Unraveling the spooky online dating sphere with Lucille McCart

The Filipino culture is rife with stories of courtship rituals that perhaps our elders used to talk about – the harana, the handwritten love letters, the chores to appease the parents. But technology has changed all that, compounded by issues of existentialism in a planet that’s dying and humanity falling into wars.

As life goes on in a world rapidly changing, perhaps it’s fitting to say that love will always find a way.

And such could be the reason relationships in the real world are now also fueled by dating apps, which, while keeping people connected in these nomadic times, have also changed the way we deal with human relationships.

For instance, “women making the first move” is becoming the norm in the Philippine dating scene.

Lucille McCart, APAC communications director of the global dating app Bumble, believes that the concept of dating and falling in love is still appealing in the modern age as women bravely take the first step.

“Women are initiators — women are in the driver’s seat — and they are [now] responsible for making the first move,” McCart told the DAILY TRIBUNE in a PairFect interview, noting how the popular online dating platform has grown exponentially over the past few years. With its growth, Bumble sees the next step as making online dating experience safer and more empowering for everyone.

Online dating fears, misconceptions

To be wary of online dating is natural, especially with reports of harassment and negative experiences from users.

Recently, Bumble unmasked the dating “monsters” people encounter on dating apps. The most common ones are the ghosters or those who disappear without a trace in someone’s life. However, there comes the zombies (people who reappear abruptly and cause confusion), energy vampires (emotionally draining partners) and green-eyed monsters (overly jealous partners).

“What we’re doing here is to educate people on how to communicate their feelings,” McCart said as they revealed the results of their study on dating monsters.

McCart also addressed the negative connotations of online dating in the Philippines, considering that there is still a percentage of Filipinos who have more traditional, conservative views on dating.

“What dating apps provide is a safe space online to meet other single people who are there with the shared goal of connecting for romance, whether that be short-term or long-term or casual or serious,” McCart said, adding that “women making the first move” in heterosexual matches in Bumble makes the dating app stand out from the rest since it creates a “foundation for a healthy and equal relationship.”

Although it is undeniable that hook-ups, rejections and negative experiences may arise in online dating, there are also success stories that emerge: “There are people who meet up on Bumble but become together and get married,” she added.

Connection and empowerment

First launched in 2014, Bumble is a female-focused dating platform that strives to show online dating should be all about connecting with others and having fun while you’re at it.

“[It’s] really just about trying to encourage people that dating is meant to be fun; the experience of finding your partner is meant to be a fun experience… If you’re not having fun, how can we help you make it more fun and enjoyable and get what you want out of it?” McCart said.

With its empowering features and user-friendly interface, the popular dating platform encourages a “baby steps” approach, especially for those who are new to the world of online dating.

Making the first move, for example, becomes less intimidating and more interactive with the Question Game feature, where you can shuffle through ice-breaker questions and send the first message in a fun way.

“We would love to empower women to make the first move in every aspect of their life,” McCart said.

Fear-free online dating

Despite the emergence of dating monsters in digital spaces, online dating should still remain enjoyable and fear-free.

“Fear-free dating is about not necessarily never getting scared, but it’s about not letting those sorts of small things prevent you from being able to have a great dating experience in the future,” McCart said, adding that putting yourself out in digital dating spheres would involve a certain degree of rejection.

“Rather than letting every experience of rejection sort of make you take a step back, it should be propelling you forward… If a connection doesn’t work out, it’s okay to feel sad for a couple of days but it should not affect one’s confidence or self-worth,” she added.

McCart also emphasized their responsibility to build a “degree of protection” from users who repeatedly commit bad behavior on the platform.

Bumble has a blocking and reporting feature that allows its team to issue warnings and prevent harassers and repeat offenders from using the application permanently.

Moreover, they have a photo verification technology and a private detector that automatically blurs potentially lewd images, making users more informed and safer in digital spaces.

“Don’t be afraid to be on Bumble and make the first move,” she said.

To help Filipino singles deal with these dating monsters, Bumble shares some tips on how to escape them:

1. Take your time: Don’t rush into relationships.

2. Communication is key. 

3. Set healthy boundaries.

4. Use Interest Badges and Profile Prompts: To find like-minded individuals and to showcase your personality.

5. Trust your instincts — listen to your gut feelings