Love has no boundaries in this digital age but is as fickle as ever.

Kiwis are hooking up with people from all over the world through platforms like Tinder, match-making agencies or dating websites.

Despite online dating's popularity it turns love into a minefield and few strike it lucky.

The Herald spoke to Kiwis who've had varying success finding love online.

Malonie and Brian with their children Joseph and Samuel Harding. PHOTO/supplied
Malonie and Brian with their children Joseph and Samuel Harding. PHOTO/supplied
'I never really thought a guy would say that straight away'

A Kiwi man proposed two days after he met his Filipino wife in her home country. Despite the fast start the couple have gone the distance and are happily married with two sons 13 years later.


Malonie Harding met Brian Harding on when she was 21, in March 2003.

He was serendipitously travelling to the Philippines the next week. Malonie arranged to show him her hometown on the island of Cebu. Two days after Brian arrived he told Malonie he wanted to marry her, she said.

"I was thinking 'shivers I never really thought a guy would say that straight away'."

But Brian meant it, he talked to Malonie's parents, who are pastors, and they gave the couple their blessing.

Brian brought Malonie to New Zealand to see if she liked the country. She did not know New Zealand existed before she met him.

"I had to search my encyclopaedia of the world and thought 'oh my goodness that's a small country'. I thought it was part of America."

They visited his hometown Dargaville, where they now live, for Brian's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. They got married on October 12, about eight months after they met in the Philippines.

The couple, now aged 35 and 49 have two sons, Joseph, 11, and Samuel, 8.


Malonie said their relationship definitely had some challenges. They had to adjust from singledom to married life and she had to learn to live in a new country and culture. But there are no regrets and the couple share unconditional love.

"I've overcome whatever fear now. I love it here. This is my home. I like the quietness of it and the nature. I'm so thankful I've married a Northlander."

Malonie was originally nervous about the men online. She thought they were a "bunch of liars who prey on that website to catch someone".

And although there are probably some out there, she admits there are also nice men like her husband. Her advice to anyone using the internet to snare a partner is to take it slow.

Jennifer Sackett with her son Doran. Sackett moved half way around the world for a Kiwi man she met on a gaming forum. PHOTO/supplied
Jennifer Sackett with her son Doran. Sackett moved half way around the world for a Kiwi man she met on a gaming forum. PHOTO/supplied
I was an 18-year-old female in a sea of fellow geeks

An American woman has a 12-year-old son and lives in New Zealand after falling for a Kiwi man she met online.

Jennifer Sackett, 35, met Ben through a gaming web forum called Kopykatz where the pair were regular members in 1999.

"I was an 18-year-old female in a sea of fellow geeks so it wasn't difficult to make friends."

What started as casual chatting turned into flirting and two years after they made contact Sackett convinced Ben to visit California. Three weeks into the trip he asked Sackett what she thought about getting married. She said being 20 and "stupid" she went along with the idea.

"So I pissed off all of my family and moved to NZ in April 2002."

Sackett moved into an apartment with Ben and his sister in Auckland. However she didn't feel like her usual self.

"I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, I wasn't homesick, but nothing felt 'right' about NZ for at least a year.

"This really threw me because I had expected to be happy, and I didn't know why I wasn't.

"I made that classic mistake that all 20-year-olds make, and I blamed all of my weirdness on external factors, and since Ben was the only external factor that paid any attention, he bore the full brunt of my insanity. I was just not myself."

After a year in New Zealand Sackett found out she was pregnant.

"It was not a life goal of mine to have kids, I wanted to stay responsibility-free, so finding out I was pregnant was less than ideal, and not being happy in the relationship made it even worse."

The couple tried to make it work but when her son was 3, Sackett moved out.

Despite the relationship ending, Sackett, a self-proclaimed introvert, is not against internet dating. She is more likely to be social online than to go out and talk to strangers.

"It's easier for me to be my true self online, but it's easier for psychopaths to hide their true selves online.

"It's pretty hard to meet anyone outside your circle unless you branch out with technology because everyone is very isolated and absorbed in their electronic devices.

"I don't really drink much, so what are the odds of ever meeting a like-minded light drinker in a bar? 'Hi, I'm an introvert, I realise that I am out meeting you in a bar, which is completely not my style. So how do you feel about dating and never doing this again?' lol."

'To be fair, I think she's schizophrenic'

After meeting the love of his life online and talking for hours every day Matt* flew to Costa Rica only to get the cold shoulder.

The 41-year-old fell in love with a fellow eco-warrior only to discover that she was a completely different person.

Matt was sitting inside on a rainy Auckland day in September when he decided to have a look at, a dating site for environmentalists. He thought it'd be cool to live in Costa Rica so he looked through profiles there. One woman stuck out as being attractive and lovely.

She was a 38-year-old Canadian woman living in a remote eco-house in the Central American country.

They launched into a month of intense communication. Matt said they were sending photos, calling and face-timing. The woman was warm, friendly and seemed just as enthusiastic about him as he was about her.

They talked about how they wanted to live off the grid, grow their own vegetables and keep chickens.

"We were speaking for four to five hours a day. It was very intense.

"It was an alignment in values. She was living the life I wanted to lead."

When Matt decided to go to Costa Rica to meet her she urged him to get a one-way ticket as "it is all about intention". But when he got there at the end of October she was weird, distant and aloof. He was surprised as he had just moved halfway around the world for her.

"We spent four weeks speaking here, everything was amazing. Then I got there and she was a different person.

"To be fair, I think she's schizophrenic."

Puzzled Matt asked locals about her. He discovered that she had a reputation for being "unstable and strange". After three-and-a-half weeks Matt left Costa Rica for New Zealand. He said he hasn't spoken to the woman since and they never resolved what had really gone on.

Now back home Matt doesn't think he will use that website again, and he definitely won't be finding women abroad.

"I think I just had bad luck. I met someone who was really f***ed up. I just didn't see it coming.

"A lot of my friends said 'this can't be real', but I was convinced it was because I was in the middle of it.

"I won't be looking at far-away countries and doing that again."

*Not his real name.

Two's Company director Sasha Madarasz has been match making couples for 13 years. PHOTO/supplied
Two's Company director Sasha Madarasz has been match making couples for 13 years. PHOTO/supplied
'They want Kiwis'

Sasha Madarasz, 42, set up dating agency Two's Company 13 years ago to a booming industry. She said it used to just be the 50+ age bracket who were using her match-making skills but now she's getting people as young as 23 asking to be set up.

"The age bracket that's booming is the 25 to 45 range. In the past five years, or even three, it's really skyrocketed."

Madarasz thinks the digital world could be to blame. People have stopped putting themselves out there and want to just fall into a relationship. She said her parents' generation used to meet at dances or through the community but there's not really that option anymore. Meeting at a bar or nightclub is the "natural" way to bump into a future partner, but that environment isn't for everyone.

"People want it to be easy. But it's not. Dating isn't easy, dating is really hard.

"That's the whole digital area sort of thing. Everything is so easy to do you don't have to leave the house."

Madarasz has had people from all over the world ask her to pair them with a Kiwi. But she has to turn them down as New Zealanders can't be bothered with the long-distance hassle. She recently had a South African safari owner wanting to find a Kiwi woman because "they're the best".

The dating expert's advice to singles is to get out there and just date, don't overthink it and always give everyone at least two chances.

"It's too easy to say 'oh no that person's hair is parted in the wrong direction, next please'.

"We take ourselves way too seriously. We think about it so much and there's actually nothing to think about. Just see if you're having fun and getting along.

"There's not always immediate chemistry because you just met a complete stranger and you're both really nervous, so have that second date."