Viet Nam News
by Mai Hiên
Lê Kiều from the Central Highlands Province of Đắk Lắk never thought she would fall in love with someone through social media.
One day in August 2017, Kiều posted a status on a Facebook fanpage saying she felt sad as she couldn’t find a job after graduating from medical university. Her words attracted messages of sympathy from many people, including 31-year-old Nguyễn Hùng from Vùng Tàu City. Kiều and Hùng are not friends but are members of the Knowledge Sharing Club (KSC) fanpage.
Hùng sent Kiều a friend request and she accepted. Then, he sent messages to her every day. The more they chatted, the more they found things in common.
After several weeks, they decided to meet each other offline even though they lived 400km apart. Returning from the first face-to-face meeting, the pair spoke even more.
A month later, Hùng confessed his love and asked Kiều to be his girlfriend. Although she ignored his request, Hùng continued to pester his paramour for two weeks until she finally relented.
The couple got married in June last year, after knowing each other for seven months.
Kiều and Hùng are among a growing number of people who have succeeded in finding their other halves through social media or dating apps.
Increasingly busy and eternally connected, many young men and women are choosing to meet their significant others through dating apps instead of through mutual friends or relatives.
Many complain they are too busy to waste time meeting people. With just a phone and a network connection, they can find love anytime and anywhere.
Nguyễn Hoài Nam from the northern Nam Định Province is one example.
After a day at work or on holiday, instead of going out to meet friends, Nam chats with virtual friends.
Nam uses this as an outlet for his dissatisfaction and frustration.
He said his life was more interesting than his peers because through conversation, he found someone who would listen and console him.
Is the traditional search for love out-of-date or does online dating have its own attraction?
It is clear that online dating has soared in popularity around the world, including in Việt Nam.
Việt Nam was placed 16th among countries with the highest number of internet users, with 60 per cent of its population connected last year, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Figures released by the ministry showed that on average, a Vietnamese citizen spent seven hours per day online. As many as 60 million people used Facebook in the country, each for an average time of 3.55 hours per day.
YmeetMe, an online dating site, announced in late November that the number of Vietnamese users had reached 1 million, while vietnamcupid.com said it had attracted more than 800 members.
A survey conducted by news.zing.vn of 100 single people aged 18-25 in HCM City showed 72 per cent of them were using dating apps, saying they wanted to build a serious relationship through virtual means. The remaining 28 per cent were curious about the apps.
About 43 per cent of users were disappointed because they could not find suitable partners on dating apps and 28 per cent said it was impossible to build a serious relationship on apps, according to the survey.
According to psychologists, when finding lovers through traditional methods, people are easily influenced by friends, colleagues and relatives. Sometimes, new relationships are destroyed because of this attention.
On the contrary, when you find the right partner online both of you are in a separate space which consists of just two people. In this way, they have freedom of conversation, freedom of exchange, and avoid embarrassment and other factors.
Nguyễn Thu Lan, a 29-year-old girl from Hà Nội’s Thanh Xuân District, said she was comfortable with online dating.
“It is difficult to express yourself in person, especially declaring one’s love face-to-face,” she said.
“I think it will hurt me less if someone turns me down when I declare my love for him online.”
When searching for lovers online, young people have a lot of time to learn about the person they are looking for.
Talking is the key to helping them and their potential partners get to know each other. It helps form the basis of a healthy relationship. By the time they meet, the two people will already know each other very well.
“Online dating or making friends through social media opens a wider world, allowing people to meet potential partners from different regions,” Khuất Thu Hồng, director of the Institute for Social Development Studies told Việt Nam News.
However, she also said people must be aware of dishonesty.
People are more likely to cheat in the virtual world, she said, adding that internet users can mislead others with fancy words in online conversation.
Hồng’s warnings reminded me of the story of Nguyễn Thu Hương (not her real name), a human trafficking victim I met two years ago at a shelter in Hà Nội.
After dropping out of school, Hương worked at a restaurant in Hòa Bình Province – her hometown. One day, a Facebook friend invited her to visit Hà Nội. They then took a coach to the northern border province of Lạng Sơn. They walked to a remote house late at night. Her new friend asked her to wait for him while he went out to buy some food. It was only when he never came back, did Hương know that she had been trafficked.
She became the wife of a Chinese man for about two months before escaping back to Việt Nam alone.
Hồng said it was necessary to find out about your online friends before embarking on any serious relationships.
Hồng suggested that people should speak to their partners on the phone or try and find out more information about them.
Psychologist Bùi Hồng Quân said people should bear in minds that online dating was just the beginning of the relationship.
“Maintaining and developing that relationship requires time and effort of the individual. Face-to-face meetings and expressions of love in real life are indispensable. If the relationship is only associated with cyberspace and sentiment is only expressed in the virtual world, it is unlikely to survive in reality,” Quân told news.zing.vn.
He said that after meeting online, chatting from afar could kindle some emotions between potential soulmates. However, meeting face-to-face would help them understand each other better and make sure their affection would be well placed. VNS