A VALENTINE SPECIAL: Will you give online dating a chance?j

The use of technology—from social media to dating apps and websites—has undeniably changed the way people interact and establish relationships.

Smartphone dating app Tinder, for instance, makes 26 million matches in 196 countries per day. Grindr, since its inception in 2009, has also changed the way gay men meet each other through location based services.

But will these apps also alter the way we look at the idea of romance?

The answer to this shouldn’t be complicated.

“I think these [dating] apps are this generation’s pen pal service. There’s nothing wrong with them,” Mindanao Times columnist Ian Garcia said. “Technology has just made things easier for us to connect with people.”

But some think that online dating is not for everyone, although it works wonders for some introverted people.

“I met my boyfriend on Tinder. I’m not ashamed at all to tell people,” English teacher JT said. “I think it’s a great way for more introverted people to meet. For me, [Tinder makes dating] so much easier. I could pretty much never approach anyone in public. But with Tinder, I can play with my strengths–being silly and flirty through writing—and allow me to open up more so I could actually enjoy dating at all.”

“I think online dating is for certain people. The lack of physical proximity allows you to gain more confidence in engaging conversation,” writer and media artist Jean Claire Dy said. “Online dating probably helps other people who are already in the culture of dating. I don’t intentionally go on dates. To me, dates are like performances—they’re difficult. Things just happen to me organically.”

“I met my partner and we are soon to be married. We met via Jack’d,” photographer KP said. “It opens up a whole new realm of possibilities that are outside of the traditional dating scene. Before [smartphone dating apps became available] we either randomly met people (which is hard if you are gay), through mutual friends, or night clubs bars etc. Online dating gives a chance to meet people, speak with them and get a limited understanding of them. I also believe in many instances for those of us who are not into the club scene, it makes it easier to meet people for friendships. That shy awkward initial meeting isn’t as bad. However, at the same time you have all of the negative things too: fake profiles, old photos, posers, etc.”

To some, online dating easily loses its novelty.

“It’s fun and exciting at first. Then it becomes dry and mundane,” JRL, a medical representative, said. “Eventually it makes you lose your ability to date old school style.” JRL added that, to an extent, online dating becomes a bad habit that makes you realize that it’s the only way you know how to meet people. Without it, you somehow become socially impaired.

But it’s not all bad, really.

“People can easily lie and pretend to be someone they’re not online. But that totally removes some of the pressure of dating. For people like me who are more comfortable with writing and are always busy and on the go, online dating through apps and websites make meeting people convenient and even safe,” development worker VGC said. “Online dating is a good way to get to know people before actually deciding to meet for real. It allows you to gauge personality without putting the physical traits as main focus to be interested with someone.”

Online dating leads to various romantic or non-romantic stories depending on who’s online.

“I turned to online dating for romance, but most of the guys that I see are for hookups only. That turns me off,” said RCL, a chef. “I did meet good friends from online, too. But ultimately, I’d like to find romance. But maybe that’s just my excuse to move on from a breakup from an eight-year old relationship.”

In the end, relationships—whether started online or offline—can only be defined by human intention.

“Most of the time I expect people to lie, I guess it’s because they want to protect their identity or maybe because they are currently in a relationship,” businesswoman TM said. “But if the other person sees you as someone trustworthy and honest, it becomes easy for them to open up too. Maybe if you approach people with sincerity, then it wouldn’t be difficult to earn their trust, and maybe friendship.” (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)