By Katlin Cilliers | Staff Writer

The “BFF” side of a dating app has given me amazing friendships. In fact, thanks to Bumble BFF, I’ll be celebrating Galentine’s Day this year. The spin-off version of couples’ day first came to life in fiction, where Leslie (from “Parks and Recreation”) decided to celebrate female friendship in one of its episodes. From then, the fictional party became a tradition across the country, similar to Friendsgiving.

On Feb. 23, eight other women and I will get together to celebrate sisterhood, female friendship, and other remarkable women in history. This particular group of friends is made of women who are transplants to Hawaiʻi, and they all met V., the organizer, via the friend-dating app.

These ladies make up their own melting pot within the island’s diverse demographics: a former digital-nomad who’s made Hawai‘i home, an environmentalist, a forensic psychologist, a biologist with a love of plants. Women from all walks of life, celebrating a bond that began online and grew stronger in real life.

Technology has these weird perks, I guess. It’s sort of a “virtual sandbox,” akin to our early play dates in kindergarten years. We never know who we’re going to be playing next to –  or matched with – thanks to some mysterious algorithm or schedule working behind the scenes. Both online and in real life, we hope that the matches we find along the way will be meaningful, lasting ones.

In an era where the internet influences every aspect of how we interact, meeting new people aside from college campuses or work can be challenging, especially when you’re single among coupled-up peers. On top of that, how can we nurture close relationships in times of digital nomadism and limitless geographical possibilities? The answer may lie in online friend-dating.

When we harness technology’s power to create relationships and connect, instead of comparing ourselves to others and end up feeling out of place – Instagram effect, anyone? – we create wonderful, thriving friendships that can last a lifetime and transcend borders. Such support is essential.

Milan Kundera, a Czech author, says in his 1998 book “Identity” that friends “… are our mirror; our memory; we ask nothing of them, but that they polish the mirror from time to time so we can look at ourselves in it.” In times of instant fixes at the tip of our fingers, having a strong group of friends that will stand by our side when we’re laughing – or having a meltdown – can give us a sense of love and belonging that is crucial to one’s sense of identity; human connections that are paramount to our well-being and provide a healthy balance to our search for romantic love.

V., A., and I share a platonic love story. After a brief exchange of messages, V. and I figured we had enough in common that a friend-date would be the next step. We met during a sunny afternoon for dim sum in Kaimukī.

A few weeks later, she introduced me to A., and the three of us have become a trio of transplants who gather for power walks, extravagant tea experiences, and mellow hikes and coffees on windy Sundays. We talk about our latest dating disasters and family hiccups, and we get through little adventures together, like losing parking tickets in the span of 32 seconds, never to find them again.

This Feb. 23, it will be time to celebrate these moments.