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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.), perhaps due to their more traditional perspectives.
One of the enduring cultural traits is “xiao,” which, in the most basic sense, refers to filial piety.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.This, then, may lead young adults within collectivistic cultures to emphasize the pragmatic functions of dating and eventual marriage, while having less concern with notions of “love” and “romance” (Hsu ).The post-Mao Chinese government has steadily encouraged economic modernization and the development of economic practices based upon free market principles similar to those found in Westernized countries.
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.