Dating Culture Shock: The Good, Bad and Fetishism of Modern-Day Dating in Japan

Story by Paul Nakayama. 

After decades of the singles scene in America, columnist Paul Nakayama discovers the good, bad and fetishism of modern-day dating in his ancestral home of Japan. 

Why would I forsake the moderate temperatures of Los Angeles and spend six weeks in the freezing, ball-numbing winters of Japan? The same reason I’ve always tortured myself— a girl. Well, and ramen. Really, really good ramen. But mostly, it’s for a girl. And while I was there, I made a few observations about the dating scene in Japan. They aren’t about my personal experiences per se, because this is my column and not my diary — I mean, journal. Men don’t keep diaries … not that I keep a journal. Wow, jet lag is nature’s crystal meth.

I should start by explaining that I was in Fukuoka, which is in southwestern Japan. If Tokyo, where I usually party in Japan, is like New York, then Fukuoka is like Chicago. In Fukuoka, like Chicago, people tend to get married while they’re still in their 20s or early 30s. So many of my girlfriend’s friends were already married. Otherwise, the first words from the single ones to me were, “Do you know any single men?”

Despite the marital aspirations of most of the people I met in Fukuoka, there was a contradictory and disappointing social trend, one that I’ve seen often in Asia. Cheating is a common occurrence. I don’t know the official numbers, but I met a lot of married men with mistresses and a lot of girls that were dating married men. It’s no surprise that in 2013 AshleyMadison.com (the affair-friendly website) made Japan its first Asian market. You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning, like I’m tempted to drive around Japan in a pickup with a TV in the back streaming Before Midnight.

But to get back on a positive note and to get back to the single people that are in search of true love, how do they find one another in Japan? While online dating is on the rise, the predominant method is undeniably the goukon, or group blind date. Basically, it’s a system where a single man and woman who know each other invite approximately four friends to meet at a restaurant or gastropub. It’s safer and less stressful. And genius. Oh, how I wish this could’ve been a possibility in my earlier years. The money saved from failed first dates aside, I — I mean, my friends — would’ve been spared all the emotional scars of humiliation. You know, like those horrible moments of dance-walking up to a girl at a club where she vehemently shakes her head “no,” and then having to shuffle back to the bar in shame. At goukon events, it becomes pretty clear who’s interested in whom, and it’s already established that everyone there is looking for something serious, meaning attendees can’t use the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line.

As great as goukons are, they aren’t infallible. Everyone is a friend of a friend, so at least there’s a level of trust. But honestly, how many of you know the sexual proclivities of your friends? Whenever my friends start dropping details, I cover my ears and sing Katy Perry songs. I heard this great/awful story of one goukon match gone awry. Apparently, they dated for a few weeks, but the guy always came up with some excuse not to let her go to his apartment. She finally found out why: he was an underwear fetishist with huge stashes of ladies’ used underwear. He’d buy them from vending machines. (They actually exist! I was as shocked as you to learn that it’s not an urban legend.) He’d even wear them to work. I may be embellishing at this point, but he might have peed on her, too. You know, I take it back. Goukons are perfect. Someone please go out there, host a goukon event and send your favorite stories to the Audrey office.

Now, once you’re dating, Japan has a whole slew of interesting and unique cultural options. For example, many people still live with their parents (or their spouses) and lack privacy, so many couples go to “love hotels,” which is essentially an upscale, usually gimmicky, pay-by-the-hour motel. They usually come equipped with karaoke, which is what I like to combine with sex (I didn’t watch porn growing up; I watched music videos). Another interesting difference is in the holidays. Christmas is Japan’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest night of the year for restaurants. Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Then a month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. I don’t quite understand it, but it is kind of sweet.

It was a fascinating experience to hear everyone’s dating stories during my time in Fukuoka. In my case, I’m a Japanese American dating a Japanese girl, so I suppose we can pick and choose the best of both dating cultures. I like the idea of having two major romantic holidays, so we agreed to that. It was also comforting to both of us that I have no interest in wearing her underwear nor does she in mine. There are no love hotels in the U.S., at least not of the same hygienic and entertaining quality as found in Japan, so any music we make in the bedroom will have to be of our own making. Katy Perry, anyone?

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Do Girls Find You Romantic or Creepy? The Answer Could Surprise You

Wong Fu Productions is awfully great at making us stop and really think about many of our everyday social situations. In one video, they made us realize just how crazy we look while we’re taking our foodies for instagram.  In a more recent video, they pointed out that as much as we deny it, we treat people differently if we think of them as “more than a friend.”

So what could be next on this list of social situations? The fine line between being romantic and being a creeper.

According to this video, there’s not much of a difference at all. Apparently, what categorizes you with the creepers or the romantics is whether or not the recipient is attracted to you.

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No matter how much I deny it, I can’t help but recall a number of times that I’ve seen this happen in real life. In fact many comments on youtube show women who agree and admit that they have been guilty of this. Of course, even more point out that men are just as guilty of this habit.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think. Is there really no difference between the romantic and the creeper?

 

Even More Korean Couples With Matching Outfits on Valentine’s Day

Recently, we showed you a very popular trend among couples in Korea. In an effort to publicly show their relationship, many couples will go for the “couple look.” They will match with the same color, shirt, shoes, or even go to extreme lengths and match head-to-toe in identical his-and-hers versions of an entire outfit.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Some couples use this as a way of showing affection. Others use it as a clear sign that they are off the market. Some have even reasoned that it makes a big fashion statement because it is so easily noticed.

Whatever the reason may be, matching couple outfits are getting more and more popular everyday. WWD wandered the streets of Seoul on Valentine’s Day to catch a glimpse of the “couple look.”

Sure enough, the matching outfits popped up everywhere during the romantic holiday. One couple argued that they didn’t need Valentine’s Day to be cute with one another. “We dress the same every day,” said Shin Seung-Chul and fiancée, Bae Jung-a.

Check out more couples who decided to flaunt their love for Valentine’s Day:

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Korean Couples Take Matching Outfits to the Next Level

Story by James S. Kim. 

If you’re looking for something other than chocolates and flowers to give to your significant other this Valentine’s Day, take a note from what many young couples are doing in South Korea on a daily basis.

The “couple look,” or publicly advertising a relationship by wearing matching outfits, is quite easy to spot on the streets, beaches and cafes of South Korea. While it can be as simple as a matching T-shirt or shoes, there are couples taking it to the next level, curating entire looks that match from head-to-toe, from jackets and pants to socks and underwear.

The “couple look” culture has understandably spawned a sizable market for specialized retailers, according to AFP. Many online retailers sell couple attire for snowboarding, swimming and running, as well as pajamas and lingerie for the more intimate moments.

There is no substantial data to show how well these businesses are doing, but many young Koreans say donning the couple look is a sweet way of showing affection for one another and even showing off their relationship in public. Married couples have also been getting in on it as a way of reaffirming their love.

Needless to say, things can get complicated if a relationship goes south. Articles of clothing are a bit more permanent than chocolate or flowers, but at least it’s not his-and-hers tattoos.

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This story was originally published in iamkoream.com 

Chinese Commercial Pressures Young Women Into Marriage

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, dating companies are seeing an influx of people who wouldn’t mind meeting “the one” before the romance-filled holiday gets here. Using Valentine’s Day to their advantage, many of these dating companies are doing whatever it takes to get more clients.

The Chinese dating company Baihe.com is no exception. They seem to have taken this determination to the extreme with a very personal commercial targeting young women.

In the commercial, an elderly grandmother keeps asking her granddaughter whether she is married yet. The young lady, who just graduated from college, is left to reply with a face of guilt and sadness.

As the grandmother gets closer and closer to death, the young woman decides that she shouldn’t be so picky and ought to make her grandmother happy. With grandma lying in a hospital bed, the young woman shows up in her wedding gown and with a groom. She has finally made her grandmother happy.

Cue the cheesy music and tear-filled smiles.

But wait. Is this commercial actually suggesting that one shouldn’t be picky with the person they will spend the rest of their life with?

Unfortunately, this commercial will probably make many young Asian women feel guilty. Even in America, Asian women feel this pressure. Often times, strict parents will warn their daughters not to date until they are done with school. The second graduation comes along, everything shifts and suddenly they are pressured to find a husband as soon as possible.

Confusing? You bet.

I don’t know about you, but we’re not really comfortable with a commercial using an aging grandma to guilt-trip young women into finding a man to marry.

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Watch the full commercial here. 

Guy Talk With The Fung Brothers : The Asian Dating Scene

Story by Paul Nakayama. Photo by Daniel Nguyen Photography. 

Recently, an Asian guy friend of mine handed me a Scotch and proceeded to ask me for an introduction to a girl — any girl. I didn’t know what to say, so I downed the whiskey and got drunk. It wasn’t what he asked, but how he asked it. His level of despair prompted me to consult outside help. So I sat down with David and Andrew Fung, also known as the Fung Brothers, the popular YouTube entertainers with a unique perspective on all things Asian, to get some tips on how to help a single Asian brother out.


Q: You guys grew up in Kent, Wash. What was that like?
David Fung: Growing up, there weren’t that many Asians in our area. We always sort of felt like the “Others” in our school. A lot of Asians that grow up around Asians are comfortable, and they don’t think about being Asian. But where we were, there were a lot of tough questions that people posed to us. Our high school was really into sports, so we got involved in leadership roles in sports. That was good training to put ourselves out there, but it put us in an environment where we got made fun of. We were trying to be the cool kids, but sometimes we weren’t accepted.

Q: So what was dating like in high school?
Andrew Fung: It was pretty hard to date. I mean, just to put it in perspective, we were at a school where some guys wore cowboy hats to school.

Q: But once you got to college …
AF: Yeah, UDub [University of Washington] is like 30 to 40 percent Asian so we made the most of it. We could exercise our talents, and it was easier to be considered cool.

Q: By college, you were already performing comedy. Did that help the dating scene?
AF: A lot of girls liked it, but they also assumed we were players. That’s kind of the life of an Asian American entertainer. A lot of us aren’t players. We weren’t raised like that, but people think that’s what entertainers do.

Q: What about dating after college? You’re in L.A. now, after all.
AF: Dating after college is much harder. This is a message to guys: If you cannot date in college, you are going to have an even harder time after college. It’s like camp. If you can’t meet people at camp, then … yeah.

Q: [Laughing, maybe a little too awkwardly] So, what’s a good strategy for the Asian 40-year-old virgin? And I don’t mean me. Purely hypothetical, guys.
DF: We know guys like that — dudes that don’t meet a lot of girls. Bottom line: Get rid of the self-defeating attitude. We all deal with whatever factors leading to less confidence, like our culture, parents, whatever legitimate excuses that only work in a vacuum. At some point you gotta step up and take responsibility.

Q: We’ve all heard that Asian men have a disadvantage in dating. True, or is it more about the attitude we come in with?
DF: Me and Andrew played varsity basketball at a high school where people on our teams went to the NBA. Can you imagine two short, nerdy Asian kids being raised in a system where everyone’s got NBA dreams? But it never made me think that I shouldn’t try out for the team or play against these guys. You have to have the same mentality in other aspects of your life.
AF: I feel like as an Asian guy in America, if you stand up knowing what people think about you and say, “Yeah, I am like that and I’m proud,” people will respect you more, and you’ll probably get more women that way.
DF: Like if they think Asian guys are gross, you say, “Yeah, I am gross. I am a little gross. There!”
AF: And some women will be like, “Hey, that’s a strong man.” Women like confidence. Turn that negative into a positive. Gotta learn to play the cards you got.

Q: What about guys helping each other out? Being a good wingman and all.
DF: In the Asian scene, the wingman thing isn’t as sophisticated as it is with white or black guys.
AF: For sure. I heard this story about some Asian friends at a party, and it turned out they had all talked to the same girl and asked her the same exact questions and all asked her out for the same week. Ridiculous. No strategy or defining of roles. Asian guys are still figuring it out, and it makes sense ’cause none of our dads did any of that. With other races, someone will pass on some knowledge about how to talk to girls.
DF: Yeah, there’s no teamwork. In football, there are guys on the team whose only job is to block. With Asians, because we’re taught to “achieve, achieve, achieve,” everyone thinks he’s the quarterback. You can’t win with a team of just quarterbacks.

Q: As brothers, you probably have a better system than most. Hand signals, bird calls, a Venn diagram.
DF: It’s all about being on the same page. Everyone has to know the game plan. But to be clear, I don’t wanna misconstrue what we’re talking about here.
AF: Right, it’s not about getting laid. It’s more about meeting people successfully and making sure everyone can have a good time.
DF: And not have everyone immediately placed in the friend zone. A good wingman will make sure that everyone’s got a drink in their hand and is talking. And never interrupt a conversation with anything other than more drinks, not even compliments, because unless you know how to do it without coming off douchey, you’ll be blocking the quarterback.

For more of David and Andrew’s tips, visit FungBrothers.com.

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Why Japanese Youth Have Stopped Having Sex

Currently, Japan has one of the world’s lowest birth rates in the world. Although its population is 126 million, that number is dropping every year and it pales in comparison to the U.S. population of 314 million and China’s 1.35 billion. In fact, fewer Japanese babies were born in 2012 than any other year in history.

According to sex and relationship counselor Ai Aoyama, this number could drop dangerously low with the current views of the Japanese youth. Aoyama is hoping to cure Japan’s wave of ”celibacy syndrome” which has young adults losing interest in both physical and romantic relationships. In fact, many do not see marriage in their future at all. In 2011, a study showed that 61% of unmarried men and 49% of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship and a third of people under 30 had never dated at all.

There are many speculations as to why Japanese young adults feel no need for human affection. The Guardian argues that Japan is “battling against the effects on its already nuclear-destruction-scarred psyche of 2011′s earthquake.” This scared mentality leaves Japanese citizens with the feeling that there is simply no point to relationships and no point to love.

Some of Aoyama’s patients are in their 30′s and have shut themselves off from the world. In fact, some of these individuals can’t even touch a member of the opposite sex and prefer other forms of intimacy. For instance, Aoyama describes one of her clients who “can’t get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers.” Aside from talks and tutorials with her patients, Aoyama uses therapy, yoga and hypnosis to try and help her patients.

The Guardian also argues another reason for this loss of interest. With Japan’s current lifestyle desire, marriage and relationships simply do not make sense. In today’s modern Japan, marriage is seen as a “grave” for career-focused women.The World Economic Forum ranks Japan as one of the world’s worst nations for gender equality at work. Promotions for women in the workplace is difficult as it is. Once a woman is married, it is seen as nearly impossible because of the assumption that the woman will have children. 70% of Japanese women leave their job after their first child since it is socially expected for mothers to stay home and raise their children.  Japan’s Institute of Population and Social Security reports 90% of young women believe that single life is “preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like”.

Men also seem to have no problem in the apathy wagon. The Guardian claims that men have become less career-driven and as such, do not want the responsibility of the traditional household role as the provider.

Despite the overwhelming lack of enthusiasm, Aoyama is determined to put human intimacy back on the map. Hopefully this task can be achieved soon. According to Kunio Kitamura, head of the JFPA, the issue is so serious that he fears Japan “might eventually perish into extinction.”

 

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Throwback Thursday: Is Dating A Co-Worker A Good Idea?

Story by by Paul Nakayama and Naomi Fujimoto.

Is workplace “commingling” a good idea? Guest columnist Naomi Fujimoto says all’s fair in love and work, but Paul Nakayama wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot laser pointer.

NAOMI SAYS:

Workplace dating is the stuff of great drama. Glee and Grey’s Anatomy — where would they be without it? And what about The Office — the shrugging, the fumbling, the knowing glances? Even on 24, with the fate of the world in question, they still found time for love. All in a day’s work. But enough about TV. I’m real-life proof that you can get your honey where you get your money.

Whether you’re looking at each other over an operating table or a corporate cube, your co-workers see you at your best and your not so best. You see how they deal with stress and relate to other people. And whether they can follow through. In the workplace, people are themselves. Sober. Decent. Good relationship material. (If you’re just looking for a hookup, stay away from your nine-to-five crowd. Sleeping your way to the middle is a bad idea.)

I’m Japanese and an editor, so it won’t be revealing much to say that I love rules. I love that they help me figure out how people will act at work — and, possibly, outside of work. While I can’t say that every girl wants a hero, I like a guy with good problem-solving skills. Responding to an IT “code blue,” Sean had a confident walk that made him look like he could handle anything. Including me. I had to find out whether he was a MacGyver or a MacGruber.

Our romance started small, tiny even, as workplace entanglements often do. When he stopped by just to say hi or lingered in the hallway, my office mates noticed. One day we went to lunch (Asian fusion, natch). Soon I saw that he could troubleshoot my Mac and share his fries. This unofficial stuff paved the way for our office courtship. Pre-dating can last weeks (if you’re lucky) or years (if you’re me). With all the visits and lunches and hallway conversations, this face time will further your status more than Facebook. Same with those happy hours, where your guy can put his hand on your back to help you throw darts.

Ah, the happy hour. As long as you’re not a boozer or a bimbo, the happy hour is your friend, the one that encourages you and your work buddy to pair off. Enjoy it! But here’s where I’ll come back to the rules again. Keep it rated PG! When you think “workplace grind,” visualize your efforts on a big project, not on the dance floor. (For real. My friend had to see her co-worker dirty dance at the company party. Ew.) Your office friends will be happy for you, but you don’t need to flaunt how in lust you are. Chances are, they noticed the chemistry before you did. They are, after all, people who see you 40-plus hours a week.

Sure, you could meet someone online or in a bar or through a setup. Or you can sit back and see what happens with that guy you always go to lunch with. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Or maybe it will go somewhere for just a few months, like it did for Sean and me. We broke up recently, and the vibe at lunch has changed. No regrets, though. He was a MacGyver — just not mine.

My awful truth? Workplace dating might seem inexcusable or irresponsible, but it’s also irresistible. If you’re willing to risk a few awkward moments in the elevator, give it a try.

PAUL SAYS:

Imagine an adorable bear cub playing with a ball; you can’t help but fawn over it. You approach, unable to stop yourself from petting it. It coos as your hand approaches its face. It is so darn cute! Then suddenly, the cub growls and bares its fangs and mauls your pretty hand into meat strings. You scream and panic, stumbling over your dumb self as you try to escape, but then you realize that you’re locked in a cage. You slap your forehead with what’s left of your hand and curse your own foolishness as that once cuddly bear cub leaps onto your back and takes you down. It’s a horrible tale, I know, and yet so many befall the same fate, except instead of loving a cute but vicious animal, it’s dating a co-worker.

As my warm little analogy illustrates, dating a co-worker is a dangerous proposition. Think about how many of your exes were brutish, annoying or clingy. You sighed constantly with deep relief when things ended. Now, think about the good ones you’ve had. In an office setting, what are the real odds that you’d meet one of the few good ones and none of the horrible trolls?

Imagine walking to the copy room and running into your ex, the bipolar one who’d refer to himself as “we.” And they’re demanding, “Why did you leave us? Why why why? (And are you done with the copier, skank?)” That would certainly be a good time to run away, but oh, that’s right — you can’t because you work together.

Breakups are manageable when you have space or at least an escape route. Not possible with an office tryst. Or what if it was your heart that was broken? During the Halloween party, you hook up with that longtime crush of yours from accounting, only to discover later he was boofing everyone. Work is miserable enough as it is without having to see some douche bag’s face every five days out of seven. Eventually, you’ll see him hitting on someone new at the office, repeating the same coaxing lines. Your fists will be clenched in anger, and your poor laptop will “accidentally fall down some stairs.” I can’t even begin to warn you against the dangers of being around the open bar at the company holiday party … you’ll be fondly remembered as the drunken mess that flung cheese at everyone like it was poo, all while sobbing openly like a Bieber groupie.

I get why office romances happen. The fact is, it’s hard meeting people after college, and you spend more time with co-workers than your best friends. Things happen. And there are plenty of examples of people finding real love in the office. So why not, right? Well, there’s more to lose in an office romance. These things often end poorly, and you’ll only succeed in making your sucky job even suckier. I’ve been in one or two myself that ended in less than desirable ways where the consolation prize is a giant bag of awkward. In this economy, I think it’s better to have a job than a chance at love, the same chance I could take at my other usual hangouts: the karaoke bar, the 7-Eleven or my parkour club. Because looking for love in the office is a man-eating baby bear that will devour your heart, and it’s just common sense not to wrestle bears.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2010 issue. Get your copy here

Guy Talk With Michael Yo: Dating As A ‘Blasian’

Story by Paul Nakayama 

This column used to be called The Awful Truth because dating advice can be exactly that. After watching the impossibly racist “music” video “Asian Girlz” by the band Day Above Ground (aptly named since they must’ve been living under a rock), I think the awful truth is that some people just plain suck. But the other side of it is that interracial relations, especially dating, can be a complicated issue. I recently had a chat with comedian and co-host of CBS’ OMG! The Insider, Michael Yo, self-proclaimed “Half-Black Brother with a Korean Mother,” to talk about growing up in an interracial family and his dating experiences.

Q. Where did you grow up?
Michael Yo: I grew up in Houston, Texas, in a predominantly white neighborhood. I was the only “Blasian” growing up. We didn’t even have the term “Blasian” back then. In my neighborhood, they never asked me, “What’s your ethnicity?” It was more like, “What are ya? I don’t understand what you are.”

Q. What were the race dynamics like in your neighborhood?
MY: I had white friends, and small sets of Asian and black friends. It’s weird. Back then, it’s like the stereotypes were kinda true. I was on the basketball team, which was mostly white kids, a couple of black kids and one Asian. You know, ‘cause the Asians were studying most of the time.

Q. What, but not you? You have an Asian mom and you weren’t locked in a dungeon to study?
MY: [Laughs]. My dad has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, and my mom never went to college. But my mom was always the one pushing me to study while my dad was the opposite. He was like, “School is not your thing.” My dad was very honest that way, and my mom hated to hear that. She was like other Asian moms, wanting to compare their kids to other kids. But she couldn’t brag about my grades. I was the dumb kid out of the whole group. But now, when they say, “My son doctor, my son lawyer,” she says, “Oh yeah? Turn on TV.”

Q. Being on TV, how does that help your game with dating? Inciden- tally, writing for a magazine has zero dating perks.
MY: I’m just a dude who interviews people. So it’s weird to get that kind of attention when you’re on the other side of the camera. The other day I was driving down the street, and this girl pulls up next to me screaming [high- pitched voice], “OMIGOD I love you!” And she almost wrecked her car. They know who you are, but you have no idea who they are. You have to go and find out about them.

Q. It’s similar to how people can stalk someone on Facebook before a date. How do you react to someone knowing so much about you?
MY: Here’s what I like about it: when they say, “I feel like I know you.” That’s like the biggest compliment to me. I’m OK with them not really knowing me, but for them to feel like they know me must mean they have some kind of connection with me.

Q. So, let’s talk about dating with your unique perspective as someone half-black and half-Asian.
MY: Dating is dating. Women are women. I would date anyone: black girls, white girls, Asian girls. With the white girls, you know, they didn’t know what I was, so their parents didn’t know which stereotypes to apply. I mean the biggest thing about dating a white girl is more about how their parents will react. You know, a lot of parents will say they’re not racist or they don’t care until you’re actually dating their daughter.

Q. Do you think this is true for all ethnicities or just the girls that were white?
MY: I can’t say for all the ethnicities, but my own experience with white girls, and it’s not all the time obviously, but there were times when a girl would say, “Oh, my parents will totally be fine.” And then we started dating, and her parents found out, and they weren’t cool. She never knew that side of her parents. And sometimes you experience a side of her parents that [the parents] are experiencing for the first time.

Q. That’s interesting. For me, my first girlfriend was white and her parents were very cool with me. It was actually some of the parents of my Chinese or Korean girlfriends that didn’t like that I was Japanese. I was either a pervert or a war criminal.
MY: You automatically get stereotyped no matter what ethnicity you are. I’m half-black and Asian so what do girls automatically ask? “Oh, so are you big or small?” I get put into a box all the time. It’s just a stereotype, and I get it.

Q. I’m full Asian, so my box sucks. What about your parents? Do they have a preference? For girls to date, I mean.
MY: My parents being interracial, they never cared who I dated. So I never felt that pressure, whereas I know a lot of Asian parents want their daughters to date someone Asian. Now, I’m older so they just want kids. My mom is all, “You have baby? You have baby?” That’s all she cares about. And I do want that. My parents have been married 40 years, so I know what I want, and that’s what makes it so hard to find the right one.

Q. It does take a while to find the right one.
MY: In your 20s, you’re all about hooking up. You don’t really care what they say. True story, I was walking on the beach with a girl, and she looked up and said, “Oh my God, look at the shooting star.” I look up, and it’s an airplane. But all I cared about was hooking up so I said, “Make a wish.” Now I actually care about content. In my 30s I care about what they’re doing, if they’re hungry for life, for a career. Now I want somebody that I can grow with.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelYo, or his website, MichaelYo.com.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.

Throwback Thursday | How The Internet Changed My Sex Life

This story was originally published in our Fall 2011 issue. Get your copy here.
Story by Paul Nakayama and Lena Chen

PAUL SAYS: 
My editor asked me, “How did the Internet change your sex life?”

“It gave me one?” I replied. Never mind that she didn’t laugh. It was sort of true what I said, but it’s not the whole truth. Now, I’m not talking about learning some power moves from online porn and changing my sex life that way (though that’s cool, too). I’m talking about how it became a conduit for getting more dates.

Years ago, after one particularly demoralizing break-up, I went on Match.com and did a quick search to see how many other fish were really in the sea. After inputting just two parameters, my zip code and an interest in women, I eagerly rubbed my hands together to see what lay in the digital land of opportunity.

Well, not much. Sure, there were hundreds of girls, but guess what? Just like in real life, when I walked up to girls in a club, saw them tower over me in their high heels, and I skulked away mumbling, “Sonnuvabitch,” size seemed to matter. Profile after profile, I saw the same damning words: Height must be at least 5’9.” With age, superficial rejections don’t bite as much, but to a 20-something me, it was a spirit sucker.

So, what did I do? I went onto my AsianAvenue.com blog and bitched about it. And then I bitched some more on Livejournal. I guess it was sort of like how I’m bitching again on Audrey. Point is, I wrote about it … a lot.

Before I knew it, people started reading what I was writing. Better still, female readers would start messaging me, asking if I wanted to grab coffee. All right, to be fair, there were more guys than girls wanting to hang out, but whatever, I figured it was due to gender proportions in my city.

I’m a would-be writer, so maybe I could use that to get a would-be sex life. That’s what I tried. But it was an early time for the Internet. There were things I had to get accustomed to. For instance, instant messaging started as a great “pre-date” method: getting to know someone, flirting, building a rapport. I thought it was great since I was better at typing than talking. But my own issues would come to the surface. I’d scream at the computer screen, “God! It’s ‘they’re,’ not ‘there!’” I’d sabotage potential dates if I didn’t like their grammar or if their screen name looked like tHiS. I know, what a snobby dick, right?

But it wasn’t just me with issues. There were women that used question- able photos. I mean, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t talking to Lucy Liu. Or, there were other photos where I had to ask, “Why are you hiding behind this house plant?” There were women that loved the buffet lines more than a conversation. I even had an eerie encounter where a girl invited herself over and refused to leave. Fearing a murder-suicide, I fought hard to stay awake, but losing the battle, I scribbled my last will and testament on a magazine.

Eventually, though, I started figuring it out. I met some really great women online, some that I dated very seriously for many years. I’m a true believer that the Internet can help you find someone suitable, open some doors. Just don’t crawl through someone’s Facebook page before you even get to know them. Nothing says “creepy stalker” or “restraining order” like telling someone everything that you know about them on your first date. But if you’re conscious that the Internet is just a tool for dating and not a crutch, it could totally lead to something great. In fact, you know what? I’m going to try and snag a date with the real Lucy Liu. I’ll just follow her on Twitter and see where that goes.

 

 

LENA SAYS:
When I started an OkCupid account, it was 2008 and online dating seemed to be the exclusive realm of the marriage-hungry or the hopelessly awkward. I went on some dates, but the site’s matchmaking formula, an algorithm that calculated compatibility using answers to personality tests, seemed hit-or-miss, no more effective than meeting a stranger at a bar. Overwhelmed by pages of search results and underwhelmed by e-suitors I met up with in real life, I never found much success with the site. Nowadays, I’m dating someone I met offline.

These days, however, OkCupid has become the go-to destination for Millennials short on time or opportunity. For those skeptical of venturing online for romance, don’t underestimate the prospect for finding lasting love. I’ve witnessed more than one longterm relationship come out of web-arranged dates. (One blogger I know met her husband on MySpace.) Online dating can be charming in its ruthless efficiency and democratic nature. On the web, everyone is fair game — just a wink or a poke away. People I might not otherwise encounter in day-to- day life are suddenly potential romantic partners. In some ways, that’s fantastic. (Who wants to only date people exactly like themselves?) In others, it’s terrifying. (How do I know Casanova666 isn’t an ax murderer? I don’t, so I carry pepper spray.)

When my friend, Danny, 30, was dumped by his girlfriend, one of his first steps toward recovery was to sign up for an account. Soon, he was booking himself two dates a night. Within a month, he’d shared coffee or drinks with so many women he could no longer tell them apart. One evening, he spent the first half of a date trying to figure out which profile belonged to the woman in front of him and what they had previously chatted about. Though his method may be questionable, if Danny wanted to remind himself of the other fish in the sea, then the World Wide Web is perhaps the biggest sea of all.

With the array of choices online, it’s tempting to rely on search features that comb through user databases to spit out results based on age, ethnicity, religion, education and even dietary preferences. The criteria with which you can assess potential partners range from the trivial (pet ownership status) to the maddeningly obscure (foreign languages spoken). Should a romantic decision really come down to whether someone is more of a dog person or a cat person? The Internet can make dating seem like an interview process. It’s easy to get caught up in looking for the next best thing or to falsely believe that you don’t need to compromise on your vision of an ideal partner or relationship, because there’s always that elusive better offer.

Cyber romances also blur the line between reality and illusion. Since you can chat extensively with someone before ever meeting, you naturally develop impressions and attachments that color your expectations. While I cringe at the thought of all the grammatically inaccurate spiels I’ve encountered, I’ve also encountered the flipside: a particularly crafty wordsmith might be able to wield a thesaurus and throw in an esoteric film reference or two, but they can be dismal conversation from across the dinner table. Unless one plans to carry out an entire courtship through electronically submitted data, what goes on online has to eventually get tested out in real-life. When people enter dates believing they’re meeting someone they already know, they can find themselves disappointed by a wildly different in-person impression or an unexpected real-life quirk.
Just as most offline marriages end in divorce, for every MySpace engagement, there are countless deactivated profiles. Citing “burnout,” Danny has recently cut down on the number of ladies he asks out for in-person meetings. This isn’t to say that online dating is any more or less desirable than traditional avenues of courtship. Romantic or not, online dating isn’t a passing trend or a substitute for the “real thing” — in today’s world, it is the real thing. So if you decide to venture into the abyss, just keep the following in mind: winks or pokes are far more effective electronically than in person.

 

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