When Hunter Ristau spotted Andrew Ost across the lawn in front of the Daisy Hill Commons more than a year and a half ago, he knew he wanted to get to know him. After finding his Instagram account, he requested to follow Ost and initially planned to slide into his DMs.
“I requested to follow it because he was private at the time, but then I got scared and unrequested. I kind of was like ‘if it happens it happens, we’ll figure out a way,’” Ristau says.
Then, in June 2020, they came across each other again. This time, however, it was via Tinder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simply utilizing Tinder as a fun tool to pass the time at work, Ost says he wasn’t particularly looking to meet anyone. “I was actually at work one day in Olathe and swiping with my work mom,” Ost says. “She was rating everyone that I was swiping through and she goes ‘Oh, he’s cute.’” Ost then swiped right on Ristau’s profile.
After they matched, the KU sophomores started messaging when Ost was visiting Branson, Missouri and Ristau was at the Lake of the Ozarks. Once they returned home – Ost to Olathe, Kansas and Ristau to Shawnee, Kansas – they decided to give each other a shot and get ice cream.
Shortly after committing, both men felt nervous and even attempted to maneuver their way out of the date. Ost says that the thought of the date was “nerve-wracking as hell,” and he almost used his COVID-19 test’s pending result status as an excuse to cancel.
Lucky for them, neither bailed, and their preconceptions ended up deceiving them as they edged on four hours of conversation and laughter in the ice cream shop. Both agree that after their first date, they knew they wanted to see more of each other.
“I knew there was a big connection, and we planned our second date to come to Lawrence because we both love KU with all our hearts, and we love Lawrence,” Ost says.
After spending their second date having a midnight picnic under the Campanile, Ost knew he wanted to commit to Ristau. “That’s where I was like alright, this is definitely gonna be a long-term thing, this is great,” Ost says.
Meeting, dating and maintaining a relationship during a pandemic isn’t any easy feat. Yet Ost and Ristau met the challenge with dedication and enthusiasm, and constantly found new ways to see each other.
“It was harder since both of us were living back at home and didn’t have the flexibility to go over to one’s house and kind of just chill a lot,” Ost says. “So, when we hung out, we went on walks, we went to Shawnee Mission Park, we went to some of the local surrounding areas, and we came to Lawrence some nights.”
In addition to the challenges paired with dating during a pandemic, Ost and Ristau both worked demanding jobs with staggering schedules last summer, which made it difficult for them to hang out. However, hoping to find more time for each other this summer, Ristau says they are working on shaping their schedules to be more conducive to their relationship.
After recently celebrating nine months, the couple is looking forward to finishing the semester strong and traveling to Washington D.C. and Colorado this summer.