Ah, the endless pursuit of love. Human beings have tried it all, from blind dates and matchmakers to horoscopes and tarot readings. We’ve even recruited technology, making applications like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid to aid us in our search for lifelong companionship.
But nothing beats finding people in unexpected ways, like, on Discord?
Yes, you read that right, the voice, video, and chat platform Discord, which became immensely popular over the pandemic as people spent more time at home. It started off as a convenient platform for gamers and streamers to chat while playing together, but it has since evolved into a place for people to get together and start channels based on hobbies, pastimes, and other points of interest.
Now people are finding the one on Discord, whether intentionally or not. Some end up dating people they met organically on a hobby- or interest-based channel, while others deliberately join dating servers dedicated to dating, where people can post their profiles and create chat rooms to meet new people. Some servers even have features that let people “blind match” or speed date.
Some people say they like Discord over typical dating apps because you’re not forced to like or reject people on the spot. There’s also no pressure to talk all the time. In fact, some people say they like Discord because they can judge people not just on how they interact with you, but with others as well.
Of course, like in any online dating app, meeting a stranger online comes with its risks. Don’t reveal your personal information too soon and do background checks on potential dates. If they ask you for money or your hand in marriage after a couple of chats, that’s probably a red flag. But Discord also boasts a number of success stories. Some couples who met on the app are now married or engaged (or just happily together).
“It’s not the way you meet, but the person you meet”
When Joaquin Enrico Dumayas, 23, was invited by a friend to join a Discord server for tactical shooting game Valorant, he had little to no expectations about who he’d meet. He just wanted to play the game—not necessarily the love game.
The channel’s members included his college classmate, his classmate’s boyfriend, and the cousin of that boyfriend. “That cousin is my now-girlfriend,” Dumayas said.
They got to know each other over rounds of Valorant, where he first started feeling an emotional attraction. “She was really, really funny. I would always laugh at her jokes, her comments, her reactions to the things that happen in the game… Her personality really popped.”
Like a lot of people, Dumayas was apprehensive about forming relationships in what you might call an unconventional place.
“I was raised on a more romantic perception of how relationships are supposed to start—meeting them in class or even at a party. Just somewhere else. I was never exposed to being OK with meeting someone online,” Dumayas said. “I came to the realization that it’s not the way you meet, but the person you meet. Either way, I felt like it was worth it.”
“I’ve personally always found it easier to meet people online”
Like Dumayas, Julia de los Santos, 25, met her boyfriend through a game of Valorant. But there was no middleman in this scenario. They just met by happenstance. “We played a game or two together and it wasn’t much. I just noticed that he was playful.”
They enjoyed playing together so she eventually invited him to a Discord channel she had with her friends, and then followed each other on Instagram. “One time, I posted a picture of my dog and he replied to the story, ‘cute!’ I asked ‘Me or the dog?’ He said ‘both.’”
The chemistry between them was unexpected, to say the least. They were strangers from different countries. “We just met on Valorant, not actively seeking a connection in the game,” she said.
But the two bonded over games and movie nights on Discord until they started building feelings for each other.
“I’ve personally always found it easier to meet people online than in person. Especially when it comes to dating, I’m not very good,” she said, adding that she met all her previous boyfriends and situationships online, through dating apps. “The difference between those people and him is that [my current boyfriend] is just really sweet, and he likes to make the effort when he has the time.”
“We genuinely care about each other. He’s funny and always interested in things. He sort of—it sounds so lame, the word that comes to my head—he fascinates me.”
“Substance over looks”
Net Estrada, 27, got into Discord not looking for love but for new friends and financial advice. He’s part of only two channels—a personal development and financial channel and another one for people who live in the southern tip of Metro Manila. And yet, romance found him.
“Discord gives you a sense of belonging,” Estrada told VICE, before launching into the first time he met someone on the app in the midst of the pandemic. They met on a financial advice channel and would call and chat with each other until late in the evening. At first, they chatted about what they learned about personal finances, but eventually, their conversations would go on a tangent.
“We would talk about personal life or random stuff continuously every night or every other night. Sometimes, we’d call ‘til 4 a.m.,” he said. “There was a time we would use Street View on Google Maps—we would go to different countries like we were traveling. That’s when I realized I liked her.”
When that relationship fizzled out, Estrada unexpectedly met another person in the channel for people living in southern Metro Manila. The channel is for people living in the area to get to know one another, meet up, or even carpool. Estrada first met his now-girlfriend in person when they all agreed to go to an election-related rally in a nearby area. While he found her physically attractive, Estrada said that his attraction really built up on Discord, where they got to know more about each other.
“It’s really the intellect or humor for me. I’m the type of person who prefers substance over looks,” he said.
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