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Love at first swipe

By BEA TRINIDAD, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 06, 2021 5:00 am

On a recent long drive, a friend sent me a playlist to enjoy the scenic route. One song stuck to me, Razor Love by Neil Young, with the lyrics, “But I got faith in you, it’s a razor love that cuts clean through. I got faith in you, it’s a razor love that cuts clean through.”

With the image of a love that pierces, I realized I missed pre-pandemic dating life. Human beings live for the ability to touch — hugs, kisses, handshakes, all of it. Physical touch gives us fuzzy emotions and, at times, goose bumps.

Over the last year, dating apps have surged due to the lack of in-person encounters. As I’ve been on a few virtual dates, from making banana bread to Zoom movie dates, I wondered if a razor love was even possible? Or will our online romances eventually fade?

So I chatted with a couple close to their 30s, Maine Manalansan and Kevin Veneracion, who found each other through Bumble, a dating app that starts with the girl making the first move. I discovered that there’s much more to dating apps than looking at a virtual deck of men and women, and that real love may even be possible.

Maine Manalansan, former Young Star editor, and Kevin Veneracion, psychiatrist in training, found each other through Bumble. Kevin proposed to Maine last March. (Photo: Koji Arboleda and Serious Studios)

‘I’m going to marry this guy’

Maine, a creative, joined Bumble for research when working at a men’s lifestyle website in November of 2017. She wanted to get to know men and their interests. Her bio said, “Tell me a book recommendation.” She matched with men who didn’t like books, but enjoyed films like Fight Club and any Marvel movie. She said, “Do I want to be with a person who would admit their favorite movie is a Marvel film or Fight Club? Isn’t that — especially Fight Club — a red flag?”

Kevin, a psychiatrist in training, was one of the few respondents that liked books. He listed When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (about a doctor facing his own stage IV lung cancer diagnosis) as a favorite, which revealed that he was more of a sensitive guy who wouldn’t shy away from being vulnerable.

Maine, as she looked at his picture in bed, thought, I’m going to marry this guy.

‘I took it as a conversation with a friend and a discovery of him’

Their first date was spontaneous. Maine was in Kevin’s area, and they decided to meet for a chat at a restaurant on Katipunan, Lan Kwai. She said that it was a welcome discovery. “Kevin had a lot of stories. His life as a doctor is very interesting. And for him, my life as a creative is just as interesting. So it became a natural exchange of information.”

Kevin, who has always been in long-term relationships, believes that meeting someone outside his own field played in their favor. “Number one, it’s always very exciting. You feel like you’re growing as a person because you’re learning everything together. And then, number two, medyo break na rin yun for you, from the stress of being a doctor.”

After a month of friendly conversation, Maine and Kevin started dating exclusively. They moved out of Bumble and chatted with each other on Telegram. Their unfiltered conversations led to their growing infatuation with each other.

Kevin and Maine’s relationship is a success story for any dating app. Without swiping on Bumble, there would’ve been no chance for them to meet coming from two different fields – the creative world and medicine.

Kevin believed in communication as the bedrock of their relationship: “You don’t have to be physically around each other to maintain that connection with one another. A lot of my growth is in what we’ve shared in our Telegram conversations.”

‘You just want to go home to that person’

When I asked if they had a tough time explaining to family and friends that they met through Bumble, Kevin shared, “The initial reaction from my mom, more specifically, was coming from ba't ang bilis rather than I met Maine online. My family is open-minded about the social media platform as a way of meeting people.”

Maine thought otherwise: “I lied to my parents. I said he was just a friend. But actually, my parents wouldn’t mind since they are aware that a lot of my friends I meet online, but there is the initial hiya.

If there is one thing they didn’t shy away from, it was their commitment to each other. Maine shared that there were many unofficial proposals in their more than three-year relationship.

However, Kevin said, “We did want to really end up with each other in the long haul.” The pandemic put everything into perspective. As Kevin continued, “There are so many things happening now. You feel so tired, and then you just want to go home to that person.” He finally proposed last March.

Kevin and Maine’s relationship is a success story for any dating app. Without swiping on Bumble, there would’ve been no chance for them to meet coming from two different fields — the creative world and medicine.

As I listened to Maine and Kevin finishing each other’s sentences, I couldn’t help but think about what their lives would be like when they finally share a home. And it brought me back to the lyrics of Razor Love: “You really make my day with the little things you say.” There is no doubt that their home will be a place of comfort, care, and a love that cuts through.