Dating in China, simply put there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s right, it’s exactly like dating wherever you’re from, but as with all new cultures there are some tricks to learn. I’ve spent four years now performing very diligent field research and I hope the totally scientific results I present here will help you get more good, less bad, and avoid the ugly.
WHAT TO KNOW:
Loser Back Home (LBH):
First of all, be aware that some Chinese people are highly suspicious of dating foreigners and for good reason. The LBH’s (Loser Back Home) have made their rounds here for decades and nearly everyone has a story about a friend who was used for a weekend fling by some scum bag foreigner. Let’s get something straight, for the most part dating in China is serious business and women especially date with the specific goal of marriage in mind. So if you are that scum bag … at least chose a date who knows and is a willing participant in your game.
Is it Easy to Get Girls in China?
Next, despite what you may have heard, the glory days of waving your passport around and waiting for the ladies to swarm are long gone (assuming such days ever existed in the first place…). Your likely target is a middle-class, city raised, foreign educated (or working in a foreign enterprise) modern person who shares many common interests with your culture. These are successful, independent people with options, and believe it or not, landing a hot date will take more than just your foreign mug.
Finally, the fastest way to get rejected is by being an English teacher. The perception here is that young male English teachers are just playboys who couldn’t land actual jobs in their home country and have no real skills or future, basically the exact opposite of what everyone here cares about. I’m not debating whether this is true or not, but consider yourself warned and have a battle plan. Oh, and calling yourself a Teaching Consultant doesn’t count (really). Alternatively, don’t date your students or scrounge for partners in dives, people you meet in regular everyday life are much less likely to care about what you do.
What Do Chinese Girls Really Want?
As far as what people DO want, in general it’s not really different from anywhere else, love, happiness, etc, but there are some things you need to know. First, traditional Chinese society places a high value on one’s own home, a house is nearly always a precondition for marriage. Second, children take care of their parents in old age, that means old Chinese people living with you, forever. Lastly, nuclear families are the modus operandi, so expect a significant amount of grandparent intervention in the event of children. Read on to accept these terms and conditions.
FIND A DATE:
Avoid Online Prostitution:
Sooner or later everyone discovers the search functions in WeChat or Momo, the two largest Chinese social network Apps. At one point these functions may have had legitimate use, but now they’re the unofficial Chinese red light district. That being said, that particular service is illegal in China and as a foreigner you’re much more likely to end up with an empty wallet and a black eye than the night of your life with the goddess from the photo. So if that’s really your thing, there’s this place called Thailand…
Next are dating apps like Tinder, OK Cupid and an assortment of Chinese ones. You’ll find most of the profiles will explicitly warn against one night stands and playboys (also English teachers and tattoos). Do our culture a favor and respect their request, evidently they’ve had a bad experience so don’t compound it. Most people who use these apps have some basic English skills, but if you speak some Chinese you’re dating life will be much more interesting. On another note, if your counterpart is constantly pushing you to speak English then you’re being used as a free English service, maybe that’s okay with you, just an FYI.
Meeting Chinese Girls At Bars and Clubs:
Oh the casual pickup, uncomfortable, risky, occasionally shockingly rewarding. Your odds are probably the same as back home, but as a foreigner people will generally be friendly with you, unless of course you’re a creeper, in which case its better if you just don’t come to China. So find your “in”, and at the right time ask for their WeChat but don’t be too pushy. A free cultural lesson here: Chinese people notoriously avoid confrontation by speaking indirectly and making excuses, if you ask and they say they don’t have WeChat, don’t have their phone, phone is out of battery or any other super lame excuse, it really means “No you can’t have my WeChat, piss off”.
Getting Set-Up in China:
Most common but least applicable to you is family and friends. It is common for parents to play a highly active role in their children’s dating life, however unwelcome their “help” is. As for friends, if someone offers to help you find a date, realize it’s not weird and they probably already have someone in mind. Just ask to see a pic and let them know you’ll think about it. If they’re not your type, find an excuse to politely say no. If you say yes, just make sure they don’t take you to KTV where they’ll make you sing them English songs all night.
Planning Your Date:
Don’t think too hard here, dinner, coffee, movies, parks, shows, sports, anything you’re used to is pretty much game. The expectations for males are generally higher than in western culture, guys should research and suggest options, work out all transportation in advance, pay for everything, ensure she gets home safely and overall just make sure everything goes smoothly. Gentlemen might be thinking “yeah duh”, but remember you won’t own a car, most things aren’t searchable in English, and you won’t have any cultural context for where you are taking them. Just make sure a nice trip to the zoo isn’t actually a disturbing experience in animal cruelty or that the Christmas craft show isn’t two dirty stalls selling stale cookies (speaking from experience…).
Know Your Chinese Food:
One universal truth here is that Chinese people love food, get to know your (many) varieties of Chinese food and the good restaurants. If you pay attention to just one thing make it the food, a good meal is more likely to get you that second date than your lame first date small talk. After a date or two invite them over for an authentic western meal, good cooking game is like Jedi mind control, may the force be with you.
Avoid The Friend-Zone:
The dating ritual can go on for an awkwardly long time, if you’re not sure what’s going on, just ask or risk getting trapped in the friend zone forever. Put real effort into planning your dates, take them to different places, see new things, and try some stuff that gets you out of your comfort zone. Given your cultural differences, try to get a well-rounded understanding of your counterpart before committing because once it’s official you’re in it for the long haul.
Impress Her Family:
Sometimes the hardest part of dating is the family and China is no exception. Families tend to be very close and parents can have a lot of influence over their children, it is not uncommon for people who are very much in love to breakup over parental objections. To make this work you’re going to have to make an actual effort to win over the parents and extended family, this may include but is not limited to gifts, drinking baijiu (Chinese rice wine), singing KTV, and large meals with lots of strangers talking about stuff you’ve never heard of in a local dialect you don’t recognize while sitting there like a jackass not speaking and making forced laughs at jokes you don’t understand. Cheer up, it’s not that bad, most of the time you just need to sit there, smile, look good, get drunk, and eat lots of food.