Four years ago, 25-year-old My Linh moved to the US with her American husband after the two met via a dating app.
These days Linh still thinks she’s dreaming when she watches her husband hold their newborn son in his arms. “Without the dating app, maybe we would have never met each other,” she said.
Linh, who was born to a family of 6 siblings in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, became a garment worker in Ho Chi Minh City in 2018.
Outside of working hours, she took English classes and became a free tour guide around Bui Vien, a popular backpacker street in downtown Saigon, where she also honed her English skills with foreigners.
Linh then downloaded a dating app after friends from an English center suggested it as a way to connect with foreigners. Through this app, Linh got to know William, an American with a medical degree.
They became friends. Linh shared with William the ups and downs, and the joys and despairs she had experienced throughout life. The man also got used to listening to and confiding in a girl halfway across the globe.
According to a 2021-2023 Tinder survey, My Linh is among the 51% of Gen Z users who use online dating apps.
A survey of Vietnamese using dating apps published in February 2022 by market research firm Decision Lab, showed that nearly 30% of the survey participants use dating apps every day, 19% use them 2 to 3 times per week, and 15% use them 6 to 7 times per week.
In Vietnam, 48% of young people use such apps mainly for making new friends, 39% for looking for partners, 35% for finding long-term relationships and 34% for establishing a network.
Le Minh Huan, a Master of Psychology from the An Nhien Education – Psychology Application Center in Ho Chi Minh City, said he assumed that dating apps were quite convenient for modern young people, who were too busy to meet up directly.
Nguyen Minh Nguyet, a 32-year-old Business Development Manager at a multinational company in Hanoi, has a hectic life. As a single mom, she is busy and has little time to look for romance.
When Nguyet first used a dating app, she was unaware that every pair of users who swiped right would be allowed to text one another. After being “flooded” with messages, she panicked and was on the verge of deleting the app when she saw a friend request from Florian, a Frenchman.
After talking to him and finding a kind and considerate character in Florian, her impression of him grew increasingly positive. Nguyet confided all her secrets to Florian, who is a psychiatrist.
They met in person on a trip to Hoi An with several of Florian’s friends. In the summer of 2020, when he returned to his home in France, they confessed their love to each other online.
Psychology specialist Minh Huan said that dating apps only provided help with the first step of romance: meeting and getting to know one another. Other steps, Huan said, must be conducted traditionally.
“To find true love, the youth of today need to unite their hearts and minds, not just use technology,” he said.
At first, My Linh did not even consider William as a potential partner. However, in June 2019, a year into his friendship with Linh, William took a flight to Ho Chi Minh City and stayed for two weeks. He went to Linh’s hometown to attend a family wedding.
My Linh (on the right) with her mother, husband, and her son in the U.S. Photo by Linda
He helped carry a ceremonial wedding tray, washed dishes, and cleaned up. He learned to eat with chopsticks and learned Vietnamese to talk with Linh’s family. Linh said William seemed to care for her even more than her family.
After spending 15 days together, My Linh eventually fell for William. He went home and but traveled back to Vietnam in September 2019, bringing with him his family, and a proposal for her hand in marriage.
In the winter of 2021, after nearly two years of long-distance love, Minh Nguyet traveled to France to visit Florian. The two get married after spending three months together.
Nguyet admitted that before downloading the dating app, reading more negative than positive reviews had made her concerned about Florian. However, speaking to him and finding him to be a courteous man, she was no longer “afraid of being deceived” as some had warned.
According to research by the Pew Research Center in the U.S., some people worry about problems including fraud, the release of personal information, and harassment. They believe that dating apps encourage flimsy connections rather than lasting ones.
Huan said: “Don’t have expectations of dating apps that are too high.This could lead to disappointment and a loss of trust in both other people and the dating app.”
Nguyet said the dating app could help two people find each other and establish close relationships. “People should be more open.”
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