For some Cambodian youth, the quest for a lover starts with a stroll through Hun Sen Park or an evening with friends at Diamond Island’s gardens and amusement park; but for others it begins with a click of the mouse.
Some people might see the internet as a place to conduct research or catch up on the day’s news. But for romantics who prefer to make their moves through social networking sites such as Facebook, My space, Hi5, or messaging programmes such as Skype, the web is a portal into infinite opportunities for love.
Ny Sophannith, a freshman at Vanda Institute of Accounting, said that her daily visits to social networking sites eventually brought her into contact with Soy Chamnab, a 25 year-old studying to become a doctor at the International University of Cambodia.
The 21-year-old, who has been using social networking sites since she was 18, said that her current boyfriend first asked her to be his friend online, then asked her out on a date, which she agreed to.
It was there that he “confessed his love to me”, she said. Three years later they are still together and ready to get married.
There are certainly upsides to romancing online – it is much cheaper than going on a date and, according to Sathya Pong Pholy, who is a relationship consultant at the Phnom Penh Center for Psychology.
“Love online allows timid and shy people to talk to the opposite sex without meeting face to face,” Sathya Pong Pholy said.
But whatever the advantages are to looking for lovers on the internet, experts warn that romantic hopefuls should be careful during their web-based
“We shouldn’t post our address on social websites because the internet is not the real world,” advised Sok Sakoeun, a child safety officer at
Friends International who manages the NGO’s website about health and love.
He added that he thinks online relationships can be positive, but that you must realise that some people might try to take advantage of you.
Sathya Pong Pholy expressed a similar sentiment when asked about the dangers of internet dating.
“I have no objection to finding love online but you have to be very careful about who you are talking to before you provide any personal information such as your home address or work address,” Sathya Pong Pholy said.
Somchan Sovandara, a psychological therapist with the Catholic Church in Cambodia, said that “having love online is risky” and suggested that, in order to truly get to know your partner you should step away from the computer screen and meet in person.