Posted on May 15, 2022

As an Asian American Man, the Dating World Made Me Feel Invisible

Mike Cabellon, Today, May 11, 2022


Dating as an Asian man in America is, to put it simply, not fun. While I’m happily in a relationship now, I’ll never forget how invisible I felt — and how I imagine many other people who look like me feel, too.

Asian men do the absolute worst on dating apps. That’s not me making a bold claim — it’s actual data that you can Google right now. Research published in 2014 by Christian Rudder, the co-founder of OkCupid, showed that Asian men are the least desirable racial group to women, according to TIME. {snip} Other research has also confirmed the bias against Asian men on dating apps. But this isn’t endemic to the apps: It’s a reflection of real-life attitudes that both heterosexual women and gay men have about Asian men, rooted in generations of Asian men being desexualized in nearly every aspect of modern life. Think about this: Movies have been around for about a century, but before “Crazy Rich Asians,” how many other Asian male romantic leads can you think of, in a hundred years of American cinema?  {snip}

I went to college in the Midwest, where I would argue that whiteness is valued even more highly than it is in other parts of the country. There were a lot of girls who just found that whole “grew up on a farm, sunburns easily” look irresistible. And it made me feel invisible every single day. I could walk into a party dressed in a Gucci tuxedo, telling a witty story about my good friend the Dalai Lama; if I was standing next to a tall, bearded white guy in ripped cargo shorts, all the eyeballs in the room would drift toward him and away from me.

{snip} When I think of invisibility, I think of the general American public viewing Asian men as undesirable, bound to be quiet accountants and nerdy IT techs, but never blustering cowboys or swashbuckling archaeologists, all of which bleeds back over into casting decisions that go into making more media that reinforces the same stereotypes, and the cycle repeats itself.