Swipe, Swoon, & Sell: Expat Perspectives On The Quirks Of Online Dating In Malaysia

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Picture this: You’re living the dream as an expat in Malaysia. You stand out from the natives, earning you a touch of ‘exotic’ allure and special treatment. You’ve got it made, financially secure; perhaps self-employed, and our local currency is subservient to your promising career path. You’ve fulfilled the aspirations of your younger self, bravely venturing to this tropical paradise all on your own.

But hold on a second. Here you are, lounging on your cozy couch in your minimalistic condo facing the Twin Towers, swiping left, right, (and sometimes upwards) on a sea of unfamiliar faces. You’re desperately seeking that elusive connection, someone who understands you on a deeper level and fills that tiny void within…

source: Daily Mail

While your expat life brims with excitement and privilege, there’s no escaping the universal longing for human connection. Is this really what the quest for companionship amidst the palm trees and skyscrapers, a modern-day pursuit of happiness in a foreign land, is like for our expats?

We spoke to 5 of them to find out. Here’s what they had to say:

Disclaimer: This article is meant for entertainment purposes only. It does not aim to disparage any societies, ethnicities, or individuals. The introductory section playfully pokes fun at expat stereotypes, and the views expressed belong solely to the individuals who consensually shared their opinions with JUICE.

Some names have also been altered to protect their identities.

1. Remi

40-year-old Lebanese male, looking for a serious relationship

Dreamstime image

For Remi, who mostly matched with local women on dating apps, he couldn’t help but notice a trend as he scrolled through profiles.

Many of his potential partners seemed to be drawn to him because they thought older, foreign guys like him had deeper pockets. It was an odd dance between attraction and commerce, where discussions would suddenly veer off topic and move to investments and products. How could he differentiate genuine interest from those who saw him as a potential boost to their business ventures?

He chuckled, amused by the thought that he resembled one of the “rich ones” sought after in this curious dating game.

With patience and a touch of skepticism, Remi made his intentions clear on his profile: he was seeking love. It stung when he discovered that a woman he genuinely liked turned out to have ulterior motives, springing an MLM scheme on him out of the blue.

“Hey,” he quipped, “can’t we have a bit of both? You hustle for your business, invest in it. Surely you can extend the same dedication to a human connection?”

Apart from that, Remi told us that he stumbled upon a peculiar phenomenon he coined as “fishcats.” But what exactly are these novel creatures, you ask? Brace yourself for a comical twist.

According to Remi, fishcats are women who present themselves differently on their dating profiles, be it by using outdated photos or embracing the Glam filter with gusto. However, when Remi finally met these fishcats in person, he found himself pleasantly surprised – these women looked even better in their “authentic” state.

The irony didn’t escape him. “Of course, they have every right to curate their profiles as they please,” Remi chuckled. “But it’s just so amusing that they become twice as attractive when they reveal their true selves. Many people underestimate their own beauty. I always make sure to remind them, though perhaps that’s not the best strategy, considering I’m still sleeping alone after almost a year of dating,” he playfully noted.

2. Jason

43-year old American male, looking for short-term fun

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When Jason first dove into the local dating pool, he was looking for a serious relationship. But as time went on, he realised he had a growing desire to ultimately settle down somewhere in Europe and therefore chose to opt for short-term connections.

However, while he was out seeking love, he encountered an unsettling trend – one that involved encountering stereotypes and being subjected to rude comments.

While Jason had developed a thick skin and could handle the occasional playful banter about his American accent, he found himself taken aback by the seriousness with which some people labeled him based on his nationality. The remarks were not light-hearted jests, but rather misguided assumptions about his character and beliefs. It seemed as though his American identity became a target for criticism and stereotyping.

Recalling three distinct occasions, Jason shook his head in disbelief.

On one of his dates, which had been going well, a conversation about his friend and his pregnant girlfriend took an unexpected turn. The person he was speaking with expressed shock and disapproval, attributing their acceptance of an unmarried pregnancy to Americans being too liberal. Jason couldn’t help but feel perplexed by the sweeping generalisation and the assumption that all Americans aligned themselves with political figures like Donald Trump – an assumption that couldn’t have been further from the truth for him personally.

Amidst these encounters, Jason couldn’t help but find the situation peculiar. While he understood that cultural differences exist and can lead to misunderstandings, he felt disheartened by the blatant judgment and negative associations placed upon him solely based on his nationality. It made him question whether the quest for a genuine connection could truly be achieved in an environment where preconceived notions and stereotypes took precedence over getting to know someone on an individual level.

“I’m not saying everyone is like that, but I really hadn’t been on that many dates – the mere handful was enough to turn me off. Then I thought, maybe I was being a little too sensitive?

“Anyways, now that I’m no longer looking for something serious, I don’t find myself so bothered about these things anymore. I know there are a lot of good people and good things waiting for me out there, and it’s okay if I don’t find it through a dating app right here,” he stated.


25-year-old Indian female, still figuring it out

source: APKPure

Stepping out of the sheltered cocoon of her upbringing in Southern India, Sha found herself in the bustling multicultural landscape of Malaysia. Seizing the opportunity of her new role as a student counsellor, Sha saw this as the perfect chance to explore the exciting world of dating that had eluded her in her earlier years.

With a mix of curiosity and trepidation, Sha delved into the realm of online dating, eager to experience the newfound freedom that her role and environment provided. As a student counsellor, she had always been the listener, the guide, and the pillar of support for others. Now, she was ready to embark on her own journey of self-discovery and companionship.

As Sha delved deeper into the world of dating, she encountered a reality that left her both frustrated and perplexed. The initial excitement of meeting new men was often overshadowed by a disheartening trend she observed—pushiness and a swift descent into overly sexualised conversations.

For Sha, meaningful conversations held immense value. She yearned for connections that transcended the surface-level banter and delved into the realms of shared interests, aspirations, and personal growth. Yet, time and time again, she found herself disappointed as these conversations took a sharp turn towards sexual innuendos and explicit propositions.

With a mixture of exasperation and sarcasm, Sha couldn’t help but voice her dismay at this pervasive behaviour.

“News flash, still figuring it out is not an invitation into my pants. It means I have my options open. Not my legs,” she says.

However, she does add, “I realise this is something a lot of women struggle with. Some of my friends say that dating apps are just the wrong place to look if you’re not into hookups, but I don’t wanna give up just yet. I have hope still!”


32-year-old Russian female, looking for a serious relationship

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For Irina, embarking on a quest to find a meaningful connection saw her armed with her genuine intentions and a longing for a serious relationship. This self-proclaimed “spirited, hopeless romantic” soon found herself in a whirlwind of intriguing matches. However, the twists and turns along the way left her with a bittersweet aftertaste.

As a bisexual woman, Irina matched with an almost equal amount of men and women, though she found her encounters with women more promising, filled with shared interests and captivating conversations. Yet, as the relationships progressed towards a more serious note, a melancholy shadow would cast itself upon the budding connections.

Irina couldn’t help but wonder if the local perspective on LGBT communities played a significant role in these disheartening episodes. It seemed that as soon as the romantic tides grew stronger, these women who had once shown genuine interest took a few hesitant steps back. The complexities of societal expectations and cultural nuances surrounding same-sex relationships appeared to seep into the budding connections, leaving Irina with a sense of longing and confusion.

In addition to the intricate dance of emotions, Irina also noticed a recurring pattern among her matches. Many seemed to be captivated by her physical appearance, but the depth of connection appeared to wane when it came to meaningful conversations. It was as if they were merely seeking a trophy to adorn their profiles (and Instagram follower list) rather than truly investing in the exchange of ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

“Dating apps are not a networking playground. I’m looking for a partner, not an influencer!” she exclaimed.


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29-year-old Nigerian male, looking for a short-term/ open relationship

Having initially arrived as a student, Ken had now embarked on a career in the hospitality industry. However, his inherent shyness hindered him from approaching the intriguing individuals he encountered daily at the hotel he works at.

Ken observed a clear cultural difference in the locals’ relationship attitudes when he explored the online dating market. Many Malaysians seemed to value long-term partnerships and were sceptical of the notion of an open relationship. Ken resisted making generalisations, but he pondered whether men were more likely to hold viewpoints similar to his own in Malaysia.

To his surprise, Ken found himself matching with a greater number of expats rather than locals. However, he encountered a particular challenge when connecting with some of these expats. Many seemed to engage in a competitive nature, constantly trying to outdo each other in terms of their careers and family backgrounds. It left Ken feeling slightly disheartened, as he desired a genuine connection based on mutual understanding rather than superficial competition.

The plot twist?

Ken recently matched with a local woman who he describes as “magnetic and sweet”. He recognised that she possessed the qualities he sought in a long-term partner, and he found himself reconsidering his dating preferences. For now, the pair have decided to take a cautious approach to things and let their connection grow slowly and naturally… Though he doesn’t deny that she may just be the one.

source: The Diamondback

So there you have it – The good, the bad, and the cunning sales tactics.

Happy swiping, fellow adventurers, and may your online dating escapades in Malaysia be filled with laughter, genuine connections, and maybe, just maybe, a touch of tropical romance. 😉

Feature image courtesy of iStock

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