Dating in Singapore

Singapore has a rich history as a trading port in Southeast Asia. It became a British colony in the 19th century, later joining Malaysia briefly before becoming an independent city-state known for its rapid development and economic success. When it comes to dating in Singapore, the truth is that dating is not very common in the traditional western sense. Of course, some Singaporeans do date in various forms but because Southeast Asia is historically conservative, most romantic encounters are specifically focused on marriage.

Southeast Asia is a region steeped in history, culture, and tradition, which is reflected in the varied and intriguing dating practices found throughout the area. The dating scene is a blend of conservative values, religious influences, and modern desires, which can differ significantly among Singaporeans.

In much of Southeast Asia, traditional and religious beliefs play a crucial role in shaping the dating culture. For the Muslims in Singapore, Islamic teachings have a significant impact on dating and relationships. In many conservative Muslim communities, dating is discouraged, and arranged marriages are common. Other religions, like Christianity, have similar views.

In traditional social circles around Singapore, gender segregation is somewhat common, and many people adhere to strict gender roles. Men are generally expected to be providers and protectors, while women are expected to be nurturing and submissive. However, in urban areas and among the younger generation, these gender roles are becoming more flexible, allowing for more equal partnerships among the Singaporean youth.

Shop houses in Singapore

The dating culture of Singapore is a fascinating blend of ancient customs, religious influence, and modern desires. As Southeast Asia undergoes rapid social change, the landscape of dating and relationships continues to evolve, providing a captivating glimpse into the intricacies of love and courtship in this unique part of the world.

Interesting facts about dating in Singapore

Singapore’s marriage and dating culture is a vibrant mix, reflecting its multicultural and cosmopolitan character. Here are some unique and interesting facts that highlight the cultural nuances of marriage and dating in this diverse city-state:

  1. Multicultural Influences: Singapore’s diverse population includes Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian communities, each contributing its own traditions and customs to the marriage and dating landscape.
  2. Modern Dating Trends: Like in many urbanized countries, online dating and apps are increasingly popular in Singapore. Younger generations often meet and date through social media and dating platforms.
  3. Inter-Ethnic Marriages: Given its multicultural environment, Singapore sees a significant number of inter-ethnic marriages. These unions often blend different cultural traditions in wedding ceremonies and celebrations.
  4. Chinese Wedding Customs: Among the Chinese Singaporean population, traditional rituals like ‘Guo Da Li’ (the betrothal ceremony) and ‘An Chuang’ (setting up the bridal bed) are commonly practiced.
  5. Malay Wedding Celebrations: Malay weddings in Singapore are often grand and colorful, including the ‘Akad Nikah’ (marriage contract) ceremony and the ‘Bersanding’ (sitting-in-state ceremony).
  6. Indian Wedding Rituals: Indian Singaporeans typically have vibrant, elaborate weddings, incorporating rituals like the ‘Sangeet’ (music night) and the ‘Mandap’ ceremony, depending on their specific ethnic and religious backgrounds.
  7. Solemnization Ceremonies: Civil marriages in Singapore require a legal solemnization ceremony, which can be conducted either at the Registry of Marriages or at an external venue.
  8. Banquet Celebrations: Wedding banquets are a significant part of Singaporean weddings, often held in hotels or large halls. These banquets feature multi-course meals and are attended by large numbers of guests.
  9. Cohabitation Trends: While traditional values still hold sway, cohabitation before marriage is becoming more common among younger, urban Singaporeans.
  10. Cross-Cultural Adaptations: In intercultural marriages, it’s common to see adaptations and blends of different wedding traditions, reflecting the country’s multicultural ethos.
  11. Pre-Wedding Photoshoots: Pre-wedding photoshoots are very popular in Singapore, with couples often investing in elaborate sessions, sometimes even overseas, to capture special moments before their wedding.
  12. Legal Age of Marriage: The legal age for marriage in Singapore is 21, although individuals aged 18 to 21 may marry with parental consent.

These facets of marriage and dating culture in Singapore showcase a society that is deeply multicultural, blending traditional customs with modern practices in unique ways.

Most Romantic Day in Singapore

As Singapore follows a lot of western culture trends, Valentine’s Day may be celebrated to varying degrees. The younger Singaporeans with western affiliation may be inclined to observe the holiday more than older generations.

Instead, the most romantic holiday for Muslims in Singapore could be considered as Eid al-Adha. While it is not exclusively a romantic holiday, it is a time of celebration, gift-giving, and showing love and appreciation to family and loved ones. During this time, married couples exchange gifts and spend quality time together, often making it a romantic period for them.

Typical First Date in Singapore

As dating is not very popular in Singapore, there is no way to accurately define a first date in Singapore. Many factors such as socioeconomic, location or personal beliefs will impact what two people decide to do on a first date.

Dating singles in Singapore - the Lion city
The Merlion fountain statue – symbol of Singapore at night

On your first date in Singapore, the focus should be on getting to know each other in an informal setting where you can chat openly. It does not matter if you are talking over a cup of coffee, walking out in nature or a park or another original idea, the goal should be to check the vibe, see if there is a connection or potential for continuing the relationship. Here are a few ideas for first dates in Singapore:

  • Shopping: In downtown Singapore and other cities, shopping malls or commercial centers can be great date spots. They are relatively safe, public and there is enough external stimulation to keep a good conversation going.
  • Coffee or drinks: Many first dates in Singapore take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar.
  • Outdoor activities: In some parts of Singapore, there are many options for outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, picnic, biking or even a combination of activities while visiting a local park. Depending on the activity level of you and your date, these may be nice options for you.

Dating etiquette and social cues

Like social cues and other aspects of dating, dating etiquette or expectations of behavior when on a date can vary somewhat from individual to individual. That being said, if you are on a date in Singapore, below are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Chaperoned Meetings: In more traditional Singaporean settings, meetings between the potential couple might be chaperoned, especially in the early stages of courtship. For Muslim people, this practice aligns with Islamic principles of avoiding seclusion (khalwa) with a non-related member of the opposite sex.
  • Punctuality: Being on time for a date is generally seen as a sign of respect in most cultures. However, attitudes towards punctuality can vary, with some cultures placing a high importance on it, while others might have a more relaxed attitude.
  • Dress and appearance: Dressing appropriately for the occasion and taking care of personal hygiene are often seen as signs of respect towards the other Singaporeans. In Singapore, men are expected to dress in a neat and stylish manner, while women might be expected to wear more fashionable or elegant outfits. Of course, this will vary based off of socioeconomic factors.
  • Physical contact and public displays of affection: Physical contact and especially PDA is especially not common nor accepted by mainstream Singaporean. Most physical contact is reserved for serious relationships and even marriage in most cases.
  • Paying the bill: In many cultures, the person who initiated the date is expected to pay the bill, although this is not a universal rule. Offering to split the bill can be a polite gesture, although in some cultures it might be expected for the man to pay. As more young Singaporeans conform to global egalitarian values, we expect sharing the cost to be more common.
  • End of the date: How the date ends can also convey a lot. Walking the other person to their car or home, or arranging for their safe return, is often seen as a sign of care and respect. If both parties enjoyed the date, it is common to express interest in meeting again.

The Importance of language

Language is important to everyone. It is how we communicate. In addition to English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil, used for everyday communication by Singaporeans, Singlish (Singaporean English slang) or other international languages with significant expat communities are spoken by locals.

As the modern need for multilingualism is strong, most Singaporeans are multilingual in some capacity. As Singapore borders no other countries technically as an island nation, but Malaysia effectively, students will often study and/or have familiarity with English since it is the most useful international language for them and Malay for practical reasons. This is especially true when Singaporeans live on bordering regions since the need to use the language in everyday life is tangible.

Singapore life

If you are a foreigner or tourist, we do always recommend learning language and studying local culture. Language is incredibly important form of human connection and knowing some of the local language will greatly enhance your experience. It may not be possible to learn all languages, especially if backpacking through, but relying on your English is limiting and alienating. If you can learn to speak basic or intermediate level English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil, a few phrases will go a long way. Nothing shows your date more respect than genuinely learning about his or her culture.

While most Singaporeans will speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in any other local language can help to build stronger relationships with, facilitate communication in a variety of contexts and gain respect or trust with the local people. It is a win-win situation for you and Singaporean culture.

Is Singapore gay friendly?

Unfortunately, parts of Asia have a very poor record for LGBTQ+ rights and protections. Unlike Europe, when it comes to gay friendliness and LGBTQ+ tolerance, Singapore has some of the harshest laws and penalties1. The culture of Singapore tends to be extremely conservative and therefore the average Singaporean likely has a very mixed view of homosexuality2. The personal beliefs among individual Singaporeans may vary of course but across the region there are many cultural pressures which reinforce this belief system.

Per the ILGA, homosexuality is illegal in Singapore. For LGBTQ+ daters, you should know that Singapore has no major protections and homosexual acts even between consensual adults is criminalized and punishable by up to 8 years in prison. Therefore, protections for the Singaporean LGBTQ community are typically extremely weak and dangerous3. It is always a good idea to check the latest regulations and reports from ILGA or other reputable organizations which focus on this area of human rights.

Gay asian couple

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in Singapore, please be EXTREMELY careful. Check the latest regulations from a reputable international organization like the ILGA and consider using apps like Grindr and Tinder, which help you to remain safe.

Gender roles

Much like the rest of the world, traditional gender roles in Singapore are not substantially different from other conservative societies. Though it is difficult to generalize such a diverse region, Southeast Asia, as a whole, tends to be somewhat conservative. Because of this, traditional gender roles tend to dominate dating practices in Singapore. Singaporean men are often expected to take the initiative in asking women out, planning the date, and paying for the expenses. Singaporean women, on the other hand, are often expected to be more reserved and nurturing. To a degree, religion will often play a part of this as well.

As globalization and urbanization march forward, norms around dating and gender roles are changing, especially among younger generations and in urban areas. More egalitarian dating practices are becoming more common, with some Singaporean women also taking the initiative and couples splitting the bill.

Best way to meet singles in Singapore

The best place to meet singles in Singapore depends a lot on where you might be. If you are in a rural area, then your options may be limited. However, if you find yourself in a large urban center like downtown Singapore, then you may have more options. Do some research on popular activities or events happening in your area and see what you find.

We believe that you can increase your chances of meeting Singaporean singles by trying out some of these methods:

  • Social events: Attending social events like festivals or cultural events even parties are great ways to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. Though many of these are not specifically focused on dating, they may present opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  • Through friends: If you live in a place and have a friend network, it may be easy to meet potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people. It is important to use this sparingly though in case a new relationship does not work out.
  • Religious centers: Mosques are a central part of community life for Singaporean Muslims. They serve not just as places of worship but also as gathering points where people can meet and socialize.
  • Joining groups or clubs: Joining a new club or group centered around a common interest such as a profession, skill, sport or even language exchange, can all be great ways to meet new people. By joining an organization based on mutual interests, conversations will be easy and it is easier to relax.
  • Go shopping at the market: In cities like downtown Singapore, shopping centers, malls and markets are great places to meet new Singaporean singles. Markets and malls are often central to daily life and people visit them frequently either out of necessity or to pass time.
  • Volunteering: There should be plenty of volunteer opportunities in Singapore. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to the greater human society, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values, passions and worldviews.
  • Online dating: If all else fails, there is always online dating. As you will read in the section below, the online dating scene is evolving in Singapore. Though the amount of Singaporean singles on these platforms is still relatively small, the apps and sites can still be ways of meeting someone new who shares values and interests with you.

Is it safe to date people in Singapore?

Regionally, Southeast Asia has a mixed track record with safety. Although, there are some safe places, personal security is inconsistent, especially for women. It does not matter if you are Singaporean, African or a foreign tourist, if you plan to date in Singapore, it can be an interesting experience for you. However, you should take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time meeting new people.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when dating in Singapore:

  • Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: Learning about the local culture, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Singapore and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas. Further, if Singapore is a new place for you, take some time to review local laws and customs, particularly related to dating and public behavior. This is especially crucial as laws and protections are extremely weak and dangerous for LGBTQ+ individuals in Singapore. Though some dating apps, such as Grindr or Tinder, have implemented security features into their apps it cannot defend you from the law of the land.
  • Choose a Reputable Dating Platform: Online dating app may be weak in Singapore but at least use a website that requires identity verification. This can help weed out fake profiles and scammers.
  • Use the messaging service on the dating app: It is safer to use the messaging service provided by the dating app until you are comfortable sharing your contact details.
  • Keep Personal Information Private: Do not share sensitive information like your home address, financial details, or other private information with someone you have just met online. This is generally always a bad idea.
  • Research Your Date: Do a quick online search of the profile information of your date to verify their identity. Be cautious of profiles with limited friends, photos, and interactions as these could be signs of a fake profile.
  • Tell Someone About Your Plans: Always tell a friend or family member where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return.
  • Meet in Public: On your first few dates, meet in a public place like a café or a park where there are plenty of people around. In a places like downtown Singapore, it should be somewhat easy to find a public space.
  • Stay Sober: Though alcohol is not that common in Singapore, if alcohol is served on your first date, consider limiting your intake to ensure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. Alcohol can impair your judgment. It is safer to drink less when you first get to know someone.
  • Trust Your Gut: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. You have instincts for a reason. Trust them and do not feel obliged to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Remove yourself from a bad situation when it feels right to do so.
  • Safe Sex: Though casual sex is taboo and unlikely in Singapore, if you decide and a date decide to become intimate, remember to practice safe sex. This includes using protection and getting regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Remember, safety first. It is important to take precautions and use common sense when dating in Singapore, whether online or offline.

Dating scams in Singapore

Dating scams can and do unfortunately happen across the world, even in Singapore. Southeast Asia is no stranger to scams or deceptive practices. Particularly in the digital world, wherever there are lonely or naive people, a nefarious person can take advantage of their kindness or emotions.

While we do not know of any dating scams unique to Singapore, we do believe you should keep in mind these online dating scams which are common in other countries and the rest of the world. While we do not believe paranoia helps, it is always a good idea to be careful and approach online dating in Singapore with caution. Until you build trust with someone, you should not provide too many personal details. Whether you are Singaporean or a foreigner looking to date in Singapore, please keep these common dating scams in mind when using apps and sites to meet new people:

  • Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.
  • Romance Scams: In this scam, criminals create fake profiles on dating websites or apps. They build an online relationship with their victims and then ask for money for various reasons – a sick relative, a plane ticket to visit, or some other fabricated story. Once they receive the money, they disappear.2
  • Advanced Fee Fraud: This is one of the most common types of fraud in West Africa, in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, but could also happen in Singapore. The scammer forms a relationship with the victim and then asks for money to help them access a large amount of money or gold they have supposedly inherited but cannot access due to bureaucratic red tape.
  • Catfishing: This involves a scammer creating a fake profile with stolen photos and false information. The scammer entices the victim into a relationship with the goal of obtaining personal information or exploiting them emotionally.
  • Military Scams: In these scams, fraudsters pose as military personnel who are serving overseas or outside of Singapore. They form a relationship with the victim and then ask for money, often claiming that it is for a leave application, medical expenses, or other fabricated reasons.
  • Gift Scams: Scammers, after forming a relationship, might ask for expensive gifts or money to buy such gifts. Once the gifts or money are received, they break off contact.
  • Kidnapping Scams: These are extreme and less common, but there have been reports of scammers luring victims to a location under the pretense of a date and then kidnapping them for ransom.
  • Other money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money for any number of other reasons than previously mentioned. If money is involved, it is likely a dating scam. Use good judgement.

Online dating in Singapore

In more conservative regions of the world such as Singapore, the state of the online dating industry can be described as a delicate blend of traditional values and modern technology. There is an increased interest in online platforms as avenues for finding partners, largely driven by the younger, more tech-savvy generation. However, the concept of dating itself, particularly online dating, often faces resistance from more traditional segments of society.

Within this context, online dating services often aim to navigate the cultural sensitivities by providing a platform that upholds the values and norms prevalent in Singapore. Some of these platforms promote matches based on shared cultural, religious, and familial values, rather than just personal interests or physical attributes.

Online dating

Even in spite of this culturalization effort, the online dating in Singapore has been slow to take off. This is likely due to a few aspects:

A primary and obvious reason is mainly culture. Conservative societies and indigenous groups like the Malay, Chinese and Indian, are quite foreign to the concept of a dating app or website. This is due to the reliance on social circles and emphasis on maintaining culture through relationships within the their respective community. Additionally, for religious Singaporeans there would definitely be stigmas or perceived risk associated with online dating.

The second reason is socioeconomic. Historically, Singapore has had a low internet penetration and limited access to smartphones. However, over the last decade with the widespread adoption of mobile technology, increased internet accessibility, and reduction in costs, Singaporeans people are increasingly digitized. Even with access to technology though, dating is still seen as a luxury, even for Singaporeans singles open to dating. Though there are wealthy Singaporean, many singles in Singapore continue to struggle economically. With each passing generation, the economic situation seems to be improving, but many Singaporean have a long way to go before having a western style social life.

The third reason, would be distrust and fear of using online platforms for such personal reasons. Data privacy is a huge concern and it is likely that more single Singaporeans are hesitant about their personal life living in the cloud. Companies will need to work extra hard to overturn this and build trust with locals, or be locals themselves, particularly where government involvement is a concern.

A fourth explanation for this slow growth is related to accessibility, particularly through product localization. When apps and websites do not offer your native language, it is difficult to find the product. Even for those who do find the product, product adoption can be low when you do not fully understand the user interface (UI) language of it.

Historically, most dating apps have not localized consistently localized for all languages from the region of Southeast Asia, let alone languages native to Singaporeans. Though some primary languages such as English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil are supported by large international companies or regionally specific ones, consistent support is still lagging. European and East Asian languages are much more common and make products accessible for those Singaporean singles who speak them.

Yet, despite the cultural constraints, there is still an undeniable demand for such services in Singapore. Younger generations, influenced by global trends and the normalization of digital social interaction, are gradually shifting the dating landscape.

One of the noticeable trends in Singapore is the emphasis on serious relationships and matrimony, as opposed to casual dating. Many online platforms cater to this trend by positioning themselves as matchmaking services for marriage, rather than dating websites or apps.

Another notable trend in the online dating scene in Southeast Asia, is the rise of niche platforms catering to specific groups. For example, culture-specific dating like dating apps for Muslims, Christians, or even specific ethnic or linguistic communities. Though it is highly unlikely any time soon, we may eventually see dating or marriage apps that cater specifically to Malay, Chinese and Indian singles in Singapore, where indigenous or linguistic communities are large in number.

Keeping this in mind, we believe that the online dating industry has an interesting future in Singapore. As a whole, has more than 5.8 million people; most interestingly, with a relatively young median age.1 Compared to regions like Europe, where the median age is over 40, it seems that in spite of major obstacles there is still a long term growth story for Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. As more and more people join the digital world, we expect Singaporean singles to increasingly turn to online dating as a means for connection. However, this adoption rate may be slow especially when considering the cultural hesitations and even occasional institutional blockers in place.

With continued tech adoption and changing societal attitudes, the future of online dating in Southeast Asia looks promising yet steady and slow, growth in Singapore will inevitably contribute to that change, even if in relatively small absolute numbers. As a youthful and digitally-connected population continues to grow, so too does the potential market for online dating services. Additionally, the ongoing shift towards homegrown and niche dating platforms suggests a future where the industry is increasingly tailored to the diverse needs and preferences of local Singaporean daters.

In conclusion, while the online dating industry in Singapore may not mirror the more liberal approach seen in Western cultures, it is finding its own unique path that blends regionally tradition and modernity. As societal attitudes continue to evolve, the online dating scene in Singapore is likely to grow and mature in its own distinct way.

Top dating apps in Singapore

Much like in the rest of the world, international recognized dating apps like Badoo or Tinder, are likely to have users in nearly every country in Southeast Asia. These apps are likely to be popular with young Singaporean singles who conform to more global norms. However, since Singapore is conservative, users count will likely be low or stigmatized.

If you plan to use a dating app in Singapore, review the below apps in addition to any other apps you may be familiar with. Online dating is a lot about trying different platforms and sites and finding ones that works best for you and your interests. This will give you the best chances of success in meeting someone special.

Keep in mind, the dating sites and apps available and popular by country may depend on how well the apps are localized into the languages of Singapore, particularly English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil.

  • Tagged: Tagged is a social networking site that has grown to be a popular platform for dating in many Southeast Asia countries with a presence in Singapore.
  • Muslima: This niche dating site caters to the Muslim community. Though it has its largest and most significant user base in North Africa in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, Muslims around Africa find value in the dating app.
  • Muzz: a popular dating app for Muslim people


2 Romance dating scams in Africa are common:

3 Sub-Saharan views on homosexuality: