Chinese dating, relationships, and marriage have become a constant battle between modern daughters (and even sons) of China and their more traditional parents. Most Chinese parents still possess traditional attitudes toward marriage and impose these on their children; most Chinese women have a more contemporary, perhaps even a westernized, outlook and cannot understand the lengths their parents go to in order to get them hitched.
It all starts during their teenage years when their parents expressly forbid their daughters from dating and having relationships. Even when they get to their college years, most parents do not want their daughters to interact with the opposite sex in any other way than academically.
Since many of these girls come from single-child families, they are expected to be the breadwinner as soon as they finish college; this means they are also expected to excel in their studies to ensure that they will get a decent-paying job later. Dating and relationships are distractions that their daughters do not need.
As a result, these Chinese girls do not learn anything nor gain any experience about how to interact with the
opposite sex, start and maintain a relationship, and go about figuring out what they want in a partner and what their goals are with regards to marriage and starting a family.
By the time these young women graduate from college, they've reached marrying age. While their parents want them to start earning money for the family, they also start pressuring them to find a husband to marry.
In fact, the pressure to get married and have children does not let up until they finally do so. The longer their daughters stay single, the more the parents worry and the more they become actively involved in finding a mate for their dear children. In fact, some start playing matchmaker as soon as their daughters come of age.
Many of these young women, however, do not want to rush into marriage just because their time is running out, at least according to traditional marriage customs. Some want to focus on their careers first; others want to wait until they find the right one and gain some dating/relationship experience along the way. There are even those who do not mind being single and actually enjoy the single life.
Around their daughters’25th year, parents, especially mothers, start panicking if their daughters still aren’t married. It’s even worse if these young women haven’t even had a single boyfriend. Then again, it’s just as frustrating for their parents when their daughters do date and have relationships but are not showing any signs of settling down any time soon.
So the parents get more aggressive with their matchmaking activities. They attend matchmaking events to hand out their daughters’ “resume” and exchange information with other parents. They set up blind dates for their daughters with men whom they found through these matchmaking events or through family friends.
Many parents even go online to search for potential partners for daughters who do not seem to care at all that their time is running out fast.
The parents’ involvement only intensifies as their daughters reach their 30s still single. The nagging never lets up; the blind dates become more frequent. For every failed matchmaking attempt, the parents get increasingly frustrated, disappointed, and worried.
The women, on the other hand, also feel increasingly frustrated and annoyed at their parents’ constant worrying and nagging, and even more so about the never-ending blind dates they are forced to go to. Many of these women, however, want to make their own dating and relationship choices, especially with regards to choosing when to get married. Unlike their parents, they do not worry at all about each year passing by without them having any serious marriage prospects. Some do not see anything wrong with being single in their 30s.
The problem, clearly, is a complete difference in attitudes. Chinese parents only care about their daughters finding a man with whom they are compatible in terms of education, career, and family background; modern Chinese women, on the other hand, feel that “feelings” are just as important, if not more so, than the traditional and more practical standards of choosing a partner.
Most parents can also become so focused on following traditional norms and expecting their children to do the same that they fail to realize the modern realities that their daughters also have to face and adapt to. Indeed, traditional Chinese marriage attitudes, more often than not, can no longer co-exist with the demands of modern Chinese society. Chinese women and their parents need to communicate more so they can understand each other’s motivations and, perhaps, find a middle ground.
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