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Dating and Romance in China

Popularity 6Viewed 9757 times 2013-12-31 09:35 |System category:Life| Romance China, dating China, online dating, online romance, marriage


Romance is big business in China. Marriage is the final goal, and even bigger business. Chinese see it as the biggest day of their lives. Marriage is certainly big business in the West, too, but people think romance without marriage is ok. Life can be quite decent without marriage. That's a big difference in thinking.

With all the emphasis Chinese place on marriage, I find it odd that any romance or displays of feeling seem to disappear quickly after the ceremony and couple set up house. Fantasy gives way to routine; the grind of working to pay their expenses sets in; if the couple ever held hands or - gasp - kissed in public, they stop. They may not even walk together on the street. I also have the distinct impression that sex stops after a child is born; many Chinese seems to regard romance without marriage and sex without procreation as somehow improper. When they inevitably ask if I'm married, have children, etc. and I say no, the world has plenty of children and doesn't need mine, people are shocked. One young man actually jumped up and exclaimed, “I've never heard anyone talk like that!” But a young woman soon to be married, said, “You've never been married? Oh, I so envy your freedom!” I replied that had I a husband and children, I'd still be in the US and not travelling or teaching in China.

I had some discussions with a Chinese college freshman who was obsessed with thoughts of romance. Katherine assured me that young people really, really want to touch each other, but don't dare to. She would say, “I want a boyfriend, I want a boy to love me, I want a boy to kiss me!”, etc. or she'd ask me how Westerners kiss and have sex. I soon tired of this and refused to answer such questions. I did not have the time, energy, or motivation to do what her parents and her school should have been but were not doing. She spent more time playing, chatting with her friends, making phone calls, and daydreaming than she did studying. I said she could have boyfriends after graduation. Romance could wait. And by no means should she have sex if she knew nothing about it. She agreed, but I didn't observe any change in her manner. Her hormones were raging.

She liked to visit online chat rooms. One day she told me some Chinese would pretend to be Westerners when chatting, to attract more attention. What's worse, a man once offered her 5000 RMB to meet him. When she declined, he asked how much she wanted. To her credit, she said she wouldn't accept, no matter how much he offered. But she continued to chat with him. I couldn't believe this. But Katherine needed to feel attractive. She constantly worried about being too tall and too heavy, and looking older than her age. So she was flattered when he solicited her after he viewed her photo and address on her online profile. I came to learn that many Chinese kids posted all kinds of personal information online, with no thought of the perils. Online is the modern way to troll for romance.

One of her college roommates was sneaking off on weekends to a hotel with a boy she had met online, someone her parents would never accept.. The first thing I asked was whether they were using birth control. No, so she feared she would get pregnant, but even more, that her future husband would know she wasn't a virgin. If she's so worried, why is she even doing it then? Katherine said, oh because she loves him. I thought, great, this is nuts. I asked, what happens if she gets pregnant?? If she wants a secret abortion, can she afford it? And why is there no sex education?

A male student, who had more traditional views, said that you shouldn't start talking to strangers, unless someone you knew introduced them. He wanted a girlfriend, but didn't know how to find one. I joked that he should place an online ad. He said seriously that he didn't do such things. Eric was already thinking of his future wife and worrying about buying a house. I said there's no need for a boy to get married right out of school, to his first girlfriend. He said that only children can play. Chinese adults can't play, they work. After marriage, they are in debt for the rest of their lives.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Comment Comment (13 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-1-1 11:12
Thank you Lexa , we have recommend your blog onto the homepages of the forum and blog. Hope you could share us more your experiences and thinkings about China and her people.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-1 12:22
My pleasure.
Reply Report juzunme 2014-1-1 14:28
That's a good insight into the thoughts of teenager in China.

I suppose the raging hormone in China is no different from that in the West. What differ is maybe the traditional perception of society.

What the youth is facing is more than just raging hormone and the need for attention. They are straddling in the transition from youth to adult, old China to new, East to West, local TV conservatism to US TV liberalism, traditional family values to global values from internet.

I do not know what part school play in teaching social values but the method may have to change to keep up with time. Kids are now spending more time on the internet and the values it impart than the combined time in teaching from both parents and school.

Btw, best wishes for the new year.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-1 16:11
you're right, juzunme. Hormones rage in all teenagers. and many of them learn about sex by watching internet porn. The web is a double-edged sword, and it keeps changing. The new year will bring even more changes. Institutions change much more slowly.
Reply Report KIyer 2014-1-2 06:17
this is so typical of the young in many developing countries - they are less prepared or equipped to deal with the dangers of technology than their counterparts in more developed countries, because technology is driving the social change more than the other way around.
Reply Report MichaelM 2014-1-2 06:18
Great blog! Very interesting info and perspective indeed. Thank you Lexalee!
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-2 06:57
I appreciate all your comments and welcome my new readers.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2014-1-2 16:48
I tend to think this is a reflection of deficiency in current Chinese education system. Historically and traditionally, it has been such a taboo to discuss or demystify some basic human natures. The paucity of sex education in high schools due to this collective prudency as a society has exposed many young people particularly girls to potentially grave mistakes of lifetime. Many young pepole end up paying an heavy tuition for their innocent ignorance otherwise they would have learnt from school for free.
Reply Report liu5222512 2014-1-3 22:10
You stand on a bridge sightseeing, whereas the others upstairs elsewhere are enjoying the sight of you as a scenery.

There is no deny that the cultural gap exists between the East and the West.
But,as a humanbeing,marriage does matter,no matter where you are from,China or the West,it is the same in my mind.
And I am not surprised at all when you are frequently asked by those around you in China over whether you are married or not.
It seems that you turn out to be a distinctively scenery for them.

Anyway,different person have different stories,special and exclusive.
If a woman does not get married at their appropriate age,they are called "left-over woman" in China.Even though you were a man,it looks strange in the other's eye for you not to tie the knot with a woman due to Chinese tradition.  And they are obliged to bear the huge physical and mental stress inside and outside the home.
Maybe that’s the difference,in the West,marriage or not,it is your own business,whereas,in China,that is not the same.It is a duty for yourself and a responsibility for your parents as well as your family.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-3 23:01
All six of us foreign teachers at the college were unmarried. Two were divorced. Yes, we were odd ducks to the Chinese. They viewed us with conflicting feelings, viz how can these people not be married, it's not proper, aren't they lonely, but they have money and travel where they want to, don't have to take care children, etc. Immigrants to another country, like my parents, cannot expect their children to grow up thinking just like them. I had many battles with them as a child over cultural differences.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-4 00:11
I've never thought of myself as scenery, but that's an apt description. But the Chinese people were also scenery to me. especially the crowds during national holidays.
Reply Report liu5222512 2014-1-4 14:12


I do not know whether you can understand a little Chinese.
And have you ever heard about this popular Chinese poem?
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-4 14:48
I have some Mandarin, but I have learned very few Chinese poems. Is it 现代?Many more words than the classical style. Maybe I should ask my Chinese friends whether I am good 风景.

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I am a semi-retired American physician and medical/science writer who lives in New Orleans, in the southeastern USA. I spent 2012-2013 teaching at a college in Lianyungang, Jiangsu.


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