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i’m done | Opinion of the applicant

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

Finding love from dating apps was something I believed in since I was 14. I saw my older sister fall in love with someone she met on Tinder, who she is still with to this day. Their relationship was the basis of my belief that in this generation, love can be found on our phones just by swiping right. That a simple exchange of “hello” via chats could turn into something more.

Indeed, it’s an era that has moved away from the culture of blind dates, setups, and random encounters with people in certain places. Gone are the days when introductions started with an exchange of “hello” and phone numbers in common areas such as cafes, bars or even bookstores (which I still fantasize about).

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

But the story of my love life — the pattern that began in notifications and “eyeballs” — is no stranger to my generation. I heard my friends tell me stories about random guys they met from Bumble or Grindr. I know these circumstances because most of my relationships started with the most mundane act of saying “hi” or “ASL” through chatting.

Initially, meeting strangers on the Internet could be described by the simplest but broadest word: fun. There’s a certain appeal to meeting someone we have next to no idea about, other than a “personality” they’ve neatly curated in the app alongside a few well-chosen photos. That kind of allure certainly led us to believe that meeting potential relationships online is fun because it’s a blank slate that could potentially be filled in over time.

But if I have to be honest, it might not be totally the “fun” I was looking for in dating apps. Behind all the games I play and the pessimistic front, maybe I’m into dating apps because I hoped and still hope to find one thing: love.

But to say that I’m in dating apps to find love goes against my pessimistic generation who thinks admitting that looking for love is corny. Sounds a bit hopeless, I agree. It’s like I don’t have any agency to stay single. But is it so bad? Is it culturally transgressive to admit that I’m looking for love?

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

My love life, over the past three years, has followed the same trajectory: from strangers to friends; friends to lovers; and finally, again to strangers. Months were 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’s tiring (yes, I’m tired), I’m still adamant about admitting that I’ve been looking for love. Ending this dating fatigue, however, only begins when I finally uninstall these apps from my phone and unfamiliarize my fingers with swiping left and right. For real?

When it’s finally time to say, “I’m done,” I meant to break the pattern that always ended up hurting me.

But I’m not here to say that we should remove dating apps from our phones based on their flaws. I would be a hypocrite to say that dating apps are bad knowing that I have no regrets. At that time, I had a taste of love and happiness – perhaps temporary – equal to the amount of agony I felt at the end.

I may find myself reinstalling dating apps on my phone in the future, as I expect to make unbalanced decisions from time to time. But for now, I’m done. Maybe putting myself “out there” doesn’t necessarily mean being present in the dating app landscape. Maybe hoping to find love, somewhere else this time, is enough to say I’m “out there” in the dating pool.

After all, I’m not done finding love.

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


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