Dating in China (Top Tips & The Best Apps) 💕 What to Do and What NOT to Do
Dating anywhere in the world that is not your home country, you are bound to find some cultural differences and experience culture shock. This goes for Chinese dating too.
Depending on where you come from, Chinese culture is probably very different to what you are used to.
This doesn’t stop when it comes to dating Chinese people.
Or, indeed, other expats living in China from different countries other than your own.
This is a down to Earth account about experiences dating in China – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how to deal with the cultural differences that almost certainly will arise.
Disclaimer: This is a generalised, personal account, and certainly doesn’t mean all Chinese guys are like this!
Dating in China | Lack of Middle Ground
Dating in China | Asian Culture
Dating in China | ‘Going After’ Girls
Dating in China | Friends Going After the Same Girl
Dating in China | Matching Outfits
Dating in China | It’s Quick & There’s Pressure
Dating in China | Phone Usage
Dating in China | Being Looked After
Dating in China | Public Displays
Dating in China | Who Pays the Bill?
Dating in China | They Date for Marriage
Dating in China | Valentine’s Day(s) in China
BONUS | The Best Dating Apps
Dating in China | FAQs
PSST – take a quick look at this hilarious video from our friend Keren who teaches us how to NOT chat someone up in Chinese
Chinese Dating – The Lack of Middle Ground
In many Western cultures, there are certain steps involved before you can change that Facebook status and you’re actually ‘in a relationship’.
This usually looks something like this:
- Meet – maybe on the internet, through dating apps, or friends. Maybe you are friends first and want to take things to the next level.
- Date – So you’ve met, you’ve had the first date, and if that went well you probably decided to have a second, third, fourth… etc date. It depends on individuals how long the dating period lasts for. Those with commitment issues will find it much harder to move on to the next stage, which comes with a label… This stage is probably one of the most important stages. You’re getting to get to know each other and testing out your compatibility without the commitment and responsibility of having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”.
- “In a relationship” – So you’ve made the final step (let’s not even get to talking about marriage) and you’re now officially… In a relationship! At this stage you call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, and generally it’s expected that it is an exclusive relationship. Meaning, no cheating!
Discover how our very own Campbell meets girls in Shanghai. Smart guy he is…
Dating In China – Asian Culture
In Asian culture, including dating in China, they often seem to miss out the middle step.
The idea of “dating” is a rare one to many locals. The most important one!
You will meet a guy, or a girl, you go on your first date and then if that goes well, I guess you’re… together?
Nothing needs to be said, e.g. nothing is discussed about “taking things to the next level” or whether you can call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”.
I’ve often found that it is just presumed so.
This is kind of scary, and definitely something to watch out for – since you don’t want to give people the wrong impression and potentially hurt peoples’ feelings without intending to do so.
TOP TIP | It is important to be clear from the beginning, and if you’re made uncomfortable by things moving too quickly then make sure to tell the person you’re “dating” (or apparently not!?) and help them to understand the important cultural differences.
Chinese Dating – ‘Going After’ Girls
A strange concept that isn’t found too much in Western culture, or perhaps not in this capacity, is the idea of ‘going after’ somebody.
Sure, if you like somebody you will ‘pursue’ them. Perhaps this is China’s dating equivalent of the lost “middle ground”.
The main difference here is the way that it’s done.
It could be likened to an old-fashioned “courting” method.
If a guy likes a girl, then he will flaunt his stuff by buying presents and showing her what kind of good home and family he can offer.
One of the best ways to show your love and affection in Chinese culture is by showing it with objects.
China is obsessed with material objects and brand names.
There was an article about a Chinese man who bought his foreign girlfriend a Lamborghini as an engagement present.
Unfortunately, she said no. Money doesn’t always buy everything apparently!
For more stories of madness, look no further than these ridiculous proposals.
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Chinese Dating – Same Girl, Same Time, Same Party
Another aspect to this going after/pursuing business is the fact that friends liking the same girl and trying to go for it at the same time is absolutely no problem.
In Western culture, this would often result in the end of a friendship, or at least some arguments.
The general etiquette in Western culture would be that if two (or more) friends like the same person, it would either be decided that turns would be taken, let the other person decide, or no one can have them – in order to avoid conflict.
In Asian culture, however, it seems that this is not an issue.
I have been in situations before where 3 or more friends have all been trying to show off their stuff, actively and openly competing against each other.
Whilst fun, it can be a tad odd and overwhelming at first if you’re not used to it or aware of this kind of culture.
Chinese Dating – Matching Outfits
You will either find Asian couples in matching outfits super cute – or super sickening.
I am totally on board and find it super cute. Although I’ve never done it myself.
Couples buy the same clothing attire, or as we can see here two pieces of clothing that can ONLY be worn together, and they go and show themselves and their deep love to the rest of the world on the streets of China!
These outfits are called 情侣装 – Qínglǚ zhuāng and can be found in sets on Taobao and in stores.
Grab your other half and get shopping (or be sick in your mouth a little)!
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Chinese Dating – It’s Quick & There’s Pressure
As I touched on earlier, dating in Asian culture escalates pretty quickly.
Dating Western men (or women), bringing up marriage and children is almost a taboo topic and only brought up at least a few months or even years down the line.
It’s often greeted with a casual “Ehhh yeah yeah one thing at a time” and a quick topic change.
In Asian dating culture, however, it is not abnormal for this to be brought up on the first date.
Yup, really! To be fair I quite like this because at least people know what they want.
But on the other hand, it’s truly terrifying (depending on where you are up to in your life). It can be a complete turn-off.
The talk of marriage and babies doesn’t stop after it has been discussed once. It may be brought up daily, or even multiple times a day.
Why is this so?
This is largely due to the…
Parents around the world are different, and many cultures have different family ideals and parenting styles.
Western values are much more concentrated on independence, rather than family values. This obviously has good and bad points.
Whilst in Asian culture, however, and particularly so within Chinese culture, there is extreme pressure from family, friends, and friends of the family to get married and start a family of your own.
In fact, in China, it is not abnormal for parents to organise dates for their son or daughter.
Parents may even attend marriage markets with pictures and information of their child for other seeking mothers.
Here they will look at and try to pick a match for their child.
Another family related point. Chinese guys listen to their parents. Especially their mothers.
If the mother doesn’t like you – you’re out.
Sorry, that’s just how it is. So make sure you make a good impression on that first initial meeting!
SPEAKING OF WEDDINGS… Did you know our Marketing Man Max made a speech at a Chinese wedding?!Enjoy…
Chinese Dating – Phone Usage
There’s a strange lack of privacy when dating a lot of Chinese men.
They’re not untrusting, but they like to look at your phone, and vice versa.
In Western culture, this would definitely be a sign of lack of trust. In fact, we may actively NOT look at each other’s phones in order to show our trust.
To be honest I don’t mind it at all. I have nothing to hide and it’s a bit of fun.
It’s not meant too seriously, and just something they are often used to doing.
So if you’re asked to show your phone or someone is eager to see yours, don’t take it too personally and just get on board with things.
If you don’t like it, explain it may be a part of Chinese dating but it’s not a part of your culture.
Chinese Dating – Being Looked After
As an adult, I’ve only ever been patted on the head when dating in China.
I’m not sure about other cultures, but certainly in British culture, a pat on the head is generally used in a patronising way when you want to suggest someone is being childish or naive.
In Asian culture, it is similar to giving someone a touch on the arm, kiss on the cheek, or a cuddle.
Luckily, I watch a lot of Japanese dramas and anime, so I was well aware of the ‘head patting’ etiquette and was quite touched when it first happened to me.
Ladies, ever hated carrying your own shopping bags?
Or not only shopping bags, but your own handbag or purse?
Dating a Chinese guy might be the answer for you.
Coming to China for the first time, I was very confused to see the amount of Chinese grown men carrying round pink fluffy bags or Gucci purses.
I soon realised that these items belonged to their girlfriend or other half that would be walking with them.
Well, Chinese guys really like to look after their partners. This can be a little too much for many Western girls that like to be independent and get offended when someone holds the door open for them.
I say embrace it. Yes, you can look after yourself. But it’s always nice being looked after too.
However, as I mentioned this can get a bit too much – I suppose it depends on your threshold!
Chinese Dating – Public Displays
No, I’m not just talking about the PDA’s (public displays of affection) you may come across, or the disgustingly cute couples cuddling and wearing the same clothes as they walk down the street.
No, this time I’m talking about the public displays of fighting.
Chinese people fight.
And it is not unusual for them to make these fights public, instead of keeping them private as we may prefer to do in Western culture.
I’ve seen way too many couples in the street screaming at each other, girls having a paddy lying on the floor, or walking off in a huff.
It’s an amusing sight, to be fair. And they get their stuff resolved!
Unlike in the west when things will often go unsaid for a long period of time until it builds up and becomes too much.
Silent treatment is definitely NOT a thing in China!
Chinese Dating – Who Pays?
Paying the bill in China, whether you’re dating in China or you’re with friends, always ends up in a vicious argument or competition of who gets to swipe their WeChat first.
Especially if you’re eating with Chinese people.
Arguing to pay the bill is something you’ll see Chinese people do on a daily basis.
Chinese couples are traditional.
Because of this, it is expected that the girl will pay.
Of course, it depends on your situation (who is working more etc) but generally, it will be kept like this.
I have many Chinese female friends who say that with some of their boyfriends, even long-term ones, they never once paid the bill – and they never planned to.
Well, that’s nice.
I’m not going to lie. I like to be treated to dinner. But I also understand that many girls don’t like this, and many like to split.
But for me, I don’t mind. In fact, I really enjoy it.
Personally, I’ll often offer and also pay myself (although for this you may need to steal their phone or wallet – literally did this once).
Chinese Dating – They Date for Marriage
Dating in the Western world has become much more fluid than dating in China.
Many people are starting to want to be more independent and are searching for new experiences, to meet new people, or just generally to have a bit of fun – rather than search for a life-long partner.
For many Chinese, their entire life and life-goals are based around finding a wife, having children, starting their own family and making their parents proud.
So when you start dating a Chinese guy or girl, it’s best to be aware that they are probably thinking more seriously than you are – and it won’t be long until talk of marriage is brought up.
Another point which follows on from this is the directness of many Chinese people.
This may be more of a culture shock for British people who are especially reserved and awkward, but Chinese people in general are incredibly forward and open.The same goes for dating in China.
Never in my life have I been told so many times that I’m fat, that my hair looks bad, or that I should lose some weight.
Luckily, I’m pretty body confident and don’t take it too personally – and I actually prefer the directness.
But this certainly isn’t for everybody, so if you’re sensitive this is something to watch out for!
Don’t take it too personally.
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Chinese Dating – Valentines Day(s)
Whilst you are dating in China, you may want to keep an eye out for the many Chinese Valentine’s Days.
The are SIX of them, in fact. All throughout the year.
- 14/2: Valentine’s Day (情人节, qíngrén jié)
- 14/3: White Valentine’s Day (白色情人节, Báisè qíngrén jié)
- 20/5: 520, Wǔ’èr líng
- 20/8: Qi Xi Festival (七夕节, Qīxì jié)
- 15th Day in Lunar Year: The Lantern Festival (元宵节, Yuánxiāo jié)
There’s actually a 6th one which was originally meant for Single folk… no surprise given the fact it’s known as Single’s Day!
We wrote a whole article on this day alone, it’s pretty special, but why? Find out in our Single’s Day (双十一, Shuāng shíyi) post.
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Chinese Dating Apps
So now you’re all clued up on dating in China, how do you go about it?
Dating in China has changed over the years, and it’s no longer the simple ask somebody out on a date, and go for it.
No, that’s way too personal. We are the generation of dating apps.
And China has a bunch of them. We tried and tested the most popular ones out there!
TanTan 探探 | The Chinese Tinder
You’ll probably feel most comfortable beginning your Chinese dating search with this Chinese dating app, since it is incredibly similar to what you’re probably used to.
Known as the Chinese Tinder, the interface is similar to Tinder’s and it works exactly the same.
Swipe left, no, swipe right, yes.
This Chinese dating app is also similar to Tinder in that you can create your own profile and set your parameters, and also pay if you want to access the VIP feature.
It’s full of Chinese people so a great way to practice your language skills. Not many will speak English.
Chinese Dating App Pros – This app works better than Tinder (in my opinion) in that it is quicker and generally has more people on it. I guess it helps living in a big city like Beijing though…
Chinese Dating App Cons – Despite my 50k+ likes (I know right, ego booster or what) I’ve only ever met up with one person. That’s not because I met the love of my life after the first one. It’s because it’s incredibly hard to get past the first few typical questions here, and is generally used as a hook-up app still.
LINK | Tantan
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Momo 陌陌 | The Original
This was the first of Chinese dating apps to cover the whole of China, and originally was the best app for a hook-up.
It has moved on now to get rid of its bad reputation and focus on dating.
Chinese Dating App Pros – The first and biggest of the Chinese dating apps
Chinese Dating App Cons – Difficult to use, confusing interface
LINK | Momo
Baihe 百合 | No Hookups Allowed!
A Chinese dating app for those serious about dating, and not just looking for hook-ups. This is a popular choice for those looking for a long-term partner.
To set up your own account, you have to have a pretty good life profile.
You will need to provide proof of your name, proof you own a house/apartment and a car, upload your school graduate certification, and your credit score…..
I don’t think I qualify to use this one?
Chinese Dating App Pros – Make sure you’re meeting legit people
Chinese Dating App Cons – Taking itself bit too serious?
LINK | Baihe
Blued | LGBTQ+
Blued is the most popular Chinese dating app for gay people, and it works in a similar way to a messaging app.
Set up your profile by sending photo verification, then get going!
Chinese Dating App Pros – Account verification needed for security
Chinese Dating App Cons – Not as many users as popular app Grindr
If none of these are for you, get your VPN on and get back onto Tinder/Grindr.
LINK | Blued
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So that’s our guide to Chinese dating and dating in China.
What experiences do you have? Are they similar or the complete opposite?
Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear your stories!
If you’ve enjoyed reading our guide to dating in China, then we think you’ll also enjoy our guide to dating in Japan too!
Dating in China | FAQs
How many Valentines Days in China?
There’s actually six!
14/2: Valentine’s Day (情人节, qíngrén jié)
14/3: White Valentine’s Day (白色情人节, Báisè qíngrén jié)
20/5: 520, Wǔ’èr líng
20/8: Qi Xi Festival (七夕节, Qīxì jié)
15th Day in Lunar Year: The Lantern Festival (元宵节, Yuánxiāo jié)
The 6th one was originally meant for Single folk… no surprise given the fact it’s known as Single’s Day!
We wrote a whole article on this day alone, it’s pretty special, but why?
Find out in our Single’s Day (双十一, Shuāng shíyi) post.
How do you say I Like You in Chinese?
I Like You in Chinese is 我喜欢你 wǒ xǐhuān nǐ
How do you say I am Interested in You in Chinese?
This would be 我对你感兴趣 wǒ duìnǐ gǎnxìngqu
How do you say You’ve Stolen my Heart in Chinese?
A cheesy one but maybe it strikes the right notes?!
你偷走了我的心 nǐ tōuzǒule wǒ de xīn
What is the most popular app for dating in China?
Tantan is currently the most used app for dating in China although there are many, many more.
Is 11/11 (Singles Day) bigger than Black Friday?
Singles’ Day broke all records in 2017 which saw shoppers spending more than $25bn (168.2bn yuan) and that number continues to grow.
Do all Chinese couples wear matching outfits?
Not all couples at all but you will probably see more matching outfits in China than in most other places you’ve visited!
Is gift giving culture big in China?
Yes, it’s useful to brush up on your gift giving etiquette before buying a gift that might inadvertently prove to be a faux-pas
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