For some, it means higher competition on American soil, and going abroad to find a spouse

Being single is viewed as an anathema. There must be something wrong with someone if they’re not able to have a man or woman stand by their side. The pressure to get married, especially in Asian cultures is a burden for many of my Asian-American clients.  Usually, there’s pressure from both parents and grandparents wondering what’s taking so long to find a spouse.

With the boon of internet dating sites, webcams, Skype, and a host of other real-time video chatting services, many are starting to look beyond American soil for love.  But could there be deeper, psychological reasons why singles are looking overseas?

As a therapist, people share their most intimate fears, concerns and worries with me. When it comes to dating, I’ve heard some men confide that they would prefer to find a wife overseas for a number of reasons.

Culturally, they say a woman from Asia or any other foreign country is much more likely to want to fit a more traditional role of being a mother, caregiver and nurturer compared to Americanized women looking for a more egalitarian relationship.

And there’s also the huge incentive of a foreign spouse desiring American citizenship. In many countries where women are looking for men from the U.S., the women tend to come from poorer regions where marrying someone here with a modest salary would be considered wealthy back home.

From the mindset of American men, the bar has been raised, and many feel as if they’re “not good enough” for women here. Women outnumber men in college education and advanced degrees, so consequently there are fewer men to choose from coming from similar educational backgrounds.  This insecurity can also be seen in men from Asian countries.

In Korea for example, men are opting to marry foreign women citing Korean women as being more picky about their educational, financial and social status.
Same goes for China. There are men looking for foreign or “Western” women who seem less materialistic than their supposed Asian counterparts.

Studies in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea point to an increase in native men marrying outside their ethnicity.  “Foreign brides represented the largest group of new immigrants apart from the temporary workers, wrote Daniele Belanger of the University of Western Ontario University. “Since the beginning of the 1990s, more and more men in southeast Asia are looking abroad to find a wife,” Belanger cited in the journal of France’s National Institute for Demographic Studies.

She said the reason men went outside their country to find wives was due to the lack of women at home.

Back to the original pressure to “marry well.”  This is much different from my parents’ generation, where any man could work and provide for his spouse.  My dad immigrated to the U.S. in 1976 and was a cook, making just over minimum wage with no health insurance for the family, yet they were still able to afford a modest home on Beacon Hill.

In my generation, to afford a similar home in the same neighborhood requires men to be earning a good salary. The cost of living has gone up significantly, and the pay rate for average, blue-collar workers has not kept up with inflation. As a result, men today from similar backgrounds must have a wife who’s willing to work to just make ends meet. This economic necessity undoubtedly leads to a smaller pool of men who can be considered “providers” for their spouses.

In my own practice, I know of men who are trying to raise a family, save money for their children’s college education, with the weight of financial stress impacting their sense of masculinity. I’ve worked with gambling addicts who would say they,“felt inferior” and were pressured to succeed, and turned to gambling as a “means to make more money.”

Personally, I think it is harder for men to find women willing to accept them when the woman is the breadwinner or if the man has nothing more than a middle-income salary.  Worse yet are those with student loans.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported last summer that many couples are avoiding legal marriage so one partner wouldn’t be liable for the other one’s debt. It’s unfortunate where we are at today. Commitment now is less about trusting the relationship and growing as a couple through life’s hardships — including financial — and more about assuaging financial fears. It’s unfair for men in this situation, but it’s no wonder men are now more likely to look for love thousands of miles away from home.

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