I fell in love on the internet. And I fell really hard.

A typical love story usually starts when boy meets girl, they get to know each other, spend time together, get emotionally attached, and then fall in love. Ours, however, wasn’t at all typical. Perhaps it was the “new normal.”

There is a certain level of “superficial” that surrounds the idea of a long-distance relationship. The pandemic had its way of bringing people together through the internet; it had helped in sustaining old relationships while creating new ones. As the popularity of Bumble and Tinder significantly increased over the course of the quarantine, I still felt that these weren’t for me—I was very traditional when it came to relationships. I couldn’t even grasp the idea of falling in love with someone you’ve never met.

But guess what? Joke’s on me.

I was an airplane ride away from him—he was a Manila Boy, I was the typical probinsyana. We both knew that seas and islands divided us, but the 657-kilometer distance never felt like a hindrance; we got to know each other as if we were just a step apart. We believed that one day we would close that distance. One day we would hold each other in our arms, and one day we would make it.

Like a typical Gen Z couple in a pandemic, we bonded over chats and video calls, online games and virtual dates, Spotify playlists, and movie sessions. It was utterly surprising how things unfolded and how we developed from being playmates in Call of Duty, to becoming the best of friends, and eventually reaching that “dating” stage.

One day, it hit me. I was in love. Initially, I thought the idea was so farfetched, like it was so impossible to develop genuine feelings for a person on my laptop screen. Maybe I fell for the man because he was so ideal. As a daddy’s girl, I saw my papa in him. He loved his family, he was God-fearing, intelligent, hardworking, kind, faithful, and as biased as this may sound, he had the cutest smile.

All the lovey-dovey aside, we had our fair share of obstacles, from the mere fact that we were in an LDR, to handling our love language, defining our label, trying to communicate effectively, solving conflicts, and a whole lot more. It was a constant battle trying to make the other person feel loved and appreciated. With everything, the first thing we had to do every day was to choose to be with each other—no matter what.

We had the next 10 years or so planned out: finishing college, going to law school, taking and passing the Bar together, plus a hundred and one more things. At one point, our goals and values were so alike; it was as if we were really each other’s missing piece. I felt that my stars had aligned for me to get to know this man. I felt that destiny did something to bring us together. I felt so secure that this person could actually be my person. Simply put, everything just felt so right.

Until one day, it didn’t. We woke up and it just didn’t work anymore. We still had each other’s heart, but it was too painful to hold on any further. Several months shy from the one-year mark, we had to let each other go.

When we decided to call it quits, he eventually cut off all ties and communication with me. It shattered me. I felt so helpless drowning in a sea of my own thoughts and tears. I felt like I would live to regret all my mistakes and wrong decisions. It broke me so much that I was left questioning whether I would be capable of ever loving someone as much again.

Now, all that’s left are mere memories of the laughter and tears we shared, which will forever be ingrained in my heart. This wasn’t my first love—but it was the first real one. It taught me what and how love should be. But my heart will continue to hope for a second chance: maybe not for us, but for him and for me.

Maybe there was a reason we didn’t work out. Maybe we had to focus and prioritize other things over us. Maybe we weren’t ready for each other. Maybe it wasn’t the right time yet. It pains me that maybe there would never be a right time for us—but what I know is that he will always be my favorite maybe. He will always be the maybe that I would think about every time I stare at the sky. He will always be the maybe that I am so sure of. He will always be the maybe that I will choose in a heartbeat. He will always be my maybe.

I look forward to the day when I can finally see him up close with no screens as barriers. While I can no longer embrace him if I do see him, I just want to look him in the eye, and that in itself would feel so much like a dream. One day, I may find him along the streets of España, or bump into him somewhere along Ortigas or Taft. Someday, when fate allows.

If there’s one statement that would sum everything up, it would probably be a Bible verse that I shared with him on Valentine’s Day: Philippians 1:3 — “I thank my God every time I remember you.” No matter how good or bad things were, he would always be one of my life’s greatest blessings and most painful heartbreaks.

He will always have my heart. Now, maybe just from afar, and even farther than before. As Bruno Major puts it, “Here’s to you, the most beautiful thing that I have never seen.”

I fell in love on the internet. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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