By Bea Amador
Art by Grace de Luna
We’ve all been there—that slump in our lives when everyone you know is happily committed while you find yourself the seventh wheel in the barkada. You see your ex has already moved on from you and is dating once again. Even that one guy you admittedly not-so-kindly rejected a while back has begun holding hands with someone.
You begin to spiral down in your quest for decent dates when you realize that everyone who used to be available is now in a relationship. In a brief moment of weakness (and with a little bit of liquid courage), you slowly approach that cute guy from across the bar, only to see him (right before you tap his shoulder) kissing his boyfriend.
Finally, you give up and shout to the heavens, “Lord, pahingi naman ng jowa!”
While traditional dating hasn’t entirely lost its appeal, it’s a rather slow process, especially when we all can’t help but secretly dream about that straight-out-of-a-romance-novel meet cute (locking eyes with a stranger from across the room and years later, marrying him and having babies and dogs together). In an age where we all go through fast-paced lives, why should we subject ourselves to the slow and slightly torturous process of waiting for love?
My first time
When I first heard of Tinder, I was sure that it was nothing but a hookup app, a niche for fuckboys who are after nothing but one night stands. But when my friend told me that she actually met some decent people there, it piqued my interest. Suddenly, I forgot all about my fear of stranger danger and I found myself looking at pictures of these random guys, endlessly swiping left or right. I began talking to some of my matches and it surprised me that they were actually able to hold some interesting conversations. It was like some sort of revelation. For a long time, I believed that the only way to create some sort of connection with another human being was through real life interactions.
Although I’d already accepted that Tinder wasn’t an entirely indecent app, I was still wary of the idea of meeting someone I’d only met online. Admittedly, I’d grown tired of the superficiality of my Tinder interactions, but I was bored out of my mind one day so I decided to give it another shot. It wasn’t my intention to look for a date at the time. Hell, I wasn’t even replying to anyone. That is, until I matched with one guy. Let’s call him Franco.
Franco was a college boy from a university in Manila. He was cute and tall and shared my taste in music. I swiped right and immediately matched with him. A few minutes later, he sent over a message.
“Do you want to go to a gig with me?”
I guess it was the fact that he asked me out on a date that involved music which got me hooked. There was the fact that I had nothing written on my bio, yet he unknowingly invited me to something I’d actually enjoy. But still, I replied, “No thanks. What if you’re actually a serial killer?”
He laughed it off. He asked me the same thing again and then gave me his number and social media accounts. We talked nonstop for a week, and every single day, he’d never fail to invite me to go with him to a gig. It amused me how persistent he was. When I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t knife me down in some dark alley and sell my kidneys to the black market, I told him I’d go.
First dates are usually riddled with a lot of anxiety and nervous laughter but when I finally met him, it felt like we were already on our third date. Since we were both our first Tinder dates, there some inevitable moments of awkwardness, but it was surprisingly easy to get comfortable around each other. We conversed like long lost friends and flirted like a couple on their honeymoon stage. By the end of the date, we both knew that the shallow crushes we initially had on each other had evolved into something more.
There’s always a downside
Although the use of Tinder provides us the comfort of flirting behind a screen, it’s still not as easy as 1-2-3. Just like traditional, face-to-face dating, it has its own drawbacks that would make people shy away from giving it a chance.
For one, you’re judged by your looks. Dating profiles give you the illusion of learning about the person prior to getting to know them IRL. However, Tinder only lets you see pictures (and usually, one sentence bios). Attraction is based solely on your looks.
Then there’s also the high chance of people lying about their profiles–some even going as far as using strangers’ photos as their own. It’s also difficult to deny the fact that a lot of people you meet on Tinder are really just there for hookups.
But it’s really not that bad
The bad reputation that plagues the very idea of online dating can be very intimidating. As children, we were taught not to trust strangers. When the use of internet became the norm, we became more apprehensive to meeting new people, considering the dangers of catfishing, grooming, and other cyber crimes.
But trust me when I say that venturing out into the world of online dating is definitely worth it.
Dating apps opened doors to possibilities that weren’t readily available to us before. The geographic and social limitations that used to prevent us from meeting people outside our circles are now obsolete. Now, all we have to do is sign up, and the app will do all the searching for us. We get to meet people from different demographics without the strain of commitment and awkward encounters.
Online dating, as opposed to the traditional way of dating, creates a buffer that shields us from that weird stage of not knowing if the other person is interested in us. Matching with someone means that there’s most likely some kind of mutual attraction.
For queer people, it is a safe place where guessing games about each other’s sexual orientation don’t take place. You lay out your cards, give out your preference, and find a match. You get to skip the anxiety of trying finding out if you vibed someone correctly.
Franco and I didn’t end up together, but despite the unhappy ending that we got, the experience that I shared with him is something that changed me. Growing up, I was led to believe that the only way to be in a relationship was to wait for some guy to sweep me off my feet and woo me with heart-shaped chocolates and flowers.
I used to believe that I had to wait for love to come knocking at my door and never seek it, for fear that I’ll be branded as promiscuous. But as I opened my eyes to the reality of this world, I came to terms with the fact that fairy tales are mere fiction.
If I wanted to date, it’s totally okay to take matters into my own hands. Online dating became a choice for me, and although I wouldn’t entirely swear off meeting guys in real life, I also wouldn’t mind finding a date online.