As part of a week-long series alongside Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring stories about UF couples, past and present, called “Findlay Faithfuls.” Did you meet the love of your life on campus? We want to hear about it! Share your story via Facebook or Twitter using #IHeartUFindlay #FindlayFaithfuls.
Friend zone: Coming to regard someone solely as a friend, despite their unreciprocated romantic interest.
Two words that can send shudders down the spines of young, single people in the midst of unrequited love. For Caio Bottura ’17, it was a place from which he tried to break out several times. “I friend zoned him many times,” said Holly Sargent ’18, the object of Bottura’s, at that time, unreturned affection. “I wasn’t ready to date anyone seriously for a while.”
While having originally met in an Introduction to Theater class at University of Findlay, the two didn’t really enter that dreaded friend zone until they both joined Residence Life. “It was not love at first sight,” Holly said. “We spent a lot of time together during res life training, but I was actually dating someone else at the time. We were basically inseparable as friends, though.”
Caio, however, isn’t the type to just sit around and wait for things to happen. The native Brazilian is an athletics-based YouTuber with over 1.3 million subscribers, an author with three published books and a personal trainer. Needless to say, when he sets his sights on something–or someone–friend zone, or not, he’s going to try his best to get where he wants to be. “He started asking me out a little while after my previous relationship ended,” Holly explained. “It wasn’t a magical love story, though.” She confessed that she was giving Caio mixed signals, and because of the confusion, they ended up in a “huge” fight. After the fight, she said, she realized what he meant to her; and it wasn’t at the level of friendship. “It was definitely the thought of losing him from my life that made me realize it,” she said. After a bit of trouble and trial, the couple emerged from the friend zone as strongly as couples in newly-discovered love can be.
Caio, who graduated from UF in May of 2017 with a strength and conditioning degree, proposed to Holly on a trip to Disney World the following month. This joyful time in their lives was not without a bit of anxiety, however, due to some uncertain circumstances. The couple had dreams of getting married in Brazil, but knew it couldn’t happen right away. “Caio was here as an F-1 student [where a visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program at a U.S. college or university] and once we got engaged he was not allowed to leave the country and come back on the same visa,” Holly explained. But Caio’s aforementioned assertiveness had long since rubbed off on Holly, and the two came up with a plan. “We decided to have a civil ceremony in Findlay, then apply for a Green Card and have our dream wedding on the coastline of Brazil,” Holly said. And so, the two were married in February of 2018, with, at the time, what Holly called their “real wedding” tentatively slated for June of 2019.
The Green Card process, according to the couple, was difficult in that it caused further stress due to its unpredictable nature. What should have been a period of worry-free bliss turned into yet another time of life hanging in the balance. “If you have never been through something like that, it is hard to understand,” Holly recalled. “There is so much fear and lack of control that comes from knowing that someone else is in control of your marriage.” The couple stayed positive and rested in the faith that what they had was meant to endure. They relied on each other’s strength, Holly said, saw themselves through the process and now this year’s June fifteenth wedding in Brazil is officially on.
Holly, who also has a YouTube channel, is now in her last semester of graduate school at UF in the Occupational Therapy program. The couple just bought a home in Florida, with Caio planning to purchase a gym and Holly likely to go into the field of pediatrics. The two said they are looking forward to putting the stresses of life behind them. “For the last two years, Caio has stayed here with me in Findlay instead of going on to do the things he probably would have while I finished school,” Holly said. “He has never complained, and has always made the best of the situation when I spend all day in class. But if you choose to face the stressful things together and remember why you started in the first place, things will work out.”