If you’re dating in Hong Kong, can you relate?

Talk to any single person in London, New York or Beijing (or any other city, village or town in the world for that matter) and they will tell you their location is The Worst when it comes to dating.

But we know better: Hong Kong wins, hands down. Hong Kong is heaven for those who love to casually date but dating in Hong Kong is a special kind of hell for singles who no longer want to be single.

When the time is right…

Everyone in Hong Kong is ambitious to a fault. Back in the day Hong Kong was considered a Plan B as per FILTH (failed in London, try Hong Kong) but nowadays Hong Kong is where the most hungry and driven people want to be.

These are great qualities when career progress is a priority but not when we seek love because we’re always aiming for something out of reach.

When we are so focused on what we want to next achieve, what we want to have and who we want to become, we find ourselves completely unsatisfied with what we have already achieved, what we already have, and who we are right now.

This means we keep on pushing certain important milestones (e.g. finding love, settling down) until we’ve achieved the next goal in our five-year plan…and then the next goal…and then the next goal…ad frickin nauseum.


With that ambition comes expectations. Hongkongers are all about PBO-ing (pending better offer), always a wandering eye to see what better people are out there or as a friend said when she introduced me to Tinder, “Just because you’ve eaten doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu.”

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HKIA is your home away from home

Did you know the average Hongkonger makes 11 international trips per year? We’re #1 when it comes to international travel and a distant second is Luxembourg with 2.56 international trips per year.

Traveling is great and all but the less time you spend in Hong Kong means the less time you have to:

  1. Meet a potential Significant Other (SO) here;
  2. Get to know the potential SO; and
  3. Not forget about them.

I’m not being facetious with #3. Not forgetting about them requires in real life (IRL) dates and a sense of momentum that is lost if you can’t see each other regularly (and without long gaps in between).

No rest for the wicked

When I first started setting people up on dates it would often take a week or two between making a match and getting them to meet on a IRL date. Nowadays, the time between a match and a date can be up to six weeks.

This is mostly because of people’s travel schedule but also because they have lots of after-workhours work to do (e.g. late-night conference calls because 10pm HKT is 3pm GMT and 10am EST) and all other gaps in their schedule are crammed with social activities and little time for dating. Even the introverts I know are out and about regularly. This means it’s hard to find a mutually agreeable time to go on a date.

It also means even less time for the potential couple to just chill out and do nothing. Respite is hard to come by in Hong Kong (but this may change as the self-love/self-care trend gets stronger).

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You may ask yourself what downtime has to do with dating. A lot. When you have down time you have the bandwidth to think abstractly and without the usual parametres thereby allowing you to see things (and people) differently.

OT to the max

In UBS’s last Prices and Earnings survey, one of the topics it covered was work hours. Guess who works the longest hours? Hongkongers. We spend more than 50 hours a week at work (which is 38% above the world average and 50% more than your average Londoner). The city with the second-longest working hours was Mumbai clocking in almost 44 hours.

Overtime works is getting out of control but with this self-care trend we may find changes in work/life balance but not yet. This year the SCMP reported Hongkongers are literally willing to trade higher pay for flexibility. In the 2017 Robert Half Salary Guide, 42% of the Hongkongers surveyed said they were willing to accept less pay in exchange for flexible working hours and 39% said they would prefer the option of working from home over a salary increase.

By working around the clock, Hongkongers are missing on time to dedicate to dating and love. Time to meet people, get to know them, and do things with them. Having the spare time to do this is important but so is emotional bandwidth. If you’re overwhelmed with work stress and always on your phone, you aren’t giving yourself the necessary respite to do nothing, a concept which really seems to be lost on Hongkongers.

Winding down and warming up

Not having bandwidth, time, and plain old physical energy is also affecting the quality and quantity of sex Hongkongers are having.

The URL of this EJ Insight article from 2016 says it all: https://www.ejinsight.com/20160323-hongkongers-have-fewer-orgasms-than-everyone-on-the-planet/. And if the URL doesn’t scare you, maybe the article’s title will: Sex experts alarmed over Hong Kong ‘wasteland’.

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The article says, “Sixty-nine percent from the city are not satisfied sexually even when they have it, according to Durex in its most recent global survey on sexual practices. Between the sheets, 41 percent of Hong Kong men experience an orgasm every time, compared with only 8 percent of women. In contrast, the study found that 64 percent of males worldwide, compared with 32 percent of females, always experience orgasm during sex.”

A more recent SCMP article cites a 2011 survey by City University: Hong Kong men were satisfied with having sex an average of 1.9 times a week, while women were content with 1.6 times a week

But there’s still hope if you’re dating in Hong Kong

Have I depressed you? Don’t worry, there is still hope. Hong Kong isn’t a total wasteland. If that was the case, there wouldn’t be any loved-up couples at all  and we would top the “Marriage Cemetery” index (the Maldives gets that honour). 

However, you can’t just sit around and wait for someone to knock on your door – because that doesn’t happen in real life. If you want to make a change to your love life you need to give it energy, effort, and time – all of which are in short supply in Hong Kong. But if dating and meeting someone special is at the top of your priority list you need to find the resources to make it happen.

Got a date? Get some first date ideas here!

Ariadna is founder of Maitre D’ate, a matchmaking agency and date concierge for Hong Kong singles who are ready to fall in love.


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