How you dating in China
1.CROSS CULTURAL ROMANCE
DO CHINESE GIRLS LIKE foreign guys?
I am asked this question a lot by inquisitive friends and acquaintances.
The answer is that it depends. Many Chinese girls like foreign guys. On the other hand, there are also many girls that don’t want to date foreigners. Those that can speak English and live in bigger cities are more likely to date foreigners.
Do Chinese guys like foreign girls?
I’m not asked this question very often, but the answer is that it also depends. Certainly many Chinese men hold foreign women in high acclaim, but there are also plenty of Chinese guys that don’t have any desire to date a foreigner. Again, usually those who can speak some English or have an interest in foreign culture would be open to dating a foreigner.
If you are interested in dating in China, read on for a crash course of what is possible with a little charm and patience.
2.A TYPICAL FIRST MEETING
A lot of foreigners back home have the image of China as a paradise where Chinese babes are throwing themselves at the feet of even the greasiest of foreigners. This has never happened to anyone I know.
Oftentimes, meeting someone new in China will require that you speak some Mandarin Chinese. Below is a common situation you may find yourself in when meeting a member of the opposite sex. I am writing from the male perspective but many of the principals and sentences spoken here will also apply to women.
Unless you are famous or extremely good looking, you probably don’t get a curious “hello” from cute girls in your home country, especially at a mall buying garbage bags in the middle of the day. This is a major advantage when dating in China. The girls will sometimes come to you, and everyone at least knows the word “hello”.
If you do need to initiate the conversation (as you usually still will need to do), a simple “hello” or “nihao” will do the trick just fine. People usually don’t notice the first word you say to them anyway, and it’s just a way to break the ice. A friendly grunt may even do the trick if you have lots of confidence.
Nick: Ni hui shuo yingwen ma? Can you speak English?
Language is a great conversation topic and I will show you why in a moment. It’s also something that is very easy and relevant to talk about. This is why I like to ask this question early on.
Woman: Wo bu hui. I can’t.
Regardless of whether she can or can’t, this is also a good set up for later suggesting that you can help her practice her English. That is unless she brings it up first, which she might.
Woman: Wode yingwen hen lan. My English is terrible.
Many Chinese people will tell you that their English is terrible.
Nick: Wo keyi bang ni lianxi. I can help you practice.
This assumes you are interested in learning more about her, but you will probably want to wait until further into the conversation to make sure she is the kind of person you want to get to know more.
Woman: Hao. Okay.
When arranging a meeting, the goal is to get to know her. Many Chinese girls like to be considered “friends” before being considered to be dating a person anyway.
Nick: Ni jiao shenme mingzi? What’s your name?
After speaking to someone for this long and you’d like to continue to
speak with them, it’s generally a good time to ask for their name. Woman: Wo jiao Xiao Xue. My name is Little Snow.
This is a nickname. Chinese names are typically three characters long, the first character being the family name and the last two the given name. When creating nicknames, the character for “little” is often put in front of one character of the given name, in this case “snow.” I usually call a person by the name they tell me at this point. Many people will have an English name if they can speak some English.
Nick: Nide weixin haoma shi shenme? What’s your WeChat ID? Little Snow: Yao ba san . . . One, eight, three . . .
3. WHERE TO MEET
This section is devoted to giving you ideas on where to meet potential partners in China.
Friends of Colleagues
Some of the first friends you will make in China will be your colleagues. They will likely have Chinese friends they can introduce to you over dinner. It is perfectly normal to date a friend of a friend and I recommend doing this if possible.
Malls and Shopping Areas
Anywhere that has many people wandering around stopping to browse to see what is on sale is a great place to start. One of my favorite activities is going for a walk and seeing who I meet. Because you are foreigner, you will stick out and usually be able to catch the eye of at least one admirer.
This is generally a good way to meet a lot of people quickly but the numbers you collect will not likely be the kinds of people you will be able to have a future conversation with, even if your Mandarin is fluent. In my experience with the bar crowd, it’s only about ten percent of the numbers I get of people that I end up going on a date with and only a much smaller percentage of these that actually work out.
Just like in many parts of the world, online dating is taking off in China too. Almost every young person’s first major purchase of their lives is a smart phone, and online apps are becoming a good way to meet people. Below are some of the options.
Momo is the most popular dating app in China. It lets one look at
pictures and profiles of people in the vicinity and one is able to send a message to anyone else. I’ve always had a low response rate, but I’ve also gone on more than a few dates with people I’ve met on Momo and some of them turned out to be really interesting people.
Tinder is an app where people are able to swipe left or right in order to
tell a person they like them. If two people both like each other, then they are able to send each other messages. Because the app uses pictures from your Facebook account, you will need a VPN to use it.
Skout (www.skout.com) A dating app.
Tantan is the most popular dating app in China. It functions the same
way as Tinder.
A popular dating app in China.
Instead of asking for a phone number, WeChat may be an even better bet, and I usually opt for this now. WeChat has become one of the most popular phone apps for communicating with friends in China. With over 500 million users as of 2015, it provides a great way to make friends. Besides being the most common means of communication with friends in China, it has a few functions for meeting new people. One of the ways is through the fujinren or “nearby people”. This function will show you a list of people nearby and you may contact them. I’ve never met any strangers with WeChat, but it’s a good way to stay in touch with friends at least.
“You better not be a stalker,” I joked with the girl I had just met on
Skype. We talked about meeting up sometime and I wanted to gauge her reaction.
“Better be careful,” she said after laughing. She had a good sense of humor, and was a lot of fun to banter with.
I have had some fantastic luck with Skype. You should be able to do a search of people in your area and filter by gender and age. Send out a spray of messages and see who replies. Look for profiles of people wanting to practice English. Some people might see this as dishonest, but wait until you meet them in person to decide if you would like to continue to hang out with them or not.
Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com)
I met a beautiful Russian girl on Couch Surfing who was simply looking for someone to hang out with. She is now a friend. Couch Surfing is an excellent resource for making new friends and you will likely have a lot in common as you are both travelers. Couch Surfing allows a person to display pictures of their home and make it available for anyone traveling through the area who needs a place to stay for free. You can also indicate if your couch is available or not or if you would simply like to meet up for coffee. I’ve never stayed on anyone’s couch or had anyone stay on mine, but I’ve met several people for coffee, some of whom became friends.
Other Dating Sites
There are a whole slew of sites out there and many will let you check if there are others in your area first before you sign up. Some of these include OK Cupid, Plenty of Fish, Asian Friendfinder, Asian Dating, and Match. I haven’t used these in China, but I’m sure at least some of them are a good bet.
4. THE FIRST DATE
I recommend somewhere you’ve been before that you know will be good and not too loud so that you can talk. I like to go for sushi and sit at the bar.
This is probably not the best bet for a first date if you want to get to know the other person.
Walking around the mall and stopping for coffee or tea is a great option.
Simply going for a walk through the park is good. If you want a little privacy, this is a decent option as most of the other places listed here will have lots of people around.
Some cities have bowling alleys and she will likely never have been bowling before since bowling is not very popular or even known in China by most people.
This is usually a fun activity.
There are movie theaters all over China. Chinese people love Hollywood movies and there is at least one playing in most cinemas at all times. It will be in English with Chinese subtitles.
I recommend combining two of the above options. My usual first date is going to dinner and then going for a short walk either in a park or down a street lined with shops.
On the first date, try to do most of the talking yourself. Express your feelings and reactions to events in your life so that you don’t come across as closed and they can be comfortable with you. Obviously also make sure you are listening and not just talking the entire time. This will prompt her to talk about her own life and her feelings and reactions towards it.
Some girls may talk about already having a boyfriend. Some girls will tell you they don’t want to date right now. Don’t fall for this trap. A person’s true thoughts, feelings, and priorities are represented by their actions, not by their words. If they are on a date with you there is a good chance they are interested in you. I believe guys are more obvious with how they feel, but it can be difficult for a guy to know what a woman is thinking or feeling if he goes purely by what she is saying. This is probably true of women not knowing what men are thinking as well.
I once met a girl who seemed like a total jerk at our first meeting, saying nasty things about foreigners. At first, the conversation was rough, but by being patient and not judging, I was able to get her to let her guard down and open up. We ended up dating.
Usually a person will say negative things because they are scared. In the above girl’s case, I believe she had met some foreigners who were jerks to her or people she knew. A girl may tell you she has a boyfriend if she doesn’t want to hang out with you or doesn’t see boyfriend potential in you.
When speaking English, don’t use colloquialisms or uncommon words. Pay attention to this or she won’t understand what you are saying if her English isn’t great. It’s usually a good idea to have a pen and small notebook nearby as learning each other’s language is a great topic and a great chance for both of you to learn more of the other’s language.
5. BUILDING RAPPORT
Going on a second date and then future dates is obviously the next step towards building a relationship. The key towards getting second and third dates often lies in texting. This is also where massive language learning takes place, so read on.
As we have already discussed, the best way to get better at Mandarin, or any language, is to use it. We have seen how you can use it when speaking with others in public. However as you will likely already know, when first starting to use a new language it can be extremely difficult to understand what a person is saying and come up with responses on the fly like you can in your native language. It is for this reason that texting, or any form of writing back and forth with a time buffer, is so valuable.
In order to illustrate the advantages of learning Mandarin via text message, I have created a dialogue between a Chinese woman with the English name of Marie and myself, and include commentary on the process as we go along.
I’m walking back to my apartment from my 4:00 p.m. class and decide to send Marie, a woman I met at the supermarket a week ago, who I went on a date with the previous night, a message via WeChat.
Nick: Ni chi fan le ma? Have you eaten yet?
This is a common phrase in China, and it is actually more akin to asking someone, “How are you?” as a way of showing concern for their well being. If you can’t think of anything else to start with, this is a fine phrase to use.
You will probably want to type in pinyin when first starting to learn Mandarin and the other person will likely understand what you are saying since most people in China understand pinyin. Otherwise, most phones now have built in ways of typing characters, which typically rely on typing the pinyin and selecting the character you would like. The most frequent characters and phrases pop up first.
Marie: Wo chi le. Ni ne? I ate already. What about you?
Nick: Wo ye chi le. Ni jintian zuo le shenme? I ate too already. What did you do today?
If you do not know how to formulate a response in real time, texting allows you the time to formulate one. If you do not know how to say what you’d like to, take the time to look up the word or words in a dictionary, or consult your learning materials if they are at hand. You will improve dramatically if you do this and continue to push yourself to make up new phrases to text your new friends.
Marie: Wo zai gongsi shangban le. I was working at my company all day. “Gongsi“ and “shangban” are both very common words and will likely come up in some of your first conversations. They mean “company” and “working” respectively.
Nick: Nide gongzuo zai nali. Where is your company?
In this situation “gongzuo” means “work” and is roughly the same as “job” or “company.” The above grammatical construction is also very common when asking where something is located. “Zai” means “at” in this context. Therefore the sentence literally reads “Your company at where?”.
6. KNOWING WHEN TO STOP PURSUING
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most important things to learn in dating is when to call it quits. You’re gaga for a girl. She’s fiery, sexy, flirtatious, smart, and witty. You really want it to work out between the two of you, but you just can’t get her to come out on a third date. She responds to all your text with one or two word answers. Anytime you try to ask her out she deflects with “I’m busy,” “I don’t feel well,” or “I’m tired.” If more than three of these indicators are received in a row, it’s probably time to erase them from your phone. If they are indeed interested, the time you give them could be the thing they need for the relationship to be reignited, but otherwise suck it up and move on.
In China, it can be particularly difficult to tell what a girl really thinks of you. She may refer to you as her “older (or younger) brother” an affectionate name for a man she considers a friend. You might think that this means you are no longer a contender, but in actuality she may very well still like you, so don’t worry if she calls you this.
6. DATING OTHER FOREIGNERS
Before closing, I would also like to mention that while in China, dating other foreigners is much easier than in one’s home country (at least this is true for guys in the United States). Men and women seem to be attracted to each other more in China than they are in their home country. I am not sure why, maybe because they are more rare. As a guy in the United States a girl may not give you a second glance, but because you might be the first foreigner she’s seen in a week in China, she will likely do a double take. I know I usually do whenever I see another foreigner in a small city in China.
Take advantage of this scarcity effect. You will be able to strike up conversations with the opposite sex much more easily than in your home country as you will have much more to talk about and they will likely welcome speaking with another foreigner.
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