Is it better to find love online or in real life?

Is it better to find love online or in real life?

It’s URL vs. IRL.

by Maine Manalansan and Mags Ocampo
Art by Maine Manalansan


Quick! Valentine’s Day is here and you don’t have any solid plans yet. If you’re single and you’re ready to get that D (as in date, duh) then today might be a good time to play the field. Gone are the days when online dating entailed walking into a blind date with someone who might end up murdering you — or worse, someone who thinks that Parasite didn’t deserve the four Oscars — so take that into consideration. However, if online dating still makes you nervous, then there are also plenty of chances to find romance elsewhere — like say, that completely platonic “friend” you’ve always had mad vibes with. 

Take these two stories and read as research if you still don’t know how to proceed with your dating life. Whatever you decide, we’re all rooting for you.


Playing the field — on the ground

In the last two quarters of 2017 alone, I must have downloaded, deleted, and re-downloaded Bumble at least four times. That very same download-delete cycle would continue for as long as I remained single.

It’s not that I have anything against online dating — it’s just never really worked out for me. At first, it was exhilarating. It was fast. It was fun. But, as the days went on, it became repetitive and boring. It quickly became a source of instant validation rather than a tool for actually finding a partner.

I only ever met up with two matches: a dude that ended up being a total snoozefest to talk to despite a long list of exciting interests, and some guy that was great to hang out with but confessed during the meet-up that he was already seeing someone. Everyone else I ever matched with, it seemed, was only good for a night or two of text threads or an occasional DM slide.

Throughout the course of my singlehood, I came to prefer meeting people in real life over setting up dates via swipes. The handful of guys I actually took a long-term interest in (and by long-term, I really just mean going out with more than once or talking to for a span of months) were all people I met while I was out and about. They’re guys that I had to learn how to read and that I had to engage in banter with in the moment. There was no time to craft clever responses over a span of minutes or even hours — when you meet someone in real life, the first impression depends largely on a few minutes of conversation. The people you meet online aren’t always who they project themselves to be, but the people you meet at gigs and parties will always have no choice but to be who they are, to be as they came.

There’s a form of tension in dating IRL that you just don’t get from online dating. In online dating, the intentions are pretty clear from the get-go: We’re both here because we find each other attractive and we want to see where it goes. When you meet someone in real life, there’s the classic game of is-he-or-isn’t-he — there’s the process of gauging interest and of gathering the guts to ask someone out without being completely sure how he or she will react. There’s also an insane amount of flirting, a thrill best amplified by a sense of not knowing: not yet. — MO


Looking for love in the cloud

If you told me 10 years ago that I’d be in a relationship with someone I had met online, I’d tell you that you were nuts. I was still in a pretty long-term relationship with someone I had met in church and my only form of interaction with people online was through Tumblr.

After I broke up with my aforementioned ex-boyfriend, I told myself that I’d be focusing on building my career. And that I did, until 2017 when I decided to sign up on Bumble AND Tinder for “research purposes.” I was working for an online publication about moto and surf lifestyle and I had no way of learning about the culture because a) I’m not part of it, and b) I had no other friends who could walk me through it. 

So I swiped and swiped and went on a few dates with people who I hoped could possibly give me the insight that I needed. I made clear from the very beginning that I wasn’t there for hookups — because, you know, guys just assume things just because you’re on the platform. If I found someone who was down to meet up without any expectations, then I’d meet with them. Some of those dates were pretty insightful, and others were downright disastrous. But sometimes, I would find guys who were actually fun to talk to and, well, see a life with. 

I’ve been seeing my current boyfriend for two years now, and we’ve been making big plans for our futures. I’m looking back now and I’m thinking of other ways our worlds could have collided. Like for example, he went to the same med school as two of my high school friends. His brother’s girlfriend is also the cousin of a new colleague. He’s also related to the talent manager of my current boss. But who wants to do that level of networking gymnastics? Definitely not me. 

Online dating connects you with people who you wouldn’t normally talk to or bump into in real life. It provides you an overview of people who actually exist, and for someone who wants to befriend every person she meets, that’s a pretty sweet deal. I signed up on Bumble as a form of research, but I signed off with someone I didn’t even know I was searching for. — MM