The Cultural Dating Game | 5 Differences Between Canadian and Chinese Dating Cultures

Posted by Shirley Li & filed under Sex & Relationships.

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What am I going to wear? What am I going to say? What if they think I’m boring? What if they don’t actually like me?

Yep. You’ve probably been in this situation before, if not having witnessed it hundreds of times on television and perhaps your best friends’ faces. Dating can be a nerve-wracking, exciting, panic-inducing mess. Not to mention possible cultural differences that often add to the chaos. All relationships are unique, but here are five differences that you may find between Chinese and Canadian dating culture.

1. When? 

While you may see high school couples here and there in China, dating doesn’t usually begin until after they have finished their education. I’ve heard my dad say to me many times, “Dating? Focus on schoolwork first. No dating until after college.” Of course, that may also be the protective, traditionalist parent in him speaking, but education does take precedence in China. Most students don’t even have time to sleep, much less handle a relationship.

2. Let’s get married!

Fei Cheng Wu Rao, also known as If You Are the One is a dating game show and one of the most popular TV shows in China. It has also drawn controversy over a contestant's opinion, who said she'd "rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bike." | Image Source:

Fei Cheng Wu Rao, also known as If You Are the One is a dating game show and one of the most popular TV shows in China. (Wishcrys)

Since it’s more common to wait until after completing an education before pursuing a relationship, dating tends to hold more importance in China than it might in Canada. Here, you might go on a few casual dates in order to decide if you truly like someone and want to pursue a relationship with them. But in China, you date because you’re already serious about each other. Whether you find your future partner on a popular TV show or through a mutual friend, dating has a much more serious tone—you’re in it to win it. Or in other words, to get married.

3. You have a car? A house?

Actually liking the person you’re dating matters a great deal in a relationship, but practicality plays a big role, too. On the first few dates, you may be asked about your job or your income, or whether or not you have a house or a car. While in Canadian dating culture it may seem offensive to be asked such personal questions so early on, being a good fit financially is very important in Chinese culture when determining if one should start a serious relationship.

4. No goodbye hug?

Public displays of affection are more subdued in China. For the older generation, hand-holding or linking arms may be the most that happens. However, for the younger generation, cuddling or even a quick peck is fine. All the same, I personally think that PDA in China carries different meaning from what one might see in Canada. I remember my younger sister asking my parents once why she’d never seen them kiss. To this, my dad scoffed and told her something along the lines of it being unnecessary. Yet whenever we’d go out shopping, it would be my dad holding my mom’s bags and purchases (as he simultaneously complained about how long the shopping trip was taking and how tired he was).

5. I love you

Similar to the more subdued PDA, saying “I love you” is less common in Chinese culture. For the most part, showing your partner how much you love them is more important than saying it, whether it be by going shopping with them or cooking their favourite meal – even if you hate doing so (like my dad holding my mom’s bags).

Are the two dating cultures really that different? I’d like to think the contrasts between the two aren’t necessarily opposing sides, but instead emphasize different aspects of each distinct culture. What distinctions do you find yourself leaning towards in dating across cultures?


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