Welcome to Vietnam, the land of motorbikes, torrential rains, delicious meals and, apparently, shallow men. According to a survey conducted by YouGov, Vietnamese men were the only group to prefer looks over personality when asked to choose between the two. Is there any truth to this? Are Vietnamese men really the most superficial people in the world? Well, not exactly.
YouGov asked people from 20 countries—predominantly from Europe and Asia—to rank the attributes they most preferred in a romantic partner. Their choices included: personality, intelligence, attractiveness, humour, shared interests and financial means. They were also asked to choose between just looks and personality. Everyone said personality was more important than looks—everyone except Vietnamese men. Though, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand and Indonesia weren’t far behind.
Before we dive in and make any sweeping generalisations, let’s dip our toes into this survey first. For starters, it was an online survey, and since just 67.1% of Vietnamese people are online—skewed heavily toward the young and urban—this survey isn’t representative of all Vietnam. But YouGov knew this already. They even added a disclaimer at the end of their article acknowledging this. So, we still won’t know if Vietnamese farmers are the most shallow men in the world. Vietnamese boys in cities, though?
Because older Vietnamese don’t use the Internet as much, this survey is actually a better indicator of how young Vietnamese men think, rather than their fathers and grandfathers. And what do these numbers tell us about young Vietnamese men? The numbers would suggest young Vietnamese men don’t know how healthy, lifelong relationships work. Get a beautiful wife, have a beautiful life, right? Not so much.
It’s not their fault, though. Young people in Vietnam spend their days in regimental schools and their nights studying under the watchful eyes of parents who control every aspect of their lives—or working long hours to help their families prosper. Often, young Vietnamese aren’t even allowed to date until they’re well into their twenties, and moving in together before marriage is severely frowned upon. Unfortunately, this means newlyweds have to make a lifelong commitment before they even know if they can live together. They never learn the importance of compatible personalities because traditions tell them to just make things work, no matter what—but things are changing.
Divorce rates in Vietnam are already on the rise, and women, by a large majority, are the ones initiating them. It’s a tough lesson to learn, though, especially so young. On average, women in Vietnam get married when they’re just 22.8 years old, compared to 26.2 for men. Once the glow of new love has faded and the newlyweds have to keep a household together with a kid or two running around, they learn a lot about themselves, and they learn even more about who they want to spend their lives with.
Or maybe the men really are shallow. It could explain the rise in cosmetic surgeries in Vietnam. Nip, tuck and hope it’s enough to get him inside—away from the beers and mistresses.