Love at first swipe: stories of online strangers-turned-spouses

By Stephanie Sevillano

February 14, 2024, 10:49 pm

<p><strong>LOVE AT FIRST SWIPE</strong>. Gerelyn Soleta-Galvan (left) and Ian Daniel Galvan tie the knot on Dec. 12, 2020, years after their memorable encounter on an online dating application. The two shared their promising love story after they "swiped right" and became a "perfect match."<em> (Photo courtesy of the Galvan couple) </em></p>

LOVE AT FIRST SWIPE. Gerelyn Soleta-Galvan (left) and Ian Daniel Galvan tie the knot on Dec. 12, 2020, years after their memorable encounter on an online dating application. The two shared their promising love story after they "swiped right" and became a "perfect match." (Photo courtesy of the Galvan couple) 

MANILA – Navigating love through online dating platforms in the digital age poses both ease and excitement.

Among the frequently used online dating applications for Filipinos is Tinder, where users may easily find their "perfect match" by swiping right.

Tinder, developed in the early 2010s, became the leading dating app used by most Filipinos aged 16 to 54, according to Statista Research Department in February 2022.

Ian Daniel Galvan, 31, an IT support staff, recalled trying the app five years ago as part of a romantic bandwagon.

"Out of curiosity, sinubukan ko rin mag-tinder kasi nung time na yan sikat siya (I tried Tinder [an online dating application] because at that time it was popular)," he told the Philippine News Agency.

Stumbling upon an interesting prospect, who's a year younger than him, Ian did not hesitate to "swipe right."

Likewise, Gerelyn Soleta-Galvan, 30, an office administration staff, said she did the same move, which made them a "match."

"We did not immediately meet at first, we chatted for a while, and then we continued on Facebook for several months, getting to know each other about likes and dislikes. At first, my purpose was just to have an online friend," she said.

Both Ian and Gerelyn felt comfortable with each other as they shared mutual interests and values.

"Yung sa cosplay topic kami nag-click, siya kasi nagco-cosplay na, ako naman sa bahay lang nagco-cosplay. First meetup sa isang cosplay event (We clicked because of cosplay. He was already doing cosplay, while I was just trying it at home. Our first meetup was during a cosplay event)," Gerelyn said. 

Gerelyn and Ian attending a cosplay event together (Photo courtesy: Galvan couple) 

They also happened to have the same spiritual beliefs, she added.

Ian disclosed that falling in love with her was such an easy feat because of her unique qualities.

"Nung nag-she-share siya about the gospel, mas lalo akong humanga sa kanya kasi nowadays napaka bihira na lang ang babaeng nagshe-share ng gospel (I adored her more when she started sharing the gospel. It's very rare for women to share the gospel nowadays)," he said.

Despite their pleasant encounter, Ian mentioned that online dating still has its fair share of undeniable risks as love scams, ghosting, and hacking continue to persist.

To assure her safety, Ian recalled presenting his identification cards to Gerelyn for the reference of her parents.

For Gerelyn, it was always best to exercise caution.

"Always be vigilant, do a background check. If you're gonna meet up, always do it in a crowd and don't go elsewhere. It's better if you have company when meeting up," she added.

Fortunately, both Ian and Gerelyn were spared from ill experiences as the app paved the way for them to find their "real love."

"Napaka-imposible makahanap ng (It's so impossible to find) true love online just like finding a precious diamond or gem in the desert. God is in control of everything, kaya pala hindi ako magka-jowa noon kasi (maybe that's why I could not have a girlfriend because) I'm asking God for a trophy wife. Instead, He gave me a precious gem," Ian added.

"It's true, there's true love in online dating. I'm very blessed kasi binigyan ako ni God ng asawa na never naging sakit ng ulo. I always pray na magkasama tayo hanggang sa pagtanda (that God gave me a husband who's not giving me a headache. I always pray to grow old with you)," Gerelyn said.

To date, the two have been enjoying each other's company as husband and wife for three years now.

Music program 

Love sometimes happens even without the benefit of common friends or acquaintances willing to play Cupid.

This was the case of Jeca Marie A. Curammeng, 31, a resident of Malabon City, who met her husband Ian Jasper in 2011 in a "music channel program" where young people looking for new friends, partners, or even lovers, are given an opportunity to air their cellphone numbers free of charge.

She admitted to texting her future husband first and this series of messages eventually led them to connect via Facebook. 

Jasper Ian and Jeca Marie with their children (Contributed photo)

At the time, Jeca Marie was only 18 and studying to be a teacher while her future husband was a newly graduated civil engineer on his first job.

"We used Facebook's messenger and call features to communicate since he was working in various construction sites in different provinces at the time," Jeca Marie recounted.

She also admitted that this type of relationship was tiring at first due to its unconventional nature.

Despite limitations posed by this kind of courting, the love and relationship between the two grew stronger until they both decided it was time to tie the knot on Aug. 8, 2015.

The couple now have two children, Sophia, 8, and Stephen, 14 months, and are seemingly on their way to building a bright future for themselves. (With Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)