Hong Kong Protests are Shaping the City’s Dating Scene

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Protesters are using Dating Apps to Connect

For the past several months, protests have been breaking out on a regular basis in Hong Kong, thanks to young student activists who want to maintain the city’s democratic leanings over the more oppressive mainland Chinese government’s rule. But along with the students who are moved to action, dating culture in Hong Kong is also changing as a result of the protests.

Many daters use popular dating apps like Momo, Tantan or Tinder to connect with each other, and aren’t afraid to list their political feelings in their profiles or when they message other daters. (Adding a yellow ribbon to your profile means you sympathize with protestors while a blue ribbon means you support the police and the mainland Chinese establishment.) Some are even posting photos of themselves at protests as a way to attract potential dates with the same political leanings.

Asia One reported that now more daters are interested in a potential match’s politics than they are in their favorite movies or restaurants.

One dater told Asia One that political leanings are yet another way to filter potential matches on dating apps in Hong Kong. If you don’t post your affiliations, you could be overlooked, or assumed to be sympathetic to the opposite side of your match’s leanings.

Daters in Hong Kong also have pressure from their families to marry and have children, so being with a partner who shares the same values, even if they differ from their parents, is more appealing to young daters in Hong Kong. They would rather know in advance if someone is on the same side politically, rather than becoming emotionally invested only to find out they don’t share similar values.

Frank Leung King-wai told Asia One that Hong Kong daters have always placed the most importance on values, and the protests have “raised their awareness” on the subject.

"Political stance reflects one's logical thinking and how one judges what is right and wrong," King-wai said. "So when huge social events happen, people have the chance to think about how different their values are, even at the early stage of a relationship. There is no way to dodge political discussion anymore."

There are young daters who don’t take sides and prefer to avoid political confrontation, but even this type of neutrality can be difficult to navigate if a partner feels strongly one way or the other. For instance, if you are sympathetic to the resistance movement but don’t feel strongly enough to participate in protests, do you let your date talk you into doing so despite feeling conflicted? The situation is forcing people to choose a side, even if they aren’t particularly convinced or called to action.

Still, young people around the globe seem to be putting politics first when it comes to finding love.