Dating etiquette differs vastly amongst different cultures. Not observing the etiquette of another country can produce negative results in the form of embarrassment or accidentally offending someone. In American culture, being open about feelings and sex and controversial ideas is prized and respected. Expressing these beliefs is part of acceptable etiquette when two people are dating and getting to know one another. In China, where modesty is part of the culture, these and other practices are not considered desirable.
Casual or serial dating, which is going out with several people at one time, is virtually unheard of in China and is not practiced. Younger Chinese are starting to experiment with casual dating, but it has not yet become acceptable mainstream practice. It's important for American men to know that taking a Chinese woman out on a second or third date will indicate that you are interested in an exclusive and serious relationship. The woman might even get the impression that you are interested in marriage.
In American dating, individuals will often tell those they are dating that they like them, and specifically what they like about them. It is not uncommon for them to say they've missed the other one. In no way is this an indication of the relationship being serious. However, for the Chinese, these terms have far greater meaning. When a Chinese girl says she misses or likes you, she is serious. And when she shows you physical affection, she could very well have chosen you for a spouse.
Meeting the Parents
Americans often introduce girlfriends and boyfriends to their parents, regardless of the seriousness of the relationship. Both parents and kids take it for granted that the significant other could be "the one" but is not necessarily. At times a boyfriend or girlfriend is introduced to move the relationship forward, on the contingency of the parents approving. But in Chinese culture meeting the parents means that the relationship is locked down into permanency for the couple. In China, meeting the parents can be the equivalent of an engagement announcement.
Americans consider themselves very liberal when it comes to sex. Each generation is more outspoken and liberal than the last, it seems. Talking about sex is considered the modern, healthy way to conduct a relationship. In China talking about sex is considered vulgar and inappropriate. In fact, sex education doesn't exist in China because of this taboo.
While notions of virginity being maintained until marriage have largely been tossed aside in American culture, they are still quite prevalent in Chinese culture. If you have sex with a Chinese woman, and especially if you take her virginity, that is an indication of the relationship being very serious and moving toward marriage.
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- china image by Luisafer from Fotolia.com