East Asian Men pp 183-198 | Cite as

Emerging Heterosexualities in an Era of TV Dating: Exploring Young Chinese Men’s Experiences of Love and Intimacy

  • Chao Yang


This chapter argues that the reform and opening-up policies implemented since the late 1970s have facilitated a shift in how love and intimacy are experienced. It explores the changing meanings of heterosexual relationships by focusing on a group of young Chinese men living in Beijing. As a popular genre fused with a neoliberal reasoning as well as traditional matchmaking principles, young Chinese men’s interpretations of the most popular Chinese reality dating programme is connected to dating and relationship practices in everyday lives. An individualized relationship pattern drawing upon a market principle and consumerist mentality, as well as traditional collective values, is observed. This tends to suggest the emergence of a post-socialist romantic subjectivity, embodying a complex power dynamic between tradition and modernity.


Multiple Relationship Chinese Youth Premarital Cohabitation Happy Relationship Extramarital Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ben-Ze’ev, A. (2004). Love online: Emotions on the internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bond, M. H. (1991). Beyond the Chinese face: Insights from psychology. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bonner, F. (2003). Ordinary television: Analyzing popular TV. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Castells, M. (2005). Space of flows, space of places: Materials for a theory of urbanism in the information age. In B. Sanyal (Ed.), Comparative planning cultures (pp. 45–65). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Cheng, H., Ji, J. L., & Wen, S. M. (2000). Mental health hotline services in Shanghai between 1995 and 1999. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 8, 150–152 (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  7. Chow, R. (2003). Woman and Chinese modernity: The politics of reading between west and east. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  8. Corner, J. (2002). Performing the real: documentary diversions. Television and New Media, 2(3), 255–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Curtin, M. (2007). Playing to the world’s biggest audience: The globalization of Chinese film and TV. London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Donald, S. H., & Zheng, Y. (2008). Richer than before – The cultivation of middle class taste: Education choices in Urban China. In D. Goodman (Ed.), The new rich in China: Future rulers, present lives (pp. 71–82). Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Evans, H. (1995). Defining difference: The “scientific” construction of sexuality and gender in the people’s republic of China. Signs, 20(2), 357–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Farrer, J. (2002). Opening up: Youth sex culture and market reform in Shanghai. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Farrer, J., & Sun, Z. X. (2003). Extramarital love in Shanghai. The China Journal, 50, 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fiske, J. (1987). Television culture. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  15. Fong, V. L. (2006). Only hope: Coming of age under China”s one-child policy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.Google Scholar
  16. Foucault, M. (1979). The history of sexuality, Vol. 1: An introduction. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  17. Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fowler, A. R., Gao, J., & Carlson, L. (2010). Public policy and the changing Chinese family in contemporary China: The past and present as prologue for the future. Journal of Macromarketing, 30(4), 342–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giddens, A. (1992). The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love and eroticism in modern societies. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  20. Hansen, M. H., & Pang, C. M. (2010). Idealizing individual choice: Work, love and family in the eyes of young, rural Chinese. In M. H. Hansen & R. Svarverud (Eds.), iChina: The rise of the individual in modern Chinese Society (pp. 65–93). Copenhagen: NIAS Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hansen, M. H., & Svarverud, R. (2010). Preface. In M. H. Hansen & R. Svarverud (Eds.), iChina: The rise of the individual in modern Chinese society (pp. xi–xii). Copenhagen: NIAS Press.Google Scholar
  22. He, Q. (2005, January 8). Huse Nvxing Ji Qita: Yuanshi Jilei Shiqi de Zhongshengxiang (Gray women and others: The social creatures produced by the period of primitive accumulation) [online]. Zhongguo Baodao Zhoukan (China Report Weekly). Available from: Accessed 23 June 2015. (In Chinese).
  23. Hermes, J. (2006). Hidden debates: Rethinking the relationship between popular culture and the public sphere. Javnost–the public, 13(4), 27–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Higgins, L. T., & Sun, C. (2007). Gender, social background and sexual attitudes among Chinese students. Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care, 9(1), 31–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Higgins, L. T., Zheng, M., Liu, Y. L., & Sun, C. H. (2002). Attitudes to marriage and sexual behaviours: A survey of gender and culture differences in China and United Kingdom. Sex Roles, 46(3/4), 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hill, A. (2005). Reality TV: Audiences and popular factual television. Oxon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hobson, D. (1982). Crossroads: The drama of a soap opera. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  28. Huang, H. Y. (1998). The impact of social change on family and marriage in China. In U. P. Gielen & A. L. Comunian (Eds.), The family and family therapy in international perspective. Trieste: Edizioni Lint Trieste.Google Scholar
  29. Huang, Y., Smith, K., & Pan, S. (2011). Changes and correlates in multiple sexual partnerships among Chinese adult women – Population-based surveys in 2000 and 2006. AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 23(1), 96–104.Google Scholar
  30. Inglehart, R. (2003). Human values and social change: Findings from the values surveys. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  31. Klesse, C. (2007). The spectre of promiscuity: Gay male and bisexual non-monogamies and polyamories. Hampshire: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  32. Lau, S., & Yeung, P. P. W. (1996). Understanding Chinese child development: The role of culture in socialization. In S. Lau (Ed.), Growing up the Chinese way: Chinese child and adolescent development (pp. 29–44). Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Li, X. P. (2001). Significant changes in the Chinese television industry and their impact in the PRC: An insider’s perspective [online]. Washington, D.C.: Working Paper of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, the Brookings Institution. Available from: Accessed 23 June 2015.
  34. Li, Y. (2002). Zhongguo Ren de Xing’ai yu Hunyin (Love, sexuality, and marriage of the Chinese people). Beijing: Zhongguo youyi chubanshe (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  35. Li, B. (2011). Modern dating age: Functional TV dating shows [online]. 6PM Journal of Digital Research & Publishing, 17–24. Available from: Accessed 23 June 2015.
  36. Liebes, T., & Katz, E. (1990). The export of meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lipschutz, R. D. (1992). Reconstructing world politics: The emergence of global civil society. Millennium, 21(3), 389–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Livingstone, S., & Lunt, P. (1994). Talk on television: Audience participation and public debate. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. MacLeod, C. (2010). China smitten by TV dating [online]. USA TODAY. 18 May. Available from: Accessed 23 June 2015.
  40. Mendus, S. (2000). Feminism and emotion: Readings in moral and political philosophy. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Osburg, J. (2013). Anxious wealth: Money and morality among China’s new rich. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Osburg, J. (2014, June 12). Tough love: Money and mistresses in the Middle Kingdom [online]. Foreign Affairs. Available from: Accessed 23 June 2015.
  43. Rofel, L. (2007). Desiring China: Experiments in neoliberalism sexuality, and public culture. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sun, J., & Wang, X. (2010). Value differences between generations in China: A study in Shanghai. Journal of Youth Studies, 13(1), 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tan, T. (2010, October 21). China sees rising divorce rate among young people [online]. China Daily. Available from: Accessed 12 Nov 2013.
  46. Turner, G. (2010). Ordinary people and the media: The demotic turn. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Wang, Y. (2006). Value change in an era of social transformations: College-educated Chinese youth. Educational Studies, 32(2), 233–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wang, J. (2011). The popularity of dating TV reality shows in China: On the perspective of audience. Jönköping University, unpublished master thesis.Google Scholar
  49. Wang, X., & Ho, S. Y. (2007a). My sassy girl: A qualitative study of women’s aggression in dating relationships in Beijing. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22(5), 623–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wang, X., & Ho, S. Y. (2007b). Violence and desire in Beijing: A young Chinese woman’s strategies of resistance in father-daughter incest and dating relationships. Violence against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, 13(12), 1319–1338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wang, X., & Ho, S. Y. (2011). “Female virginity complex” untied: Young Beijing women”s experience of virginity loss and sexual coercion. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 81(2-3), 184–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang, X., & Nehring, D. (2014). Individualization as an ambition: Mapping the dating landscape in Beijing. Modern China, 40(6), 578–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wang, D., Kato, N., Inaba, Y., Tango, T., Yoshida, Y., Kusaka, Y., et al. (2000). Physical and personality traits of preschool children in Fuzhou, China: Only child vs. sibling child. Childcare, Health and Development, 26(1), 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Warner, M. (1991). Introduction: Fear of a queer planet. Social Text, 29(4), 3–17.Google Scholar
  55. Xu, A., Xie, X., Liu, W., Xia, Y., & Liu, D. (2007). Chinese family strength and resiliency. Marriage & Family Review, 41(1/2), 143–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yan, Y. X. (2003). Private life under socialism: Love, intimacy, and family change in a Chinese village 1949–1999. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Yan, Y. X. (2009). The individualization of Chinese society. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  58. Yan, Y. X. (2010a). The Chinese path to individualization. The British Journal of Sociology, 61(3), 489–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yan, Y. X. (2010b). Introduction: Conflicting images of the individual and contested process of individualization. In M. H. Hansen & R. Svarverud (Eds.), iChina: The rise of the individual in modern Chinese society (pp. 1–38). Copenhagen: NIAS Press.Google Scholar
  60. Zelizer, V. (2005). The purchase of intimacy. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Zha, B., & Geng, W. (1992). Sexuality in urban China. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, 28, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhang, W. (2010). A new exploration on Chinese dating program – Take no sincere no faze me for example. Legend Biography Literary Journal Selection, 6, 67–68 (In Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chao Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.Renmin University of ChinaBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations