Beginners Guide to Dating in China

Beginners Guide to Dating in China
Apr 08, 2015 By Bo Brennan ,

If you’re single, new to China and plan on being here for a while, the issue of dating a Chinese partner will inevitably arise. Besides dealing with the whole “Yellow Fever” stereotype, there are certainly some things you should know before you start dating in China, so you and your Chinese partner don’t have too many surprises along the way.

dating in China

Keep in mind that these are all generalities, only based on my personal experiences. As such, perhaps not everything I say in the following paragraphs will adhere to every person, Chinese or foreign. Similarly, while I suspect that many of these ideas still apply to some extent if you are a foreign girl looking to date a Chinese guy, or with gay/lesbian dating in China, I unfortunately cannot offer any first-hand accounts of these types of relationships. I welcome the input of our readers in the comments section below!

1) Sex
Let’s just get this one out of the way. You always hear about foreign guys coming to hook up with innocent Chinese girls and then leaving them the next day. The topic is a perennial favorite on Chinese forums and Weibo. These criticisms are 1) patronizing to the women who date foreign guys 2) slightly xenophobic and 3) not entirely unfounded. It’s true that some foreign guys are just looking for a casual sexual relationship. Not all, but some. Yet, the thing that tends to be left out of this discussion in the Chinese blogosphere, is that the people themselves are only acting as agents for the cultures in which they grew up. The heart of this issue comes from the fact that dating, relationships and sex in Western countries is far more casual than in China, even in bigger, more metropolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

When two Chinese go on a first date, especially dates organized by their mothers or a coven of plotting ayis, it can be a fairly serious affair, even with children/families/marriage discussed in some cases. What is not on the table, in most cases, is sex. However, at least in America, we will go on dates with people we hardly even know/like for something interesting to do, a chance at an actual future together, and—this is important—the potential for a mutually-agreed upon sexual relationship. I’m not saying one is more preferable or better than the other, but when you are going on a date with a Chinese or foreign partner, you have to keep in mind how they might be viewing the encounter.

2) Family pressures
If you’ve just stepped off the plane, it’s forgivable that you don’t know the cultural differences just yet. One of the biggest differences you’ll encounter is that parental pressure and lofty expectations play a much larger role in Chinese dating than they do in many Western countries. The parents will get a say in the matter, if not out-right organize the whole relationship. On top of this, the parents are also heavily influenced by their neighbors and siblings and grandparents and the security guard and the vegetable lady they buy xincai from, right on up to Xi Jinping himself.

If you are dating a Chinese, this will be an issue, because they will feel the downward pressure from everyone above them in the generational line. Even if a girl or guy feels more independent and wants to date whoever they want, they will almost always take these family ideas into consideration, even if only on a subconscious level.  

3) Stability
I have had the opportunity to discuss “stability” with many older Chinese, and this is the big thing I hear from many Chinese parents. It’s not so much that they don’t like foreigners, it’s just that there is a stereotype—founded or unfounded—that expats in China are far less stable than their Chinese counterparts.

To a certain degree, they’re right. For many of us, China is just a pit stop. Possibly a seven or eight year pit stop, but a pit stop nonetheless. We’ll go back home or move to another country eventually; the parents of your “qin ai de” know this and will take that into consideration. Whether you consider this unfair or not, Chinese parents do not want their daughter or son to become a leftover woman or man, and they’ll take great pains to avoid it, even if it means deliberately sabotaging a relationship. That being said, if you are able to provide that stability, even if you are a foreigner, you will have a much easier time with the potential in-laws.

4) Future Concerns
If you’ve gotten past the initial, difficult stages of establishing your stability in a Chinese-foreign relationship, the conversation will inevitably led to the future, which, depending on your personality, will either relieve you or terrify you. If things are going well with your Chinese partner and you can really see a legitimate future together, there will come a day when you have to make a decision about where to live and raise a family.

It could be in China or in your home country or a completely different country altogether, but the fact of the matter will be that one set of grandparents and one culture will likely have a much greater influence on the children’s lives than the other set and other culture. If you’re the—for lack of a better word— “dominant” cultural influence on your children’s lives, be mindful of the impact that has on the other side of the family.

Conclusions - Be understanding but don’t feel guilty

With these thoughts in mind, remember that the cross-cultural street goes both ways. If you’re dating a Chinese person and you are really interested in making it work, it’s imperative to remember and respect their cultural background and influences; but don’t let yours get swept away and forgotten in the process. Like any relationship, cross-cultural or not, it’s all about give and take. Don’t feel ashamed or guilty if you assert yourself on an issue honestly.

If you want a casual sexual relationship, that’s fine. If you want to get married as soon as possible, that’s fine too. You shouldn’t have to feel bad if you are two consenting adults who understand the situation, whatever it may be. The thing is though, that many times people don’tproperly understand the situation here and aren’t honest with each other, and that’s where hurt feelings and stereotypes start flowing into the discussion. Hopefully, if you keep all these ideas in mind, you’ll be able to understand your cross-cultural partner a little bit better, leading to much happier relationships, in whatever form, in the future. 

Warning:The use of any news and articles published on without written permission from constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.

Keywords: dating in China dating a Chinese


All comments are subject to moderation by staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.



I am a 50 yr old man never married no kids I have a relationship with a 22 yr old lady never married no kids we both are virgin will be till we marry im unable to work because a accident years ago I do get a income every month its not much im not wealthy don't have my own house I have a disability have physical limitations he knows this as her parents know this According to my government through immigration I make only half of the required income to qualify to support a foreign wife to marry in America but if I marry her in china after she meets me in my country then takes me to china with her to meet her parents we marry there then being im her sponsor im her spouse im related to her by marriage both of our incomes will be combined as a 1 household income now my government will allow me to marry her being the income requirement has been met But, in order to be allowed to marry her in china what are the requirements her government wants me to have? like income what else do I need to have or bring to be allowed by her government to marry her in china? and how long will this take? I need to know this info

Jun 13, 2015 04:48 Report Abuse



This entire article and stream of comments makes me wish I had never opened my laptop today.

May 13, 2015 14:46 Report Abuse



3) Stability They criticise us for this, when the country gives us zero stability. Got that "Green Card" for being married and in China for 5 years yet? You know the one that allows you to work past 60, to come and go without visas or registering with the PSB, to live a a life without looking over your shoulder or wondering if your contract will be renewed next year. No? Didn't think so!

Apr 15, 2015 05:20 Report Abuse



is it easy to date the Russian/vietnamese immigrants in china?

Apr 15, 2015 04:12 Report Abuse



Unfortunately most of the article and the comments do not reflect anything close to my experience in China. I lived in China for 5 years. I was in Beijing for 1 and a half years and moved to Yiwu. Also in 5 years I was in 36 of the cities all over China from Guangzhou to Xing jian to Shanghai to Xian and Changchun. In all of it no matter where I was I met some absolutely wonderfully superior attractive and sexy girls in China. In all cases everytime the issue of sex was automatic and I was immersed every time with all of them intimately for long long periods of time. Sorry part was, as I found out later they strictly were connected with me with their sweet bodies and personal lives only because I was American and they wanted to get visas to leave China. That was very disturbing to me. Many of them yet today I still remember how much I was captivated by their sexuallity and charm and alarming beauty. Chinese women are with no doubt in my mind the most beautiful and awesome women in the world.

Apr 15, 2015 04:07 Report Abuse



Old article

Apr 13, 2015 17:45 Report Abuse



I dated a Chinese guy and to be honest it was just for sex beacuse honestly I don't see myself getting married and living in Choina. When I made this know to him he dropped my ass like a sack of potatoes. In retrospect it was very selfish of me to waste his time and not consider he was in persuit for a life partner. Foreigners are lonely and look for people to fill the blank space and never stop to consider how it will affect the other person. I think the most important thing is honesty, if you are looking for a casual relationship let it be known from the onset of the relationship so that noone has expectations or is left feeling disappointed.

Apr 09, 2015 13:07 Report Abuse



5. Ongoing due diligence.

Apr 09, 2015 10:48 Report Abuse



Thank you for the article

Apr 08, 2015 08:57 Report Abuse



It's easy if you're white.

Apr 08, 2015 07:15 Report Abuse



its easy if you're white?? chinese are just yellow but love white...silly

Apr 27, 2015 09:57 Report Abuse



well said! how do Chinese ladies those who want/looking for a husband/bf marriage feel/act when they are told by me or ask me that im still a virgin till I marry, and I never been married and im a American caucasion who is 50 years old wanting a well to do single Chinese lady to marry? Yes, thee are a few of us relics left virgin wise!

Jun 15, 2015 08:50 Report Abuse



I have some tips for foreigner who manages to get passed first base with a chinese girl. focus on the bossom.

Apr 13, 2013 23:25 Report Abuse



being honest Shanghai is much more open than the U.K. and after 2 years here I witness Chinese men sleeping around, cheating, secretly running into massage places and even go in as groups. Basically there is just one difference...Chinese men are cowardly,not honest and maybe better liars, foreign men are mostly honest and will say what they have done and are doing. Chinese men are having more sex than foreign men, nuff said.

Apr 10, 2013 02:13 Report Abuse



so true, open casual sex versus multiple girlfriends being deceived

Apr 11, 2015 22:00 Report Abuse



Ive learned quite a bit about Chinese women in the past month from an African fella who speaks very good Chinese and has been here for 5 years. This person is sleeping with various random chinese women on a regular basis. There are many out there that are quite open to sex very early into the "relationship". There are many Chinese women that arent "innocent", and are quite curious to be with non-chinese/ non-asian. (Ill go out on a limb and say its a word of mouth phenomena occurring here and it generally speaks of foreigners being better in bed, generally speaking of course...)

Apr 06, 2013 23:28 Report Abuse



Superficial, at best. And what is the point of the article?

Apr 06, 2013 22:48 Report Abuse



i will contribute this tidbit . between my students who feel ok with talking to me about their private matters and my friends, they have come across many chinese guys just looking for sex . whether they are involved in an out of town relationship/married or just players. this is actually more common in china then in america. (lying and misleading women just to have sex with them) about 10 of these women date foreigners or have dated foreign men. not one of them was used for sex. a few guys told my friends that they had a gf in their home country and were only looking for a relationship while in china. i think this highlights a problem with chinese culture. it is too primative . people are people, therefore we need sex and should be allowed to be honest with each other and have honest relationship. but china puts a chasity belt on women and brainwashes them into thinking they are whores if they have sex outside of love. which is why chinese men and sleezy foreign men would lie and manipulate , claiming to seek love but just wanting sex. 99% of the single foreign men i met , who aren't seeking a long term relationship do not manipulate women. they simple have a "pay as you go" gf or they frequent bar girls or massage parlors or they find a nice "leftover" woman . mind you , the guys i met were older (30 and over) and the chinese guys my friends dated were usually younger so it is an unfair comparsion.

Apr 06, 2013 10:39 Report Abuse



hmmm, i would say its the opposite. western culture is too primitive. thats why men just want sex, not love. havent developed an ability to empathise and love. they grow up brainwashed by porn and facebook and parents have no ability to impose morals.

Apr 13, 2013 23:28 Report Abuse



You are insane. "havent developed an ability to empathise and love" Someone falls over in China, probably dead, who cares. Don't touch it. Baby said it's first word in China, probably daddy or mummy, who cares. Touch my iphone. I have never entered a relationship looking for sex, just blew your westerner theory out of the water by myself didn't I? Get out from under your brainwashed rock.

Apr 08, 2015 05:46 Report Abuse



Not all men want ONLY sex, not love. But yeah... in China, love doesn't exist... only money.

Apr 08, 2015 12:19 Report Abuse



Yes of course, because China won the Empathy Gold Medal in the last olympics didn't it? Chinese Society is a lot of things but empathetic certainly isn't one of them. Porn and facebook?..Ha! I see you and raise Jap AV, Sola Aoi, Pink Barbershops and Weibo. In short...Jog On Wumao!

Apr 15, 2015 05:34 Report Abuse



Sad but true

May 24, 2015 07:14 Report Abuse