We’re back with another “Hong Kong Dating Stories”, this time looking at dating apps and online platforms, the successful — and not-so-successful — virtual relationships that became in-person couple origin stories, and more…
In this dating stories series, we look at the city’s singles, couples and Hong Kong’s dating scene, what our personal and romantic relationships are like and how our upbringing here and abroad has made a difference in the way we view and build them. In our second instalment, we’re talking to Hongkongers and Hong Kong-based people — of any age, relationship length, gender identity and sexuality — about dating using online platforms! Whether it’s a dating-focused app or website, connecting in some way online (like on a forum!) or simply using a regular social media platform to date (guilty!), here’s what they had to say.
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What’s your general opinion on online dating?
B, 34 — Chinese, from the UK, Hong Kong-based, has been using some version of a dating app for the past seven years:
It’s a good way to meet people when you don’t have the time or the ability to do that offline. It can be easier to approach or talk to someone with the protection of a screen.
JC, 25 — Chinese, from Hong Kong, has a significant other they met on Coffee Meets Bagel. They’ve been together for over two years now:
I think online dating is a good option for people to meet as long as you go into it with a very casual and low-stakes mindset — it should not make or break you or your life.
Anonymous, 25 — Indian, from Hong Kong, opened an account on a dating app six years ago:
I have really mixed emotions about online dating. I either really enjoy it or really, really hate it. Probably 98 percent of my dates were through an online connection.
I’ve used Tinder, Bumble, Hinge — and Coffee Meets Bagel (for about five seconds before I deleted it). I’ve spoken to and met some absolute characters and some I wish I could just forget. But it makes for funny stories to tell. I have also truly met some really great people on these apps. So let’s say 70 percent good, 30 percent not-so-good.
Mash, 26 — Pakistani, from Hong Kong, has a significant other they met on Tinder. They’re married and have been together for seven years now:
It’s a great way to meet new people but can also be mentally and emotionally draining.
KA, 26 — Indian, from Hong Kong, has a significant other they met through Instagram. They’re engaged and have been together for two years now:
When I was trying out dating apps, I saw a lot of internet discourse online for the first time about “situationships” and virtual talking stages. Honestly, I never made it that far — I just ended up both reconnecting with old flings and meeting new people through friends of friends IRL.
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B: I met some great people on it who became long-term partners but equally found people looking purely for hook-ups. The app is what it is and I have never been disappointed in it — just some of the men I have spoken to on it.
A: When I was at uni, I feel like Tinder was my number one go-to dating app. I never really took dating seriously in the sense of looking for anything long-term and Tinder is great for that. There’s an unspoken understanding that Tinder is the hook-up app of the lot.
M: Tinder used to be exciting and very efficient — I stopped using it once I met my significant other so I think a lot has changed over the years. It was just that one rare online connection on Tinder that happened to be my life partner!
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And other dating apps…
B: I probably wouldn’t use Happn again, there’s something a little too real about how it informs people around you of your presence. Bumble is touted as more for relationships than hook-ups but the guys in my experience have never wanted more than a one-night stand. Coffee Meets Bagel was okay, I met a long-term partner on it but on the whole, I wasn’t invested in the app.
Hinge is probably the one I like the most. I enjoy the prompts that force most people to provide an answer, I like that you can see a range of people over and over again — unlike the swipe left and lose them forever aspect of other apps — and I did meet a long-term partner on it. I would probably say it attracts a calibre of people who are a little more relationship-minded.
JC: I technically have a 100 percent success rate since I only physically met with one person from Coffee Meets Bagel and ended up properly dating them. Coffee Meets Bagel seems to be for people who want a more serious and “wholesome” dating experience. Bumble is a step down from the seriousness of CMB and people on the platform are generally more open to casual relationships or even just friendships. But it sometimes feels annoying that the app depends on the woman to initiate the conversation.
A: I’ve genuinely met some really great people on Bumble. It took me some time to get used to the whole ‘girls message first’ thing because I usually forget that the app even exists and then the match expires. I’m now more comfortable with the concept but even then I don’t open the app often so the 24-hour match can be a bit tricky.
KA: I’m really not experienced with online dating — I did try to download a few apps, including Tinder, Bumble and even Muzz (formerly muzmatch) after I graduated from university (and my dating pool obviously suddenly shrunk) but I was honestly very terrible and used them like a little swiping game on my phone.
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The most surreal experience I’ve had on a dating app?
B: In his first message, a guy straight up asked me if I liked anal. I did not consider that first message material if I’m honest.
KA: I matched with this guy, who I never met up with because he spent the majority of the first messages to me insisting I wasn’t Indian and that I shouldn’t be offended because I didn’t “look like your neighbourhood next-door Indian”. He was a Persian from Canada so I don’t know what was going on there. I’m usually identified as Indo-Pak both in real life and online by other South Asians and I’ve even gotten voice recording messages in Hindi-Urdu – despite never writing anywhere that I could understand the language.
And a not-so-great experience I’ve had that included a dating app was when I matched with a friend of a friend I’d seen once in real life. I remembered him, he didn’t remember me but we met up. I hadn’t paid close attention to our Bumble profiles but he had — he knew my age and that I was going to be taller than him. I asked him how old he was but the next time we met up, he confessed he’d lied. It doesn’t sound that bad — but “agefishing” is really icky, and I couldn’t shake off how horrible it made me feel for the next few weeks. I still see him around but I don’t speak to him.
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The generations above me think…
B: My parent’s generation doesn’t like or understand the concept of online dating. If we’re talking about Gen X’s view however, I think it is not much different to how I, a Millennial, view dating platforms except I believe it is more than the home of hook-up culture — I know real relationships can and have been created on them.
JC: Online dating is unsafe and “unethical” to some degree, based on some thoughts I have heard from my mother.
A: I want to say I’m probably more open to online dating than the generation above but I also feel like that line is a bit more blurred now. I had friends in uni who are my age and are very anti-dating apps. To each their own.
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And the generation below me…
B: They form parasocial relationships so hard and fast on social media that I don’t think the idea of dating platforms phases them at all.
JC: I’ve heard about them having purely online relationships for long periods of time before ever physically meeting the other person. And I think they’re much more comfortable with meeting people online in general, through Instagram and Snapchat; not necessarily dating apps.
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If I had to tell a friend about dating apps…
B: I’d recommend Hinge for people seriously looking for a relationship, Tinder for hooking up or both but no one app will ever be one or the other.
And finally, I’d say
B: Dating platforms are great, to be honest. They can be terrible for your self-esteem and the whole dating experience can be soul-crushing — but even so, the apps aren’t so bad. I’ve met some truly wonderful men and some absolutely awful ones thanks to the apps but that would easily happen if I’d met them in real life. The apps open up the pool a lot more, that’s all.
A: Dating apps are fun and I don’t think they should be taken too seriously. Just have fun with it and be safe. If you’re going on a date with a new date — share your location with your friends!
KA: My most successful relationship is actually due to an online connection on a very regular social media platform. I was following my now-fiancé on Instagram for over a year, literally replied to one of his stories, he saw it, followed me back and we became friends. We started seeing each other romantically a few months later. Meeting up for the first time in real life was so scary, I worried about it for weeks. I was so sure it was going to be weird and terrible but it wasn’t! It was a risk that really paid off.
I feel like I don’t have a concrete opinion on dating, because I tend to make friends with someone and then catch feelings. Dating apps just seem like an extension of a not-so-great in-real-life dating pool. I think it’s scary — but I think the dating scene is also scary. Strangers? No background checks? Men? All scary stuff, online and off.
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Editor’s Note: Like what you read? We’re always looking for more people to share their thoughts and stories (whether you’re in a relationship or not!). Reach out to us at email@example.com
All images courtesy of Joy Lee for Sassy Media Group.