Dating Hong Kong Expat
Expiration Dating’ In Hong Kong’s Expat Dating Scene, Cupid Proves Elusive - Expat. Feb 1. 2, 2. 01. 5 1. ET. “I met a guy on OKCupid,” my friend said.“Fantastic! What’s he like?” I asked. She proceeded: He was in his late 2. British, a journalist. I stopped her. She didn’t even have to tell me his name.
There was only single British journalist in his late 2. OKCupid in Hong Kong, and I had already been out with him. And so had my roommate. We had a good laugh about it, but neither of us was surprised. The dating pool we found ourselves in as American women living in Hong Kong was decidedly shallow, and the dating site didn’t have nearly the reach there as it had in other big cities. OKCupid says it has about 2.
New York, and 4. 5,0. Hong Kong — two comparably sized cities in terms of population.
Dating is daunting just about everywhere. But dating as an expat — “expiration dating” as some call it — brings its own unique set of frustrations. I gave my blessing to my friend, but their courtship fizzled after a second date. I was 2. 5 when I moved from New York to Hong Kong, a city that, despite an obsession with new architecture and modern infrastructure, still classifies unmarried foreign women as “spinsters” on official visa documents. My work assignment had no definite timeline, a fact that put significant strain on my relationship at the time. My boyfriend couldn’t move with me, so we joined the ranks of countless couples before us who were going to defy the odds on long- distance relationships. Predictably, some would say, after six months of Skype and several 1.
The dating scene in Hong Kong wasn’t hopeless, but it became almost a cliche in my friend circles to complain about dead- end prospects. We were jet- setting and making huge strides in our careers, but our love lives felt stunted. Why, I wondered, did this otherwise vibrant, diverse city seem so lacking when it came to young, single men? Hong Kong isn’t a hard place to be as a Westerner, generally speaking–decades of British rule established English and Cantonese as the city’s two official languages–though the city presented plenty of daily challenges, such as chronic air pollution, overcrowding and punishing sub- tropical heat. There’s no shortage of young people or places to meet them. But it wasn’t just the expected East- West cultural divide that limited our dating prospects; for many of us, it was feeling foreign even among fellow expats.
The 2. 0- something hetero single expat scene was dominated by an echelon of bankers and lawyers. It’s a stereotype, to be sure, but not an entirely unfair one.
Going to a club in Hong Kong often felt like a well- dressed frat party in which bar tabs bigger than my monthly rent would disappear with the swipe of an Amex. There were of course kind, attractive men in that group who defied the stereotype, but I didn’t have much luck meeting them, online or off.“Couldn’t you go out with local guys?” friends back home would ask. Yes and no. I had friendships with Hong Kongers but no romantic sparks flew.
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That could have been a because of “cultural differences”–a phrase I grew to hate for its broad oversimplification of the expat experience–or it could have been simply that there was no spark. It wasn’t a problem of clashing cultural values when a man on OKCupid messaged me to say that even though he was married and lived in Singapore, he would like to set up a “mutually beneficial” relationship with me for when he traveled to Hong Kong on business. Once, after a string of unremarkable dates, I was relieved to meet a man who seemed, at the very least, relatable. We were both Americans, had both been in Hong Kong for about two years, and connected over the fact that we’d been on too many dates with wide- eyed newcomers who seemed to be looking for a tour guide more than a partner.
That connection, however minor, filled me with hope. After a casual drink, we planned a second date — a short hike and lunch on an outlying island. I tried to stay optimistic as our conversation languished. I figured he was nervous, or maybe I was, and assumed we’d fall back into a comfortable dynamic. But just being young and American wasn’t enough. We had a cordial, if slightly awkward, outing on a sunny, stifling summer day.
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On the ferry home, I made a last- ditch effort to connect as we pulled into the port, and asked him to name his favorite author of all time. After a brief pause he said: “Dan Brown, I guess?”“Of all time,” I repeated.“Yeah.”We smiled politely, and headed for separate taxis. Allison Morrow is a news editor on the Journal’s World desk in New York.
She lived in Hong Kong for three years before repatriating to the U. S. in late 2. 01. Follow her on Twitter @alliwsj and on Instagram @amorrow. Email us [email protected]
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