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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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Speed Dating in China    

By Peter V
3101 Views | 4 Comments | 7/14/2013 12:33:53 PM

What if there was a medical test that immediately eliminated 95% of people as potential carriers of a disease and allowed you focus precious resources to perform a much more extensive exam on those who remained? Wouldn't it make sense to use that short, simple test to screen the population rather than force every single person to submit to the more extensive medical test?

When it comes to the world of dating such a mechanism exists, or at least many claim it exists. It’s called speed dating. In speed dating, you bring together a number of single people all looking to get into a relationship. And you set it up so each person will have anywhere from two to ten minutes with a member of the opposite sex. In a few hours, they can talk to 10, 20, or 30 members of the opposite sex. (The picture with this article is taken at a speed dating event). If you find someone you like, you can let a third party know, and they will pass that information on to that person, who will contact you if she wishes.

The whole system illustrates a principle I have found to be true in dating: that within a very short amount of time after meeting a member of the opposite sex—a few minutes if not a few seconds—we can tell if this is a potential life partner. This is not “love at first sight.” Rather it is a sort of built in screening mechanism we have that allows us to rule most people out as potential partners rather than actually confirm anyone as Mr. or Mrs. Right.

I am not sure why it works, although I have some theories. It might have to do with pheromones, the chemicals that bodies supposedly secrete and that we can subconsciously sense. Perhaps it’s a much more spiritual thing. “The eyes are the scouts for the soul” is a phrase I once heard, and there is certainly an element of physical appearance involved in this feeling of whether someone is a potential partner. But it is physical presence as well as physical appearance, since I do not think video chatting is a substitute. We get an overall sense of a person by standing in their presence. It may even have something to do with past lives for all I know.

As I said, I am not sure why we can instantly eliminate a large majority of people as potential partners upon meeting them, but I know it does work. At least for me, it has been dead-on accurate. Most of the persons I have ended up in relationships with and/or marrying I have instantly said upon meeting them “yeah, this is a person I can see myself with.” Conversely, when I have ignored this internal sensor, I have paid a price. Now of course, not every person I have had that feeling with have I wound up going out with. As I said, it is an initial screening device, nothing more. But since our time on this earth is limited, it simply makes sense to use any means possible to assist us in finding the person to spend our lives with as quickly as possible. The quicker we do it, the more time we have with that person. To my mind, this sort of thinking does not eliminate romance but allows us to put our romantic energies to efficient use, employing them where they would be most likely to be successful. Since our time on this planet is limited, it simply makes sense.

Actually, this is the sort of efficiency I have found in many Chinese girls, although they use a different standard. They want to know almost immediately if you are interested in marriage and, if so, if you have a house. I used to object when these inevitable dating in China questions were pulled out on a first or second date, but now I see it is the same sort of reasoning that is involved in my desire to have a face to face meeting. Neither they nor I want to spend any of their precious time on false leads. We both want to put our energies into real possibilities rather than imagined ones.

I bring up this importance of meeting in person principle as a time saving device because it directly bears upon a situation I am currently experiencing with a woman I met on China Love Match. On paper, we are a good match: We both have Ph.Ds and share a lot of the same interests. But there are a lot of people with Phds with whom I have much in common. I wanted to know as soon as possible whether she passed the potential partner test, which as I said is best done by simply meeting in person. So I offered to come up to Chongqing, since it is relatively short train ride from Chengdu. But this woman refuses my request to visit, declaring that we do not know each other well enough for a face to face meeting. Nor, to complicate matters, will she even allow a video chat.

Now I have good reason to believe the pictures on the site are legitimate and that she is who she says she is. But pictures are only pictures and, as I say, do not allow for the verification of potentiality that a face to face meeting does. But this means we are at an impasse.

It doesn’t seem either of us is being unreasonable in our demands. Instead, what we have here is a cross cultural dating issue: the romantic view of the West conflicting with the more pragmatic view of China when it comes to love and marriage. According to the Western Romantic view, physical attraction is important. As the line I mentioned above suggests: the eyes are the scouts for the soul. The wisdom that causes the body to come out of the womb knowing it needs to suckle the breast is the same wisdom that informs us of whether there is a true physical attraction. The thinking here is that the body has a wisdom of its own and we ignore its desires at our peril. By contrast, the Chinese pragmatic view of love has no truck with such esoteric notions. It boils down to income and advantage, neither of which requires any personal attraction or metaphysical connection and so can be determined without any face to face meeting.

So while she is doing her initial screening I am unable to do mine, and frankly this strikes me as unfair. In any case, I’d be interested in what others think about the importance of face to face meetings, and their ability to predict potential partners, and whether I should keep pressing the case to go up to Chongqing, or back off.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 4 of 4) 1
#2013-07-14 13:37:04 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Hi Peter - great article. As for your lady in Chongqing, I suggest that you should not waste a trip to anywhere, even a nearby city, or across town, without first having that video chat. If she won't video chat with you then you have plenty of reason to be concerned about her photos.

#2013-07-15 19:43:24 by anonymous6899 @anonymous6899

I learned from experience it is best to talk on video chat before investing in any travel to meet anyone.. A hundred photos won't achieve as mucha s a couple minutes of video chat.... Also i find it is best to be able to discuss the personal and intimate issues (sex, lifestyle, habits, money, diet, and the less appealing qualities each may have), of each other before traveling any where... After all it is these things that will matter most in the relationship

#2013-07-20 01:58:07 by Scaramouche @Scaramouche

Congratulations, you've found yourself a traditional woman in CQ. Westerners go on dates to find out whether the person is interesting or not, suitable or not. Sometimes even a clever, successful or funny person just doesn't have that extra thing that would make you spend 24/7 with him or her. It's the complexity of finding a partner.

I argue that is not the way in China. A meeting is considered among many old-fashioned Chinese a further step towards marriage. It's as simple as that. The lady in Chongqing is most probably neither dishonest nor a phony. My guess is that her conclusion is you are not of interest to her, why a meeting isn't even on the map. You may get along well sending each other messages on CLM, and she most probably wants it to stay that way. Since she is looking for a husband, a meeting is out of the question.

As you mention in your article, when it comes to marriage in China, people don't look at it from the romantic side, but in a sober kind of way: Can you afford a house? How much do you earn? etc. Marriage in China is more like a business deal, husband and wife have a contract to honor: you do your part, I do mine! In such a culture people make deals and marry people they don't even know! From a Western point of view it may seem absurd indeed.

I don't know if this is a satisfying explanation, but it's more or less my take on this. The only way is to offer her a deal she can't refuse :-)

#2013-07-27 11:01:24 by matthew1975 @matthew1975

I feel bad for putting it this way, but if she doesn't want to meet you, then you would be best to move on. I am fully aware of some of the differences in viewpoints in Chinese culture for arranging a marriage partner, but if she is unwilling to bend even a little for the difference in culture, then why would you want to be married to her anyway? I guess if you plan on going full native and adopting Chinese culture after marriage, then you don't need to meet before agreeing to get married to a Chinese woman anyway. But if you plan on continuing to practice some Western ways after marriage, then I think you best find a woman at least a little interested in meeting you halfway, and to me, this lady doesn't sound like the one for that use case.

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