Researchers have noted this shortcoming and have called for greater empirical examination of partner selection in contemporary urban China (Xu et al. The present study will seek to address these calls for empirical study by using a sample of Chinese college students to examine the nature of attitudes and expectations concerning dating among young adults in contemporary China.
The analyses which follow will attempt to more accurately discern the nature of such attitudes and expectations, as well as differences which may exist between females and males.
Thus, in order to best understand and appreciate the social dynamics occurring in present day China, one should first examine some of the important long-standing traditions connected to its culture.
The traditional expectations concerning dating and marriage have a long history within Chinese culture and are based heavily upon ancestor worship and Confucian ideology.
The initiation and maintenance of intimate, romantic relationships have been linked with improved physical and emotional well-being, stronger perceptions of community attachment, and better developmental outcomes for the individuals (e.g., Amato ).
During adolescence and the early adult years, dating enhances identity formation for individuals and provides socialization experiences which are necessary to forming and maintaining intimate and interpersonal relationships in life (Chen et al. Although researchers have directed their efforts toward a better understanding of the dynamics of dating and partner selection, focusing upon the influence of such elements as the family environment (e.g., parental divorce, parental marital quality, parent-child relationships), peer relationships, and community factors (Bryant and Conger ), the majority of studies focusing upon dating and romantic relationships have utilized samples of Western youth.
For sons, in particular, “xiao” makes finding a spouse a priority and consequently makes dating take on a different quality.
China is typically regarded as a collectivistic culture, in which obligations to the greater society and social institutions (e.g., the family) are considered more important than individual traits and needs (Kwang ).
Beyond the basic desires which most individuals experience during this time, researchers have noted the relative significance of dating, not only for individuals but also for societies.
Even the behaviors within dating appear to be rapidly changing over time.
Behaviors such as holding hands and kissing in public, which may been somewhat taboo only a few decades ago, in China, are now becoming increasingly commonplace (Xia and Zhou ) reports that over one third of college students in China had become sexually active while enrolled in school.
From this perspective, filial piety and the continuation of family lineage are of tremendous importance (Han ).
One of the enduring cultural traits is “xiao,” which, in the most basic sense, refers to filial piety.
While dating and sexual activity among Chinese college students have been previously noted by researchers (e.g., Xu ), comparatively less is known about the attitudes and expectations of youth concerning these behaviors.