This is a sequel to the post I wrote nearly two years ago on results of first-hand data on dating discrimination as an Asian guy. Today we’re going to go over more upsetting truths about dating as an Asian guy in the western hemisphere, and why that’s ultimately driven me to move back. And moving back was something that’s never even crossed my mind until recent times.
A recap about me
I like to think I’m an average person as a whole. Looks wise, I’m 176 cm (5’10” in American), in decent shape (my arms say I lift, but I don’t have a 6 pack), have good personal hygiene and have a good face. I tend to overeat, especially when I’m back in Malaysia, so there are times when I look fatter than I like and I do have to consciously watch what I eat or I’ll gravitate back to being chubby sooner or later.
I’m a bit socially retarded due to my abusive upbringing, meaning I’ve found it difficult to make small talk and befriend strangers in general and have them instantly want to continue the conversation with me. I don’t know if that’s just part of being Asian in the west, I don’t know if that’s just normal in any society. Yeah, I also am a poor judge of how well a social interaction is going, unless the other party makes it blatantly obvious that they’re either interested or disinterested in talking to me. It’s gotten much better over the decade that I’ve lived on my own, but I still am much better at gauging a situation after the fact. I spend a lot of time in thought, ‘playing back’ the past in my mind and analyzing them, and this has made me become a better person.
However, I’m also naturally good at passing off as very extroverted, confident and a social butterfly in many situations (although I don’t always feel that way). This is especially true once I get my foot in the door beyond the first conversation with a person. This might be a coping mechanism because people often know me as a happy and positive individual, and have no clue how terrible my upbringing was (they’re always surprised to find out) and how ranty I am on the internet.
All things considered, I’d like to say that my early start is subpar but once I get rolling, then I’m good. I think I also have great late-game potential (sorry, been playing far too much Age of Empires lately) since I generally think very long term and have my crap together in terms of financials and career, and what I want in regards to family and retirement plans.
Dating in Germany: The last straw
I’ve had a miserable time when it came to getting a relationship while abroad (read: America and Europe), and I’d been living in western countries for over a decade.
Though racism against dating Asian guys exists in the US and Canada, it’s arguably less than that in Europe. At least for me, that holds true – on the other hand, I’ve read that some Asian guys have it the other way around. I can also come to terms with faring poorly in America more easily because I was young, naive and also chubby (I was actually slightly lighter than I am today but, with higher body fat percentage, looked a whole lot fatter). I hadn’t had my teeth straightened or eyes zapped so I still had these terrible metal-framed glasses that made me look not just older, but worse given my sense of style at the time.
These were my 6 attempts at dating in America:
- Attractive blonde in one of my classes in my first semester: I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and got friendzoned pretty much immediately. Ignored what my level-headed roommate kept saying about her using me and I helped her with her homework for about 2 semesters after that. And I still thought I had a chance even after she found and started dating some football dude from another town. Looking back, I really stood NO chance here as she would only date white guys, whether that was the blond football dude or slim Mediterranean guy, but not Asian.
- Cute girl who worked at a Starbucks I frequented: Asked for her number, texted her to go out for lunch, we did, after which she told me she had a boyfriend. I don’t know if that was true and she just wanted a free lunch or if I wasn’t interesting enough for her (keep in mind that I was still working on my social abilities at this time, I was still very nervous talking to women I fancied)
- Another cute girl at another Starbucks I frequented: I was already a familiar face at this store so I asked if I could have her number, but no.
- Girl from the lacrosse team when I was working an on-campus job that had some interactions with the sports teams: She’s pretty fit and only into big brawny dudes, but probably the nicest person to date in turning me down. She very clearly told me that she knew what I was getting at, politely said she wasn’t interested, but suggested I go for her teammate instead.
- Teammate of lacrosse girl above: I got her number but quickly grew to learn she was already dating some black dude on the football team. At this point I initially still tried to text her but learned quicker than the previous times that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I don’t know why the girl above recommended this one, knowing she was taken. But it was implied she didn’t like the dude that her teammate was dating and that I was a more pleasant person.
- Girl from class in my final year: Asked for her number, she gave me a wrong number on purpose (or it was her number but had her boyfriend or friend troll me). Rude.
After that, I decided to try OKCupid as online dating began getting more popular in the early 2010’s, and then migrated to Tinder shortly after it launched. I did not have any luck on there – I had maybe 5 matches in a year, 3 of which did not respond at all and the other 2 semi-responded for a few replies and ghosted the chat.
It was at that time when I decided to do something about my looks. While I was fortunate enough to not be butt-ugly, I still looked like crap for dating and looked even worse in photos. I started working out – properly, lifting 5-6 days a week – while cutting to shed the fat belly and moobs, lost nearly 25 lbs (10 kg), and then bulked up 35 lbs (17 kg), and then cut 10 lbs and was back to my original weight since high school/college but looking a lot leaner and with muscle now.
This was timed so I arrived in Germany in the best shape of my life. Despite the bad first impression from the first day of arriving in the country, I was really excited and positive to give it a go. I had also read lots of great things about Germany and how it was less racist than America for a bunch of reasons that seemed convincing at the time, but are clearly bullshit now that I’ve seen how it’s like in person.
That was a huge mistake and moving to Germany has been the biggest regret of my life to date. I’ll talk about my dating life in Germany by year since I wasn’t just relying on apps (though they were very much mainstream at that point) but I had a more miserable time there than I did in America.
In short, I got 10 matches, dates with 3 different people (2 of which were Asian) and 1 relationship (Asian) over 5 years in Germany:
- Year 1:
- Went out a lot with the classmates in my grad school. Didn’t find that many women I was interested in, noticed a huge number of women in Germany smoke (more than I’ve ever seen living in Asia and America) and that’s a huge turnoff for me.
- Not much luck in real life or in apps. I was swiping every day on Tinder .(OKCupid was falling out of fashion) and finished the year with zero matches
- The biggest revelation was when a South American guy from my class let me scroll through his Tinder matches (we arrived at the same time in Germany) and he had dozens, maybe hundreds of matches (I never managed to scroll to the very bottom). The only difference I could see between him and I was he was white (European ancestry), I wasn’t.
- Year 2:
- I had traveled a bit in Year 1 and updated my profile with fresh photos of the new ‘fit’ me (though I’m still not very photogenic). Despite that, I still continued having no luck on dating apps. I got fed up and stopped using them for a while too; no matches from them that year.
- Continued going out with people I knew, now including people from the company I started working at. Went to a few ‘house parties’ (they’re common in Europe because a full night out can get expensive) and tried to hit up people I found interesting and/or attractive but no luck. I did make a friend out of that because she’s a lesbian who later married her girlfriend.
- Found out dating people from work is more acceptable and common in Europe (the company of 200 I worked for at the time had at least 3-4 couples). Tried asking like 2 people out during my time there but no dice.
- There were a bunch of rejections I got this year but I’ll save you and myself the pain and not list them individually.
- Interestingly, I got asked out for the first time in my life and first date in Germany by a white American girl who was visiting from my work’s US branch. We went on a date but I fumbled with this one because I was just so frustrated (with my single life and Germany) at that point that our date was just me recapping my life story and how I missed America. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway because she was only in Germany for a week on business before flying back to the states and she was 6 years older than me.
- Year 3:
- I continued going out but began reducing my outings as I realized I was just watching drunk and high people, breathing secondhand smoke, wasting money on taking a taxi at 3am and losing sleep every time (that’s basically ‘nightlife’ in Germany in a nutshell).
- I did start spending more time with friends I was closer with but I was starting to lose motivation with the boring single life I was having in Germany.
- A friend tried to set me up with her blonde German friend but that failed (we hung out together once but she had no interest, didn’t even give me her number) and I tried my hand with an Asian-American colleague but got rejected (she had joined the US office but was over in Germany for 2 weeks for introductions/training, we hung out a lot, talked a lot, I told her I fancied her the day before she left, and she immediately cut off any non-work related contact – was supposed to drive her back to the hotel that night and she called a cab for herself).
- Between that and discovering dating in Malaysia for the first time, I started contemplating moving back to Malaysia or Singapore. It wasn’t like I was enjoying Germany as a whole, so I didn’t have any reservations apart from salary.
- Sidenote: I got my first ever match on a dating app in Germany and also first date from a dating app, like ever – a girl from Vietnam who was in Germany as an au pair while enrolling in university. Didn’t progress past the first date because she wasn’t that attractive or interesting, and also planned to live in Germany for a few years while I was planning to leave.
- Year 4:
- I actually landed a handful of matches in Germany from dating apps because I was using them religiously to conduct research on dating in different locations (the term is A/B testing) just to verify that I wasn’t crazy after discovering my good luck getting matches back in Asia.
- This was due to being gaslighted the entire time by both people in real life and randoms on the internet that I just needed to “make my profile sound more interesting and taking better pictures of myself”, and that I should be looking inwards at myself instead of blaming racism… despite a lot of data and information out there about dating racism against Asian men in Western countries.
- As luck would have it, I connected with a Singaporean girl who had been living in Germany, we clicked, met up for a date and soon enough we were in a relationship. This was my first ever proper relationship, like ever, and it moved at breakneck speed – we even started living together within 3 months of dating.
- Alas, it was not meant to be as we both had flaws – she also grew up with a screwed up family and wasn’t completely mature in behavior (silent treatment, tantrums, not wanting to talk about problems or resolve them) while I also exhibited some crappy traits (temper tantrums, lack of patience, not saying things in a nice way) that I have only ever shown to people who are VERY close to me (basically my parents, grandma).
- Things turned somewhat rough within almost a year, but not completely turbulent in my opinion. Still, she began drifting apart, moved out and the relationship basically faded away without her even declaring a break up as she stopped talking to me.
Year 5: Getting over the break up/hoping she would change her mind and get back in touch. Doing research on Singapore even though I’m from across the bridge, because I don’t want it to turn into another case of Germany. Particularly in regards to living standard, things to do and the dating scene.
I don’t like giving up
No, I truly don’t. I was bullied throughout high school by some of the most toxic scum kids I’ve ever known (mental, office politics style bullying because they knew physical bullying would leave proof for the teachers). I’ve lived through an abusive upbringing, a household that I could only escape when I moved to the US for college as a teenager. I’ve lived on my own for over 10 years across 3 different countries. I’ve been unjustly fired from 2 different companies and sued them both (and won both times).
I have the personality of a fighter. I hate backing down, I love standing up for myself, I love conquering struggles. But at some point, it’s time to call it a day. I’ve been fighting to date and have a romantic life like a normal human being for over 10 years. Finding love is a process that takes time. It’s a minimum 5 year process to go from looking and dating around, to confirming that the person is right, to having your first kid with them. Not many people like to hear love put like a business or investment plan, but that’s exactly how reality is like.
My plan in life (even during my teenage years and early 20’s) has always been to find someone to love, settle down with them, buy a home, have kids and raise them. I feel this mindset comes from wanting to raise my own children in a normal way that I didn’t personally get to enjoy. And that might jolly well be the case. I was not going to wait another 5 years being single in Germany to land another 10 matches, that may or may not work out, while I could move back to Asia and land 10 matches in a slow month.
It’s looking like the last stop in my bitter quest to earn the normal life I’d like to live is Singapore. And I truly pray that it is the place I’ll be spending at least the next 2 decades in.
Sure, it’s expensive (but aren’t all big cities?), the weather is obnoxiously hot and humid year round, and you’re kinda stuck in a single city for everything. But at least there are jobs, many of them well-paying. At least I have family I can turn to (my aunts and uncles have made me feel treated better than my parents ever have) when I’m tired of being by myself at home and I don’t want to bother my friends (who have already been kind enough to listen over the years during the times when I’m feeling down). At least there’s places to go and things to eat, and other things to do as ‘nightlife’ beyond watching people getting drunk and high while breathing in secondhand smoke because indoor smoking is allowed (Germany).
But most of all, at least I can date like a normal human being. Living in Western countries, particularly Europe, for a single Asian guy is the modern-day equivalent of being forced to sit in the back of the bus. Discovering that I could get 3 matches in a week in Asia, versus 3 matches in 5 years in Europe, has been akin to finding a place that puts you up in first-class for no other reason than simply existing.
I wish I had found this out when I was younger instead of towards the age of 30. And I hope that if you’re an Asian male who is reading this, that you will realize this sooner than I did.