What are young Chinese looking for in their future partners?

Society & Culture

It’s not just money or looks — today’s Chinese want their partners to be from the cities, with an amiable personality, decent family background, and much more. They want a lot.

Love is in the air in China today. The Qixi Festival (七夕 qīxī), often called China’s Valentine’s day, falls on August 28th this year. Besides romantic stories about lovers in long-distance relationships who overcome their loneliness and uncertainties, creative marriage proposals, and why “single dogs” (单身狗 dānshēngǒu) won’t feel left behind, not everyone had a happy story to share: A young wife was physically abused (link in Chinese) by her husband after he discovered that she had listed herself in an online temporary-partner-seeking market for Qixi. Elsewhere, a man smashed the reception desk of a hotel after being told that all rooms were booked.

Results of some recent surveys on dating and marriage were also published during the festive period, offering a glimpse into the qualities young Chinese are looking for in their future spouses. According to research by a matchmaking website (in Chinese), more than half of a total 6,950 respondents considered birthplace a key element in search of partners, and women tend to put more emphasis on where their future husbands come from. What might come as a surprise is that Beijing locals, who are widely known for their preference for Beijingers in seeking partners, don’t make it to the top in the ranking of cities where people pay a lot of attention to their prospective spouse’s birthplace: People in Shenyang are most concerned about the hometown of their spouse, followed by Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Shenzhen.

As to which region has the most attractive people, the results differ based on gender. According to the survey, women prefer men from Guangdong, while men are inclined to choose women from Sichuan, with one respondent saying women from that province are good looking and straightforward.

The survey also found that more than 80 percent of female respondents follow preferences strictly, while only 50 percent of male respondents chose lovers in accordance with their stated preferences. The top three elements that females pay attention to in finding a husband are income, family background, and personality. For males, hobbies, personality, and family background top the list. In a sub-survey on self awareness, over 40 percent of female respondents felt their standards were too high. Single women from Shanghai claim the top spot in the ranking of 傲娇女 àojiāonǚ, a slang term referring to women who are proud and take themselves too seriously.

In terms of discrimination in dating and marriage, the survey reveals that top deal-breakers in a relationship are dissatisfaction with the other’s family background — especially for those who come from a single-parent family or have siblings, but also those who differ in birthplace, educational background, occupation or age.

Another survey (in Chinese) on Chinese white-collars sheds more light on how young Chinese in major cities find their partners. More than 30 percent of the respondents said that they met potential partners through introductions by their family members. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of female white-collars hope their future husband’s annual income is above 100,000 yuan ($15,077).