I’m through | Inquirer Opinion
YoungBlood

I’m through

I was barely out of high school when I first started using dating apps. It was only a few weeks after my 18th birthday when one morning, I found myself endlessly swiping my finger over my phone — to the left mostly; there were times I swiped right.

Finding love from dating apps was something I have believed in since I was 14. I witnessed my older sister fall in love with someone she met on Tinder, whom she is still with up to this day. Their relationship was a foundation of my belief that in this generation, love can be found on our phones by the simplest act of swiping right. That a simple exchange of “hello” through chats could develop into something more.

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Indeed, this is an epoch that veered away from the dating culture of blind dates, setups, and randomly meeting people in certain places. Gone are the days in which introductions start with an exchange of “hello” and phone numbers in communal spaces such as coffee shops, bars, or even bookstores (which I still fantasize about).

I grew up watching Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City” meet her love interests in random places, believing eventually that I would also meet “the one” in the most unexpected settings. And yet, now that I am 21 and lacking “the one,” most relationships I had (good or bad) started in the digital landscape.

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But the story of my love life — the pattern that started in notifications and “eye-balls” — is no stranger to my generation. I have heard my friends tell me stories about some random guys they met from Bumble or Grindr. I am familiar with these circumstances as most of my relationships began in the most mundane act of saying “hi” or “ASL” through chats.

Initially, meeting strangers on the internet could be described in the simplest yet broadest word: fun. There is a certain kind of allure with meeting someone we barely have any idea of, other than a “personality” they have carefully curated in the app alongside some well-chosen photos. That kind of allure has certainly drawn us into believing that meeting potential relationships online is fun because it’s a blank slate that could potentially be filled as time goes on.

But if I have to be honest, maybe it is not totally the “fun” that I sought out in dating apps. Behind all the games I play and the pessimistic front, maybe I am in dating apps because I hoped and I keep hoping to find one thing: love.

But to say that I am in dating apps to find love is basically going against my pessimistic generation that believes admitting looking for love is cheesy. It sounds a bit desperate, I agree. It sounds as if I have no agency of my own to remain single. But is that so wrong? Is it culturally transgressive to admit that I am looking for love?

I am writing this after a failed relationship with a person whom I met online.

My dating life, for the past three years, has followed the same trajectory: strangers to friends; friends to lovers; and eventually, back to strangers again. Months have been spent getting to know someone, only to find myself asking the same pattern of questions to a different person I met from the same dating app.

Even though it is tiring (yes, I am tired), I am still adamant about admitting that I sought love. Putting an end to this dating exhaustion, however, begins only when I finally uninstall these apps from my phone and defamiliarize my fingers from swiping left and right. For good?

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When it is finally time to say, “I’m through,” I meant that I am breaking the pattern that has always ended in getting myself hurt.

But I am not here to say that we should delete dating apps from our phones based on their shortcomings. I would be a hypocrite if I say that dating apps are bad, knowing that I have no regrets. In those times, I had a taste of love and happiness — may it be temporary — equal to the amount of agony I felt in the end.

There is a chance I might find myself reinstalling dating apps on my phone in the future as I expect myself to make unhinged decisions from time to time. But for now, I’m through. Maybe putting myself “out there” does not necessarily mean being present in the landscapes of dating apps. Maybe being hopeful to find love, somewhere else this time, is enough to say I am “out there” in the dating pool.

I am, after all, not through in finding love.

* * *

Patrick V. Miguel, 21, is a literature student from the University of Santo Tomas.

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