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Austinite and Golden Bachelor contestant Kathy Swarts talks love and dating in Austin

Kathy Swarts stands in front of a love-themed mural depicting toast and butter with the words, "You're my butter half."
Patricia Lim
/
KUT News
Kathy Swarts didn't find her "butter half" on The Golden Bachelor, but she did walk away with a group of girlfriends.

“I've been on the Austin dating scene longer than any human being should be forced to participate.”

That’s how Kathy Swarts — contestant on The Golden Bachelor and Austinite of 22 years — described her time trying to find love in the city.

Swarts, a 70-year-old retired educational consultant, was married to her late husband for more than four decades before he died by suicide.

Last year, Swarts turned to The Golden Bachelor to find her next great love.

“People find love in a variety of ways. I truly believe you're never too old to find love,” she said. “So I thought, ‘Why not national TV?’”

The newest edition to The Bachelor franchise featured Gerry Turner, a leading man in his 70s, and a cast of similarly aged women competing for his heart.

Swarts left in the middle of the season, but not before making a mark. Conflict during the show was pretty tame as far as reality TV goes, but Swarts brought a splash of it with what would become her signature catchphrase — “zip it.” (Fans will know all was made well at The Golden Wedding.)

Who better to represent Austin than a straight-shooting, sarcastic, self-described hopeless romantic with a bit of a dramatic streak?

KUT News spoke to Swarts about the show, how she would describe Austin men and whether she reps Dan's Hamburgers or P. Terry's.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How was dating in Austin before you went on the show?

It's brutal out there, guys. It’s not been successful. If you're interested in “used to” guys — and a “used to” guy would be someone who used to play tennis, who used to swim, who used to go skiing, and now he sits on the sofa — I can hand off many to you. But that's not what I'm looking for.

How did going on the show change how you’ve approached dating?

Clearly, I didn't get the final rose. But I learned that I have so much in life to give and that I want other people to see that.

I came away from the show thinking there's people out there for me — I just have to find them. And in the meantime, I made lots of great women friends, and that really is a reward in and of itself.

Women over 60, we have rich histories, rich stories. We have families. We've had great experiences, and we've had some really sad things happen to us. And that makes us rich storytellers. I'm just waiting for the guy that wants to hear my story.

I feel like you walked away with the ultimate prize on the show, which is finding lifelong friends. 

We are kind of a modern-day Golden Girls. Truly, we all got along. The whole “zip it” thing with Teresa was just a minute part of nothing. But we all celebrate each other because we know what it takes to get through life.

Can I ask you what your type is?

I'd like to say that looks don't matter, but when you meet someone, there has to be a physical attraction. At my age, that becomes less important. But I'm tall — I'm 5’8’’ — so I'd like somebody taller than I am. … He doesn't have to be a model. He just has to have kind eyes, a kind smile and want to get to know me, be interested in me.

Without sounding like a poem, this is the last chapter of my life, and I want it to be the best and most exciting. I'm looking for that person who wants to choose me every day. We choose each other — not because we have to, not because we have children, or we have a mortgage that we have to pay, but because we want to wake up next to each other every day.

I hope that whoever is reading this will fit that criteria and reach out to you.

I would love it if they reach out to me. I've had a few humorous DMs — guys that are the age of my children. I've already raised one guy. I can't do another one. It’s gotta be age-appropriate.

But honestly, [I’m looking for] someone who wants to have fun, who is grateful for every day. We don't have that much time. I'm 70. I've got another 40 years.

That was a joke.

Do you have any advice for the younger generation?

I think that [for] young adults today, the internet plays such an integral role in their lifestyle that we didn't have growing up. But I think the basics still stay the same. If you see a red flag, if something doesn't feel right to you, it probably isn't.

There is no perfection. I would say that young people just think that life can be perfect. There is no perfect relationship. There is no perfect man. There is no perfect woman — myself excluded. Relationships take a lot of work, and they take a lot of compromise. And I think that's something you learn over time.

Lightning round

How would you describe Austin men in one word?

Invisible. I can’t find them.

Pick one: North, South, East or West Austin?

West. I live in West Austin, but I love South Austin.

Austin at 10 degrees or 110 degrees?

110 degrees.

Barton Springs or Deep Eddy? 

Barton Springs.

Dan’s Hamburgers or P. Terry’s?

That's tough because I know the owners of P. Terry’s, so I'm going to go with P. Terry’s.

Have you been to the Chili’s on 45th and Lamar?

The Chili’s? No.

Anything you want to add?

I just want to know where all the cool guys are hanging. There's got to be some cool guys out there in this city who are age-appropriate, who are not my children's age. Find me.

Chelsey Zhu is the digital producer at KUT. Got a tip? You can email her at czhu@kut.org.
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