January 11, 2023
JAKARTA – Romantic courtship practices in the digital age may begin with a harmless message sent to a prospective partner’s social media inbox, followed by a consistent exchange of communication — and finally, the most difficult choice of all, the decision to spend the rest of one’s life with someone.
People often meet their significant others in unexpected places. Many today, for instance, would be able to relate to Lulu Husna and her husband’s love story. Lulu found Bayu Joo, the man she would eventually marry, with just a few keystrokes. Their courtship initially started when they followed each other on Twitter.
“I don’t remember for sure [what the first topic of the chat was],” she said. “But [I believe] it was a casual conversation about where we’d been and what we’d been doing all day. We also had a series of discussions about our Twitter friends.”
Lulu, who now lives in Depok, West Java, with her husband, finally met him in person after a month of communication. After two months of becoming acquainted with him, she inquired about the nature of their relationship, and they intuitively decided to date.
Fajar Tri Harjanto from Pontianak, West Kalimantan, offers a slightly different story about how social media led him to meet his soulmate. He first encountered his now-wife, Dwi Prihartiwi, during Ramadan in 2017, while hanging out in a local food court waiting for iftar time.
However, Fajar did not consider that particular moment as “love at first sight”. He did not think much of it until they met again, when Fajar was still a university student.
“I went on a trip with my friends during the semester break, and finally I met the missus [again],” the 25-year-old said. He trusted his instincts this time to start the courtship and tried to learn more about her.
“We started exchanging [Instagram] accounts, but we had not established communication yet, [until] I took the courage to DM [direct message her] by replying to her Instagram story and saying ‘Hi’.”
“I chatted with her a few times after that, and we [eventually] decided to switch to WhatsApp,” he recounted. Fajar said it took about a year for them to start dating officially.
Finding ‘the one’
Fajar and Lulu both expressed gratitude that their relationship was able to progress successfully, or as Twitter users often say: “From this to this.” Their stories illustrate how people in the digital age can easily find friends and even soulmates via social media platforms.
Some would say this is the journey of finding “the one”. In Lulu’s case, she said she noticed some signs that led her to believe that Bayu was the right one for her.
“The ‘one’ is someone who makes us eager to tell things we’ve just been through, and it will not be awkward when we have nothing to say either,” she said. “When we’re with them, we don’t have to pretend to be someone else to make them happy, and there’s no need to keep things hidden.
“Every time he picks me up, I still feel butterflies in my stomach even though we’ve been together for eight years. Every time I look him in the eyes, I feel peaceful. There are several other things I can’t put into words.”
Both she and Bayu have their own set of interests and activities, but Lulu could say with conviction that the peaceful feeling was the one that encouraged her to stay true to herself.
“We’re both social media enthusiasts, so we understand each other when we talk about social media. However, my husband and I don’t share the same hobbies — he enjoys automotive and [music] bands, while I like to do make-up.”
Being in a casual relationship is easy, but marriage is different. Convincing oneself to commit to getting a marriage certificate is a one-of-a-kind personal experience. Fajar, for instance, was initially skeptical that Dwi was “the one”.
“At first, I didn’t know if she was the person I would [marry]. [However], as we got to know each other and understand each other, that certainty emerged by itself,” he said.
“I have known her for a long time; have learned her character, nature and preferences; I feel [we are] compatible, and [I] believe that this missus is my soul mate,” Fajar said, who eventually married his wife on July 22 this year.
It was not all rainbows and butterflies as well for Lulu. Her challenge was getting their parents’ approval.
“There was a small concern [about our relationship being established via social media]. [Our parents] were kind of against it,” she said. “But those concerns faded away over time.”
However, Lulu admits that it is unavoidable. While the level of conversation and mutual understanding may appear genuine, Lulu herself warned that not everyone has good intentions.
“We have to filter [people] and take care of ourselves before starting to interact with people on social media.”
Communication and commitment
Fajar believes that social media’s aspects make it convenient and difficult to find partners. One of the most challenging obstacles for him was the distance. That obstacle, however, was easily offset with great determination and effort.
“With a distance of six to seven hours between the city and the regency, I could only meet her once or twice a month,” he said. “In a long-distance relationship, anxiety is unavoidable. Everything depends on how we respond to it, [how we] solve existing problems and [how we] keep our promises to one another. Mutual trust and communication are essential.”
Lulu, who goes by the handle @luluhusnaa on Twitter, finally married her current partner on March 30, 2019, after dating for four years.
“Because we feel compatible with each other, it’s like, ‘what are we waiting for?’ We’ve been dating for a long time; we already got our parents’ blessing, after a long struggle for three years,” she said.
When asked what the key to the success of their relationship was, Lulu emphasized the significance of communication. “We frequently communicate our emotions, whether we are happy or disappointed. We try not to keep them bottled up,” she said.
However, Maudy, not her real name, experienced a different ending to this kind of story. The 35-year-old teacher’s love story, which started via Twitter, was not as seamless as that of Lulu or Fajar. After dating for two years, Maudy and her former partner had to call it quits in May 2022. Maudy did, however, learn something from her relationship.
“[You might want to actually] meet the person first, to know and understand where [they] reside. Even if it’s a long distance away, you can still find or dig up information [about them]. After all, you must be wise and find out whether the person is being truthful or not,” said the Demak resident.
Although her relationship did not work out, Maudy thinks it is “sweet” when couples meet through social media and is still optimistic about the possibility of an online romantic relationship.
“My previous partner was head over heels in love with me. My failed love story resulted from my trust issues,” she said. “We were simply not meant to be together.”