“That was pretty heartbreaking,” says Kavanagh, noting that her family was shocked.
It was starting to become apparent that things might start to get out of control.
She immediately moved out of the apartment they shared, moved in with her parents, and swore off men for a year.
“I said to everybody who kept trying to set me up, ‘I haven’t had good experiences, stop pressuring me to meet boys.’ I’m going to be single for a year. Since 17, I’d never been single.”
She began to think she might never have a successful, long-term relationship.
“You think, ‘What am I doing that is attracting these kinds of people, and not allowing these relationships to flourish?’” she says.
Six months later, a work colleague, Billy, insisted Kavanagh meet his cousin. “He just kept going, and going. Eventually, he sent me a photo, and I thought, ‘Ohhhh, he’s hot’.”
Billy’s cousin, Nicson Oliveria, 34, texted her and asked to meet for a drink.
“I thought I’d spend a week getting to know him via text, because this is what our generation does. I hadn’t really been on any blind dates, ever. He said to me, ‘OK, what about Friday?’ It was Wednesday. And I thought, ‘Jesus, OK, right, we’re doing this. If it’s terrible, it’s fine, if he’s an idiot, it’s fine, if I’m an idiot, it’s fine’.”
“Absolute butterflies,” says Kavanagh, about her first impression of Oliveria, who works in IT at a bank. “I turned up, and he’s just a really beautiful guy, and he was so smiley. Now I know he’s a big nerd, but then, I walked up and he’s this guy in like, ripped jean shorts and a sleeve tattoo. I thought, ‘OK, a bit of a bad boy’. But he’s not a bad boy at all. He comes from a lovely family. And he was just so direct. He said, ‘I really want to see you again. Can I see you next Friday?’”
It was his calm demeanour, and the absence of pressure, from his side, that struck her, immediately, as being different to any partner she’d been with.
A couple of years in, we talked about babies, and that all felt nice and natural.
“Just the fact that he was direct, and not intense, was a really nice shift. There was no, ‘You need to come, or you need to do this’ when I said to him I can’t come to this thing, or that thing. He was awesome, ‘I’ll see you soon, then’. He just let me be who I am.
“It wasn’t really long into it that we decided to live together. We were on a beach, we were together everyday, and he said, ‘I love you, I want to live with you’, and we did. A couple of years in, we talked about babies, and that all felt nice and natural.”
After being together for around three years, they became pregnant with their son, Levi, now nine months old.
Their relationship hasn’t been without its challenges. A number of people have looked at Levi, and asked, “What is he?” – referring to his caramel skin – or asked where his surname (Oliveria’s family stems from the Philippines) comes from.
“I just don’t want it to be a real topic of conversation when he gets older,” she says. “I just want to make sure that the discourses on race and nationality and ethnicity are all just kind of kosher.”
But, for now, Kavanagh can’t believe her life, as it stands.
“I mean, I’m smiling my face off right now. He’s just a really nice guy, and we have such a gorgeous baby. I’m really happy.”
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Samantha Selinger-Morris is a lifestyle writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.