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“Men should take care of the big things, such as the house, the car, and trips, and women can find a way to pay for other things,” my father once told me. In my profile I said I was seeking a long-term relationship: no one-night stands. One person who replied seemed nice enough, asking me how I was doing, and whether I’d like to go to dinner. “Well it’s all the weightlifting and eating right,” he said, as he wolfed down a plate of buffalo wings.Within minutes I received dozens of “likes” and several text messages, but then realised they could not be from mature adults. When I turned up at the restaurant, the only person I saw looked like a college kid. He flinched when I half-jokingly asked to see his driving licence.The romance saga continued with my new Meet Up friend, who reached out to me for movies and dinner, and showered me with compliments of “you look so pretty”.He had now become tight-fisted when it came to paying.However, the expectation followed me back to the US, where I found that in Western culture I had quite a few girlfriends who split the bill or even paid for dates.My stepmother seemed to accept this paradigm shift. I mean, women are professionals, have careers and earn money too,” she said, pointing out that 50 per cent of her medical students, if not more, were women.He said he’d forgotten it and asked why age was such a big deal.“Age doesn’t matter to me, but the truth does,” I replied. I soon realised that dating apps were just a pool full of guys who were looking to hook up.
Things got more promising when I met a man with similar interests at the film lovers’ Meet Up. Many said it would have been nice if the guy at least paid on the first few dates, but it would also be nice if the woman asked if she could chip in.In Hong Kong I found the men, especially Chinese, to be more traditional – asking what kind of food I preferred, opening doors, and almost always picking up the bill for dinner. My friend had found success using dating apps, and has now been in a relationship for six months.Over the years, I spoke about dating and relationships with many men in my life – my father, uncles, cousins, and colleagues, who shared their philosophies about the sexes. As a first-generation Chinese-American, I was born and raised in the United States, before moving to live and work in Hong Kong, where, for a few years, I lived with my then 89-year-old grandmother. I downloaded the apps, posted a headshot, and filled in the essentials. In the coming days I received numerous “hi” and “hellos” only to be met with silence when I thanked them and asked for their name.“I think it is important for mixed-culture couples to be open on the difference in expectations based on their own culture, and make an effort to find common ground,” she said.Victor – who lives in New York and has dated many Asian women – said the challenge comes down to expectations in a rapidly changing society.