Nowadays, searching for your significant other on the internet takes only a few swipes and clicks. Even if you’re not actively seeking love, unexpected connections can materialize in any corner of social media — including on r/ApplyingToCollege, a Reddit forum for high school students to discuss all things related to obtaining that coveted acceptance letter.
Thomas Ku ’24 is one of the thousands of active users on the subreddit. When he posted a question about Swarthmore College’s art supplement, a friendly user — Eli Andrade, currently a freshman at Williams College — replied and invited him to a Discord server, where other members played games and chatted. Fast forward one year, Ku and Andrade have been dating for several months already.
They didn’t talk much at first on the Discord. However, once Ku struck up a conversation in April, they both recognized an instant connection.
“I thought he was just one soft boy there, like toying around,” Andrade said. “Until one day, he slid into my DMs — he said some weird things! — and then we started talking. We were talking about going stargazing because I told him the stars were really bright here.”
Although Ku lived in Taiwan and Andrade in Mexico, they found ways to overcome the distance. Andrade, who is passionate about art, painted a portrait of Ku against a starry backdrop. Andrade had collected a box full of letters sent by Ku every day over the past few months. “The best relationships are ‘simping’ for each other,” remarked Ku.
As millions of people hunkered down during the first wave of infections, Ku and Andrade beat the isolation blues by spending more time together online — but that was easier said than done with a 14-hour time difference. Luckily, the blurriness of pandemic time that everyone has become accustomed to aided in aligning their schedules.
“It feels like we’ve known each other for years and we just met each other once again.”
“At first, during the pandemic, because there were no classes, my family kind of started living at night, which matched the schedule of Taiwan,” Andrade said.
The pressures of getting cut-off from their everyday routines put extra strain on their long-distance relationship but ultimately strengthened their connection.
“I was struggling with money and school,” Andrade said. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be on campus or what’s going to happen to my scholarship.”
Ku, who was initially attracted to their art skills, commissioned paintings, helping them to keep creating art “as an escape.”
While the pandemic brought them together virtually, it nonetheless posed a significant barrier to seeing each other in-person. They tried to make plans twice over the summer to meet-up, but both plans fell through with the increase in COVID-19 cases and uncertainty over travel restrictions. But as the adage goes, third time’s the charm — with a splash of spontaneity and a negative COVID-19 test.
In October, Ku went up to Williamstown, Massachusetts, and surprised Andrade in-person.
“It feels like we’ve known each other for years and we just met each other once again,” Ku said.
Not long after seeing each other, Ku posted his story on the subreddit and acknowledged how another couple had previously met on the platform, too. Andrade reflected on the subreddit’s role in accidental matchmaking.
“It kind of makes sense,” Andrade said. “It’s a bunch of highly driven high school students.”