when choices become a non-choice: dating in Manila

Doodles from New York 2014 (16)
I wrote this a month ago. My circumstances have changed since then (aha!), but it continues to amaze me how things can make a 180 degree turn in an instant.  Everyday, anything (and everything) can happen.

So much to be thankful for, friends. Let’s be blessed. 🙂


I remember a rule I learned in sales early on–make the choice for your customer. When you flood a client with options, it is easy to overwhelm him or her into paralysis, and you end up with no sale.

I’m single, in my thirties, and I live in Manila.

Since March I’ve been engaging the wonderful world of online dating, and in just a few months I’ve turned around years of drought or selective raindrops in my love life, to a downpour. The floodgates have opened, mightily, and I am grateful for the abundance. I’ve had to learn to embrace the idea of dating multiple men at the same time, of investing time and energy and opening up authentically to each match but without getting attached.  Every new encounter was also an encounter with myself–I got to know things I liked and didn’t like.  My online profile was written and rewritten countless times, and checking in on new matches became my everyday past time.

It was fun and genuinely surprising to meet interesting men. Initially even just the validation that they do exist–above-decent, desirable men!–was enough cause for celebration, but eventually it helped to get friends on the dating boat as well.  Exchanging stories on our latest dates fed our drive to keep on going.

It came to the point that I found myself being careful though, about getting caught up in the choices. I am a geek, and when I get started on any research, I do not get satisfied until I do a comprehensive swipe.  We’ve been brainwashed since childhood that it’s good to “collect and select”, but I didn’t want this to come to the point of chasing after the idea of dating, because I haven’t collected enough.  What is enough to begin with?

Because dating has become borderless, there is now an inexhaustible supply of single men, and the temptation to try every jellybean flavor is real and actionable. Choices that were close to none before are now waiting in line, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.  You have a match! was a sculpture I did right when I began online dating, and even then, I was already asking, “does it enable or disable relationships?”

It’s a great time to be reassessing this now.

A week ago I decided to delete my online profiles. I feel strangely empowered by having nipped in the bud this fascination with all the fishes in the sea, not because I finally got myself a prize catch, but because I’m done fishing.  I’ve seen what’s out there, or more precisely, what it’s like out there, to be actively seeking, and now I want to go back to land and maybe graze for a while. I want to slow down, to the permanence of a solid foundation, a real investment for the long haul. There is something about old school wooing and dating that I still find charming, as in handwritten love letters and chance encounters.  I was taken with the promise of efficiency of filtered dates and the broad range of matches outside the geographic confines of Manila, but at the end of the day, I succumb to the hope for a real man, within reach.