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Single Asian Men and Harmful Stereotypes in the Dating World

The online dating world is both a blessing and a curse.

Photo by Thái An on Unsplash
Photo by Thái An on Unsplash

It’s striking how ethnicity plays such a large role in desirability. In the case of Asian men, it’s the lack of desirability that comes into play. I’ve had a number of Asian male clients lament the difficulties of dating in the Seattle area.

Even though Seattle is a relatively big city, these guys express frustration that the dating apps aren’t working for them. What adds to the frustration is these men have followed the rules of the family by holding off dating until after they received their degrees and are settled in good jobs with a stable income. Now that they’re ready to date, they are surprised the pool is so small for them. Many don’t want to blame their ethnicity for the lack of interest as they feel that’s having a victim mentality. But in not acknowledging the obvious, they do themselves a disservice by being blind to the social forces that statistically speaking will lead to fewer matches.

Asian men that try to date white women often find it harder due to the stereotypes of Asian men as being weak, shy, and lacking initiative. But it’s not as easy either for Asian men to try and date Asian women as these stereotypes also sometimes impact how Asian women view men from similar backgrounds.

Since online dating has gone mainstream, I try to emphasize to my Asian male clients that they can not rely on dating apps as the sole means of meeting women. Asian men may need to get out into the real world and meet women the old-fashioned way. They need to build relationships where women can see past the stereotypes and see the personality behind the person. This can be daunting with today’s generation if one is more comfortable texting than socializing in person. I believe the advent of texting has impacted emotional intimacy as it’s easier to hide behind a text than engage in a phone or in-person conversation. Even when my clients get interest via dating apps, they are wary to meet in person or talk on the phone until they feel there’s a certain “connection” that occurs first. This feels counterintuitive to me as I explain that you’ll never really know if you like a person just based on their dating profile and text messages sent back and forth since we as humans will project what we want to see in those messages. But if you meet someone in person, the body language, tone of voice, eye contact and other non-verbal forms of communication will give you a better sense of whether you want to spend more time with that person.

Asian male clients often describe their self-esteem as “shot” and feeling “inadequate” compared to their white counterparts. I empathize and acknowledge that rejection is real. The wound of rejection could cut deeper if race played a part as the client felt they never even had a chance to showcase who they are. On a deeper level, I try to help them see how flawed it is to have a woman be their main source of adequacy. This is a recipe for disaster. If anything, singlehood while seemingly a time to find a romantic partner is also a time to find one’s self. If you don’t truly know who you are, then being with a partner will only add to the confusion. Too many men make the mistake of having a woman as the final destination instead of being on a journey of self-discovery and inviting a woman to join along.

I don’t have all the answers to help Asian men with dating per se, but I do know if as a man you are not comfortable being single or have not found purpose in your singlehood, then finding a romantic relationship can actually be a hindrance to discovering your true self.

More from Sam Louie MA, LMHC, CSAT
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