Dating and finding love as an expat in Cambodia

Hello,

With cultural barriers and different dating norms, finding love as an expat abroad can be exciting and challenging at the same time.

Is it easy to meet other fellow single people in Cambodia?

How do you go about meeting people (through friends, online dating, apps, meetup groups)?

How safe is it to date in Cambodia?

How do you deal with cultural differences when dating?

What are certain dating etiquettes and rules when dating in Cambodia?

How do you deal with getting into a serious relationship if you know you might be leaving Cambodia?

Thank you for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

Hello,
Please outline a bit more of you expect to meet any single person in Cambodia.

Sovannsok :

Hello,
Please outline a bit more of you expect to meet any single person in Cambodia.

Priscilla is a moderator of Expat.com, she is not looking to meet single people.
She is looking for answers from expats in Cambodia about this subject.

It's a questionnaire.

Have a nice day.

Joe
Cambodia expert
Expat.com team

Hello Priscilla.

You don't want me to write a 500 pages manual about meeting single people in Cambodia, do you?  :D

I will quote and answer your questions.

How do you go about meeting people (through friends, online dating, apps, meetup groups)?

On line dating is a nono for me, too many fake profiles, fake photos, totally unreliable anywhere.
I use apps like LINE and WeChat to make contact, then chat for a while and if things develop well I propose lunch or a drink, coffee at a for her convenient place. That works fine for me.

Other ways to meet are provided in real life. I have met and are in touch with a bank employee of my bank, a teacher from the school next door to me, two waitresses from restaurants where I regularly come, and a pharmacist assistant professor at a Health Research Center.
When you are kind and friendly, smile, it is easy to make contact as Cambodian girls like friendly men.

How safe is it to date in Cambodia?

I think as safe as anywhere else.

How do you deal with cultural differences when dating?

A tricky one. Some girls are from very conservative families and you will need to ask their parents if you can take her out. If allowed at all, you might be forced to take a relative out as well as a chaperone.

Advantage of the capital Phnom Penh is that many girls stay on their own, with friends or family. So they can decide for themselves whether to date you or not.

What are certain dating etiquettes and rules when dating in Cambodia?

You have to respect the dating culture. No way you can kiss a girl or even hold hands when in a public area. The first date is filled with information share and a possible second date. That's all, one needs to have patience.

Don't expect to find a one-night-stand among serious girls, it takes quite some time before they are ready for a more intimate get-together.

How do you deal with getting into a serious relationship if you know you might be leaving Cambodia?

Not a question for me as I will stay in Cambodia. But for others it is not fair to not tell a girlfriend that you will leave and just drop her. Talk about it, find out if she is willing to come to your country, research the difficulties of getting a visa for her, talk and think about every difficulty.

Don't be a coward in being silent and then shock her with the remark, oh next week I go back to my country, they don't deserve that treatment.

That's it, glad I could express my experience in a few words. Others might have different experiences, that's life.

Have a nice day.

Joe

This is my problem, I’m 60 , many men my age date younger women, but I’m not interested in young women under 40, but the women that age , are beautiful, but they still think you will leave them for a 20something year old , it’s not easy to find mature women, but easier to find young women to date , I have had many offers for young women, but none from older women, just a extra twist,

Interesting subject, because although it appears that as a foreigner it would be easy , but the culture is so different, it’s a slow process , just asking them to go out to dinner or a movie type thing, well even if they like you, it’s the appearance of her to her walking around with a foreigner, in a public place , although she might like you , she’s afraid to do so, as crazy as this sounds your better off becoming a friend of a guy who has a sister auntie cousin, whatever but that will get your foot in the door, but the catch is this , they don’t want to hang out with you for a year or two , then maybe marry you, they will expect a wedding, this mostly to appease their family, so nothing inappropriate is happening , your married , or considered to be , so this is my take after 3 years ,  in closing yes you see a lot of old men pretty young women in all of Asia, but to find a real partner is honestly difficult,  I’m 60 , it’s very hard to find a woman closer to your age , they are more traditional, so dating is not a well understood concept, but I could have dated 100 20 year olds , the culture is wonderful but so different it’s what I love about Southeast Asia , all the cultures are different, good subject, but I’m interested if many foreigner women date local men?

I totally agree, as a, 62 year old it's hard to find, let alone date somebody nearer your own age, if not impossible.

We should not forget that let's say 50 year old women have spent their first 25 years, half of their life in a country torn by civil war. Many of them have lost relatives during those years of atrocities.

That means they have a heavy baggage and are not really looking out to get in another experience, this time with a foreigner, who's culture and life she does not understand, they are happy with the free life they lead now and I can only feel with them.

The advantage of younger women is that they have grown up in a free country, even when they heard about relatives being killed, they were not witnesses to those atrocities.

So they have had a much more free upbringing and with Cambodia rising [economy grows with 7% a year for the last 20 years] they jumped on the bandwagon and are by now modern girls with a quite good education and they are the future of Cambodia.

Personally I love to meet these young women/girls and it is a pleasure to experience their hunger for progress, their will to do something for their family. The only problem is indeed that their families are stuck in old habits [it's not culture, just habits] which leads sometimes to the problems mentioned in the earlier posts.

Joe

Due to the war 40 years ago, Cambodia has a very special demografie. Ther are about 2.5 times more 25 yo than 40 yo. It will be difficult for you to find a 40 yo girlfriend. They simply not exist or mostly are already involved in familys. There are many more younger women available here. Good luck !

Well honestly victor and jo you are right, but you know how men’s taste in women are different, so I’m not looking 25 or I’m pretty happy alone honestly. But you are right  about 40+ women , they really  are non available.

Love has never been an exact science or something you can control, how, when, were or who will never be something mastered by the wanting or lonely hearted, It's the yearning that love gives no control, right when you have given up on finding a mate is when cupids arrow finds it's target sending you on an exciting out of control rollercoaster ride with dips, twists, turns, leaving your stomick filled with butterflies!! Don't worry about what could happen... just enjoy the butterflies they are so few and far between in a lifetime... best wishes!

In my experience here, the dating scene is much different for men than it is for women. I might get a lot of flak for saying this, but it is what my friends and I have experienced. My Cambodian American friend gets a lot of attention from old white guys who come here to satisfy their Asian fetish. I exclusively get approached by Indians and Africans. I really don't care what race I date, but the racial factors behind dating here fascinate me. The other complicating factors are alcohol and sex. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against either one. I did shots with friends for my birthday, so...but a lot of people who are in the business sector here drink to the point of substance abuse, and those same expats(teachers as well) accumulate quite the body count sexually. They've slept with hundreds of women. Kind of makes me want to give everyone STD tests.

When it comes to Khmer men with expat women.....some of them don't find us attractive,but others just don't know how to approach us. When they do,it's awkward and can come across as creepy because they stare, follow you, or one guy licked his chops at me. They'll ask to marry you within an hour of meeting you, or they'll proposition you for sex and jump to a marriage proposal as soon as you tell them you aren't into casual sex. Dating as a woman is difficult here.

Then again, I've heard that it's better in other cities, so my experience could just be from living in Phnom Penh the entire time I've been here.

It's not that easy as a guy either! A lot of women see money, not human. Especially in an older man. Good luck to us both! Be well, Tenzin www.fearlesspuppy.info

p.s. Regarding what I mentioned above, I am in Siem Reap, so I'm guessing that whatever you are running into is not a Phnom Phen specific thing. Be well, Ten

While I am sure there are many ageing white guys who can be classed as 'sexpats', I believe there are also many European men, like myself, who are retiring single - widowers, divorced etc - and looking for somewhere to be comfortable on their meagre savings and pension, living in a standard that their home country would not permit. And for female company, yes for many reasons stated by a previous post it is not possible to find someone close to our own age for dating or companionship. And such companionship is offered, albeit short term, by girls in hostess bars, which often does not involve sexual activity, just someone to be with for an evening for the price of a few drinks. Its an easy-out compared to networking through expat clubs etc and staves off loneliness for another night. Oh dear, I didnt mean to sound dramatic, but it is what it is.

True, there is a fair amount of "trophy" partnership going on, whether it's the man showing off how Asian his partner is, or a woman marrying up financially(or at least thinking she is).

To be clear, I think I'm mostly referring to those who are younger than 40 when I talk about excessive drinking and drugs. I'm talking about working professionals here who get drunk with clients(in and of itself, that's not atypical in Asian cultures), go out after their client meeting and drink more alcohol, go out drinking after every game, drink every time they're out with friends, and then ask me for more alcohol whenever we meet. The businessmen here, at least the foreign ones, are drunk every day or two, and it's not wise for women to be in a relationship with someone like that.

I hate going to clubs, too. The noise is too overwhelming.

First forget the stereotype that men are satisfying their “ Asian fetish’s “ ha I’m satisfying my good women who treat you well and you do the same for her, not a western women who usually does nothing for you !  then complain , yes their are wonderful western women , no question, but the loyalty and care a Asian women will give you is unsurpassed, and  of course there are western men who exploit this , i for one do not and don’t appreciate those who stereotype me, but your correct, I can tell you must not have been here long as your confused by them wanting to immediately marry , yes it’s the same for women they also want to marry quickly, you must understand the culture and not put your western thoughts about dating and trying to project it on the Asian way of doing things, in this culture long dating to get to know each other is not done, it’s considered a waste of time, you come to know your spouse after marriage, and as far as the drinking goes it’s universal, if you ask any women in Asia China included “ why you don’t want to marry a Asian man the answer is always the same “ they drink they smoke they gamble” I’m not perfect but I don’t do any of those things, I don’t believe that a western person who projects their western tradition of dating on another country should be dating until you understand the culture of a country , marriage is more than just romantic lust, like western culture, because we in the West date only on that, and if women in the West think otherwise they are fooling themselves, do you really think that we want to have good conversation and a strong independent women thing ?, which is fine , but western me are dating you first and for most, because they are attracted to you don’t fool yourself into thinking that’s it’s anything else, because we are all men driven by this not because of your stimulating conversation! Ha , I appreciate my Asian women more than a Asian man who expects to be treated so well, I tell her everyday, I also don’t need to have a women who I have to express every “ feeling” that comes into my head, she doesn’t speak very good English , I don’t speak her language very well, but we communicate very well, because of this I tell, my friends who ask the same thing when they ask what we talk about ? I tell them all the same thing, “ I’m not sure what we talk about, but what we DONT talk about is feelings “ if you want in long conversations , and communication is your number one goal I would suggest you find a western man, if you want a wonderful partner who will treat you better than ant western women or man they are to be found here , but don’t try to put your western  expectations of dating on them as they have a culture 1000s of years old and they are more advanced than we are , study the culture and you will see it’s beautiful, with specific roles, as opposed to the blurred roles and blending of roles that is taking place in most western cultures, I find it to be refreshing! Yes some men take advantage of this but the relationship won’t last , try to understand the culture before dating your going to appreciate it and be happier in the long run, and yes plenty of my good Khmer men friends don’t drink smoke or gamble and would love to find you ? Only my observation in my 5 years here , good honest men and women here as well as not honest , it’s like everywhere,   And do dismiss your idea that Asian women are “ slaves “ just look at any Khmer couples, the women is always in charge always!

To me personally it seems that dating  isn’t a concept for  40 + year old khmers , as  most of the marriages were arranged in her and his era with basically no courtship. With Khmer  women who appear to  be causally dating a western man looks bad for her and her family , with everyone thinking the worst , and would not be well for the  family, so it’s very difficult to find a  mature khmer women who doesn’t want marriage, as she wants and needs family approval , her being seen with you  going to different restaurants etc. isn't usually accepted,  so much different  in most western cultures , therefore great topic ,because negotiating this is extremely difficult !

twinsguy20 :

First forget the stereotype that men are satisfying their “ Asian fetish’s “ ha I’m satisfying my good women who treat you well and you do the same for her, not a western women who usually does nothing for you !  then complain , yes their are wonderful western women , no question, but the loyalty and care a Asian women will give you is unsurpassed, and  of course there are western men who exploit this , i for one do not and don’t appreciate those who stereotype me, but your correct, I can tell you must not have been here long as your confused by them wanting to immediately marry , yes it’s the same for women they also want to marry quickly, you must understand the culture and not put your western thoughts about dating and trying to project it on the Asian way of doing things, in this culture long dating to get to know each other is not done, it’s considered a waste of time, you come to know your spouse after marriage, and as far as the drinking goes it’s universal, if you ask any women in Asia China included “ why you don’t want to marry a Asian man the answer is always the same “ they drink they smoke they gamble” I’m not perfect but I don’t do any of those things, I don’t believe that a western person who projects their western tradition of dating on another country should be dating until you understand the culture of a country , marriage is more than just romantic lust, like western culture, because we in the West date only on that, and if women in the West think otherwise they are fooling themselves, do you really think that we want to have good conversation and a strong independent women thing ?, which is fine , but western me are dating you first and for most, because they are attracted to you don’t fool yourself into thinking that’s it’s anything else, because we are all men driven by this not because of your stimulating conversation! Ha , I appreciate my Asian women more than a Asian man who expects to be treated so well, I tell her everyday, I also don’t need to have a women who I have to express every “ feeling” that comes into my head, she doesn’t speak very good English , I don’t speak her language very well, but we communicate very well, because of this I tell, my friends who ask the same thing when they ask what we talk about ? I tell them all the same thing, “ I’m not sure what we talk about, but what we DONT talk about is feelings “ if you want in long conversations , and communication is your number one goal I would suggest you find a western man, if you want a wonderful partner who will treat you better than ant western women or man they are to be found here , but don’t try to put your western  expectations of dating on them as they have a culture 1000s of years old and they are more advanced than we are , study the culture and you will see it’s beautiful, with specific roles, as opposed to the blurred roles and blending of roles that is taking place in most western cultures, I find it to be refreshing! Yes some men take advantage of this but the relationship won’t last , try to understand the culture before dating your going to appreciate it and be happier in the long run, and yes plenty of my good Khmer men friends don’t drink smoke or gamble and would love to find you ? Only my observation in my 5 years here , good honest men and women here as well as not honest , it’s like everywhere,   And do dismiss your idea that Asian women are “ slaves “ just look at any Khmer couples, the women is always in charge always!

Just quoting this so I can look at each point rather than going back and losing what I typed.

Nobody likes being stereotyped in positive or negative ways. At least most people don't. If you stereotype them in a positive way, those who don't fit the mold feel extreme pressure to fit it. For example, the stereotype that all Asians are smart is not helpful to those who are average, especially when they already face pressure from within their society to be xyz. The same could be applied to the stereotype that all Asian women are "loyal and caring", and that's not to mention that actions are interpreted differently from person to person. What you perceive as caring might not be what I perceive as caring or your partner perceives as caring(hypothetically). Some people feel loved when they receive financial support or gifts. Others feel loved when someone spends time with them and gets to know them on a personal level. For me, if someone gives me things but doesn't want to talk with me or spend time with me, it feels like they are just fulfilling a social obligation rather than caring about me as a person. Other people feel loved when someone compliments them or does things for them, and sometimes there are cultural influences that affect this. But it doesn't mean that someone is less caring if they don't communicate love in the way you tend to feel loved.

I've also been in Asia for 5 years, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything about the culture. There is a lot to love about Asian culture. The food is great, China used to have fireworks all the time, people are up front about what they want when it comes to relationships(no games), they're polite, etc. But immediate commitment isn't a positive aspect in the sense that there is a much greater risk factor than there is if you get to know someone before making a lifelong commitment. If you've only known someone for an hour, you have no idea about their character. You don't know if they're a psychopath or a sociopath. That's a bit extreme, but you also don't know if they're an alcoholic, a pathological liar, or an abusive person. A lot of people put their "best foot forward" to win you over, and then the real character comes out later. I'm not saying you should dump person after person to look for Mr. Right, and I'm not saying you should never take the plunge. You should, however, wait til you know it's going to be safe and healthy enough for you to work through whatever challenges life brings you. I've seen a lot of unhappy relationships in Asia because people didn't know the person before they got married, they felt extreme pressure to stay in the relationship, and saving face somewhat hinders them from admitting when they need help with the relationship. There's way too much potential to end up in an abusive relationship with no means of escape without being an outcast.

I never said Asian women are slaves. I said people stereotype them that way.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying their culture is any better or worse than my home culture. Every culture has blindsides or extremes. In the US(my home country), there are a lot of games and a lot of noncommittal people who don't want to settle down. I'm not into that, either. There's a balance.

Haha...obviously this whole relationship thing is an absolute minefield with the potential to mess up our lives one way or another. Maybe the 'sexpat' solution? Just rent a partner for a limited time - the renter gets a no-strings relationship, the rentee gets a financial advantage....yes I can see how that is a popular scenario!

Hmmm.....Rent-A-Mate. Sounds like a solid plan. What could go wrong?

Seriously though, I'd move back home before I did that, and I don't want to move back home. Just gotta figure out where to meet people who want to get to know you.

Your points are well taken, and I’m sorry if I implied that you said something or anything negative, I was responding to the general notions, which as you well point out are only general , yes I’m personally not talking about not knowing and marrying right away, but just wondering if the USA way ( which I too am from USA) is it more successful when you know everything about your potential mate as opposed to your family who by the way , you stated that they could be crazed etc, but actually the family usually does a complete checkup on you ha to insure this isn’t the case, so which culture has more success in marriage, happy marriage, I’m not sure but I suspect it’s a close call, so I don’t think it’s a given that in order to have a successful relationship that you must know your partner as much as western culture standards , it’s probably no more successful in the long run.

I have bo doubt that it can be successful either way, but us foreigners don't have anyone doing a workup on them.

On a funny note, there are some incredibly sexy dating profiles with pictures of feet, foreheads, and what can only be described as Satan's fat grandfather. And they all "have cats".

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