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Metrics details. While researchers have long examined the dating and mate selection patterns among young adults, the vast majority have utilized Western samples. In order to further our understanding of the changing nature of dating behaviors and attitudes, this study examines a sample of young Chinese adults and focuses upon the gender differences therein. Using a foundation of social exchange theory, the analyses illustrate the differences between the dating attitudes and expectations of Chinese women and men.
Per traditional expectations, both sexes place a low priority on sexual behaviors, yet more progressive attitudes and behaviors are also evident. Women, in particular, appear to be more focused on pragmatic qualities in prospective partners. The influence of individualist values and the changing cultural norms pertaining to dating and familial roles are discussed. Dating and romantic relationships are a normal, yet essential, part of life during the adolescent and early adult years.
Beyond the basic desires which most individuals experience during this time, researchers have noted the relative ificance of dating, not only for individuals but also for societies. The initiation and maintenance of intimate, romantic relationships have been linked with improved physical and emotional well-being, stronger perceptions of community attachment, and better developmental outcomes for the individuals e. During adolescence and the early adult years, dating enhances identity formation for individuals and provides socialization experiences which are necessary to forming and maintaining intimate and interpersonal relationships in life Chen et al.
Although researchers have directed their efforts toward a better understanding of the dynamics of dating and partner selection, focusing upon the influence of such elements as the family environment e. In China, marriage and family life continues to be a central element within Chinese culture, with adolescents and young adults typically assuming that they will eventually find a partner. What is lacking, however, is a broader understanding of how contemporary Chinese youth view dating and intimate relationships. Researchers have noted this shortcoming and have called for greater empirical examination of partner selection in contemporary urban China Xu et al.
The present study will seek to address these calls for empirical study by using a sample of Chinese college students to examine the nature of attitudes and expectations concerning dating among young adults in contemporary China. The analyses which follow will attempt to more accurately discern the nature of such attitudes and expectations, as well as differences which may exist between females and males.
From a generational perspective, dating and romantic relationships in China are regarded differently, as adolescents and young adults may have more progressive beliefs, as compared to their parents. Researchers have noted that Chinese parents tend to oppose adolescent dating Chen et al. While there is no clear definition of what is an appropriate age for individuals to begin dating, those who begin dating at early ages will typically have to cope with the opposition of parents Wu Nonetheless, there is widespread acceptance that dating is becoming increasingly popular among Chinese youth Tang and Zuo Among Chinese college students, in particular, dating has quickly elevated in popularity Yang Even the behaviors within dating appear to be rapidly changing over time.
Behaviors such as holding hands and kissing in public, which may been somewhat taboo only a few decades ago, in China, are now becoming dating chinese women in Hawaii commonplace Xia and Zhou ; Yang For such populations, who are often away from the eyes of their parents, college life may present opportunities for not only dating but also sexual activity Xia and Zhou Lei reports that over one third of college students in China had become sexually active while enrolled in school.
While dating and sexual activity among Chinese college students have been ly noted by researchers e.
Dating attitudes and expectations among young chinese adults: an examination of gender differences
Seemingly, contemporary Chinese college students may be adopting a perspective of dating and intimate relationships which focuses less on paths toward marriage and more on immediate pleasure and gratification Yang Much of this may also related to institutional changes, as the interpersonal relationships of students have been somewhat suppressed by colleges and universities Aresu Universities commonly attempt to discourage sexual activity among students through educational programs and policies Aresu Nonetheless, a comparison of college students in and revealed that self-reported premarital sexual intercourse rates went from Not surprisingly, Chinese parents tend to strongly discourage their daughters and sons from becoming sexual active, and many are opposed to their children being involved in dating relationships, at all Stevenson and Zusho Aspects of dating, such as appropriate behaviors within dating and the appropriate age at which to begin dating, are greatly influenced by the larger social context in which they occur Chen et al.
Similarly, researchers have noted that attitudes and expectations concerning dating and intimate relationships are also affected by the larger cultural context Hynie et al. It has a written language that has been in use for the longest continuous period of time in the world, and it has the oldest written history Han Thus, in order to best understand and appreciate the social dynamics occurring in present day China, one should first examine some of the important long-standing traditions connected to its culture.
The traditional expectations concerning dating and marriage have a long history within Chinese culture and are based heavily upon ancestor worship and Confucian ideology. From this perspective, filial piety and the continuation of family lineage are of tremendous importance Han Hence, marriage as the end goal of intimate relationships is absolutely necessary and particularly so for males Liu et al. This involves, especially for sons, the care for parents in their elderly years see Ho Understandably, this places great pressure upon unmarried sons to negotiate with his parents over the identification and selection of a suitable wife, who, in turn, will also provide assistance to his aging parents.
China is typically regarded as a collectivistic culture, in which obligations to the greater society and social institutions e. Within individualistic cultures, romantic love is regarded as essential to marital satisfaction and well-being Dion and Dion Hence, individual choice within dating relationships and mate selection processes is more likely to occur within individualistic cultures.
Collectivistic cultures prompt young adults to regard dating chinese women in Hawaii and romantic relationships within the larger context of their familial and societal obligations Yang Following the end of the reign of Mao Tse-tung, along with the collapse of the former USSR, a fairly rapid pace of social, political, and economic changes occurred in China e.
The post-Mao Chinese government has steadily encouraged economic modernization and the development of economic practices based upon free market principles similar to those found in Westernized countries. Whereas Chinese culture once emphasized the role of family in the selection of partners, with a strong tendency toward arranged marriages Yangyoung Chinese adults now have greater choice in such decisions Xu When combined with other changes, such as higher rates of educational attainment for women Li ; Wu and Zhang and increased sexual activity among young adults Feng and Quanheit is likely that both culture preferences and actual behaviors concerning dating and mate selection may be undergoing substantial changes in China, as well.
The economic changes have had a considerable effect upon traditional family structures and behaviors. The collectivist nature of Chinese culture has been altered by economic factors in several substantial ways see Yang First, there has been a steady shift away from collectivism toward individualism, causing people to give priorities to their own needs, rather than those of their family or larger society.
Second, traditional marital relationships, often formed as a matter of practicality, have diminished and been replaced by a preference for relationships based on romance and Western notions of love. Finally, Chinese women, by virtue of their increasing educational and occupational attainment, now have greater economic independence, thus lowering their need to secure a spouse as a way of ensuring financial security. Hence, the traditional combination of marriage, sex, and family, as upheld by long-standing Chinese cultural expectations, has become less influential, particularly in regard to serving as a foundation of dating and partner selection.
Younger cohorts, who have had greater exposure to increasing individualism and Western culture, may approach dating and mate selection in a different manner from the generation. However, these younger cohorts must also recognize the existence of long-standing norms, as filial obligation remains a very tangible value in Chinese culture Chui and Hongand continues to bind children to their parents.
Indeed, recent studies have suggested that dating Kim and decisions within marriage, itself, are still strongly affected by Chinese parents Pimentel Research in Taiwan suggests that young adults are shifting their perspectives on dating and romance, away from traditional expectations see Chang and Chan In contemporary China, it is quite likely that both traditional expectations and newer, more modern attitudes concerning dating and partner selection are present.
Whether one set of expectations is more influential, or if there is a merger or evolution of new attitudes concerning dating and partner selection, remains to be seen. Among Chinese youth, attitudes and expectations concerning dating and intimate relationships will also likely vary between females and males. In terms of dating and partner preferences, researchers have noted a considerable difference between the sexes, with a substantial double standard still prevailing Piotrowski et al.
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For men, the ideal quality in a woman is beauty, while for women, the ideal quality in a man is intelligence Xia and Zhou Generally, Chinese women are expected to marry at an earlier age, while they are still at the peak of their physical appearance and capacity to bear children, whereas men are expected to marry at a later age, after they have achieved financial success Piotrowski et al. Recent studies suggest that stereotyped perceptions of young men and women exist Jankowiak and Li Men are more often regarded as serious, ambitious, stubborn, deceitful, independent, and powerful, while women are viewed as quiet, anxious, excitable, gentle, depressed, shy, and jealous Jankowiak and Li In order to more fully comprehend these gender differences within Chinese culture, a much longer historical context must be considered.
Gender ideologies in China have long been founded upon the general belief that women are supposed to be submissive and secondary to men Bloodworth With Confucian philosophy, women are expected to maintain the three rules of obedience: 1 obeying their fathers and brothers prior to marriage, 2 obeying their husbands within marriage, and 3 as a widow, obeying their adult sons Chia et al.
This set of beliefs, while seemingly outdated in contemporary society, is nonetheless one which has a very long existence within the Chinese culture. Indeed, several studies have suggested that even in the face of modernization and the influence of Western culture, traditional gender attitudes may persist. Researchers have found that many Chinese adults maintain traditional beliefs concerning the division of household labor Cook and Dong and the responsibilities of child care Rosen Males are still generally assumed to occupy the provider role within the family Chia et al.
The relative roles and status of Chinese females and males have been patriarchal in nature for many centuries, yet these long-standing differences may be changing. Indeed, both in terms of enrollment and completion rates, women now exceed men in Chinese colleges and universities Wu and Zhang Higher levels of educational attainment, coupled with comparable employment and earnings levels, may lead Chinese women to maintain more egalitarian attitudes concerning gender and gender roles. How these gendered expectations affect contemporary dating attitudes and behaviors, though, is yet unknown.
While addressing gender-related issues which may affect the dating and mate selection patterns of young Chinese adults, it is equally necessary to address the sex ratio of the population, itself. One lasting effect of the dating chinese women in Hawaii policy, when combined with the traditional preference for sons, is that the current adult population contains more males than females.
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Currently based on census datathe sex ratio for the population of never-married individuals, 15 years of age and above, is It is quite likely that the sex ratio will have an impact, not only upon mate selection but also the preceding dating behaviors. South and Trent have noted that the sex ratio imbalance is associated with higher levels of premarital sex among Chinese women but is associated with lower levels of premarital sex among men.
Numerous perspectives have been offered as attempts to explain gender differences which have been identified within dating and intimate relationships. Buss and his colleagues Buss et al. Males, in this perspective, will seek females with greater physical attractiveness, youth, and chastity, while females will seek out males with greater resources i. Although this perspective has generated considerable debate, it does not readily address differences which may from a specific cultural context.
Exchange theory may provide a foundation for better understanding the nature of dating and partner selection in China. Parrish and Farrer posit that gender roles within China have undergone considerable change, due to both micro-level mechanisms of bargaining e.
From a historical perspective, the New Marriage Law of helped to set into motion a shift toward improved statuses for women, by legalizing gender equality and freedom of choice in both marriage and divorce. The imbalanced sex ratio may also create an environment in which women have even greater influence, particularly in regard to dating and mate selection. Assuming a strong preference for marriage, exchange theory would again support the notion that women, as the smaller population, would have a decisive advantage.
The dyadic power thesis see Sprecher posits that, in this instance, the relative scarcity of women increases their dyadic power within relationships see also Ellingson et al.
Hence, women would not only have greater control over the selection of a partner but also wield greater decision-making power within the relationship. This perspective is supported by recent studies which show that Chinese women have become increasingly selective in the marriage market, preferring men with higher salaries, more prestigious occupations, and better living quarters Liu