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Love in the time of technology

Love is all around. And so is the internet. And in the 21st century, NT BUZZ finds, the net often plays cupid

ANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

Technology has opened many doors for us, especially when it comes to love. Men and women, all over the world, are taking to the internet to meet potential partners and find romance – and Goans are no different.

For Arpora-based Marie Fernandes it was the social media site, Orkut, hugely popular around 2007, that played matchmaker and led her to her future husband. “He sent me a random friend request on Orkut and I accepted it only because we had a mutual friend. We got chatting about general stuff such as location, family, work, likes and dislikes, and subsequently moved to Gtalk (Google Talk) for lengthier chats. We would keep in touch like this everyday till the time we met in person a few months later,” she reveals.

“When we finally did meet, I was kind of relieved that he was, in fact, true to the impression he had given me about himself during our interactions online. The only difference was that he was shorter than I’d expected him to be. I was hung up about it for a while but later realised that it really didn’t matter,” she adds.

Ask her whether she knew they would end up together and she says: “No, I’d never imagine we’d end up together, although I must admit that we hit it off instantly. I don’t think I would dare begin a relationship now the way I’d done all those years ago – considering how suspect several online romances turn out to be – but I guess he and I were just lucky.” The couple courted for three years and have been married for nine years now.

And while many believe that technology is killing courtship, for many young couples, it is, in fact, redefining what romance looks like. Samidha J reveals that although she first noticed her significant other in her 12th grade coaching class from afar, it was on Facebook where they first interacted.

“I remember thinking he was cute and a year later found him on Facebook. I messaged him asking if he remembered me from coaching class. He said he didn’t, but that we could be friends now,” she says, adding: “We chatted for four hours that first night online, exchanged numbers and there was an instant connection. And while we didn’t see any romantic future then, we promised to stay in touch because of how much we enjoyed the conversation.”

The 21-year-old final year student shares: “We continued chatting with each other and were honestly just friends initially. But after six months, I realised that maybe this could be more. I asked if he liked me and he did. We then met for real after a week or so and it was awkward at first because we just kept staring and smiling at each other. But we got comfortable a few minutes in and then stayed together! It was wonderful.”

Architect-interior designer Devon D’Souza caught the attention of his significant other by sliding into her DMs (direct messages). “Our first interaction online was while I was interning in Italy. It’s a funny story. I’d be awake over there scrolling through Instagram and considering the time difference, everybody in Goa was asleep.” One night, he shares, he came across Myla’s profile. “I replied to a stop-motion video that she had posted and that was the beginning of a roller-coaster of a ride,” he reveals.

“We texted for about six months, before we finally met when I returned to Goa. I remember texting my best friend as soon as I headed home about how it was so weird that we were so comfortable with each other; that it felt like we had been hanging out since we were kids,” he says.

“When we first started speaking online, I didn’t ever dream that we’d end up being together it was definitely not love at first text. I was just super amused that a girl that was as cute as her, was interested in even talking to me,” he adds.

For Cara Shrivastava from Miramar, it was a match made on Tinder. Speaking about their first interaction on the popular dating app, she says: “There was an equal amount of effort put in from his side to keep the conversation going about basic details and our interests, etc. He asked me out fairly quickly, and I said yes.”

Currently based in Melbourne, she reveals that she was worried that their offline interaction would be “super awkward”. “Somehow, we ended up in the same tram, standing about five feet from each other. I was with a friend, hyperventilating about this date, while debating out loud if it was too late to cancel. I only noticed it was him right when our stop came up and we both got off. So, that made for an interesting icebreaker,” she says.

Did they initially know that they would eventually end up together? “No, we still laugh about this! His profile was initially going to be swiped left on. I swiped right because his job description said firefighter (this turned out to be a lie) which I thought would be a fun date story down the line. But hey, here we are a year later and it has been amazing,” she says.

Meanwhile, Joanne Cardoso from Mapusa has WhatsApp to thank for helping her meet her soulmate. “We were to be bridesmaid and best man at a wedding and were added to a WhatsApp group, conversing only within that group – until eventually he sent me a private message to wish me a happy new year,” she shares.

And while meeting in real life will always be essential, the concept of romance has evolved to the point where weeks of instant messaging can plant the seeds of romance. “We then began to speak to each other often, getting to know each other better, helping each other through life’s struggles and just enjoying each other’s company – until we realised we were developing feelings for each other. When we did however admit this to each other, then came the awkward part of having to tell the family that we liked each other even though we hadn’t even met yet. The family was surprised but wished us well.”

Meeting him in person for the first time was wonderful, she says. “He was so much more than I imagined and every day I grow to love him even more,” she adds. “I became his girlfriend and in a couple of months his fiancée.” The couple exchanged vows last July and are now expecting. “It’s been about four years since we joined that WhatsApp group. People fall in love in different sorts of ways, ours just started online,” she says.

Paging an expert

Citing a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that revealed that from the year 2017 onwards, up to 39 per cent of couples surveyed found their partners online, psychologist at Silver Linings: Guidance and Counselling Centre, Margao, Shobhika Jaju says that in the age of social media, clearly finding one’s life partner online is not going to be a rarity. Instead, it will be a trend. “As a mental health professional, I would say that this has both pros and cons. While there is no harm in connecting with people online, it is advisable to be extra cautious while doing so. And if you are feeling emotionally inclined to someone you have only met online, schedule a face-to-face meeting at the earliest possible, before you dive deep into the online relationship. Because, what is seen online is often not true.”

Jaju adds that she has worked with couples who have met online and have a happy married life and even those clients, who had their heart break because of an online relationship.

“So yes, love can be found online but perhaps, with a pinch of salt,” she says.

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