I was recently invited to give a presentation on dating etiquette to a group of people in Vietnam. So I decided to have a chat with some of my Saigonese girl friends to get their perspective. Our conversation was filled with laughter and “really?’s”.
Niki is half-Korean, half-American. She was born in Korea but moved to America at the age of 2. She later moved to Korea where she met her fiance. They now live in Saigon where they both teach. Hannah is half-Vietnamese, half-Australian, she was born and raised in Australia and moved to Vietnam a year ago to study fashion. She just returned to Australia to finish school but hopes to come back one day. And Amy is Vietnamese, she was born and raised in Vietnam and works in PR for a sports team. She’s dated men from different backgrounds, and is still looking for prince charming.
Watch the video below to see what they had to say.
Opening doors and holding chairs for ladies is common in certain Asian countries like Vietnam, but not everywhere. Even holding purses is normal here. I guess it depends on how you do it, and even why you do it, but old school gentlemen behaviour may be perceived as weird if the woman you’re dating is not used to it. On the other hand, if they are used to it and you don’t do that for them, they will find it weird. So what should you do?
If you genuinely enjoy chivalry, do your thing and see how your date reacts. If they look indifferent, they may consider this as normal, if they look impressed, then you just scored extra points, but if they look uncomfortable, you may want to take it down a notch, until you get to know them better.
Not like in other countries where women are used to splitting the bill, it’s more common for men to pay the bill in Asia. Ladies may offer to pay/split the bill, either because they want to, or because they just want to be polite. But if they really do want to pay, it may be to avoid feeling like they “owe” you something. You need to read between the lines… And know that if you let them pay the entire bill on the first date, it may be a sign that you will not see them again.
There is no perfect location. But here’s my advice (you are free to ignore it). If you want to set yourself apart from others and have a really good time, take your date someplace fun. Be creative. Take them salsa dancing, go rock-climbing or take a painting class together to break the ice. And then, if you had a good time and feel a connection, go for dinner. It’s a perfect opportunity to get to know your date without having to sit down face-to-face and possibly run out of topics to talk about. Make sure you enjoy yourself and connect with your date. This should be your main goal.
Many people feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive topics in the early stages of a relationship, such as politics, religion, personal money and previous relationships. Talking about controversial things or people may not be the best idea either as these topics can bring you on a slippery slope. But be ready to talk about anything, because some people have no time to waste and will want to know the real you. Just like Niki who said “I like to just get it out on the table.”
This is all relative, but if their family doesn’t approve, the journey may be short. As Hannah said: “I would hate any kind of tenseness between my mom and the person I’m dating. Because family would probably be such a priority. If I had to have any kind of sacrifice, it wouldn’t really be worth it for me.” Also, if you can’t stand Asian food, good luck on dating an Asian woman. Not only may they be personally offended, but their parents too!
Here’s a quote I really like: “Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are. If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.” Henry Cloud, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping.
Let us know what you think!
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Many thanks to my friends Niki, Hannah and Amy for the interview, as well as Ivan for filming.