From notification bells to wedding bells: Get to know this newlywed couple who met in Duolingo
Finding a potential partner has been made easy with dating applications and while some had it short-lived, there are success stories that ended up being married to the person they swiped right.
But unlike these online dating stories, Amanda Lopez and Rob Ciesielski, who were a thousand miles apart, met each other on Duolingo.
All they were looking for individually was a new language to learn, but little did they know that they'll find their better halves through a language-learning app.
Get to know how this couple ended up becoming each other’s lifetime partners.
How it started
Amanda and Rob used Duolingo solely for the purpose of learning different languages. Amanda, an app user from the Philippines downloaded the app back in 2013 to learn Italian, German, French, and Mandarin. She said she wanted to impress another guy she was interested in who was also learning Mandarin at that time.
“I thought, maybe if I knew more Mandarin, he would want to go steady with me!” she said in an interview. However, their relationship didn’t work out.
Meanwhile, Rob started using the app in 2020 to continue learning Spanish. The two were strangers until Rob congratulated Amanda randomly for her Duolingo streak in 2021.
Igniting the spark
Curious, Amanda clicked on Rob's profile because she “thought he was cute.” And since you cannot chat with anyone in the app other than sending congratulatory messages in one click, she decided to find his Duolingo name on Facebook.
“I think I had been getting constant congratulations from him almost each day for a few weeks—not too long, but enough for me to notice and get curious!” Amanda told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Shooting her shot, Amanda decided to message Rob to thank him and to confirm that it was a real person and not a bot who kept congratulating her.
“I was relieved that Rob was a real person, and of course excited because I thought he was cute. Luckily he thought the same thing!” she said, sharing that Rob also tried to find her on Facebook. But unlike Amanda’s search, it was hard for him because her name is common.
Since then, the two have exchanged messages on Facebook, and the rest is history.
Keeping the sparks fly, a thousand miles apart
It can be frustrating to not see nor hold your loved ones every chance you get, but not for Amanda and Rob—they didn’t let the distance deter their love for each other.
“Rob lives in D.C., so he is on Eastern Time, which is always either 13 or 12 hours behind Philippine Time. Despite this, Rob has always been eager to reach out to me and respond whenever I’d have questions or memes or stories for him,” Amanda said.
She furthered, “We soon figured out our schedules: quick voice calls during his weekday mornings, longer video chats during his weekday evenings, and longer hangouts during our weekend. In between these sessions, we would send each other photos, little messages, soundbytes, you name it.”
“We never completely felt that we were 13,787 km apart — it always felt like we were cosmically connected 24/7.”
Rob, for his part, shared, “Since the very beginning, we’ve had creative collaborations. Poems, songs, wordplays.” He added that Amanda would send him love poems, which in return, he would turn into a banjo song.
"We both love creative writing so much, it’s fitting we met on a language app,” he said.
Distance is one thing, but approval from the family is another; luckily, this couple had supportive families who didn’t oppose their relationship.
“My family loved Rob from Day One because they noticed I was suddenly always smiling and nice to them,” said Amanda.
“Before I met him, my default mode was masungit and mataray (grumpy and sassy, with a side of RBF—Resting bitch face).
Although they didn’t express their disapproval, Rob said his family was initially confused, “I think at first, mine were confused. My mom especially. ‘I didn’t even know you could chat with anyone on Duolingo,’” he said.
Talking more about how they ended up with each other, the two expressed their genuine admiration for each other.
“I thought Rob was incredibly smart and funny and talented, but he wasn’t ever mayabang (arrogant) about it. In fact, he is extremely silly and childlike,” says Amanda, adding that Rob is very good with words—a plus for her since she's a writer.
"Lastly, he is so gwapo (handsome), I never get tired of seeing his blue eyes light up from making him laugh,” she revealed, gushing.
While Rob shared, “Not only is she beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, intuitive, thoughtful (I could go on [forever])… she also makes these really cute squeak noises.”
Creating their love language, literally
Living in different parts of the world, Amanda and Rob have been creative in communicating clearly, and along with learning each other’s languages, the two also came up with their own terms.
“Rob was pretty keen on learning Tagalog from the start. One of the first Tagalog words I taught him was the concept of 'tampo' because I noticed early on he was very prone to it!” Amanda said. “Since he’s a wordsmith who loves creating portmanteaus, he began describing himself as a ‘tampoet.’”
Adding, “I also taught him 'kilig' to explain to him how I’d feel whenever he would say sweet things to me. He noticed he would giggle whenever he felt kilig, so he called those giggle fits ‘kiliggles.’ As self-professed co-dependent Stage 11 clingers, we both identify as koalas, so I call Rob ‘mahal koala’ - which is mahal ko (love of mine) plus ‘koala.’”
Both introduced to English language, Rob shared that they didn’t have problems communicating. As per learning Tagalog, he shared that he “love the rhythm of the language.”
“We’re having fun forming new Tagalog + English word blends. Aside from that, I’m just sure to insert as many 'po’s' as possible when I’m in the Philippines,” he said, adding, “But Duolingo really needs to create a Tagalog learning course!”
From notification bells to wedding bells
Overcoming the challenges of a long-distance relationship, the two tied the knot in the Philippines in January.
Now married, they shared that they have been working on living together in the United States.
“We’ve started the paperwork for me to come live with Rob in the U.S. Fingers crossed we’ll get approval for me to visit Rob in D.C. a few months from now!” Amanda said.
Although they will live in the US permanently, the couple plans on visiting Amanda’s home country often.
“I instantly fell in love with the Philippines — from the city, to the province, to the islands,” he said, adding that their goal is to visit the Philippines "as often as we can."
"And in a perfect world, we’d explore every single bit of Palawan, which is where we went for our honeymoon/familymoon,” they added.