Let me put it bluntly: When it comes to dating, it sucks to be an Asian male in the U.S.
I’ll share my personal experience in a bit, but first, let’s look at the science behind it all…
After crunching the behavioral data gathered from 25 million users, OkCupid found that Asian guys have it the worst when it comes to online dating. They’re consistently rated less attractive than Black men, Latino men, and white men, and they get the least messages and replies from women. Here’s the kicker — this racial dating behavior on OkCupid actually trended worse for Asian men over a 6 year time frame.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“Hang on, aren’t interracial relationships getting more common in America?”
That’s true. 17% of U.S. newlyweds were in interracial marriages in 2015, which is a stark increase from the 3% in 1967. But 17% ain’t much if you think about. That means more than 80% of marriages in the U.S. are still within the same race.
Plus, there’s another catch…
For an Asian guy to actually marry a white woman, he has to jump through a ton of hoops. For instance, a Columbia University study says he has to make $247,000 more than a white guy. And that is of course after scoring 140 points higher on the SAT just to get into elite college to make that kind of dough!
(To put things in perspective, Black and Hispanic men only need to make $154,000 and $77,000 more than white men to marry white women).
Notwithstanding income and SAT scores — even if you are an Asian guy like Kevin Kreider (Korean adoptee) — who is tall, charismatic and has six pack abs — online dating while being Asian is still quite a challenge.
And certainly, the advent of photo-based swipe apps like Tinder and Bumble hasn’t helped our cause and has only exacerbated racial dating behavior. Just ask our gay brethren who have to deal with “Sorry, No Asians” on dating profiles on apps like Grindr.
The OKCupid CEO Christian Rudder (a white guy) tries to make sense of it all:
“Beauty is a cultural idea as much as a physical one, and the standard is of course set by the dominant culture.”
So, yes, the situation is bleak, but there is a path for an Asian guy — or any normal guy — to find love.
In fact, I’d like to think that I’ve kind of cracked the code.
Hint: it’s about who you know.
So here’s my personal story:
First off, before I met my wife, I was well on my way to becoming a confirmed bachelor. It was not for lack of trying though. I never had a problem meeting people and was quite social and was always hosting events. I also did the online dating thing as well. Unfortunately, nothing ever seemed to stick.
One fateful evening, I was attending an Oscar-viewing fundraiser with my friend Teddy Zee, who happens to be the producer of the matchmaking movie called “Hitch.” Upon arriving at the venue, I said my hellos and was introduced to a woman named Linda.
She was smart, ambitious and attractive. I know it sounds cheesy, but for me, it felt like she was the only person in the room. I learned that she grew up in Seoul, graduated from the Art Center and had just landed a creative director position at an agency.
I didn’t want our conversation to end, so I just kept buying her apple martinis — three to be exact. I felt like we really hit it off! Here’s what I didn’t know: me meeting Linda wasn’t a coincidence.
My buddy Teddy actually met Linda earlier in the evening, and he took it upon himself to act as a wingman. Unbeknownst to me, Teddy had struck up a deal with the event host, and got her to bring me over to Linda’s table as soon as I arrived that night.
Cute story, huh? Well, it gets even better.
Again, I didn’t know this back then, but as it turns out, Teddy spoke to Linda before I asked her for her number, and convinced her to give me a shot. Yup, when Linda went to the bathroom — between apple martini two and three — Teddy approached her, and asked her about me.
“So…what do you think of Steve?”
Linda admitted that while I was “funny” and “nice,” I wasn’t really her type. After some prodding, Teddy was able to determine that my beer belly might have been a factor.
But Teddy didn’t give up and shared with her a little about what he liked about me as a person.
Because of Teddy’s glowing endorsement, Linda decided to keep an open mind and the rest, as they say, is history. We eventually got married and now have adorable 3-year-old named Kingston!
So how does this apply to all the Asian guys out there?
Most Asian guys, like me, will struggle to get matches and right swipes on dating apps. Why? Because society is conditioned to think of Asian guys as nerdy sidekicks, NOT the guys you’d want to date.
(I know, I know, “Crazy Rich Asians” just came out. That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough).
So you should STOP putting all your eggs in one basket (i.e. those photo-based dating apps).
And start getting your friends to introduce you to their friends.
Trust me, this can make ALL the difference. (It sure did for me!)
In fact, Linda and I believe so strongly in the power of introductions, we created an #antidatingapp called M8 where your friends are part of the magic. Featured at Techcrunch Disrupt, M8 is unique because we are a relationship matchmaking platform that’s powered by human matchmakers (your friends!).
At M8, we believe that endorsements and introductions from real-life friends provide an important human dimension to our platform. These introductions give both you and your matches better insight into potential compatibility and a “warm intro” that establishes common ground.
Here’s what this means:
Your matches are LESS likely to typecast you as “just another Asian guy,” and they’ll get to know you on a deeper level.
Up till today, Linda and I are still talking about that fateful day when we met, and we’re insanely grateful to Teddy for engineering it all.
We thought — what better way to pass on the love, than to create a space where friends can help matchmake their friends?
If you’re single, and sick of getting left swipes on the dating apps you’ve been using, then enlisting your friends’ help is the best way to go. They already know your character and quirks; this makes their recommendations more tailored and effective than what any generic dating app can offer.
If you’re already happily attached, then here’s your chance to play matchmaker, and help your friends reach their happily ever after.
You can download our IOS app here.
PS — I still have the beer belly 😉