For the record, Malaysia is a secular country. But it cannot be ignored that its population is predominantly Muslim, and therefore social mores err on the conservative side. Here are a few useful things to know should you want to experience Malaysia with your boo.
Traditional gender roles are still pretty ingrained
On the whole, Malaysians still hold a pretty conservative idea on gender roles; men as breadwinners and women as dependents. That’s also why it’s rare to see Malaysians wearing transgressive fashion, with most women sporting long hair (or a tudung) and men still balking at the idea of metrosexualism.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon
Which is why it’s rare to see Malaysian couples engage in anything more intimate than holding hands in public. Even an innocent peck on the cheek is considered noteworthy. While different allowances are given to tourists and foreigners, expect some discreet staring should you indulge in a makeout session.
‘Dating’ is often understood as ‘in a relationship’
When a Malaysian says they’re dating someone, they mean they are seeing someone exclusively. As such, the concept ‘dating around’ is not a common one.
Dating apps have changed the game
Tinder was a revelation to the dating game in Malaysia. While hooking up and one-night-stands are still frowned upon by the predominantly conservative society, the ubiquity of Tinder has at least introduced these terms to the conversation.
It’s ridiculously easy to meet single women
The major cities have an exciting nightlife with single women dressed to the nines, often on ladies nights and wherever there is a free flow of drinks. As the nightlife is usually concentrated within several spots in the city, you don’t have far to wander to meet new friends.
Malaysians are largely homebodies
Do not be surprised if your Malaysian boo doesn’t feel like going out tonight. Besides the odd movie, karaoke party, or hangout at the mamak, Malaysians like to stay at home. Dates involve a nice dinner and then straight back home before the traffic gets unbearable.
Potential interests are likely protected by their herd
Everyone travels in groups, whether with family or friends. So much so that going out alone, even to a cinema, has become an odd concept. So if there’s someone you want to ask out, chances are you will have to first go through his or her group of friends. Thank goodness for texting and IMs.
Malaysian men are more likely to forgive cheating partners
According to a survey conducted by JustDating, 50% of Malaysian men would consider forgiving their partner for cheating. In comparison, only 30% of Malaysian women would be so forgiving.
LGBTQ relationships are still kept low-key
The LGBTQ scene isn’t terribly large, even in the major cities. A predominantly conservative culture means that out-and-proud gays still get a side-eye. That said, you shouldn’t let it dampen your plans to hit up the underground gay nightclubs and fire up Grindr.
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