Illustrated by Prianka Jain.
This story is part of a larger editorial series. Coming Out and Falling In Love deals with the strangeness of our relationships with others and with ourselves. This month, we examine Asian attitudes towards sex and pornography, dating in the digital age, experiences of LGBTQ communities, unconventional relationships and, most importantly, self-love. . Read similar stories here.
Honestly, who has time to meet new people IRL these days? While browsing Tinder (or Grindr or Bumble) is usually very frustrating, it’s also by far the easiest way to date someone. From a glance at a profile, you can already tell if a person’s qualities match your requirements. Not too old but not underage? Check. Compatible with your astrological sign? Cool. Should you like dogs? Still. No matter how organized they are, these bios help get rid of the awkward silence you dread on the first date.
And they’re not just for hookups either; some people have met their life partners on these apps.
Although this is becoming a norm for Millennials and Gen Z couples, baby boomers are still failing to achieve it. And here in Asia, where conservative parents still have a say in who you date and where catfishing is seen as a real problem, many choose to overlook the fact that they’ve met their SO. on line. Some tell fake stories about their first meeting, while others don’t tell their parents at all.
Amanda, 25, Singapore
5 year relationship
Amanda met her partner on Tinder in 2015 and they clicked in an instant. Five years later, they are now ready to get married, but her family is still unaware of their origin story online.
VICE: What’s it like to find love on a dating app?
Amanda: Being on the app and just swiping was pretty fun on its own because it was back in 2014 when Tinder was hugely popular in Manila, where I was living at the time, and among groups of friends. It was a way to meet people you wouldn’t have met in person but had mutual friends with.
There were only hundreds of people there at the time, so matching someone I instantly clicked with was really lucky. We’ve been together for five years now and it’s always crazy to think that we just met on a dating app.
How do you think this affected your relationship?
Amanda: It’s not, really. At first, we were a bit proud of how we met. We wouldn’t be shy to tell our friends the truth and they would never have guessed that we met online because of how well we got along. But at this point in our relationship, it doesn’t really matter anymore.
Why didn’t you tell your parents how you met your boyfriend?
Amanda: My parents are cold, personality-wise, but also very old-fashioned, so I don’t think they would approve of online dating apps. Basically, when my partner and I started dating, we came up with a “how we met” story that we could tell both our parents and other family members.
So what do you tell them instead?
Amanda: We told them that we met at my brother’s concert and were introduced by mutual friends. Technically, that’s not far from the truth because that’s how we first met. in person. I went with my brother to the concert and invited my now-SO, thinking we could hang out there but apparently it was a private event so we ended up staying at a McDonald’s, drinking coffee and talk for two hours.
Do you think it’s more a problem with your parents or society, especially as Singapore is a very conservative country?
Amanda: I think it may also be a question of generation. Millennials obviously grew up with the internet and all that, so it was pretty easy for us to accept that, compared to older generations who had to meet everyone the old fashioned way (i.e. in nobody). Plus, there’s this fear of “what if this person isn’t who they say they are?” which is understandable, especially with all the catfishing going on these days.
But yes, it’s also because we live in a conservative society. Because when you think of “dating app” you immediately think of “sex”, so I can see why my parents wouldn’t approve of it.
Do you think that’s something you could possibly tell them in the future?
Amanda: Most likely. We joked that if we got married, we’d reveal it at the reception like, “By the way, we met on a dating app called Tinder, not at a concert like we told you. Oops. Shot someone?” I’m still a little scared to tell them just because I’ll never hear the end of it, but I think my partner and I are at that point in our lives where we’re kind of attached to each other. other – I hope – and it doesn’t matter how we met, as long as we love each other.
Syarifah, 28, Indonesia
6 month relationship
Besides facing online dating taboos, Syarifah also can’t tell her mom she’s dating a girl she met on Tinder.
What was it like meeting your partner on a dating app?
Syrifah: We crossed paths before we met on Tinder, but the app is where we chatted. My experience with the dating app started in 2017. Before that, I was using conventional methods. I’m not the type of person who likes to text so I prefer to meet them.
How did your Tinder dates usually go with different people?
Syrifah: First I ask them if they are comfortable going out and if they say yes, then we go. I like meeting lots of people because I’m new to the queer community. I used to date guys, so with the app, I was able to test the waters with that community and see how it worked. It’s rather exciting.
What does online dating look like as a member of the LGBTQ community?
Syrifah: My work environment and my friends are usually all straight, but I’ve always been bi-curious. I always knew I wanted to be the same sex, but it was a long journey for me to realize that I wanted to be emotionally attached to someone of the same sex. I also wanted to know the culture and who was part of it.
So with the app I was able to enter this new world. It was really effective for me. Now I am more confident in approaching members of the queer community, unlike before where I was always uncertain.
How do you think online dating has affected your relationship with your current girlfriend?
Syrifah: It’s much the same (compared to conventional dating); it was just a tool to meet new people.
How’s your relationship going now?
Syrifah: We’re pretty much monogamous now and back to being a “normal” couple. It was very different at first because my girlfriend was in an open relationship when she matched me online, but we have since deleted the app after getting engaged.
Have you told your parents about your girlfriend?
Syrifah: No, I didn’t. My family is a traditional Muslim family, and they lean towards the homophobic side. I don’t want to create any problem regarding my sexuality or how I met my partner.
What do you tell your parents instead?
Syrifah: I have a sister who is older and not yet married, so they don’t really push me. I’m locked up, so I just tell them I’m single.
Do you think you will eventually be able to tell your parents about your girlfriend and how you met?
Syrifah: I’m not sure because I don’t find it necessary to get married either, even though I was straight, so I don’t see the need to tell them. They always knew me to be single. For now, I don’t think there will be a problem, but in the future, maybe. Sure, asking about the wedding is something they’ll do, but I can always answer their questions so that’s okay.
What do you think your family would do if they found out?
Syrifah: I go out with my friends but not with my family, so I feel comfortable taking it with them. I’d like to think I’m more comfortable now in this relationship, but I think my mom would be furious – she’s a real matriarch. My father passed away and we are all girls.
She would probably kick me out, but I like to think she couldn’t. She’s really tough but I know she’s nice. She might ask me to call off the relationship and maybe get married. Although I think she might be open to talking about it and figuring it out, her first reaction will probably be very furious.
Arianne, 19, Philippines
2 year relationship
Arianne first used Bumble for dating, but eventually found a partner. She doesn’t have to get married, but her parents worry about her love life because they think she’s too young.
What was it like meeting your boyfriend on a dating app as a teenager?
Ariadne: It was like dating dummies. There was no need to think too much, “do they love me?” because if they’re in your matches, chances are they already are.
Are you comfortable sharing how you met your peers?
Ariadne: It’s a fun couple’s story to tell to figure out which of your friends is the most outdated.
What did you tell your parents about how you met your boyfriend?
Ariadne: Telling them I had a boyfriend was the first challenge. Then I said that we met at a concert. They don’t ask for anything beyond that because I think it would be oddly suspicious and intrusive of them if they did. We are not that close but they are very strict. They always need to know where I am, so I usually cover that up too.
Do you think that’s something you could possibly tell them in the future?
Ariadne: Never. Their judgy, judgy eyes – they scare me.
Having strict parents who watch over you a lot, were they suspicious of how you met your boyfriend?
Ariadne: The only people who know are the ones I used in our cover story, so whenever they ask them about the gig where we supposedly met, they can state real facts about it ( the gig) to make it sound real enough.
Do you think it’s more a problem with your parents or society?
Ariadne: I would say it’s definitely a matter of society or ideals because they (parents) are already judging me for dating at my age.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
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