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Dating, Sex, & Relationships

Casual Dating and Sex in China

Cross-cultural relationships with Chinese and other Asian nationalities.

Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby writewon » Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:16 am

I read your guide and it is very good and it is to your credit that you make it clear that western men can often get very sexy wives 20 or more years their junior and that often the women will actually initiate sex very quickly. But you then follow that with the fact that they then expect that this is a serious relationship leading to marriage and that to not respect this is taking advantage of the woman and potentially ruin her life by making her unwanted by other men. You also mention that with so many available women in China why would a man risk HIV and disrespect by going to a hooker. If the ONLY option is no sex or a committed relationship then a hooker sounds preferable to either of those. BUT what is more realistic is an honest look at finding how to find the more modern girls who are open to casual dating.

In a culture where older western men are desirable being able to find non professional women open to casual dating is VERY important for many middle-aged men and while your guide explicitly states that doesn't exist, reading between the lines, it is obvious that between the single mothers, divorced women, ex-hookers, women already "sullied" by foreign men etc. there are MANY sexy young Chinese women, especially in the bigger cities, for whom a causal relationship with an educated, in shape, attractive 40's western guy would work just fine. But your guide seems to leave the only option as a SERIOUS GIRLFRIEND with MARRIAGE POTENTIAL or the right hand.

If I wanted to get married I'd stay in the USA. And I have to say that the dom attitude of the the Asian women as defined by you, makes them my last choice for marriage. That attitude gets them shown the door and since there are so many more waiting in the wings there is no reason to put up with any of that bull. Again, if I wanted a bitchy overbearing woman I can stay in the USA.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby Dr. Greg » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:31 am

I thank you for this fair and intelligent criticism of my section on Dating, Sex, and Relationships.

As you state, one could view the overall gestalt as suggesting that a foreign man’s only options in China are to get married or remain celibate. Although that entire section is oriented towards Western men looking for serious relationships, it was not my intention to suggest that casual sexual relationships do not exist at all in China: they do.

While I do make a few scattered comments throughout those eight chapters about Chinese women who might be looking to date casually, one shouldn’t have to conduct a search of the entire Guide or “read between the lines” to learn of other alternatives, so I will be revising that section in the near future to include a specific heading devoted to casual dating.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby writewon » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:27 am

Thank you so much for your response and your willingness to do that.

As a guy in the USA where most women ignore all but the best-looking and/or smoothest talking guys, with it only getting worse as you head into your 40's, to find very attractive young women who respond to you with a simple hello and respectful conversation at first makes you feel like you are through the looking glass and you just pounce. But having traveled a bit now I have come to realize that these girls are NOT Western women and you do need to make sure that they aren't expecting more than you are planning to give them. The problem is that between the language and cultural barriers it is often hard to tell what they really expect and want. Plus, you have the gold digger factor of the girls who are simply out to use Western guys and to me casual still means mutual respect and a girl who is playing you for every dime she can scam is not someone I want to be with.

A hooker would be far better as at least she is honest and we both know the deal. If you can use your superior experience in China and possibly offer some guidelines and options for the guys who want to be respectful casual daters, showing their ladies great times, without expecting the relationships to necessarily last, yet not using them or getting used themselves, that would be great. I think often times guys end up acting like heels because they feel it is either go with the woman who are out to use them or accept the sincere affection from a girl who likes them even though they know they may not really be as serious as she is. It seems that the one HUGE advantage of all the available women in China would be that guys can actually hold out for exactly what they want without feeling pressured to mislead.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby Dr. Greg » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:55 pm

To further complicate matters, prostitution in China is very different and a lot more complex than it is in the United States.

Just yesterday I decided to go for a full body massage because we are in the process of changing apartments and I pulled a muscle in my lower back (which is ever so easy to do when you’re 54 years old and porting around a belly that's suggestive of a second trimester pregnancy). I decided to try a new place that, in fact, my wife had pointed out to me, just a couple of blocks from our apartment.

The prices seemed a little high, even for Guangzhou (138 yuan for a 90-minute Thai massage), but that included a buffet lunch and I could quickly see that this was an upscale place. It’s one of these establishments, reminiscent of the plush bath houses in the north of China, where you are assigned a locker, completely disrobe, take a shower, are given a pair of loose shorts and shirt to wear, and then have the option of eating, moving into the lounge and falling asleep on a cushy recliner, or going directly upstairs for the massage.

I was there for a massage so I went upstairs immediately. The masseuse, I would later learn, was 24-years old and, I would say, very pretty (from Hunan province). The massage wasn’t the greatest that I’ve received in China but it did the trick. During the course of the massage, there was some occasional banter in which the girl asked me about my age, where I hailed from, whether I was married, and what I did for a living.

About 15 minutes before it was time for the massage to end, the girl abruptly stopped what she was doing, sat down next to me, took my hand in both of hers, and—with all the earnestness and tenderness she could muster—told me how much she liked me and asked if I would be willing to take her on as a “second wife” (ernai). If I hadn’t already been lying down, I would have fallen over from shock.

First of all, there was absolutely nothing sexual about the massage so I was taken completely by surprise: It was quite professional from beginning to end and I could tell from the atmosphere that this was an entirely legitimate place. Second, although no one has ever become physically ill from my appearance (to the best of my knowledge), I am no Brad Pitt either and, as stated earlier, I am not exactly in the best shape of my life right now.

This girl was looking to be loved and supported by a “good” man and clearly felt she was no longer competitive for an “excellent” Chinese man (she also indicted that, generally speaking, she didn’t like Chinese men for reasons I couldn’t fully understand due to my limited Chinese language skills). Based on her brief proposal, I believe she would have been willing to accept anything I was able to provide her with, no matter how relatively little that might have been. There are some, especially in China, who wouldn’t even define this type of relationship as a straightforward sex for hire arrangement, i.e., prostitution, because she was clearly looking for someone who would sincerely care about and nourish her. Of course, I begged off as I am happily married and I won’t be returning back to that establishment as, if I were assigned to her again, it would send the wrong message.

This type of arrangement would probably be ideal for you and it’s one that you can find anywhere in China. Of course, it does require that you speak at least some Chinese as these girls have not spent 12 years learning English (not that everyone who does can speak any English either, including quite a few “English majors”).


I have some additional thoughts I want to share with you and I think they also further clarify the main points I have made throughout the section on dating, sex, and relationships.

One of the main reasons average (or worse) looking Western middle-aged men can find a suitable companion in Asian women is because they value security and dependability far more than they do physical attraction. It’s not that they wouldn’t prefer to be with a man they personally find attractive, it’s just that it doesn’t rank very high as a priority when they have not only their futures, but those of their parents and other family members to worry about.

There is a necessary corollary of this fact that warrants mentioning: Any Asian girl who is not particularly interested in security and dependability, such that she is only looking to have a “good time” (friends with benefits so to speak) is most likely going to apply criteria similar to those employed by Western women with the same goals: Good looks and/or money.

There are a relative handful of young, well-educated, upwardly mobile Chinese women (Chuppies), especially in Shanghai and Beijing, who are not marriage-minded and might consider a mutually satisfying short-term relationship but, by and large, they are not going to select a balding middle-aged man with a paunch as the object of their affection. In fact, generally speaking, these are the very girls who tend to be the least interested in Western men, irrespective of physical appearance. Chinese men who speak their language and come from the same culture will do just fine.

As I reflected back on this aforementioned girl’s proposal to become my second wife, after the initial sense of flattery waned, I felt very sorry for her and her set of circumstances. If a girl this pretty had, for example, been an American-born Chinese, she wouldn’t have looked even once at me, let alone twice. Life is most definitely not fair.

Unfortunately, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t refuse to offer long-term security or cash and then hope that somehow, miraculously, girls who wouldn’t give us a second thought back home will somehow be willing to meet our short-term needs for companionship in an Asian country simply because the location happens to be halfway around the world.

Short of aging KTV girls, divorced women with children, gold diggers, visa hunters, terribly bored middle-aged women with money who happen to be married to absentee businessmen, and poor girls who are looking to improve their quality of life for as long as it lasts, particularly in the absence of a long-term commitment, it is unlikely that Western men will find women in China who would be interested in them if they are not otherwise competitive for women of the same age and relative appearance in their own countries.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby writewon » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:22 pm

VERY well said. That should go into your section on dating.

I will have to see how it goes. I am actually a trim, fit, tall, 6'2" guy, 46, but with thick long hair and blue eyes. Asian and Latin women seem to like me and I have managed a few sexy US girls in my time, but what I really lack is that steel confidence that really hot girls in the USA demand. They want you to NOT be intimidated by their beauty while they do everything they can to make you feel like nothing.

I was not raised to be confident so I always seem to crack. When in Asian and South Central America I find beautiful girls do not try to bust your balls. Most are genuinely polite and open. Plus, I have a certain exoticness to them which gives me a mystique I DON'T have in the USA and I know that and it adds to my confidence. All that said it is worth noting that the girls interested in casual relationships in China are mostly interested in guys who speak Chinese.

I guess in the end I see how tempting it can be for a guy who really wants to be fair to be tempted into leading a beautiful Chinese girl on when he realizes that by simply doing so he can have a very sexy girlfriend, even though he knows he doesn't want a wife. I guess US girls have no problem promising sex and taking free dinners and theater tickets etc. for many dates and then go off and have a one-nighter with some stud they just meet at a bar and never give the guy they are "dating" any sex at all. It isn't right to turn that on Chinese girls as they have nothing to do with that, except that IF, they were US born, they would probably be doing the same thing.

You mentioned that that girl, if she had been US born wouldn't have given you a 2nd look, but isn't that the point? A Chinese girl I met in LA, who jerked me around and never ended up giving me sex, told me that the USA is WAY BETTER for WOMEN than it is for men. She got it right off. The game in the west is rigged for women and rich, confident good looking men, because that is the way the men want it. In LA women would rather go home and use a dildo than have sex with some guy who is less than rich, confident or good looking. Thank god for China and other countries where guys still have a shot at amazing women. As I tell friends going overseas, it is like Superman leaving Krypton. There he is average -- on Earth he is Superman. When I go overseas I feel this way and I'm sure in addition to how I am perceived by women my attitude is MUCH better and that helps me as well.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby Musicjunkie » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:44 pm

I would like to offer my personal experience and thoughts in this area if that is okay.

I have been living in Shenzhen nearly a year now and it seems to be the case in first-tier cities that there isn't that much difference between China and what I personally encountered in the West.

There are a lot of girls, usually aged under 26, who are happy to have casual relationships, casual sex, and in some cases even multiple relationships. They sometimes prefer foreign men depending on their particular preferences. However, once they reach a certain age (mid to late 20s) they feel like they have had their fun and want to find a man to settle down with leading to marriage and children. In my opinion this is very similar to the West.

Lots of girls like to go out and party and then they feel like they should settle down. With these girls in China, they are mostly going to go for young, good-looking men. In the West this is similar. How many Western women in their 30's are just looking for a casual relationship? I would think not very many.

The other options in China is to find a female expat. They will usually not date a Chinese man as few Western women seem to find them attractive and due to the unavailability of most Western men (who seem to be dating Chinese women), their standards regarding mate selection in China will be less as they are fishing from a considerably smaller pond.

As is noted in the Guide, many female expats tend to stay a smaller period of time than the men so they are often not looking for a serious relationship. I dated a girl from Maine, USA for two months and she explicitly told me she was just looking for someone to hang out with and a sexual partner for the last five months before she returned to the USA. I met my Chinese girlfriend and then broke it off.

My girlfriend is 23 (I am 25) and we have had an honest discussion where she said she was not ready for marriage and children. I feel the same way. I very much doubt she will still be saying that in 4-5 years time though!

Regarding meeting the women who is maybe looking for a casual arrangement, I would just frequent the expat bars and nightclubs. Lots of women go there for precisely the reason you are hoping for.

I will never forget the first date I went on with a Chinese girl (she was 26). I met her in a bar and invited her for a quiet drink two days later. She told me in the first 10 minutes how her family was constantly telling her she needs to find a good man, settle down and start a family, and how it was imperative that man was born in the year of the Ox or the Rat. She said she didn't want to waste my time and it was best to be honest about this. My response was "waiter, check please!" and I made my excuses and left.

Luckily my experience since then has been much more positive as my current girlfriend is the most giving, funny, low-maintenance, devoted, happy, and loving person I have ever met.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby Dr. Greg » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:00 pm

Your post underscores our general thoughts about casual dating in China as discussed in the Guide:
Completely aside from these aforementioned types who are considered uncompetitive for the best men in China, there are a relative handful of well-educated, young, pretty, and upwardly mobile Chinese women (Chuppies)—found mostly in such international cities as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and, to a lesser extent, Guangzhou—who have no current interest in marriage and, uncharacteristically so for Chinese women, have no plans to ever have a child. These women are in fact interested in casual dating and sex without strings but, and this is a big "but," they will generally apply the same criteria in mate selection employed by women in our respective Western countries. Such that they are only looking for a "good time," they are going to seek relatively young men who would be regarded as handsome and very desirable anywhere in the world.

Quite surprisingly, and paradoxically perhaps, even though these young professional women tend to possess some of the best English language skills in China, their general preference seems to lean in the direction of Chinese men, almost exclusively. Unless a Western man were relatively young, above-average in physical appearance, and had a lot of cash at his disposal, it is unlikely he would catch the fancy of such a Chinese girl.

While there has been something of a "sexual revolution" taking place in China's first-tier cities of Beijing and Shanghai, and to a lesser extent in Shenzhen and Guangzhou over the past three to five years, I would be very careful about equating it to what currently exists in the West or generalizing it to the majority of girls in China's second and third-tier cities.

Sexual behavior is heavily informed and influenced by its larger social and cultural context. Your average American, for example, is not going to regard a woman's sexual history in the same way as the average Chinese would.

Casual sex on the part of Chinese women (especially with several serial partners), whether they live in Shenzhen or Wenzhou, represents a form of acting-out that has far more serious and enduring consequences in China than it would in the West.

Given the profound and ubiquitous prevalence of Han chauvinism, your 23-year old girlfriend has, effectively, grossly limited her future marital options by having a Westerner as a boyfriend. There will be no getting around that other than by deception and that, of course, will have a deep psychological effect on her.

While Chinese young adults in Beijing and Shanghai may be trying to emulate a greater sexual freedom enjoyed by their Western counterparts, the entire socioeconomic and cultural context that surrounds it is vastly different. Chinese girls, regardless of region, pay a much heavier price for engaging in casual sex than do their counterparts in coastal American cities: most are still very much aware of this reality and act accordingly.

The fact that some upwardly-mobile Chinese girls in Beijing and Shanghai are pretending to be characters in HBO's Sex In The City, and are throwing their fates to the wind, neither Beijing nor Shanghai enjoys the same social freedoms and acceptance found in New York City.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby joel » Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:08 pm

I've had quite a few discussions with my Chinese friends surrounding casual sex, relationships, virginity and marriage (both men and women).

All of my male friends do say that they would prefer to marry a virgin. But on the other hand they are united in stating that this is most likely not a realistic option for them (usually making jokes that only the ugly ones are virgins).

Some of them also say that they probably would prefer a wife that has had some small amount of experience in relation to sex and would not like to share a bed with a total novice.

Now I must state that most of my friends are aged from 22-28 (being 26 myself) Of all of the Chinese women I know, I know that none of them are chaste virgins. Most have had at least 2 or 3 boyfriends whether Chinese or Western (most having never dated a Western partner). Most of my friends seem to view sex as a regular thing and find the idea that people should remain virgins before getting married as an old and obsolete tradition to be carried on the backs of a generation older than theirs.

One female friend of mine told me an interesting story of how she explained why she broke up with her boyfriend of 2 years to her mother. She told her mother that he had an extremely small penis and she was simply dissatisfied with never being fulfilled. Her mother simply said that she understood and left it at that.

I must say though that some of my female friends that are looking down the barrel of a handful of years to 30 do become more concerned about getting married and settling down (note that I said some, not all), but reflecting previous comments on the post I don't think this is unlike women approaching 30 in the West.

I did ask a couple of my female friends about their dating possibilities if their current relationships with their Western partners did not end in marriage. They simply said that in that event they would simply remain quiet about the relationship or hide it if they thought it would become a serious problem.

Maybe there is simply a generational gap between Chinese people under the age of 30 and those above it. Just from what I have seen and heard from fellow expats in my city and the others I've visited, casual sex is not a rare occurrence (such as a one night stand) but the continual purely casual sexual relationship is. Seems most just don't want to waste their time in a prolonged situation that is seemingly meaningless.

Maybe some of us just get lulled into thinking that chances for sex are everywhere, because of all the attention that gets places upon us by many people every day. But in all honesty most younger guys (and some not so young guys) in the West go out every weekend to drink with friends and try to find a girl to go home with. But really most weekends we go home alone. Some things are really easy here but honestly if you want to find someone for a casual sexual relationship in the West you have to search for one, it won't just fall in your lap. Why should it be different here in China?
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby Dr. Greg » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:01 am

In the realm of sex, dating, and relationships, there is often a big difference between what people say they have done (or are willing to do) and the reality of the situation.

Chinese youth, especially, are very aware of and sensitive to the Western world around them and, particularly, the discrepancies that exist between the West and mainland China. Many of my female students, aged 20 to 22, watch HBO's Sex and the City regularly. When asked about their views regarding sex and dating, their answers will be informed by their awareness of the Western world, in what researchers refer to as a demand bias--especially when they are addressing a Westerner.

A few months ago, I consulted with a 30-year old Chinese woman whose presenting symptoms included anxiety and depression. During the course of the first interview it became clear that these symptoms were related to the fact that she currently did not have a boyfriend and was receiving enormous pressure from her parents to get married.

There were two aspects about her that were highly notable: First, she was probably the prettiest Chinese woman I had ever seen during my seven years here and, second, her English language skills were remarkable: Her accent was barely noticeable.

After a couple of sessions, one explanation for her difficulties became clear: Statistically speaking, she was an outlier having had no less than five different lovers since turning 22. After a few dates--and now that her potential boyfriends were also over the age of 30 and looking for a "serious wife"--she was being routinely eliminated as a viable marital candidate once her relative promiscuity became apparent (and it was apparent to them by her behavior and poise despite the fact that she lied about it). Even though she was adamant about having absolutely no interest in dating Western men, in the end, this may be her only real option.

At no point in the Guide do we state that casual sex with Chinese girls is unavailable, especially in Beijing and Shanghai. However, just because something is available doesn't mean the opportunity should be seized. The vast majority of Chinese men will automatically eliminate any girl who has even dated a Westerner as a viable marriage partner within 3 seconds of discovering same.

Perhaps this is far more of an ethical and moral issue than it is an issue of access or opportunity. Regardless of what the girls are telling you, the sensibilities of most Chinese today are still significantly different in regard to dating, sex, and relationships than what they are among Americans who were born and raised in New York City or Los Angeles.
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Re: Casual Dating and Sex in China

Postby DaveS » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:32 am

Dr. Greg,

First off I would like to thank you for your comprehensive guides on your website as well as your thorough answers on this forum; they have been a great resource for me, both before my recent move to China as well as after my arrival.

I've been in China for a few months now and the reason I am posting here is that I've recently developed an interest in one of my co-workers. As we work in a rather busy office that offers few respites for small talk, I'm interested in meeting her in a quiet non-business setting a few times in order to get to know her better; say over lunch or a cup of coffee/tea. We do get along well enough and I know that we have some mutual interests so I see the potential for a relationship, if not something more down the line, but I am (naturally) not contemplating marriage at this point.

Your guide on dating etiquette mentions that dating (and even just the first few dates) can carry the implication that there is explicit intent for imminent marriage which makes me worried that such an invitation might be mistaken for something much more serious than what it really is. In my home country (I'm Scandinavian), this sort of invitation wouldn't even constitute an actual date but simply a way to informally express that you're interested as well as to see if a relationship is worth pursuing.

We are located in Shanghai and she is a born and bred Shanghainese so I guess she (and women here in general) might be more open to this sort of invitation and "casual dating" in general; we are also both in our early twenties for what it's worth (with me being her elder by a few years).

I guess my questions would, in summary, be whether or not I would be committing any sort of social taboo or faux-pas by asking her out to a few weekend lunches? Would this be considered as an invitation to a date by Chinese standards, and in turn as possible expression of intent for marriage, or is it an acceptable substitute to the "arranged pre-screening group dinners" as a way to test the water and get to know someone better?

Any insight you could provide would be appreciated, thank you.
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