You are a single expatriate male/female in Singapore and a local woman/man catches your attention. You are thinking of approaching him/her but you are unsure of the proper way to do so in this country. Well, let this article serve as a guide to you on the proper dating etiquette in Singapore. Please note that this serves as a general guide and may not apply to all Singaporeans.
Singaporeans, though modern, often hold a slightly different set of ideas when it comes to dating. Due to the Asian values that have been inculcated by families and institutions, most Singaporeans often adopt a careful approach to dating. In Singapore, do not be surprised if dating a man/woman means being involved in his/her family as well.
Approaching a Singaporean for a date:
You may have gotten to know the Singaporean man/woman at work or met at a restaurant or a club. Generally, in Singapore, it is acceptable to chat the member of the opposite sex up and subsequently exchange numbers. In Singapore, while it is more common for a man to make the first move, it is also acceptable (and in some cases, liked) if a woman makes the first move. This is usually followed up by an exchange of text messages and/or phone calls, which often leads to the arranging of a date.
Do not be surprised if you find yourself being rejected for bluntly asking a Singaporean out for a date in the first few minutes of meeting, when the only information they know about you is your name and your array of pick-up lines. Often, Singaporeans are more readily to accept dates after knowing a bit more about the person, be it a fellow local or an expat.
Dates in Singapore:
In Singapore, the idea of going on dates often involves activities such as a meal, movies, clubbing, drinks, walks and lengthy conversation, amongst others. Do not be surprised if some of these dates are organised as group dates, which involves other couples, usually friends, together with you. This is quite a common practice in Singapore as group dates allows one to get to know his/her date while maintaining a safe space to prevent unwanted situations.
Dating & Families:
Due to the Asian values of Singaporeans, it is quite common that a single man/woman often stay with their parents. As such, some Singaporean families are often quite involved in the dating lives of their children, to the extent of accepting their children’s partner as part of the family (especially if they have been dating for a significant period of time). It is quite normal to be invited to family events such as birthdays, gatherings, weddings or even weekly outings and dinners. So be prepared to face the flurry of questions that may come your way from family members and relatives, especially the famous “When are you both getting married?” (again, if you have been seriously dating that is). So it’s best to remember to smile and politely address or field those questions.
Being “touchy-feely” on dates:
This is an area that an expat should be quite careful about when on a date with a Singaporean. While a casual touch or kiss may be common in the Western countries, here in Singapore it may be misconstrued as more, sometimes even to the point of the touch being considered an outrage or insult of one’s modesty. For example, touching or casually slapping a woman’s derriere may be considered as an attempt to insult her modesty, which is punishable by the law. There have been cases where some expats have found charges being pressed against them by Singaporean women, for what the expat considers harmless touching. In some of these cases, the expats were served with a fine, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousands. It is best to be familiar with your local date and understand the limits they may or may not have on touching during dates.
This is another area of dating that an expat should approach cautiously. While some Singaporeans may be agreeable to the idea of one-night stands, others may be against it. Again, it is best to be sure what your local dates are up for before assuming and finding yourself in trouble.