How we met: ‘He told me he owned a crossbow, which I thought was really cool’

In early 2015, Catt was persuaded to attend a meet-up group for board game enthusiasts in London. Although she wasn’t a superfan, she was willing to give it a try. “I was a bit worried about being awkward around new people but decided to go with it,” she says. Before the event, she saw on the group’s website that someone called Clay would be going, too, and bringing a game called Betrayal at House on the Hill.

After moving to London from Melbourne, Clay had been attending meet-up groups regularly to make new friends in the city. “I hadn’t really clicked with anyone at the events, but I wanted to give it another chance,” he says. Catt thought his game “looked really fun” so she sent him a message on the meet-up website asking to try it out. He was impressed by her profile picture. “I definitely wanted to play the game with her,” he remembers.

When Catt arrived, she and her friend became engrossed in a long, complex game with other people – but Clay was happy to wait. “After four hours, we started to play the game he had brought,” he says. “We got on really well and had so much fun.” The game is based on a horror movie theme and Catt liked the way he read out the cards. “He was brilliant,” she says. “I was laughing the whole time.” Two weeks later, the group arranged to meet again. “I wanted to see Clay but I had a boyfriend so I was conflicted,” admits Catt. On their second meeting, he asked for her number. “I panicked and thought it was better to be Facebook friends,” she says. Clay didn’t pursue anything after he saw her profile and realised she had a boyfriend. Instead they became friends.

“One day, Clay mentioned he owned a crossbow, which I thought was really cool,” says Catt. He invited her to his place to shoot. “I realised when I was getting off the tube that I’d only known him for a few weeks and he could be a serial killer!” she says. “I texted my friend and told him where I was going. But we just hung out and had fun.”

When Catt broke up with her partner a few months later, her relationship with Clay developed. “The chemistry was strong and looking back I think it was always going to happen,” she says. “We’d spend all our time talking about nerdy stuff like games and role play.” At the end of 2015, they became a couple. He continued to live in his flat and she stayed in the spare room of her ex’s house. “I couldn’t move out because I needed to pay my half of the rent,” she says. “It was awkward at first but my ex and I managed to stay good friends.”

Knowing they were right for each other, Catt and Clay decided to get married. “It was quick but we also worried about being separated if my visa didn’t come through,” says Clay. “In the end, everything was OK with the visa, but we decided to get married anyway.” With families on either side of the globe, they didn’t want a party that half their loved ones would struggle to attend. Instead, they secretly eloped to Melbourne in March 2016. “We told my family just before the wedding and spoke to Catt’s family later. They took it pretty well,” Clay says. While Catt says her family were “shocked” at first, they were understanding.

In 2017, the pair quit their jobs in London and moved to Sweden. “We’d been a few times and loved it,” says Clay. “A friend suggested we go there to work. When we arrived, we stayed in this awful hotel with a shared kitchen for months and we were totally broke.” Despite the challenges, Catt says they “laughed constantly”. Clay secured a job in customer support days before their initial visa ran out, and Catt got work in communications. They bought a flat together in Stockholm in early 2020.

As well as sharing her passion for games and travel, Catt says her partner makes her braver. “Before we met, I was always seeking stability. I wanted to travel but I never would have moved countries if it wasn’t for Clay.” He loves her unique insight and way of looking at the world. “I struggled with confidence before but I never worry about that now. Catt’s made me a better person.”