Singaporeans less open to interracial dating, dating agency data shows

SINGAPORE - Despite interracial marriages being on the rise here, most Singaporeans still prefer dating within their own race, data from a major dating agency here has shown.

Last year, 20.9 per cent of marriages registered here involved couples of different races, up from 20.7 per cent in 2012.

But of the almost 1,000 Singaporean members of dating agency Lunch Actually, 92.5 per cent would rather not date people of other ethnicities.

This is a higher proportion than 89.6 per cent of the agency's members in Hong Kong, and 76.6 per cent of those in Malaysia.

Altogether, the data analysed was from close to 3,000 of the agency's members in the three territories. It takes into consideration the clients' first preferences for their ideal partner.

Lunch Actually CEO Violet Lim, 34, theorises the results may be because most of the agency's Singaporean clientele are Chinese.

"Social conditioning and family expectations may lead to them to prefer to date other Chinese people first," she said. "It's not necessarily that they're not open to dating other races, but the people who join our dating agency are generally looking to settle down and have to think about factors such as finding somebody their family might approve of.

"It's important to realise there is a difference between a person's first dating preferences and the person they actually end up being compatible with."

Of the 996 clients surveyed in Singapore, 488 women and 462 men were Chinese.

The data was analysed by data analytics company Qlik using its app called Qlik Sense. Qlik then worked with Lunch Actually to combine the app with the agency's data into a new app, which generates graphs and charts that show such dating trends. This new app, The Ideal Partner, can be downloaded for free from http://www.qlik.com/datingtrends.

Other results produced by the new app also showed more "traditional preferences" among the singles surveyed in all three territories, Ms Lim said.

For instance, men across all age ranges showed a preference for women in their 20s. While younger women preferred men aged 30 to 35, older women aged 45 to 50 seemed more inclined towards younger men aged 25 to 35.

Close to 80 per cent of the men surveyed did not want to date divorcees, and 93.8 per cent preferred not to date people who already have children. Women were more open on this front, with 33.5 per cent willing to date divorcees and 12.9 per cent willing to date those with children.

Ms Lim hopes to use the data to understand her clientele better and to help them manage their expectations.

"People are wired to look for certain things in their ideal partners," she said. "If we share this data with them, they might realise some expectations are unrealistic and consider being more open about who they are willing to go out with."

The next step will be to analyse how closely the clients' visions of their ideal partners correspond to the people they are matched with.

Qlik Sense can be adapted to analyse other sets of data. Qlik Asia's vice president Terry Smagh, 38, said: "The ability to take data such as these survey statistics from Lunch Actually and drop it into Qlik Sense for visual analysis is something that many businesses, including small and medium enterprises in singapore, will find valuable."