How possible is it to find love online?

Trying to find The One – or just someone, really – online? Here’s what you need to know about the local digital dating scene.

Isabel Salvosa

10:35:52am June 19, 2018

7:31:44am July 19, 2018

Graphics by Alyssa Arizabal and Raffy de Guzman

Graphics by Alyssa Arizabal and Raffy de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – What are the odds that your soulmate is just one swipe away?

Filipinos spend an overwhelming 9 hours and 29 minutes each day glued to the internet, and a good chunk of this time might just be spent looking for love.

A survey conducted by The Nerve showed that more than half of Filipinos are open to meeting people online.

A NOTE ABOUT OUR SURVEYS. This survey was conducted by The Nerve, a data insights company, in partnership with Rappler. In our surveys, mathematically, we aim for at least a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error, representative of the population the survey can reach. Even then, there are limits to the veracity of the surveys we conduct and write stories about. These surveys are not incentivized and are given only to readers who visit the site when the survey is being served.

A NOTE ABOUT OUR SURVEYS. This survey was conducted by The Nerve, a data insights company, in partnership with Rappler. In our surveys, mathematically, we aim for at least a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error, representative of the population the survey can reach. Even then, there are limits to the veracity of the surveys we conduct and write stories about. These surveys are not incentivized and are given only to readers who visit the site when the survey is being served.

You’ll find more people on Tinder – by far the most popular dating app – followed by Grindr, OkCupid, eHarmony, Tagged, Meetme, Bumble, Match, and Badoo.

Why go online?

The internet allows you to expand your options outside your social circle, or snag dates if you’re too busy to meet people the traditional way.

It’s also easier for reserved personality types. Shannie, who is currently in a two-year relationship with an OkCupid match, found meeting people online less intimidating. “I can't just randomly talk to people in real life. Besides, you can screen the people before meeting them.”

But if you want love, don’t get too excited. Only 6.26% are using it to look for relationships. 8.56% are on it to score. A majority of 60% are wandering around with no clear objectives.

It’s still worth a try, though. Genuine connections have been created in the digital space. Users have found love even when they weren’t particularly looking for it. Or maybe they were, but felt too embarrassed to say so?

There's sill stigma attached to meeting online. You may get the side-eye for displaying vulnerability – on the internet, no less.

Certain apps and websites are also notorious hotbeds for cheating and unsolicited nudes. 

Sex workers use these apps too, and while there have been efforts to promote awareness, biases are still held against them.

There's news of Tinder meetups leading to sexual assaults, even Bundy-esque murders

No wonder there’s still some hesitation in admitting to having met one’s partner online. As they pass milestones in the relationship, however, couples begin developing enough confidence.

Online dating also gets a bad rap for the supposed emphasis on outer beauty. Users struggle to project themselves as ideally as possible, with the unfortunate result that complaints of catfishing abound.

Despite this, the survey finds that personality rates higher on the checklist than superficial traits. This means the perfect selfie can only take you so far. Stop flexing and focus on beefing up your bio!

Meetups are double-edged swords. If you want better chances, things can’t stay inside the chat box. When you take it offline, however, you’re taking a gamble.

There’s more than 50% chance that you’ll have your share of bad experiences, which, aside from catfishing, may include indecent proposals, ghosting, multi-level marketing scams – maybe even business rivalry if you’re in a Nora Ephron movie.

That’s enough internet today

Understandably, the risk turns off some people. 18.93% of Filipinos still believe in old-school, offline meet cutes.

This camp argues that online dating provides instant gratification, which may be emotionally unhealthy in the long run – ego boosts via compliments from strangers, serial hookups, or rebounds usurping the 3-month rule.

KC admits she downloaded Tinder in a misguided attempt to resolve self-esteem issues. Another downside is having only filtered photos and messages to perceive people by. “When I meet people offline, I get to use my intuition and have a feel if what they’re saying is true or not.”

For some, it’s programmed to make dating feel like shopping from a catalogue. Such a way of looking at love leads to burnout.

Dan says the whole swipe-message-repeat routine was a toxic game which made him cynical. “You’re creating an illusion of who you are and trying to live up to that. Plus it makes you a single option from hundreds of other people.”

It’s all in the game of love

But should you decide to go on dates, the odds are largely in your favor. 64.22% of meetups develop into relationships.

Plowing through the challenges of online dating increases the possibility of eventually finding someone.

In this sense, online isn’t that different from offline. Win some, lose some – but first, you gotta raise the stakes. Unless you’re #blessed, you won’t find anyone without putting yourself out there.

But don’t take these stats to mean that you should rely solely on apps. Be open to wherever you may find love. People who prefer to meet people online are 7% more likely to feel extremely dissatisfied with the experience, so pause before you blow some cash on Super Likes.

These apps and websites open new avenues for love, but whether you find it or not – online or off — is entirely up to you. – Rappler.com

Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story, each of the bars in the chart entitled "Duration of relationship vs confidence in saying they met online" did not add up to 100%. This error in data visualization has been corrected.