[Day 234] What’s dating like for a white girl/guy in Hanoi

To gather materials for my upcoming book “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide“, I decided to test out the dating scene for white people. Since I’m not white (unless your vision is seriously impaired), I had to hide behind a platform that let you be whomever you want to be: Tinder.

I went on Tinder to create two accounts: one as a white male (James, 24 y/o) and one as a white female (Lauren, 22 y/o). They are both Americans traveling around Asia. In the opinion of three Viet friends that I asked, these people are attractive but not Brad Pitt/Scarlett Johansson level of attractive. They are like the girl, the guy next door. I can’t post their photos here because I need the accounts to do further research.

I started James’ account on Dec 27, 2016, and Lauren’s account on Dec 29, 2016. I swiped as James for 3 days and as Lauren for only 1 day. The short lifespan of Lauren’s account is partly because after a day I’ve got enough materials and partly because I got bored. Idk about you but I find small talk on Tinder excruciating. Like, I know you want to get in my pants but I’ll play coy so you can pretend that you care and we can both waste time. My idea of a perfect conversation on Tinder should be something like this:

Single number 1: “Fancy a f*ck?”

Single number 2: “Yes” (if s/he does) or “No” (if s/he doesn’t).

The end.

But of course, life never goes as I wish so I had to put up with Tinder etiquettes. Both James and Lauren had their settings to be default. Both swiped right on everyone. None messaged any match first. Below is the summary of their stats:

James Lauren
Age 24 22
Age range 18-34 18-32
Tinder’s lifespan 3 days 1 day
Total number of matches 77 91
Vietnamese/non-Vietnamese ratio of matches 90%/10%
(68 Viet/8 non-Viet)
30%/70%
(27 Viet/64 non-Viet)
Total number of matches who message first 13 (16.7%) 39 (42.8%)
Vietnamese/non-Vietnamese ratio of senders 92%/8%
(12 Viet/1 non-Viet)
31%/69%
(11 Viet/24 non-Viet)

The first thing I noticed is the number of matches is ridiculously high for white guys. It’s common knowledge that online dating is depressing for men because of the low number of matches and the low response rate. James’ real account gets about 2 or 3 matches a day when he’s actively swiping in the US or the UK. But here, he got 41 matches on the first day. Then it slowed down on the second and third day. I assumed it’s because Tinder ran out of active female users in Hanoi. Still, James averages 22 matches a day, at least 7 times higher than in the US or in the UK.

It’s so easy that some white guys make a game out of it. I can almost hear them laughing while drinking cheap, cold beer on Ta Hien streets: “WHITE POWER!”

learn365project_white_people_dating_hanoi_4.png

It’s also worth noting the number of girls who message James first. Even in Western countries, the percentage of girls messaging guys first is ridiculously low. On OKCupid, men send 3.5 times as many first messages as women do. Someone did an experiment in Australia on PlentyOfFish and over 48 hours, the male profile received 2 messages from women while the female profile received 123 messages from men. At most 5% of the real James messaged him first.

It’s natural to expect the situation to be worse in a Confucian, patriarchal, male-dominant society like Vietnam, right? Growing up in Vietnam, I know that none of my Viet girl friends ever approaches men. Some Viet girls indeed post this on their profiles:

learn365project_white_people_dating_hanoi_6.jpg

Yet, James still got 13 first messages! They aren’t bots (I checked), because we aren’t that sophisticated in Vietnam yet. Imagine how much more success James would have got if he messaged girls first. When I told the real James the statistics, he immediately quit his job to move here. Not exactly, but he really should.

The next thing to notice was that while the majority of girls on Tinder in Hanoi are Vietnamese, the majority of guys are foreigners. If 90% of James’ matches are Viet girls, only 30% of Lauren’s matches are Viet guys.

learn365project_matches_racial.jpg

There are several possible explanations for this:

  1. White girls don’t use Tinder in Hanoi because no female ever travels to Vietnam to hookup. Vietnam, together with Thailand, remains a popular sex destination for guys.
  2. Viet girls are tired of waiting for Viet guys to make a move and thus they are more willing to try anything that gives them more control of their love life. I’ve also heard that Vietnamese women are more ready to adopt to new technologies.
  3. Some girls are sex-workers. Unfortunately, I can’t meet any of them to find out. However, I’ve talked to some other white guys who’ve met Viet girls on Tinder and they say that they’ve encountered sex workers, but not a lot.
  4. Some weird Tinder’s algorithm that purposely matches Viet girls with white guys and white guys again with white girls because of the historical trends?

Whatever the reason is, it’s clear that the odd is the white guys’ favor. Some Viet guys are apparently very bitter about it:

learn365project_white_people_dating_hanoi_3.jpg

I also take this opportunity to find the answers to some of the questions that I’ve wondered for a long time. First, I asked the guys who messaged Lauren if they prefer white girls or Asian girls. Because Lauren is white, the only acceptable answers are “I prefer white girls” or “I don’t care about the skin color as long as she is nice blah blah.” For those who said they prefer white girls, I asked why. The common answers of white guys are:

  • Viet girls are too easy. Like James, they all get plenty of matches in Vietnam, and the girls are quite eager to meet them. However, I asked Viet guys if they thought Viet girls were easy and they all said no. Maybe Viet girls are only easy when they are with white guys?
  • Many Viet girls can’t hold a proper conversation in English. A guy has compared talking to a Viet girl is like “two individuals miming in the dark.”Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 2.01.41 PM.jpg
  • Viet girls have that cutesy attitude that makes them feel like they are dating a baby.
  • Viet girls all want to get married, and Tinder is the wrong place for that.
  • They aren’t attracted to Viet looks.

One answer particularly stood out for me is that this guy thinks Viet girls are all about money. I more or less understand where he comes from. In Vietnam, it’s the norm that when a guy dates a girl, he’s expected to pay for everything for the girl: eating, shopping, even gifts for her family. I’ve heard the money issues from a few of my non-Viet guys.

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-1-58-06-pm

I’m happy to see that Lauren has a considerable number of matches with Viet guys. I have some white female friends in Hanoi and they all complain about their lack of dating prospects in Vietnam. So I asked this Viet guys if it’s true that Viet guys don’t like white girls. Their answers are all “no”. In their explanation, Viet guys like white girls but most don’t approach white girls because they are nervous about having to speak English.

learn365project_white_people_dating_hanoi_1.png

Some of them even said they preferred white girls for two reasons:

  • White girls are more independent than Viet girls.
  • White girls are better in bed.

So white girls, if you like a Viet guy, go for it.

This research made me a little bit sad. Because all these guys/girls thought they were talking to a white person, they were pretty honest about what they thought of Viet girls/guys, and the opinions are not entirely positive. Idk, let me go grab some cà phê sữa đá and think more about it.

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[Day 234] What’s dating like for a white girl/guy in Hanoi

2 thoughts on “[Day 234] What’s dating like for a white girl/guy in Hanoi

  1. Linh Hoang says:

    Chip, are you still in Vietnam for a short vacation? I saw your comment on Phuc’s talk for TED on quora… and then googled you. I just finished my 9 months living in Vietnam and experienced exactly the same! Your advisor is right about those vaccines but what he missed out was statistically speaking, you should be more concern about the traffic and motobikes than anything else. Just read few of your entries from blog and loved them.

    Liked by 1 person

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