These dating app success stories prove that there can be love at first swipe
There used to be a time when dating apps were exciting.
Blame it on the advent of big tech. 10 years ago, just like on-call car rides and app-based food delivery, we were swept away by just how easy and convenient dating could become. The idea of choosing potential mates and chatting with cute matches who are very much our type—remember just how thrilling it used to be?
Fast-forward to the present day, and the novelty has definitely faded. Today, opening your dating app of choice almost feels like a chore. Now that it’s become our generation’s primary mode of dating, the act of swiping left or right now holds less promise than it once did. We’ve all cycled through the same set of matches over the years, and the frustration can make you question: “Is my future SO really out here?”
But before you give up on online dating, remember that true love has an annoying tendency to find you when you least expect it. Ahead, we speak with four couples who met on the apps and are still going strong; tactile proof that you can find your true love with just one swipe.
“We met on Tinder”
Richard, (28) and Trish (27)
Year they met: 2016
When dating apps first came out, they gave introverts an easier way to put themselves out there back when meeting prospects in person at bars or clubs was the norm. “I don't like going to clubs. I wasn't a party girl,” shares Trish. “So I was like, ‘Okay, Tinder might be an easier option [for me].'”
“It took away the hassle of trying to meet new people, you know, like going out and awkwardly trying to approach somebody and test the waters,” adds Richard. “With dating apps, instantly you just know if they like you or not.”
As with most couples, Richard and Trish were instantly attracted to each other’s photos. “She's super my type,” Richard shares. “Her profile had this one photo outdoors where she was sitting smiling, and I was like, ‘Wow. What a great smile.’”
“I liked his beard and the scruff that he had, and then I saw his curls. I freakin' love his curls,” gushes Trish. “I distinctly remember he was wearing a rolled-up maroon shirt in his photo.”
But beyond the physical, the two quickly found that they had several common interests. “We instantly talked about cartoons. That's what I remember,” shares Richard. Meanwhile, Trish adds: “I saw that he was very into comics, and I liked that. Most guys would just post their ab pics and photos of them working out.”
The two instantly clicked, but it was months until they went on their first date, mostly due to Trish’s NBSB-induced dating anxiety. She explains, “I went to a Catholic all-girls school. My mom would even make me bring a chaperone on dates! So I had no idea how to date.”
And so she did bring a chaperone, a male friend, to her first date with Richard at a mall near her university. “I wanted to be safe just in case he was, I don’t know, a serial killer,” quips Trish. “It’s funny because Richard arrived and he hit it off with my friend! They were talking about comics, and internally I was like ‘Ok, can you leave?’”
Despite this, Richard’s kind and caring nature stood out to Trish. “He told me that [he would] bring me back to campus. At first, I thought he had a car, but he was game to walk with me going back,” she shares. “And I remember it started to rain, and he brought out an umbrella and covered me! It stuck with me, and I told my friends all about it when I got back.”
Time passed by, and soon the two found themselves falling for each other. “I was already all-in and all in the heavens,” says Trish. “I wanted to say ‘I love you,' but I didn't wanna be the first. So I would make parinig na, ‘You know, if you say it to me, I'd say it back.' Ang bagal, eh (It was taking too long)!”
“I believe love is not a feeling, and I just wanted to be sure,” Richard chimes in. “I was trying to be logical and wait for the honeymoon phase to pass.”
“I'm the opposite, I'm all feeling,” retorts Trish. “I've never felt that comfortable or safe with any other person. I really felt like this is it.”
After the I-love-yous were exchanged, the two credit Tinder for enabling them to find each other “With our circles, I don't think we would have met if it weren't for a dating app,” says Trish. Richard agrees: “I can't imagine being with anyone else but her, and there's no other way I would have met her if it weren't for Tinder.”
Both advocate those on dating apps to forego the rush. “As someone who was NBSB, you can take your time,” shares Trish. “When I finally took my time and processed my feelings, that's when it finally worked out. It's better to go at your own pace.”
“Some people may find the love of their life quicker than others, and some may take a little longer,” Richard adds. “But if you just go with the flow, I believe if your intentions are good, things will just fall into place.”
“We met on Grindr”
Dom (28) and Michael (26)
Year they met: 2016
Yes, you read that right; we said Grindr. Dom and Michael were also pleasantly surprised to find each other in an app better known for one-night stands and temporary hookups.
Complicating matters is how Grindr tends to be a cruel place for its users, especially those who don’t necessarily measure up to the gay male beauty ideal. “I had very minimal interactions with people from [Grindr], mainly because I felt like I did not belong to the demographics that it catered to,” says Dom. “You could really feel the pressure to conform to certain stereotypes, and most interactions felt largely impersonal,” adds Michael.
Despite both not having any profile photos, the two found each other with Dom making the first move. “My profile [said]: Let's not put looks up on the pedestal,” he says. “And [I was happy] he felt the same way!” Michael answers: “What really drew me in was how well-spoken he was.”
Dom’s charm and way with words paid off, and the two met that same night in a crowded college bar along Katipunan. They hit it off immediately, and it was quite literally love at first sight. Five nights after their first date, they made it official—after all, when you know, you know.
“He was talking to his mom, then he said he was out with a friend,” shares Dom. “After the call, I asked ‘Friend lang (Just a friend)?’ And he replied: ‘Okay, boyfriend.’ It was a spur-of-the-moment question, but I'm happy I took the leap.”
According to Michael, it was the little things that made him fall for Dom. “[He would buy me] chicken nuggets while I was out late working on org stuff, and would call [me] every night before bed….He’s one of the kindest, wisest and most hard-working people I’ve ever met.”
“I have been a hopeless romantic for the longest time, and [Michael] coming into my life left like a chance that I couldn't pass up on,” gushes Dom. “Instantly, I knew that we both made each other feel special.”
As with any relationship, Dom and Michael’s journey had its share of ups and downs. But when asked how they were able to keep their relationship strong for seven years, they agree that it all boils down to commitment. “Falling in love happens by chance, but staying in love will always be a choice,” says Dom. “We are still together because we choose to be. We love each other so much that we choose to be together.”
And so in a gay hookup app of all places, right when they least expected it, Dom and Michael found true love. “My friends would even refer to me as a Grindrella,” chuckles Dom. “I understand people would usually think we wouldn't last, but I think we proved them wrong.”
“Throughout the good and the bad, I can’t picture having gone through it with anyone else,” adds Michael.
“We met IRL…then on Bumble”
Cai (26) and Zar (25)
Year they met: 2019
Sometimes, dating apps don’t lead you to meet new prospects—rather, it redirects you to a person in your life who might be worth considering.
This was the case for Cai and Zar, who first met each other briefly in person back in 2019. At that point, they were both in relationships with other people.
Fast-forward to 2020, and they both found themselves newly single, healing from a breakup, and ready to meet someone new. They both turned to Bumble, but the pickings were slim. “There would be some fun people here and there, but no one I could totally connect and be real with,” says Cai.
Thankfully, they both encountered each other on the app, swiped right and matched. “Her profile said a lot of interesting things about herself that got me hooked, and she seemed like a really authentic person,” recalls Zar. “But prior to this, I already met her in person. So I guess that’s what made me really swipe right.”
After a two-week talking stage filled with engaging video calls and flirty texts, Cai and Zar met again in person. “She tried to surprise me at my house [by] pretending to be flower delivery, but ended up driving to the wrong house,” laughs Cai. “So I had to hike up the hill to find her.”
They headed to the village park, where they had a picnic and made it a point to bond. “We just talked about ourselves, and tried to get to know more about each other and really connect,” remembers Zar. “We also played [the card game] We’re Not Really Strangers, and we became vulnerable with each other right away.”
Their relationship eventually began to fall into place, but Cai credits this to their mutual consistency. She explains, “We would do Sunday check-ins from the get-go. It started off as a way to check if we were still interested in one another, but it also made me realize that someone as amazing and fun-loving as Zar would be down to have a real, honest relationship—and to put in the work to prove it.”
“We both came from [our own] breakups, so we really both tried as much as possible to communicate and to not expect too much from each other,” adds Zar.
But over time, Cai and Zar found safe spaces in their Sunday check-ins—so much so that one Sunday, the L-word popped up. “Eventually, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves and we’d slip and say ‘I love—’ but then [we’d] stop ourselves from saying it,” laughs Zar. “Our body has this reflex when we’re so comfortable [with] spending so much time with someone, and it recognizes when we’re safe and feel loved. [The next time] we checked in on each other again, we told each other ‘I love you.’”
For Cai, it was timing and maturity that were the keys to finding love with Zar. “It’s a testament to the right time and the right headspace,” she says. “We were both broken up with our exes when we met again, and we were more attuned to ourselves and a little bit wiser than we once were. We also knew what we wanted, and how we acted and communicated reflected that.”
Zar agrees, adding that working on yourself is so important when putting yourself out there. “If you find it frustrating to find someone on a dating app or even to date in general, check on yourself first. Maybe you need to spend more time trying to get to know yourself first.”
“After all, love comes in when you least expect it,” she adds.
“We met on Bumble”
Jillian (25) and Neil (31)
Year they met: 2019
After being on dating apps for a while, the act of swiping left or right can get tiresome. So we ask: What was your perception of dating apps before swiping right on each other?
“At first, parang masaya siya,” shares Neil. “Pero eventually, after a while may fatigue din. And nag-meet kami ni Jill nung panahon na pagod na ako sa Bumble.”
(“At first, it was fun,” shares Neil. “But eventually, after a while fatigue sets in. And I met Jill right when I was kinda done with Bumble.”)
“Baliktad naman ako; bago lang kasi ako sa Bumble n’on,” says Jill. “So sakto nung na-download ko ‘yung app, nakita ko si Neil and excited pa ako! Sinabi ko nga sa kanya at first, ‘Uy paano ba ‘to? Turuan mo nga ako mag-Bumble.’”
(“I was the opposite; I was new to Bumble at the time,” says Jill. “So when I downloaded the app, I saw Neil immediately and was very excited! I even joked, ‘How does this work, you should teach me how to use Bumble.’”)
The two were immediately attracted to how, well, weird and interesting the other’s profile was. “Actually ang weird ng profile ni Neil—when you scroll down, meron siyang photo na drenched siya in white foam,” shares Jill. “As in, mukha siyang binuhusan ng cake. I liked that he's the kind of person who doesn't take himself seriously. Eh, ganun ako.”
(“Actually Neil’s profile is very weird—when you scroll down, he had a photo where he was drenched in white foam,” shares Jill. “As in, it looked like someone threw a cake on him. I liked that he's the kind of person who doesn't take himself seriously. Just like I am.”)
Neil laughs, revealing he shares the same memory. “‘Yung photos na meron siya, very normal. May pa-photoshoot, may pa-travel, may pa-inom ng kape,” he says. “Pero may isang linya dun na nakalimutan ko na pero tawang-tawa ako. So ayun, swipe right.”
(“Her photos were very normal. There were posed photos, travel photos, photos of her drinking coffee,” he says. “But she wrote one line in her profile that I forgot but made me laugh so hard. So there, I swiped right.”)
After matching, the two immediately bonded over their shared music interests, particularly their love for singer-songwriter Jacob Collier. “Never ko nakita siya sa mga top artists ng mga iba kong matches, so ang cool n’un (I never saw Jacob Collier in the top artists of my other matches, so I found it really cool),” says Neil.
After two days of talking on Bumble non-stop, the two made plans to move to IG, where the conversation eventually died down. But although they stopped talking, they would still see each other’s stories from time to time.
One Friday night with no plans, Neil decided to invite Jill for a night out. “Nakita ko lang siya sa stories,” he remembers. “So minessage ko siya: ‘Uy, baka libre ka, baka pwede tayong uminom?'”
(“I saw her Instagram stories,” he remembers. “So I messaged her: ‘Hey, are you free, maybe we can go out for a drink?’”)
Jill said yes. “Malapit lang siya sa work ko, eh, so ayun nag-ok ako,” she shares. “Naalala ko pa, una kong sinabi kay Neil in person was: ‘Ikaw ba ‘yung pangit na kausap ko?'”
(“The place Neil suggested was near my office, so I said yes,” she shares. “I remember the first thing I said when I met him was: ‘Are you the ugly guy I’ve been speaking to?’”)
Neil laughs. “Na-confirm nga kung ano ang personality niya sa Bumble (It just confirmed her fun personality from Bumble).” He remembers being thoroughly amused by Jill the whole night. “May mga baon siya na joke, nakasulat siya tapos i-re-recite niya sa akin (She had a list of jokes, it was written down and she would recite them to me).”
Making this great first date even more memorable was a chance encounter with a certain former child celebrity star. Without going into details, it proved to be a hilarious story that further brought Jill and Neil closer together.
“Buong gabi, ‘yun lang pinag-uusapan namin,” recalls Jill. “And then for three straight days, magkasama na kami. Dun na kami nagkakilala. Tapos sa third day, sinabi na ni Neil na ‘Wala na akong ibang i-de-date kundi ikaw.’ Tapos sabi ko, ‘Ako rin.’”
(“The whole night, we kept talking about our celebrity encounter,” recalls Jill. “And then for three straight days, we were inseparable. That’s when we really got to know each other. And on the third day, Neil said, ‘I’m not gonna date anyone else but you.’ I said, ‘Me, too.’”)
For Jill, it was realizing just how safe she felt with Neil that made her fall for him. “Never ako naka-feel ng threatening aura or parang pinipilit ako sa kanya (I never felt threatened or forced to be anything else when I’m with him),” she says. “Parang pwede akong maging ako (I’m free to be myself).”
The two recognize that finding and connecting with each other on Bumble isn’t the norm. “Nagkukwento rin ang mga friends ko kung ga'no kahirap mag-date,” shares Jill. “Tapos na-realize ko na ang hirap talaga makahanap ng taong swak sa’yo, like sa values mo at sa humor mo, sa estado mo sa buhay at sa pangarap mo. Ang daming factors na kailangang i-consider. So ang swerte ko.”
(“My friends would share how hard it was to date,” shares Jill. “And I realized how hard it was to find someone who just fit in with your life, like with your values and humor, your place in life and your dreams. There are so many factors to consider. So I feel really lucky.”)
Three years after they met, Jill and Neil hit a relationship core memory as they watched Jacob Collier, the artist that first brought them together, live in Manila. “Ang saya nga ng makita siya ng live (It was great to see him live),” recalls Jill wistfully. “Kasi siya nga ang dahilan kung bakit kami unang nag-usap (Because really, he brought Neil and I together).”
Before you give app (pun intended) on online dating, consider this: when you stop chasing it, love may just come around your corner, or as the next dating profile on your feed. Stop feeling the rush to find someone, and just keep swiping!
Words Jer Capacillo
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver