Sick of unsuccessful blind dates set up by her parents and unable to stand the social scrutiny of meeting potential dates at bars in her city, Zhou registered on Jiayuan, a Chinese dating website.The site is typically used by young singles between 24 and 35 and is commonly viewed as a tool for seeking long-term relationships and possibly marriage.Matchmaking is a long-standing cultural practice in China.Before 1950, many marriages were arranged by parents who followed the rule of “matching doors and parallel windows,” or 成家立业 -- that is to get married, have children and please their families.“We’re looking for people who are more relationship-driven,” says Liu.“We are matching for long-term relationships.” While dating apps and sites have made it easier for users to find a large number of highly-targeted matches and thus widening the dating pool for Chinese singles, negative effects have also arisen.
When an ideal candidate appears, two young singles will be set up by their parents to give them an opportunity to get to know each other at private, group or family dinners.
Jiayuan and Baihe, China’s most popular dating sites, had around 126 million and 85 million registered users in 2015 respectively (Tinder had about 50 million active users in 2014).
In contrast to a slew of popular dating apps in the West that are commonly associated with a casual “hook-up” dating culture, Chinese online dating services are typically used by those in search of lasting connections and relationships — although this gradually may be changing.
In addition to these laws, China’s Open Door Policy of 1978, which began to expose Chinese to outside cultural influences, further destabilized traditional customs.
More young Chinese took the initiative, many driven by romantic love, to seek potential spouses in their circles through school, work, social gatherings or mutual friends.