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Love stories in the age of ‘swipe right’

By OLEEN FLORENDO, The Philippine Star Published Feb 25, 2022 5:00 am

I’d like to believe there’s an aspiration to find a love that's monumental.

For others, that means finding spaces and instances that fall under the old-fashioned ways. But the small screens of our phones contain dating apps where people have forged real relationships, ones with the same level of tenderness and intimacy. The algorithm won’t always work to help find your person, but it’s one heck of a beautiful story if it does.

YS gathered stories this week from people who found success in modern dating: some during the height of the loneliest year, 2020, and all in cases where fate worked its way online.

For some of us, online dating is the best option to finding a romantic partner. Some are lucky, some are not but it's all the same: we're all just looking for someone who can see us through and love us anyway.

Maine (28) + Kevin (29)

Maine went onto Bumble as part of market research for a men's lifestyle website she was working on. She had few expectations going in — maybe find some new friends and Linkedin contacts — until she eventually matched with Kevin. "When I first saw his picture, I told myself out loud, "Oh, I'm gonna marry this guy,” she shares. "But syempre it was just a passing moment.”

In their second month of dating, Kevin started talking about family and settling down together. Maine knew then that his intentions were serious and she found it easy to level with that mindset.

Maine and Kevin had no idea that meeting in Bumble would set them off as lifetime partners, after getting married just recently.

She recalls going on a lot of dates with him in the beginning, at some point with just a gap of three days between each. That was how they got closer. “We didn’t have to explain ourselves to each other even when we came from ‘different worlds.’ It was very comfortable.” During their marathon date, which started with a breakfast in Marikina, a bowling session next, and ended with them watching a movie called The Mountain Between Us, the leads, as Kevin pointed out, were fittingly similar to them: a journalist and a doctor. This incidental moment marked their first kiss.

Recently married in December 2021, it's been four years since they met through Bumble. And grand as it may sound, Maine emphasizes that the app was just their way to find each other. "It’s really more on us making it work, versus Bumble making the connection for us" — advice she can also share with anyone wanting to try online dating.

Patrick (20) + Victor (25)

Grindr has acquired the reputation of being an easy avenue for casual hookups. Patrick explored it for the same intentions, so it came as a surprise when he matched with Victor, who, ultimately, changed the way he viewed relationships. A week into talking, they decided to meet up in UP Los Baños. It didn’t involve the kind of fun Patrick was used to; instead, what he remembers was the tension in the air as their eyes and skin would meet and the butterflies they had in their stomachs.

Patrick and Victor were a perfect match, not just with their shared hobbies, but also how their feelings for each other are on the same wavelength: commitment.

Their interests simply aligned: they both love to work out and draw as a hobby, and as chance would have it, they both pick The Little Prince as their favorite novel. Getting to know each other more, they would often have conversations about the chances where their paths might have crossed; one was when Victor was an architecture fresh grad working in Laguna and Patrick was studying senior high school near his workplace.

Patrick knew their relationship was going a step further when Victor visited almost daily after his work hours. A few weeks after, "We had a confrontation about our feelings and the mutual certainty we had for each other. After that, it just wonderfully brought us to make our relationship official and we then decided to be boyfriends."

Victor's sexual identity is not yet known to his family—being the only son, he's waiting for the right moment to share his truth—while Patrick, as part of a male-dominated household, makes it a point to remind his family of respect that should be given to our SOGIESC. With both their families not yet fully accepting of their relationship, it takes more effort than usual to spend time with each other—but Patrick shares that Victor never fails to reassure him through his gestures and actions. It was Victor who made him believe in love again: "You can't be too neglecting or accepting of love. When it hits you, totoong wala ka talagang takas."

Dylan (21) + Gelo (20)

Encouraged by his friends to plunge into Bumble, Dylan downloaded the app on a whim and ended up having Gelo as his first match—with Dylan swiping right because of Gelo’s fashion style and Gelo finding him cute. Dylan calls it “that one fateful night,” a story that made him believe in destiny. When he thinks of the instances where their paths could have intersected, he was sure it wouldn’t have worked out otherwise, and their current timing was “just right.”

For this couple, the other party's deletion of the dating app on his phone only meant one thing: a real, committed relationship.

As design students, it was natural that their connection was built on artworks and drawing. “Art reflects morals to a certain extent, so I got to know his ideals,” Dylan shares on how they initially connected.

With online dating, Dylan believes in patience and just letting it come naturally. Dylan admits that they struggled with trust at the beginning, both of them still dealing with trauma from previous relationships. He shares that it has been a constant working out of issues, but they’re both up to making the effort.

For three months, their connection with each other was limited to online interactions—mostly spent watching BL together for their quality time. But Dylan knew it was finally getting serious with Gelo when he learned he had deleted his dating apps from his phone. This served as his cue to finally ask Gelo to be his boyfriend.

During their first meet-up, however exciting it was, Dylan still couldn’t help but conjure all types of negative scenarios as he waited for Gelo. That moment turned out to be a memory he’d always look back on—the fear then reducing itself to a comforting thought: “In the small hallway of the coffee shop, he was there sitting at a small table. I just felt so warm seeing him in person and even though we were wearing masks, I could see his smile and everything just felt right at that moment.”

DC (21) + Rom (20)

In November 2020, DC remembers swiping right for Rom because she looked familiar, which may sound like a cheesy pick-up line, but it really wasn’t. DC had a couple of dating experiences prior to finding Rom on Bumble. It was her way of familiarizing herself with how to be around other people apart from her friends.

As for Rom, out of pure chance, it was DC who first showed up on her app. DC says Rom mistakenly thought she was a Gemini, which made her curious about her leading to a swipe right, and it was only later on that Rom admitted the actual reason was that she found DC cute.

Being vulnerable to someone and opening up your deepest, truest self to them means trusting them with this part of you that you so preciously keep.

Their initial plan was to see each other after a month of talking but it turned into six long months of waiting. DC’s flight back home was halted by the country’s travel ban. Stuck abroad, they made it work with good communication. Rom made it easy for DC, even for aspects where DC thinks she might need a little more effort. "I love remembering the fact that she tells me she’s always willing to fix things with me because she doesn’t want to lose me."

DC realized their relationship was getting serious when Rom started opening up to her. She knew it took a great deal of courage for Rom to share a part of herself, and it made her feel she was trusted. And when DC struggled with low points in her life, Rom was there to reassure her and support her, even in the smallest things. “I had difficulty eating, so whenever I would eat, I’d tell her and she’d cheer me on. She told me that it didn’t matter how much I ate that day as long as I felt okay and that these things take time and progress.”

They finally met six months after finding each other, and DC remembers how Rom made their first meet-up comfortable, "She's literally the same person on a call and in person, I was really thankful for that."

Bea (23) + Kaif (22)

In an attempt to fill the gaps in her social life during the pandemic, Bea tried Tinder and Bumble to find someone to talk to. She matched with Kaif on Bumble: Bea was drawn to his culinary background while Kaif was pulled in by Bea’s eyes.

"Our personalities were an instant connection. It was nice to talk to him, I knew that what I would tell him he would understand. Grabe yung comfort na nararamdaman ko and siya rin," shares Bea on how she and Kaif connected.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little effort to show someone that you should be trsuted. And that's what Kaif did to steal Bea's heart and earn her (and her parents') trust.

But getting to know each other wasn’t entirely fuss-free: "The sincerity of it all, ang hirap mag-trust agad to someone you've never met before, I feel like we had to reassure one another na this isn't just for fun but we really do like each other." What set Kaif apart from the other people Bea had dated before was how he went out of his way to meet her parents right after their first date. It was in a Samgyupsal restaurant near Kaif’s place — just a conversation they had in passing, with Kaif arriving late, worrying Bea if he’d actually show up. Later, he turned up sweating, with flowers in his hand; turns out he was busy buying her a bouquet. Immediately after their date, they went straight to Bea’s place to get her parent’s approval.

Months into talking, Bea had to go on isolation in their home in Novaliches. Riddled with worries, Kaif was there to reassure and make Bea feel better, even with him also troubled about possibilities of her symptoms worsening. She remembers how difficult that time was for her. A day after her month-long isolation, Kaif drove two hours from Manila and went all the way to Novaliches to surprise her; that was also when he officially asked her to be his girlfriend.

Currently, in a long-distance setup—with Kaif based in the US for his culinary internship—their eyes are set on a future where they can move and settle in a different country together.