Tired of trying to meet someone at a local bar, church or being set up on blind dates? Some may say those methods are now considered old school. And if you’ve ever tried online dating, that can be tedious too. How many times have you met up with a new prospect only to learn there’s no real spark in person?
When it comes to online dating, some singles may have never thought about taking the leap to search for love outside our borders. It’s no secret that digital technology has dramatically affected the dating trends of American singles, but how have these trends also shaped the way we find love with other cultures on an international level?
Examining the trends behind Americans finding love abroad, a report released by RapidVisa, an online immigrant visa processing company responsible for processing nearly 14% of all K-1 visas, provides insight on how these couples are finding their soulmates outside of America, similar to the stories highlighted on popular reality television shows like TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé. Highlighting a number of surprising findings, the report includes the top countries where U.S. citizens are finding foreign fiancés from, the highest-ranking online dating sites, which social media platforms are creating the most connections, and a significant rise in online video gaming as a method for international matchmaking.
Issuances of K-1 visas, known as the “fiancé” visa, have increased by 75% in the past 30 years. The last U.S. Census reports that 21% of all married-couple households in the U.S. have at least one foreign-born spouse. The report proves that these couples are looking for committed, life-long relationships, as the data shows that couples who date internationally are more likely to marry than those who date within the U.S. Many may ask where and how are these couples are finding love across borders?
The Asian region, particularly the Philippines, is the most popular place where Americans are finding love. The Philippines is the third most popular nationality of fiancés who met through a dating site, and according the report, FilipinoCupid is the top dating site where Filipino K-1 visa applicants meet their fiancé, accounting for nearly 15 percent of all dating site traffic alone. The Philippines is also prominent for those seeking partners based on religion, as ChristianFilipina is the single most widely used religion-affiliated website, representing nearly 40 percent of all international matches found in RapidVisa’s data. Between ChristianFilipina and ChristianDatingForFree, Filipino fiancés make up approximately 65 percent of the religion-based online dating market.
RapidVisa’s founder, Ben Ives, met his wife Jocelyn from the Philippines on a dating website, and through the tedious, manual process of obtaining her U.S. visa, was inspired to start a company to help streamline the immigration process.
Another popular digital resource people are using to find love abroad is Facebook, as the report data shows that Facebook supports over 80 percent of all social media meeting stories.
Douglas Carbajal, 31, of Vienna, Virginia is someone who was that serious about finding “the one.” Carbajal met his wife, Rhuanna Sousa Dutra, 29, from Brazil on Facebook. “We spoke for approximately 7-8 months every single day until we decided it was time for us to meet in person,” says Carbajal. “I still remember the first day we met at the airport in Brazil. Her smile was from ear to ear and I was extremely happy to see her. It was definitely love at first sight. We clicked from that moment on and I knew immediately she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” he continued.
One surprising trend is the quick rise of singles meeting through online gaming, in which the couples seem to be younger and the majority of fiancés are from Europe or Canada. Portugal topped the list at number one, with two-thirds of the K-1 visa applicants sampled reporting meeting through online gaming. The UK was also named as a top country, with one fifth of its fiancés represented in this sector. Jennifer Price-Meers (35, from Louisville, KY) and Alexei Marina (21, from Portugal), met while playing video games online. After meeting in person in Ireland and then spending time together again in Portugal, there was no denying the connection they have. They are now engaged and currently going through the visa process.
“Facebook, dating sites and additional international platforms are becoming the starting point where love across borders begins, since they allow the diversity of relationships to flourish over thousands of physical miles,” said Ives. “The trends observed are common to the larger story about dating in the United States and we believe this societal shift makes it likely that the evolving patterns explored in this report will continue into the foreseeable future.”
Going on vacation abroad or even working in a foreign country has also been a factor in finding love on an international level. If you’re looking to head abroad to find love and a foreign fiancé, the top ten nationalities who first met their American fiancé in-person include Cuba, Haiti, Ecuador, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, South Africa and Dominican Republic. The data shows 10.3% of respondents met on vacation, and 13% of those on vacation reported family or friends helping them meet their eventual fiancé. Katherine Western (a teacher, 37, from Rochester, NY) and Alejandro Solano Vallejos (37, from Nicaragua) met in person. Alejandro was the interpreter for Katherine’s tour group, while she was leading a school service trip with her students.
So, as you look for love during 2020, it may be time to switch things up and try out a few new digital and online platforms including social media, online gaming and online dating sites. Keep an open mind, as you never know where you will find your true love, or what country they will be from.
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Iona is a Wellness Coach specialising in relationships and dating. She works with single women to write their own love stories.