Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Love – Part Two Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Culture

A first date probably means more in China than it does in the US.

Dating (约会 – yuē huì) in China is much different than it is in Western countries. Having grown up in the US and having spent the better part of the last 3 years living in China, I’ve noticed that these differences are vast. Whereas college students in America date casually, and will probably meet someone at a party or a bar, students in China become serious very quickly when it comes to dating, and the ideas of casual hook-ups or one night stands seem (for the most part) shocking and extremely foreign.

Most college-age girls in the US will probably use the first few dates with a guy to gauge whether or not they are compatible and if there’s potential for some sort of a relationship. In China, however, girls have thought this through before they’ve even agreed to a date. In fact, many girls are wondering whether or not a guy is spouse-worthy on their first or second date. While young couples in Western cultures may base early dating decisions on things such as whether or not they’re physically attracted to the other person, common interests, and “chemistry”, Chinese couples (情侣 – qíng lǚ) are already looking far down the road. Shared hobbies and tastes in music are trivial details when looking for love in China; age, salary, relationship history, family background, and home ownership are (usually) much more important.

If a girl in China has agreed to a first date, it’s a sign that she already considers the man a potential candidate for marriage (婚姻 – hūn yīn); otherwise, she most likely wouldn’t waste her time. A second date means the man has passed the spouse-worthy test, and a third date probably means both parties are seriously considering marriage. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, especially these days in China’s big cities, where college students are exposed more to Western culture and they even date study abroad students (留学生 – liú xué shēng) or other foreigners (外国人 – wài guó rén). Beautiful girls (美女 – měi nǚ) and handsome guys (帅哥 – shuài gē) in the big cities are looking for each other, and they’re looking for love.

The traditional style of dating and love in China is changing.

Silly chair ice-skates are so romantic!

When I was in college, guys and girls would always chat casually about love interests (“That girl in my lab is really hot”, “There’s this really cute guy who goes to my gym”, “Do you know if she’s single?”). It’s very common to talk with family and friends about someone you are interested in, whether you are dating or not. As you might expect, this is a bit different in China. If a girl tells her friends – or even more serious, her mother –  about a guy, chances are she is really interested in him and is already planning the wedding (婚礼 – hūn lǐ). If a girl brings a boyfriend to her hometown for an important holiday, such as the Spring Festival, the guy might as well propose on the spot. Otherwise, he’s going to look like a real jerk for leading the poor girl on. When it comes to sex (性交 – xìng jiāo), most girls will expect a serious commitment to follow. The concept of a “friend with benefits” does not exist to most Chinese people, although as with most everything here, this is changing. While most girls in China are quite conservative (保守的 – bǎo shǒu de), especially when it comes to sex, attitudes towards this once incredibly taboo subject are changing rapidly. In big cities all over China, young people search for love on the Internet, partake in speed-dating, go out drinking and dancing in huge night clubs, and have no qualms with casual sex. Everyone knows that China has already undergone a Cultural Revolution and an Economic Revolution in the past century; few know that China is currently undergoing a “Sexual Revolution” as well… but that’s a topic for another day.

This funny little video teachers some useful vocabulary related to dating.


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. izabella:

    interesting, though some of the Chinese vocabulary here is not really used by youngsters today. I recommed this article – , which explains about the Chinese dating experience and the parent effect:)

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