After he feels like he has a good idea of who she is and where she comes from, and if he likes what he hears, he approaches her parents.I write about this because I think it plays into the issue of sex trafficking here in Cambodia.Men who are unhappy at home with wives they married without knowing, go searching for the physical comforts of a woman.

And women, never taught to stand up for themselves, or value themselves, or realize they are more than a man's object, are caught in this industry to provide for family.

How heartbreaking, how devastating, and how overwhelming.

Two years ago, 24-year-old Yi Sal was scrolling through his newsfeed on Facebook when he saw a pretty girl he’d never seen before.“I added her and start chatting with her,” the mustached singer and drummer said on a recent afternoon at Hun Sen park in Phnom Penh.

The two met up at a local coffee shop and hit it off.“Before, I had a few girlfriends, but now only one,” he said. Sal are increasingly turning to their smartphones and computers to like, swipe and chat their way to romance, bucking deep-seated cultural norms on courtship in the process.

The digital platforms—which include local entrant Matchstix as well as international services like Facebook, Badoo and Tinder— are capitalizing on cultural shifts, along with technological trends.“Traditionally, most marriages were arranged and therefore most relationships were deprived of the ‘romance’ associated with the individual autonomy of choosing one’s partner,” writes anthropology academic Heidi Hoefinger in “Sex, Love, and Money in Cambodia.”Pop songs, karaoke videos, films and magazines have edged aside older cultural mores, according to Ms. “The dominant sex­­ual culture for contemporary young people in Cambodia is filled with strong themes of romance, love, and heartache.”One business hoping to take advantage of the changing times is Australian tech company Mobi­Media.

When the company launched matchmaking app Match­stix last July, they pitched it as a way for Cambodians to meet new friends, out of concern that online matchmaking for overtly romantic purposes might be too risque.“I think Cambodians are in theory very conservative, and their parents are conservative,” said marketing and operations manager Klara Grintal at Mobi­Media’s astro-turfed conference room—filled with neon beanbags—in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang I commune.“But if you go to the coffee shops, and you listen to conversations young Cam­bodians are having—and the kinds of messages they are exchanging—these are not very conservative at all,” she said.

Matchstix has been a relative success in its first six months, clocking nearly 200,000 users who have made over 70,000 matches as of February 8, ac­cording to Ms. Users of the app, which initially launched in Khmer and is now also available in English, are presented with photos of another user who fits their specific age, gender and distance criteria.

Relationships and dating are an area interest for me, ironically, being single and all. If a girl and boy are seen together alone somewhere it is assumed they are already engaged or married. Many are still arranged marriages, where neither party has a choice in who they are marrying. At this point, the couple is engaged and now may get to know each other a little. Well, women are taught since birth to respect men and honor and obey them. Husbands are abusive and unfaithful, and wives are supposed to take it.

Probably because of my job, where I actually teach students how to have a healthy relationship, and future marriage. But others it's your typical boy-meets-girl scenario, with a twist. The wedding arrives and its a rich celebration steeped in tradition and family honor. It's no wonder so many in this culture are in bondage!

So I thought I would take some time to learn and talk about the current Cambodian dating culture. Boy sees girl, she catches his fancy, but doesn't dare approach her. I know dating isn't the best invention of the modern Western world, but how else does one discover compatibility with a partner? For a country that is so focused on the family, they sure have a warped view of marriage.

Father and prospective suitor meet, discuss future marriage, and negotiate a price for his daughter, either monetary or goods. Men disrespecting their wives (and women in general) is common and expected.