Now that I have lived in China for two years, I have had the opportunity to witness how the practice of dating and the relationship dynamic between the two sexes works.Still, I feel I need to make a preemptive disclaimer to this blog posting so that no one gets the wrong idea.The Chinese definition and notion of dating are very different from those of American culture.
There can be complications for young people trying to date in a rather traditional society.
Like in many countries, if you are a college student, you will share a rather cramped dorm room with two or three other students and the dorm will only have room for two or three bunk beds, desks and clothes, not to mention that the dorm entrances are strictly guarded by matronly aunties who will not permit the opposite sex to enter even to work on an assignment.
The result of mom and dad finding out is either that they will not be pleased and demand an immediate break-up or they may expect things to quickly get serious between daughter and her boyfriend.
Considering it’s the first time dating for some of these young adults, why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy it and savor it or even wallow in pity if there is eventual heartbreak, without the meddling and interference of mom and dad or others?
Activities common in many American teenagers’ lives such as socializing and dating, part-time work, participation in sports, volunteering in the local community, or just loafing around on the couch in the afternoon with a bag of Doritos while watching Scooby Doo are discouraged and most likely shelved unless they contribute to a child’s chance of getting into university (which they don’t if the child attends university in China since the college entrance exam is the only determinant for admission into Chinese universities).
The push to learn all the time will hopefully ensure that son or daughter will perform well enough on the college entrance examination at the end of high school to gain a coveted spot at a university which will then ensure employment in better paid jobs post university and will therefore also provide mom and dad and son or daughter with future financial security.I am taking a critical look at how I understand courtship to work in China (albeit from a limited perspective) and am sharing my honest curiosity with how it is different from the expectations and experiences of my own cultural background in this very day and age.In learning about how dating practices and courtship roll here, I have found myself sometimes perplexed as well as offended (and I am not proud of this).My reflection on modern Chinese courtship is by no means meant to be a criticism of how things are done nor is it reflective of how it works in all relationships in this country of 1.3 billion people.I live in an affluent, modern city in China and the people I have the most contact with are students as well as well-to-do Chinese- many of whom have traveled outside the country and been exposed to ideas and lifestyles of different cultures.In fact courtship and the intended result- marriage, are all part of the mapped out plan which will affect not only the individuals who are dating but their families as well.