“You met him online?!”
That is one question I always get asked whenever I tell someone about how I met the special person in my life.
“Well, sure,” I would say.
Once the confirmation has been laid out on the table, another question follows—a question that irks me more than anything else: “Is the relationship real?”
There’s this prejudice that love cannot blossom online, that for love to be felt, you need to know someone for years and have to be physically near the other person. Perhaps these are the reasons many people scoff at the idea of online dating, or relationships that start online.
I admit that I was once just as skeptical. I used to consider meeting people online somewhat funny and scary because of the endless scam tales that get broadcast by the media. What brought me to that online dating site was the urge to find out if my friends were there secretly.
But deep inside, I knew that I was there because I felt bored and lonely. I was working all the time, rushing from one place to another. The people I knew from work were either old or married. What’s more, I didn’t know anyone who shared my passions and interests. I envied those who had someone to share their lives with. Yes, even those couples that publicly display their affection for one another in public places and even on social media sites.
Let me tell you, though, that I didn’t really shun going on dates and meeting new people introduced to me by my friends. The problem was that halfway through these dates, or “dinner,” as what others prefer to call them, I would always find myself thinking about something else, like what would happen next to the TV series I was watching or what my mother would cook for dinner the next day.
So, I took the chance. I read and researched about the “trustworthy” dating websites out there, and signed up on one. I exchanged messages with many people not only from here but from other countries as well. I became friends with some, and some were plain rude. I guess that’s the Internet for you. I almost gave up because of two reasons: One, I couldn’t really stay online all the time due to work demands. Two, I didn’t find all the people who were asking to meet me interesting enough.
Well, I guess my luck changed.
One night, as I was just about to sign out, I received a notification that someone had viewed my profile. I checked it out and sent him a message just for fun.
I wasn’t that enthusiastic because he was from another country. My curiosity got the better of me, though, when I found out from his profile that we had the same interests and we disliked the same things. Everything stemmed from that message.
It all started with simple daily how-are-yous and hellos. As days passed, I found myself looking forward to these conversations and telling him about how my day went. From the most mundane to the most frustrating, from “Batman” to “Star Wars” and the kinds of food that for the life of me I could never eat—I would tell him everything.
I realized that I was starting to fall in love with him when his thoughts began to matter to me. He was my first thought in the morning. Whenever I found something funny on the Internet, I couldn’t wait to tell him about it. I looked forward to asking him about how his days passed, if anything exciting had happened to him.
For the first time in a very long time, I didn’t find sharing my thoughts and my life exasperating. I could be myself and not worry that I would be judged and looked down on. He respected my ideas and encouraged my passion. In turn, he slowly opened himself to me. Getting to know each other was not simple and easy. We came from different backgrounds and, of course, there was the cultural difference.
The first few weeks were not all that smooth sailing. The video chats started after some time. When I finally saw his face, I was gone. I took all the risks and faced my fears. I had never been a risk-taker. I always preferred to play by the rules and stay on the safe side for fear of losing control and getting hurt. He changed me, one beautiful thought at a time. I willingly and happily let all the walls that I built around me after many failed relationships crumble. I fell in love with his thoughts, his beliefs, and his mind.
I believe that if you’re meant to fall in love with someone, no matter where the other person is from or how far away he or she is, you will still fall in love. Even if the distance between us is great—918.188 miles, to be exact—the love that I have for him only grows stronger with every breath that I take and every day that passes.
He inspires me to be a better version of myself—to be patient, to be kind to others, to believe in myself, and above all, to have faith not just in him or us but in God. If this is not love, then I do not know what love is. If this is not love, then I no longer want to know what it should be because I am content with the happiness that I am feeling.
One day soon, I’ll be able to hold his hand and introduce him to the people who matter to me, my family and my friends. Until then, I will be content with our conversations that last for hours, the video chats, and simple phone calls. I will be here patiently and faithfully waiting for him.
Our love is unconventional, that’s true. I know that many people will doubt the sincerity of our relationship. Question after question will be asked and eyebrows will be raised because of our circumstances. After all, our culture is anchored on the subdued and indirect form of courtship and relationships—love letters, romantic songs, and the like.
Many find it hard to accept others when they stray from the conventional path. Change and acceptance, honestly, are not our strongest points.
One thing is for certain, though: What we have is real. Still, the happiness, the overflowing love, and encompassing respect that we are feeling for one another, I sincerely hope that they will also blossom in your heart not just because it’s the season of love but also because love and genuinely caring for someone are things that will make this country a better place for each and every one of us.
Meanne Sanchez, 22, works at the National Housing Authority.
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