Dating in Singapore — From an Asian American Woman’s Perspective (2020 thoughts)

by thefanggirl
Help, I’m obviously confused in this space.

Back in June 2019, I wrote about What Dating in San Francisco is like.

Fast forward to October 2020, I’m now in Singapore working in media. I’m now a 26 year old living in this little red dot; my face has added a few more crinkles under my eyes, as I’ve aged (damn it). Within this year, I left San Francisco for Singapore, joined CMX Hub and Singapore Women’s Network, helped launch a financial literacy platform and then left that startup, and am now a community lead at a digital media tech company.

If anything Covid19 has taught me, it’s to be a little more daring and continue to improve myself at my own pace because we are in a pandemic — that includes dating more to figure out what I want in a partner. I’ve previously been on Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge back in San Francisco, and decided to be a little more adventurous these days. “Adventurous” meaning also trying Tinder, the app that I avoided like the plague because of its hookup stigma— I don’t know, hookups aren’t really my thing, but why not explore and see how it goes? I tried it, as well as Coffee Meets Bagel.

Disclaimer: I’ve only met a couple of candidates from dating apps in Singapore, but here are my general observations. This is loosely subjective from my own perspective and not encompassing of all men in Singapore.

I prefer coffee for first dates — it gives me exit time. If I eat dinner, who knows how long I’ll be stuck there.

The dating pool is diverse with locals and expats, but I tend to match and get along better with those who have traveled a lot and enjoy the great outdoors.

I am a tall 5’7 Taiwanese American giant amongst these Singaporeans. With an athletic build and a push forward attitude, I find it easier to get along with those who can talk about anything under the sun and over the moon, and like to share their experiences traveling. From a general observation, these are men who have traveled, studied or worked abroad and have open minds. I love talking about travel, food, philosophy, and different cultures.

My experiences with dating has been interesting. At one coffee meet up, I felt exhausted from the conversation; it continued to fizzle out because he would ask random questions and not add color or follow up with a response. He had no hobbies, no interests, no passions, no side projects. Work and money were his main focuses — he was very vanilla in my eyes.

I also found that many were very educated and well-spoken. They were quite curious about what it was like growing up in the states, asking questions about our politics, governing system, education, concerts and raves, and drugs. It was fascinating to exchange stories of our lives, especially how we grew up so differently and what was taboo here wasn’t taboo there.

I don’t like to use this term, but I felt like some were “sheltered.” They had studied hard, gone to a top tier school, lived a life of comfort in Singapore, and not experienced the ugly parts of humanity — they followed rules (that worked) and just had to worry about following the track built for them to follow. There is nothing wrong with that. A few also expressed they would want to live in Singapore forever, and didn’t really care for traveling because they had everything they needed at their fingertips. Others were incredibly adventurous, studied overseas for uni, and were well-rounded; they often seemed to be itching to leave Singapore but constrained by their family duties and filial piety.

Singapore does a wonderful job of taking care of their people — this I wholeheartedly agree with. Most have never witnessed or experienced the extremes of chaos, disorder, or the really ugly parts of life. In other parts of the world, I’ve seen poverty, racism, drug abuse & overdose, etc. and it has made me more humane and empathetic. I felt like empathy was lacking a bit in some of the men I met when we discussed societal issues.

Half of them want to be online pen pals, and half of them just wants the tofu.

I spoke to one guy for a week, and he never set time for us to meet. I began to question this entire conversation since all he wanted to do is complain about his government job, and I was not going to be an online counselor. I stopped responding. Another, without any greetings, immediately just asked, “Where do you live?” “Do you want to meet up?” I woke up the next morning and saw the 1 AM timestamp. I question my own intelligence sometimes and why I’m still on the app Tinder. My instinctual reaction is to immediately block them, but I think…I guess this is the normal interaction and language used on Tinder. Not for me, and I close the app.

You’re still different if you are American born — you don’t fit into their culture and most don’t see a long term future because your future is unclear.

On the outside, we’re similar. I look Asian and can understand Mandarin. But internally, it’s our experiences, our social norms, values, and philosophies that set us drastically apart. I come from an individualistic and capitalistic society. I question whether dating in Singapore is needed; after all, wouldn’t I be leaving this city state in a year or two? What’s the point of investing in someone and to them, it’s probably the same thinking.

So I’m caught in between these two thinkings:

  1. Regardless of what other people believe, dating and meeting new people is important to figure out what you want in a partner. Sifting through these candidates will only teach you what matters to you at the core. Do you want someone who is kind? Do you want someone who is ambitious? Do you want someone who has differing political views? Does he buy you flowers and treat you like a queen? Dating guys has given me more insight on the types of guys are out there, good and bad, which helps me make more decisive decisions on the partner I want to spend my life with.
  2. When does dating become a necessity? At 26, I feel like I’m still half developed. There’s so much to learn and absorb in Singapore. I want to focus on becoming a skilled writer and content creator — I want to push the boundaries of my potential and create magic with words. I have this innate laser focus I want to hone into it. Yet, my friends back home are engaged, producing offspring, and seem to have that part of their lives sorted out. There’s no pressure, but I do recognize a time limit. If I continue down this path, will I wake up at alone and 40, having a successful empire but no partner?

There are so many parts of life to balance. Being a human is hard, but I guess that’s also the beauty of it. All parts of life are pliable, like rolling dough between two fingers and I must remind myself that I need to follow my own path, or regret indefinitely for trying to make other people happy. The next 4 years are defining for me as I meander closely to my 30s. I see finding my life partner as an important aspect of my life, and dating will be a consistent adventure I navigate the next few years.

Want to work and live overseas in Singapore? If you’re interested in scheduling a consult, feel free to schedule time with me here:

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