- Online survey of singles in five locations found 60 per cent of Hongkongers are open to dating foreigners, but Thais topped the list with 80 per cent
- Digital tools are popular with Asians looking for love, and more than half prioritise values over looks
Hong Kong singles are more open to dating foreigners than their counterparts elsewhere in Southeast Asia, a reflection of the international nature of the city.
For six consecutive years a wide-ranging dating survey has found a relatively stable proportion of Hong Kong singles (about 60 per cent) are open to dating foreigners. This percentage is higher than the proportion of singles in Singapore and Malaysia similarly willing to date people from a different nation, while Thailand ranked top, with about eight in 10 Thai singles open to dating foreigners.
"Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city. Compared with Singapore and Malaysia, there are more expats working in Hong Kong," says Violet Lam, CEO and co-founder of Lunch Actually, the Singapore-based multinational dating company that conducts the survey. "That's why Hong Kong offers more chances to meet foreigners, and people are more willing to open up to them."
This year, Lunch Actually surveyed more than 2,800 single respondents online, aged from 21 to 51 years old, from five southeast Asian countries: Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Meeting a potential partner through friends is one of the most popular ways of finding a date in Hong Kong (50 per cent of 450 people surveyed), Malaysia (40 per cent of 360 respondents), and Indonesia (53 per cent of 450 singles). Most of the Thai singles (44 per cent of 1,000 people), by contrast, say they believe faith and destiny will take them to their partners.
Commercial dating services are most popular in Singapore (36 per cent), followed by Hong Kong (31 per cent) and Malaysia (26 per cent).
Using a dating app is one of the top three ways of meeting a new date in all five regions and the top choice in Singapore, with 51 per cent of 600 Singaporean singles saying they prefer to use dating apps to search for a significant other.
"Singles who use dating apps focus on appearance first rather than the values they share," Lim says, adding that shared values are an essential element in maintaining a long-term relationship. Dating apps, of course, directly compete with Lam's Lunch Actually type of dating service.
More than half of the respondents in Southeast Asia say they pay close attention to "positive values" on the first date, according to the Lunch Actually survey. A person's values and beliefs were important factors to consider for 59 per cent of men singles and 47 per cent of female singles.
Breaking the "Kong Girl" stereotype of Hong Kong women as superficial and materialistic, the survey shows that Hong Kong female singles now tend to pay less attention to factors such as income, education, age and height than in previous years.
The survey found Hong Kong had the most single women (62 per cent) who were willing to date men who earned less than they did, while Indonesia had the smallest proportion of women (about 40 per cent) who were open to dating men with a lower income.
On the other hand, compared with six years ago, there are more single men in Hong Kong (87 per cent), Malaysia (97 per cent) and Singapore (91 per cent) who say they are willing to date women with a higher income.
Malaysian and Thai men are the most open to dating women with a higher education, with only 1 per cent of Malaysian men and 3 per cent of Indonesian men preferring not to date women who have a better education.
Most Hong Kong men (87 per cent) say they are open to dating women with a higher income and 93 per cent of them are ready to date partners with a higher educational background.
When it comes to dating, there is little age discrimination: most Hong Kong women are willing to date younger men (68 per cent), and most Hong Kong men say they are open to dating older women (59 per cent). By comparison, almost all single women in Thailand (99 per cent) are willing to date younger men. Compared with six years ago, there is an increasing trend of single women willing to date younger men in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as in Hong Kong. Single men in those three regions are also increasingly willing to date older women.
Singles should have an open mind when going on a date, Lim says.
"Many of my clients said they are single because they haven't met the right one, but our company's philosophy is that you have to be the right one to meet the right one."
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