Indonesian Men Guide: What to Expect in a Relationship

So you’ve just been on a spiritually-awakening trip to Bali, aka the Island of the Gods, or you were backpacking through Southeast Asia and during your stay in Indonesia, a kind guy with tanned skin and a wide smile captured your attention. And maybe your heart.

Now you’re left wondering: what would it be like to date an Indonesian man?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dig into the world of relationships with Indonesian men in this full guide and explore all that comes with it.

Get Cultured

beautiful Indonesia islands

Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world. It is an archipelagic country with over 17,000 islands and over 1,000 ethnic groups, which makes it a melting pot of different cultures all squished into one big nation.

All the different cultures are an important part of Indonesia’s identity, and they made sure of it by making the Old Javanese phrase “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” as their national motto. It means unity in diversity, and it seems to be highly regarded by the people of Indonesia.

Nationalism and patriotism hold significant importance within the Indonesian society, shaping their very identity.

Generally, their culture tends to be somewhat patriarchal, and this influence can be observed in their government, work environment, and family dynamics.

At most times, their dating culture is no different than their overall culture. Men are expected to be the leaders, to have the higher income, and to be the final decision maker in a relationship.

This might not prove to be true with the more modern and open-minded men, which are mostly found in big cities like Jakarta and the tourist-filled Bali. But you can still expect a little bit of underlying patriarchy here and there.

Let’s Get Physical!

Indonesian man surfing

Indonesians can look very different from one another. You may see a trait in one region that you won’t see in the next. In general, Indonesians have similar resemblance with people from Malaysia and the Philippines.

In terms of skin tones, a lot of them have brown or tanned skin. For example, Balinese people may have tanned skin, people from both the West and East Nusa Tenggara may have darker skin, and people from Papua may have even darker, almost black-looking skin.

Shades of lighter skin also exist among Indonesians. Those from West Java like the Sundanese and Betawi people, or some ethnic groups from Kalimantan or Borneo like the Dayak and Banjar people, they appear to have lighter-tanned skin.

There are also Chinese-Indonesians who exhibit typical Chinese traits, like light yellow-ish skin and slanted eyes.

Like most Asian countries, most of them naturally have dark brown eyes and dark brown to black wavy or straight hair.

Indonesians are some of the shortest people in the world, with an average of 5 feet 4 inches (162cm) among the males.

If you want to see some attractive Indonesian men, you can take a look at famous Indonesian actors like Chicco Jerikho, Reza Rahadian, and Jefri Nichol.

But in the end, attractiveness based on physical appearance is very subjective and with the diversity present here, you will surely find at least a few you will appreciate, at least from a physical point of view.

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Understanding Indonesian Men

good looking man from Indonesia

Indonesian men are fairly simple to understand by women (as opposed to women by men).

What you need to know is that they are massively influenced by their surroundings. Depending on which region they’re from, they can be very into borderline-toxic masculinity or they can be very gentle.

For example, those who hail from the most-populated island, Java (not including the capital, Jakarta) tend to be quite gentle and soft-spoken.

And those who hail from the Eastern islands like Maluku or East Nusa Tenggara, tend to be quite intense and loud.

But they do have at least one thing in common: they uphold politeness.

That value is most likely hard-wired into their brains as it is taught in schools across the nation. That’s why Indonesians are famous for their kindness towards foreigners.

Technology also plays a part in shaping who they are. Especially for Jakartans, who seem to be the most-connected and well-versed on the latest trends.

You can expect them to be more open-minded, highly-adaptive, and tolerant towards foreign influences and cultures.

This, of course, can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they understand how the outside world thinks and can adapt to it faster than those with less access to the internet.

But on the other hand, they’re also susceptible to the more harmful influences that exist on the internet and in Western societies in general.

No two individuals are the same, we all know that. Even two people from the same family can have totally different characters and values. But what I’ve found to be true is that they will almost always be warm, kind, and friendly.

The Stereotypical Indonesian Man

You’ll most likely hear negative stereotypes about Indonesian men such as: they’re overprotective, possessive, controlling, and they can be out for your money. Surprisingly, it’s almost the same set of stereotypes you hear about Indonesian girls

Unfortunately, some of those stereotypes might be true, but don’t be discouraged to get to know them.

Like all stereotypes, they are only true to some extent, and they don’t apply to absolutely every single Indonesian man.

It’s true that there have been cases where Indonesian guys will try to take advantage of their bule (that’s Bahasa for foreigners) partner’s money because they think that just because their partner is a tourist, they’re automatically richer than these men.

But that’s more of a “one bad apple” thing. What you can do to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of is to offer them to split the bill.

And sure, Indonesian guys can be quite overprotective and controlling, especially when it comes to the way women dress.

That’s because the majority of them are Muslims and in Islam, you are encouraged to dress modestly so as to not draw attention to yourself. But it can also be their way of protecting you from guys who want to objectify you.

So, if you’re a lady used to the Balkan way of dressing – flashy like, let’s say Slovakian women – you might have to tune things down a little bit in Indonesia.

After all, it’s more about their culture which requires a lot of modesty, and not just a man’s preference. It’s similar to adhering to the dress code for visiting Thailand’s temples, for example: you just have to follow some basic rules.

To be fair, there’s always gonna be red flags regardless of the country. You just need to be careful, and start going the other direction once you see a red flag.

What’s it like to date an Indonesian man, honestly?

Indonesian man

Dating experiences can differ from one person to another. Your experience might be positive, but others’ might not.

But the courting culture might be similar to that in the US. Men will make a move first, and they might try to woo you by buying you chocolate or flowers.

Then they might take you out to dinner, either to a restaurant or a local warung (small, family-owned restaurants serving authentic & delicious food).

When it comes to the actual dating period, there are a few things you need to know.

Relationships can get intense pretty quickly. It’s considered normal to say “I love you” after only a month of dating, so when he says it to you a lot faster than you expect, it’s not something to be necessarily wary of.

If you’re not ready to say it back, you can explain to him that it has a different meaning where you come from.

You might also find his family being involved a lot more, compared to your past relationships. That’s because family approval is very important for Indonesians.

If you put in the effort to get in the family’s good graces, your partner might appreciate you more.

In terms of dating in public, he might not show any PDA. Generally speaking, Indonesians don’t like seeing any kind of display of affection in public.

Again, this might be caused by their religious beliefs. But even if he doesn’t kiss you in public, that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t like you. It’s just not the custom there.

Now that we’re getting into more intimate things, intimacy itself can also be quite awkward.

If your guy is the religious type, you need to know and respect his boundaries and understand that they won’t go all the way before marriage. This is usually considered taboo in Indonesia.

Living together when you’re not married is also downright prohibited. You might face negative repercussions like being the gossip of your neighborhood, getting kicked out of your place if people find out, or even facing legal trouble.

Here are some tips for a perfect relationship with a man from Indonesia

1. Be extra careful and really get to know them before you get more serious. Minimize the chance of getting scammed by making sure that they’re not just in it for the money or the status.

2. Communicate clearly as miscommunication is your enemy. Meaning can get lost in translation, especially when you have both a language and a culture barrier.

When you’re having an argument, be patient and understanding. Really dig into what they really mean before losing your temper.

3. When you’re really serious about an Indonesian guy, go the extra mile to impress his family. It’ll go a long way.

4. It’s okay to be the obedient housewife sometimes. Indonesia is deeply-rooted in patriarchy.

Even if he is a feminist, his friends and family might not be. So as to save his face, consider letting him be the man who calls the shots around them. A bit of acting never hurts.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, dating an Indonesian man can be fun and it can also be a challenge.

If you’re up for an adventure of a lifetime, you should go for it! I wish you luck in finding the perfect Indonesian man.

And if you have a story (or more) to share, don’t hesitate to do so by commenting below. The more opinions we get, the closer we are to fully understanding men from Indonesia.

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