Swipe Right: Filipino Modern Dating Etiquette

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Modern Filipino dating can be quite a puzzle. The dating scene definitely has evolved in recent years, with the emergence of dating apps and people becoming more open to casual dating.

But for a conservative country like the Philippines, the shift has not been smooth. A lot of people still regard the modern dating culture with a look of disapproval on their faces.

Customary Courting Culture

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Every modern Filipina is familiar with the age-old image of Maria Clara. Traditional beliefs dictate that women submit to this concept, which is at best, conservative and at worst, sexist. Filipinos used to (and some still do) cling to this notion that men should be the ones to pursue women. Also, Filipinos didn’t “date” per se. Men courted women, or as we call it, ligaw.

This old-fashioned belief imposed that the female’s role in a heterosexual relationship is to sit still, be pretty, and wait for a man to chase her. Traditional courting included customs like the man asking for the lady’s parents’ permission, only having dates in the girl’s house and in the presence of family members, and others.

Women weren’t allowed to be too direct with expressing their feelings. There even used to be a bygone system of flirting with the abaniko that ladies used to communicate their interest, because God forbid that women took control of their lives, be their own person, and freely vocalize and assert their desires, right?

Many still believe that the pangliligaw culture should persist. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stick to the old customs, but there is a difference between being old-fashioned and having a backward mindset. Just because a girl makes the first move doesn’t mean she’s desperate or she’s “easy.” It just means that she’s being true to her feelings and taking a step to get what she wants. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Just like what my president – Nadine Lustre – said, “Guys, it’s [2019].”

Love in the Time of Tinder

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I only speak facts.

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Speaking for my generation, I feel like casual dating is more prevalent than traditional courting in our age group. Gen Ys, or millennials, are more open to flings, no-label relationships, and other unconventional arrangements, such as friends-with-benefits, asexual, May to December relationships, open relationships, and the like. Again, there’s nothing wrong with these arrangements, as long as it’s consensual with both parties.

Yes, there is plenty of fish in the sea. But the combination of traditional, conservative customs and more progressive mindsets make the waters a little hard to navigate. Add to that the new hurdles that modern dating has brought:  f@#k boys, soft boys, and ghosters. Enter Tinder and Bumble, and the dating scene got even messier. Because the dynamics of dating changed, the rules changed as well.

Admittedly, online dating is not for everyone. Personally, I haven’t tried any of the dating apps. So I asked my mutuals on Twitter what they think is the basic etiquette for playing the game of love online.

No unsolicited nudes

It should go without saying that if they didn’t ask for it in the first place, then there should be no reason for you to send lewd photos. So to the men who are inclined to do so: keep the dick pics to yourself. Nobody wants that. And that’s actually borderline (if not already) sexual harassment.

This also goes out to women, of course. Never assume that a complete stranger would want to receive unsolicited, exposed photos of you. Sending people nudes will not convince them to like you.

Admit when you’re not interested

In this house, we do not stand ghosters, save for a few exemptions when ghosting becomes necessary. But the general rule is that if you already went out on a couple of dates and realized that you don’t want to spend any more time with that person, then have the decency to say so. Again, this is the era of staying true to your feelings. Have the courtesy to not leave someone hanging because I’m sure it would hurt if the tables were turned.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t lead someone on. Playing with someone’s feelings, giving them mixed signals, and taking advantage of someone who’s into you do not make you look desirable.

Don’t be a creep

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Tbh this story should be made into a movie.

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This is a broad rule but basically, don’t do anything that would make the other person feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you two are practically strangers to each other, so you should keep a sociable distance from them. To illustrate, a coworker told me the story of how a guy she matched with would go to her dorm and waited outside for her, just  to pressure her into meeting up in person. Talk about a Joe Goldberg wannabe!

If you two are already in a relationship, this action can be considered acceptable. But if you barely know each other, this is a big red flag because it shows that you don’t have any respect for his or her personal space.

Also, if a person didn’t match with you on Tinder or Bumble, don’t search for the person on other social media channels. The fact that you two didn’t match is already a sign that he or she isn’t interested. Don’t send a message on Facebook, IG, or Twitter, even if all it says is a seemingly innocent “Hi, saw you on Tinder,” because that also gives off major stalker vibes.

No to catfishing

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Lastly, don’t catfish, even if you’re just doing it for fun. This is a form of manipulation, since you’re making the other person believe you’re someone you’re not. Also, think about the person whose photos you’re using. That’s borderline identity theft, sis. You wouldn’t feel comfortable when someone poses as you on social media, too, would you?

Taking your chance in online dating is not something to be ashamed of. I have friends who successfully met their significant others on Tinder. But be sure to remember your manners when looking for potential beaus online. Just because people are more open and, dare I say, progressive today doesn’t give you the permission to step out of line and violate people’s personal space.

If you’re still unsure about how you should act in the age of modern dating, the golden rule is: don’t be an asshole.

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