Editor's note: the following article was translated and edited from an article that first appeared in the Dahe Daily, the most read newspaper in Henan Province. The article discusses a recent survey on the Chinese dating scene, specifically the influence of household finances, job choice and having platonic friends on finding love and getting married.
Recently, the China Social Work Association's Matchmaking Industry Commission in cooperation with Chinese dating website Baihe.com published their "2012 China Marriage Status Survey Report". The survey was conducted online and had 50,741 participants nationwide. Respondents were asked a number of questions about their attitudes toward love and marriage and what they look for (or avoid) when choosing a partner.
“Who's in charge of the household finances?”
This question illustrated one of the major differences in opinion that newlywed couples face. In the survey, 53.2% of female respondents said that after marriage, the husband should turn over his wages to the wife to manage; only 17.9% of men shared this opinion. But it is worth noting that, as compared to the importance given to a man owning a car and an apartment, "husband has a stable income" was apparently a much more appealing factor to single women. In the survey, 81.8% of all respondents said that a man should have a stable income before he gets married. Meanwhile for 89% of female respondents, it was the single most important consideration. Surprisingly, quite a few female respondents agreed with the statement, “It's okay if the man doesn't already own a car or an apartment, as long as he shows the potential to in the future.”
Zhou Xiaopeng, the leading marriage expert at Baihe.com told a reporter from Dahe Daily that in the modern age, Chinese women feel a strong sense of insecurity toward marriage, and that by taking control of the household finances, their safeguards of marriage are strengthened. Moreover, it's rather likely that the increased attention paid to men's “stable income” is closely related to the new Marriage Law, which states that the apartment and the car are legally the man's premarital properties, but that a stable income after marriage is considered a joint property. However, on January 27, a reporter interviewing dating services in Zhengzhou learned that, at least in that city, owning an apartment is still a very important criteria for both men and women when choosing a spouse: "People don't get married to get divorced. In Zhengzhou, many single women still consider owning an apartment and stable income to be equally important."
“What are the most undesirable jobs?”
Topping the Marriage Status Survey Report’s list of most undesirable jobs were “entertainer”, “flight attendant”, “tour guide” and “reporter”. Wang Zhiguo, one of the authors of the report and a professor at Beijing Normal University's School of Psychology, said that the public no doubt has many preconceived notions about certain jobs, which in turn causes them to be viewed as undesirable for potential spouses. For example, it is commonly believed that the entertainment industry is chaotic and that people who have jobs in media are working nonstop. (Wang is quick to point out that in no way are such stereotypes inherent to all jobs in these industry and that people should not base their opinion of a potential spouse solely on their employment.)
So why did "tour guide" make the list? According to Zhang Wanlin, a tour guide for Henan China International Travel Service, “Our company employs more than 200 tour guides, approximately 70% of which are single. Many employees have waited until they were in their early thirties before getting married.” Zhang explains that tour guides simply don't have time to meet Mr or Ms Right, as they are constantly traveling, and are particularly busy during the holidays. Simply put, “When others are resting, we are hard at work. This schedule conflict makes it difficult for us to find opportunities to fall in love." She goes on to suggest that since many tour guides have already "seen the world" so to speak, their criteria for a spouse are probably higher.
According to the interviews with the dating services in Zhengzhou, at least in that particular city, civil servants and teachers were deemed the most desirable jobs, although entry-level employees at private companies and sales staff in malls also found it somewhat difficult to find a partner: "Female teachers are highly favored by men, while male civil servants are highly favored by women." As for tour guides and flight attendants, a representative for one dating service confirmed that their success rate is not very high: "Tour guides are always traveling, while flight attendants are frequently off working for 3-5 days at a time. And oftentimes they’re in mid-flight, which means that they’re virtually unreachable. As such, it's very difficult for them to schedule dates and develop strong relationships.”
The platonic friend conundrum
Then there's the issue of the so-called platonic friend—defined as a relationship with a member of the opposite sex that is intimate and affectionate but not sexual. According to the survey, nearly half of all single men and women in China have platonic friends (47.4% for women and 45.7% for men specifically). It's been said that men have an easier time sharing their feelings with female platonic friends than with male friends, while women are more likely to share their work problems with male platonic friends than with female friends. But does having platonic friends make it more difficult to engage in a serious romantic relationship?
According to Zhou Xiaopeng, this situation certainly exists: “A very important function of love and marriage is that the couple share with each other. However, when one has a platonic friend, they oftentimes serve this role instead.” Zhou suggests that since there is no financial attachment to a platonic friend, they can easily turn into a source of “unconditional communication”, which leads to an emotional support without any of the responsibilities of love and marriage.
Cai Jinlin, a national level psychologist who has long worked as a counselor in Zhengzhou has had a lot of experience dealing with cases of clients whose platonic friends cause problems for their marriage. His suggestion is that men and women who have platonic friends should ensure that these relationships do not extend beyond a certain level, and that they must always keep their relationship with their significant other front and center.
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Keywords: Chinese dating survey
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in today's society, many of us (20-30) don't share our parents view. Marriage, have kids, live on one salary, be happy. This is a dream of most of our parents. They don't understand that nowadays, job is scare, inflation, apartment is so expensive. Back then, their parents was given everything to them. The government will give them (their parents), job and housing. So their life (parents) was much more easier and simple. Everything was given to them. In our generation, nothing is given. We have to find our own job (high competition for good job). Not job = no life. Parents always believe their adult child is well equipped for the job, which they are not fitted to do. Parents think too highly of their adult child.
Aug 24, 2016 10:25 Report Abuse
Apartments, cars, favourable jobs, looking after finances and a steady income are all covered but was there a question in the survey about 'love'? What happens if you fall in love with somebody who has a crappy job, drinks and smokes, doesn't own an apartment, doesn't drive a car but is handsome or beautiful? Does that mean in China you withhold your emotions until you find out the net worth of your prospective partner? obviously no "Pretty Woman" scenarios can ever be allowed to happen in China. Having said that yesterday's article showed that it was possible to fall in love with a waitress. It would be interesting to see the survey questions and see if any of them referred to falling in love without checking job, bank account and material possessions first. My question: Is falling in love purely a western emotional phenomenon? I can't believe that people in this country don't fall in love or experience love at first sight. And with the internet playing a huge part in relationships now what about online love affairs?
Feb 20, 2013 08:24 Report Abuse