Priorities of Singaporean and Malaysian daters evolved post-pandemic, survey finds

A couple on a sofa with the woman's hand on top of man's hand.
A survey commissioned by dating company Lunch Actually found that Singaporean men are comfortable dating women who earn more than them. (Photo via Getty Images)

A survey commissioned by dating app company Lunch Actually has found the stark difference of priorities between men and women daters in Singapore and Malaysia, with an overwhelming majority of Singaporean men considers age as their top preference when finding a date, while a majority of Singaporean women considers education level as their priority.

It also found that while Malaysian men also listed age as their top preference, most Malaysian women consider income level of a potential date as their preference.

Tables with the breakdown of men's and women's preferences across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan on what they look for in a partner.
The three important characteristics that singles look for in a partner or date. (PHOTO: Lunch Actually)

The survey had a total of 2,300 respondents from all several Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

However, when asked if they're willing to combine their finances with their future partner, a little over majority of Singaporean single respondents said they were not sure, while only 46 per cent of Malaysian daters answered the same, with 34 per cent of them answering in the affirmative. Only 33 per cent of Singapore daters voted yes.

Table that shows 71% of Thai surveyees would consider combining their finances with future partner. 28% of Taiwanese chose not to while 51% of Singaporeans were unsure.
Survey finds Singaporean daters are "not sure yet" if they would consider combining their finances with a future partner. (PHOTO: Lunch Actually)

Economic uncertainty was the primary reason why women are getting more specific about learning about their potential date’s earnings, with the majority of single daters also believe that it is important for them to know their potential partner’s financial situation before getting into a relationship.

However, this does not mean that singles are only interested in dating well-off individuals, the survey said, as 49 per cent of singles will still consider going on a second date if the first date was a success, and 39 per cent of daters say that the character of their date is more important than their economic capability or employment status.

Priorities of men and women daters have also evolved post-COVID, with 30 per cent singles saying that they’re prioritising their mental health, compared to the 29 per cent who said that they prioritise finding a life partner more. Meanwhile, 15 per cent are focused on their careers.

When asked about the frequency of their going to dates, majority of Singaporean and Malaysian daters answered that they have not gone on a date for more than one year already.

Table shows majority of daters in Singapore have not gone on a date in over a year.
Survey finds majority of daters in Singapore have not gone on a date in over a year. (PHOTO: Lunch Actually)

Meanwhile, 50 per cent of surveyed singles believe that it’s the man who should pay for the bill for dates, while 39 per cent believe that the bill should be split.

In Malaysia, 62 per cent believe that men should be the one to pay for the bill on a first date, while 22 per cent believe in splitting date, while 11 per cent said that the one who initiated the date should be the one to pay, while only 5 per cent believe it should be women.

Table that shows majority of the surveyees think men should pay up on a first date.
Men should pay up on a first date, survey finds. (PHOTO: Lunch Actually)

Other findings

  • The financial slowdown has NOT impacted the dating life of Singaporean singles.

  • Single women are getting more specific about men’s earnings as their criteria.

  • Over the years, Singaporeans are more open to dating someone from a different race.

  • A partner’s financial situation is important.

  • However, it is NOT necessarily mean that singles focus on having financially stable partners, characteristic still counts.

  • Singles in Singapore who are financially stable have a big desire to find love, but they face hurdles to going on a date as the frustration while using dating apps increases.

“Coming out of the pandemic this year, it has been challenging for most of us, as we are now facing financial uncertainty. However, our survey has shown that for most singles in Singapore, price increases have not impacted much on their dating life,” Violet Lim, chief executive officer and co-founder of Lunch Actually, said.

“Many singles in Singapore who are financially stable are prepared to find the love of life even as there is a risk of global recession in 2023,” she added.

Timeframe of singles from dating to getting married

The survey also found that 40 per cent of singles decide to exclusively date someone only after three to four dates, with 42 per cent saying that they will only settle with a life partner after meeting or dating between two to four individuals.

With Singapore having the second-highest percentage of singles who do not believe in sex before marriage, 50 per cent of singles would only have sexual intimacy with someone they know after exclusively dating, while 65 per cent of singles would only get married or settle down after a year or two in a relationship.

On the other hand, 60 per cent of Malaysian daters would only marry after more than a year or two in a relationship, while 34 per cent are open to marrying their mate after three months to one year of dating, and only six per cent would want to marry after less than three months of dating.

Table that shows 50% of Singaporean and Malaysian daters will only get intimate when they are dating exclusively.
Daters will only get intimate when they are exclusive, according to half of Singaporean respondents. (PHOTO: Lunch Actually)

Although the convenience of online dating apps proved beneficial during a pandemic, 42 per cent of singles are getting frustrated using it, with 56 per cent of singles revealing that they have been approached in a way that’s uncomfortable for them.

Meanwhile, 57 per cent said that they’ve been contacted by a scammer, with 38 per cent having been catfished and 58 per cent ghosted.

Which is why, according to Lim, the utmost responsibility of online dating apps nowadays is to ensure the safety of their users.

“With the proliferation of dating apps nowadays, we believe it will open more opportunities for singles to find love … [W]e feel the responsibility to create a safer platform for singles to support their journey to find love in a safe and conducive environment,” said Lim.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news writer who focuses on politics, the economy, and democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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