Money Honey: The Cost of Dating in China


Monica Zhou   |   October 8, 2021

Information Source: eChinacities.com, by Jessica A. Larson-Wang.

Descriptions are quotated as below:

“For many Chinese men, especially in the bigger cities, falling in love, finding a girlfriend and eventually getting married can be a huge financial strain. Chinese women have certain expectations of their men that, while are not completely unknown in the West, are often looked down upon. Behavior that an American or English man might consider “gold-digging” is often quite acceptable in Chinese society. When my husband, who is Chinese, and I started dating, he was at first a bit bothered by the fact that he would not be able to shower me with gifts, or later, when we got married, to buy me an apartment. These were not important to me and neither I nor any of my immediate peer group had ever chosen men based on the size of their wallets. I soon learned, however, from friends, that many of my Chinese male friends had experienced being dumped by girls for not ponying up gifts from the start. The girls expected to go out to eat every day and have their new boyfriend foot the bill, expected new cell phones, and expected gifts for their parents upon a visit home. One of my Chinese male friends put it to me bluntly that he could not afford a girlfriend right now, girlfriends were simply too expensive!

Some of this, of course, is cultural. The feminist movement never hit China in the same way that it did the West, and many cultural ideas about gender roles are still quite traditional — the man is the breadwinner, the woman the head of the household. While a wife may, and often does, work outside the home, her husband is supposed to be able to provide enough for the both of them. Parents encourage their daughters to choose a man with a good background, someone who can provide. Whereas, when I told my parents about my husband, they were first concerned with whether or not we were in love, and how he would treat me, most Chinese parents would first ask what the man’s job is, what is his level of education, where’s his hukou from, and what do his parents do. And while a woman might marry up, marry a man above her own social and economic status, a man almost never does so. In fact, this is such a cultural taboo that some parents caution daughters against earning higher graduate degrees, as a woman with a PhD is almost certainly limiting herself to a very small pool of men.”

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