East vs West

Cultural Differences: Romance In Eastern and Western Culture

In China, Guangzhou, as I returned home from a jog along Pearl River (珠江), I noticed a key difference in romance between Eastern and Western culture.

The time was midnight, and the younger generation of Chinese was walking home from karaoke, supper (宵夜), the cinemas, and strolls along Pearl River.

The more Chinese people I passed, the more I observed the younger male generation dating in China always seem to end up with more than one female at the end of the night.

This was culturally different to Australian culture.

The question I asked myself was, “Why?”

What Is Dating In China?

In one example, I saw one Chinese male with two very beautiful Chinese females who appeared to be friends.

In Chinese dating culture, this extra person would be considered a third-wheel (电灯泡).

I wondered, “Why did this Chinese male end up with two girls?  Is he the nice guy in the group?  Is he undecided but will choose one of the two girls?  Or, has he treated both girls to a nice night out and will go home by himself?”

Could this even be considered dating in Chinese culture?

In another example, two Chinese boys were dating two Chinese girls in provocative skirts that they would never wear in public in daytime because it reveals way too much skin.

I wondered, “When will the boys call a taxi, and take the girls home?”

In Australian dating culture, these kids would have found an alleyway, a hotel, or a KTV, and had sex.

Instead, I observed as the boys used their phone to call someone.  Minutes later, their parents drove up and gave all four teenagers a lift home.  This was far from romantic.

These examples began to paint a picture of a social phenomenon in China, where Chinese couples date in packs, return home in packs, and are rarely seen alone at the end of the night.

Romance In Chinese Society

Chinese society is not that sophisticated when it comes to romance.

Romance in China is much more ambiguous.  If a Chinese man likes a female, he has to pretend for several months that he does not like a particular girl, he has to not declare his intentions, and then finally build up the courage to tell her that he likes her.

Chinese men have to play the long game.

Therefore, in China, couples who like each other do not admit their interests to each other.  As such, camaraderie and friendships are more popular in Chinese dating culture.

People date in groups, group karaoke, group dinners, and group events, with the intention to camouflage any interests between men and women so that those couples can become more familiar with each other.

As a consequence, Chinese males treat all members in the group to dinner for example.  This makes them appear well-off to the females.  This is why it is common to see groups in China catch a taxi home together.

I used to believe that Chinese men do not have the confidence to be alone with a Chinese female.  However, I came to appreciate that conservative Chinese cultural values come into play, to afford a couple the time to learn more about each other while their love interests are never revealed.

Romance In Western Society

In Western society, everybody is a lone wolf.

In Australia, it is common to go to a nightclub with all the boys, to drink, dance, and try to pick up girls.

A man in Australia only buys drinks for the woman he fancies, and he attempts to persuade her to leave at the end of the night with him.

In Western culture, even when you know the people that you socialize with, normally, at the end of the night, men will couple off with women, and leave alone.

The trend in Western society is to make your intentions clear, to wine, dine, romance, and pay attention only to the one female in the group that you are attracted to.

Couples who like each other pair off before the end of the night and then go home to copulate.

The Herd Mentality In China

In Western society, we believe it is not romantic to still be with all your friends and the female you like at the end of the night.

It is definitely not romantic for a Chinese male to have two Chinese females at the end of the night.  That concept of gentlemanly conduct is not romantic to a Westerner at all.

A Western female would not be flattered when a man offers to take many women back home.

In Australia, we abandon the third wheel (电灯泡) to make it blatantly obvious to the female we are courting that we want to take her home.  This essentially becomes a power struggle between the male suitor and the girl’s best friend (闺蜜).

Cultural Differences In Chinese And Western Dating

These are the key differences I observed between Chinese and Western romance culture.

In Australia, men make their intentions clear.  They wine, dine, and flatter one female within the group to make her aware she is the object of the man’s desire.

Australian men are lone wolfs that seek to pair off with a female as quickly as possible.


In China, men are more ambiguous with their intentions.  Chinese men will seek to hide their intentions hidden in group dates, to pay the bill and treat every member within the group, and to make only subtle references to the object of his desire.

Chinese men traditionally hunt best in a herd mentality.  They will only strike once they have courted a female for an extended period of time within these protected group packs.

Are you looking for suitable English-Chinese language exchange partners in China and Abroad?

Guangzhou One Day Love Cartoon

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