortunately, the outfit she’s wearing when you pick her up doesn’t come remotely close to qualifying. For a date destination, she suggests Twin Peaks, and when you arrive and are greeted by a chorus of girls squealing "Crystalllllllll!!!!!!!!!!"it becomes quite evident that she actually works there. Never one to complain about discounted beer and cheap mozzarella cheese bites, you hug her friends hello because you’re a gentleman, of course, and try to divert your eyes from all the exposed cleavage being thrust in your face.
The Inevitable Breakup: While you may have met her on a boat, you don’t own a boat, which immediately puts you at a pretty distinct disadvantage. She heads to Lake Travis every Saturday and explains that she would totally invite you, but Brad, Armando, and Rich -- three boat-owning guys who you’re convinced are a little too old and a little too creepy -- would “be weird about it.” After seeing a few too many exposed nipples on her Snapchat story, you move onto tamer, more land-locked ladies... and she eventually scores a reality show on Bravo.
The Overly Competitive Social Athlete
Neighborhood: Travis Heights... where he lives with a bro/teammate named Travis
Whether he’s reliving his high-school glory days at flag football, showing off his college-acquired flip-cup skills post-kickball, or just being kind of a douche at dodgeball, Dustin lives and breathes social sports -- and he has the Facebook profile pics and T-shirts to prove it. Maybe it’s some kind of primal instinct, but you can’t help but find his ability to school other semi-in-shape bros in sand volleyball weirdly attractive. In the parking lot after one game, you strike up a conversation, and it becomes pretty evident you’re both looking to score.
The first date: Homeboy’s social sports schedule means he’s basically booked every evening, but he invites you to watch his soccer game on Wednesday. After they win, you join him and the rest of the pink T-adorned dudes on Ballz Deep (his fraternity brothers from back in the day) to redeem their victory pitchers at Doc’s. When he gets too drunk to drive, you end up taking him home, and then spend the rest of the night wondering if you were really his date or just his designated driver.
The inevitable breakup: At T-shirt pickup next season, you’re surprised to discover that you haven’t just acquired six new female teammates, but apparently six eskimo sisters as well. It’s at this point that you realize this league might be a bit too incestuous for your liking, and that Dustin is probably playing the field in every sense of the word.
Damn shame, though... he looked really good in a bandanna.
The Confused Cowboy
Neighborhood: He commutes from Kyle, TX
You’ve been listening to a lot of Josh Abbott Band lately, and decide that maybe you oughta try dating a nice country guy. You adopt a strict policy of only right-swiping men whose profiles include photos of them fishing, wearing cowboy boots and/or displaying a giant belt buckle. A little while later, the Tinder push notification appears: you’ve lassoed yourself a bona fide country bachelor.
The first date: Cale not only wants to show you a good time -- he wants to show off. Unfortunately, there are no rodeo venues nearby where he can demonstrate his barrel racing prowess, so instead he takes you to the Broken Spoke to show off his two-stepping skills. The closest you typically get to dancing a real honky-tonk is staying at The White Horse until closing time, but Cale’s mama (whom he’ll mention approximately 27 times that night) raised him right, and he’s a phenomenal lead. For the first time in what feels like forever, you remember that, oh yeah, you actually live in Texas.
The inevitable breakup: You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy, and when his family’s in town and he’s being extra flirty with some plaid-clad broad named Paisley, you find you have to present a rare and rather unfortunate ultimatum: It’s me... or your cousin.
Can’t say you saw that one coming.
The Festival Fling
While Sophie may fancy herself a free spirit, she’s really more Free People, and no flower crown can conceal the obvious fact that she’s totally just in it for the Insta. That being said, you’re looking rather manthropologie yourself this ACL weekend, and since picking up girls at Mumford and Sons is like shooting fish in a barrel, you saunter over and do the chivalrous festival thing: ask if she’d like to sit on your shoulders so she can see the stage.
The first date: Before parting ways post-Mumford the night before, you’d promised to meet the next day at 2pm at the beer tent. After wandering around, sans cell service, pounding $9 IPAs for an hour and a half, you finally spot a feather-shaped flash tat glinting in the sun and see her waiting in line for food. You gallantly buy her a falafel and proceed to the Samsung stage, where the Lana Del Rey du jour is currently performing. A few hours later, you go back to her apartment, which conveniently boasts a view of the park, and watch the headliner from her balcony.
The inevitable breakup: It turns out that 2.5 days of drinking, dancing, and smoking together isn’t really the kind of connection that automatically carries over into the real world. Plus, people gave you really weird looks when you carried her on your shoulders around Rainey St. It’s a natural, amicable breakup, and actually not that sad, especially since you’re fairly convinced you’ll see her again a month later at Fun Fun Fun fest.
The East Side King
Neighborhood: You literally have no idea
It’s a typically packed weekend afternoon at Yellow Jacket, when a tall, leather-wearing Adonis who smells like BO mixed with incense (and maybe gasoline) asks, “Is this seat taken?” Whether it’s the beard, the charisma, or just his ability to wear man jewelry without looking like a complete and total idiot, you’re instantly attracted to him and more than happy to share picnic-table privileges... plus, obviously, mimosa buckets.
The first date: He picks you up on his motorcycle and you proceed to bounce from one East Side bar to another -- running into his friends, saying hi to his bartender buddies, and downing cheap beers at each. You spend about six hours together, and while he spends all of them talking about himself, he somehow manages to say absolutely nothing of substance. From the sounds of it, though, he’s some kind of tortured, emotionally unavailable sculptor/carpenter/model/actor/photographer hybrid. And probably broke. And definitely a narcissist.
Yet somehow super charming.
The inevitable breakup: The tricky part is that there can’t actually be a breakup because you’re never technically dating. It’s more like hanging out and hooking up. He may disappear for days, weeks or months at a time for a “shoot” or “project” or “spiritual quest” but then, on a random Tuesday, he’ll knock on your door at 3am with flowers. And given the fact he’s basically a giant man child... but, you know, a really attractive one... who basically doesn’t know any better, you’re cool with it. After all, in certain regards, you’ve certainly had worse.
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Sam Sumpter is an Austin-based writer and experienced dater who would classify herself -- probably inaccurately -- as none of the above. Find out for yourself why she’s somehow still single by following her charming adventures on Instagram @sam_sumpta.