There was only single British journalist in his late 20s on OKCupid in Hong Kong, and I had already been out with him. We had a good laugh about it, but neither of us was surprised.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.
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.
I was 25 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.
I gave my blessing to my friend, but their courtship fizzled after a second date. OKCupid says it has about 2.8 million users in New York, and 45,000 in Hong Kong — two comparably sized cities in terms of population. But dating as an expat — “expiration dating” as some call it — brings its own unique set of frustrations. She proceeded: He was in his late 20s, single, British, a journalist. 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.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 20-something hetero single expat scene was dominated by an echelon of bankers and lawyers.