I come from a religious family and has always been living in Christian communities since Junior High School. My parents are Batak from North Sumatra, and they taught me to never behave badly and to always respect the culture I was born into. So I carried this values when it came to finding a partner.
I used to be very particular about guys I would date: he should be a Batak and Christian. No compromises. Even when I began to use dating app four years ago after breaking up with my ex, I would only swiped right on Batak guys to fulfil my parents’ wish of having a son-in-law of the same ethnicity.
But then I moved to Kuala Lumpur, where I eventually changed my mind. First I hesitated, thinking it was only for hooking up and one night stand, not serious relationship. But after a few months I thought I really had nothing to lose if I started dating, provided I didn’t set my expectation high. Why rushed to find the perfect one when I can still enjoy my life?
Hence began my online dating experience, and since then my life has turned more colourful. I enjoyed every meeting and became friends with the guys I met online. Every date has its own story, some really crazy. They were so fun I would share my dating stories to my colleagues and friends in KL, who would always asked my progress.
But in the beginning I kept this from people at home when I go back, which is twice or three times a year. When meeting up with old friends and cousins, they would always ask me the same question, “So have you found the one?” And the same remark: “You have to come back to Indonesia, so you can find a proper guy: a Bataknese and Christian!”
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The first few times I came home, I was hesitating to share that I now used dating apps, not even to my circle of friends, for fear they would judge me for only seeking fun dates and they would see this as a mark that I wasn’t religious enough.
Today, I no longer hide the fact that I am a serial online dater. I told my Indonesian girlfriends there’s no harm in dating different guys, since we would never know who would take us seriously at the end. We should not only wait – if men are free to go around and “test the water,” women should not be labelled “sluts” for doing the same thing.
Dating while traveling is one of my favourite things to do. I date a different person for almost every single day, and every day has its own story. Often we ended up as friends. So far I have gone on dates with men of 14 different nationalities. This coming from someone who used to only date a guy of the same ethnicity and religion! This doesn’t mean that sex is always involved. I know the limit and play it safe.
When my friends asked me how to manage conversations with different guys at the same time, I told them it’s all in the time management. When they asked me what would happen if two guys wanted to meet up at the same time, I told them to schedule the dates well. And when they asked me how I could have a serious relationship if I kept “playing around”, I told them, I would eventually stop when I have found the right one.
Being single doesn’t mean that we have to be sad, it also doesn’t mean we should wait around and do nothing. It is the best time to spread your wings and have fun.
Illustration by Adhitya Pattisahusiwa