Singles Dating in Honolulu
We step into the often thrilling, sometimes taxing world of dating in Honolulu. Here are tales from the frontlines of the singles world—whether you’re 26 or 88, straight or gay, looking for love, or just looking—in Honolulu now.
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She’s dated men she’s met while traveling, but hasn’t had much luck here. Kim ventured online and signed up for Match.com and had a few dates, but they were duds. “Once, I met up with a guy for coffee. He didn’t look anything like his picture. I think it was 20 years old,” she says with a laugh. “But I finished my coffee, then left.” She says she would try online dating again; she has two good friends who are in steady relationships thanks to Match. “It’s all random chance,” she says.
Kim doesn’t just sit at home on a Friday night (but enjoys her down time, too). She regularly goes out with friends and co-workers for dinner and drinks in hole-in-the-wall restaurants and to monthly events such as Art After Dark and First Friday. “I’m very comfortable being on my own,” she says. “I don’t need a boyfriend, but I don’t want to be single forever.”
Betty Tanaka* married when she was 24, and was thrown back into Honolulu’s dating scene five years ago when she divorced. The 62-year-old teacher, who has lived in Hawaii her whole life, isn’t exactly happy being single. “It’s just the feeling that there are not very many seniors around,” she says. “I’m looking for men in their mid-to-late 60s and the majority of people in that age bracket would have to be divorced or widowed.”
Tanaka has no plans of marrying again, but instead wants a companion who shares her similar interests: theater, opera, symphony, wine tasting and traveling. Tanaka wants someone who’s just as active as she; she’s not interested in a man who “wants a caregiver because they’re in their 60s,” she says.
Even among the few men Tanaka has met, she’s found that they’ll have mutual friends or other ties, making the dates sometimes awkward, especially if the ties are with her ex-husband. Because of that, she’s toyed with the idea of traveling and even moving after she retires.
While finding eligible seniors proves to be difficult, Tanaka does see some good things about dating at her age. “It’s a lot less stressful, because I’m too old to play games and I don’t feel that I have the time,” she says. “So that’s one thing that’s very refreshing. You can be up front about what you expect out of a relationship.”
Looking, But No Dice
Some singles are hoping to find love in a city where issues such as race and cultural attitude work against them.
Rebecca Conrad* works out every morning before heading to her job as a science and technology project manager. Conrad, 53, is a triathlete, and has lived on Oahu for 24 years after moving here from Canada for graduate school.
Conrad is intelligent, attractive and athletic, and yet, by her own admission, isn’t burning up the singles scene. “Hawaii is not the place for a tall, haole girl,” she says with a laugh. “I feel like I’m not the standard of beauty.” She says she has half a dozen single girlfriends who share her same predicament.
Conrad says she’s tried online dating sites, such as Match.com and Fitness Singles, but found that “half the men specify they prefer Asian women,” she says.
At this point, it seems to be something she’s accepted. “I have a very rich life,” says Conrad, adding that she is also on a nonprofit board and is currently volunteering in a political campaign.
But, she says, “I would love to have someone to share my life with.” She says she’d be open to trying a long-distance relationship; Conrad travels to the Mainland about once a month for work.
Race is not the issue for Malia Yoshioka that it is for Conrad. Born and raised on Maui, the attractive 32-year-old moved to Oahu 13 years ago, for the better job opportunities, and what she thought would be better dating opportunities.
“I’ve tried online dating, I’ve done speed dating, I’ve gone on blind dates, I’ve tried Match.com,” she says. “I’ve met nice people, but there were no connections.”
She wants a long-term relationship and feels that many eligible men her age are already in them. That, and it’s harder to meet men once you’re not into club hopping, she says.
Yoshioka, who posts on her food and travel blog in her spare time and has visited more than 20 countries, says that, while the local, laidback mentality has many pros, sometimes, when it comes to dating, it can be a con. “Guys here are shy,” she says, “and aren’t as adventurous.” Yoshioka says she’s looking for a partner who both understands and appreciates local culture but is also up for overseas traveling.
Russell Tanoue, in his late 40s, has found dating challenging simply because of the drawbacks of a highly public career in the Islands. The professional fashion photographer has, for the past 20 years, shot models, actors, celebrities and local entertainers. Tanoue also produces the popular once-a-month nightlife event, Beautiful at Pearl Ultralounge.
“I’m recognized everywhere I go and I will always be that ‘photographer guy.’ People don’t see me, they see the image of what I do,” i.e., the person behind the camera making them feel sexy and desirable, says Tanoue. So, instead, Tanoue jets off to big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas, just for fun, to disappear into a crowd.
Tanoue has had long-term relationships, but finds balancing a demanding career and a serious partnership challenging. “I had to end [a] relationship because I could tell that in order for me to fulfill my dreams, I would be neglecting those that truly love me and it would not be fair to them.” Social media has also made things difficult. “It seems with all the social networks out there, people learn so much about each other [online] that it takes so much away from the ‘getting to know you’ phase. Not like before where an intimate dinner was the best way to feel one’s energy and chemistry.” But, Tanoue is still hopeful. “The right person, I know, is out there.”
1,100: Approximate number of 2010 Hawaii marriages in which only one party was a Hawaii resident.
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