When I came back to China, I thought of only one thing: how to get back to LA a’sap. For six months I rang myself in just for writing and teaching, I felt like a nun. I was a nun. Every once in a while, I missed apps like Tinder. Then I thought it must be blocked in China. Only a month ago, I found it wasn’t — much to my surprise.
So the hunting began. Sometimes I’d schedule two dates back to back. After I had seen enough men, I felt I was ready to share my findings with my single girlfriends.
Much to my surprise, most of them weren’t taking any advantage of online dating even though all were complaining about their singleness. And most of these Western-educated financially-independent women associate Tinder with ONS (aka. One Night Stand). They didn’t have to tell me. I got the hostile vibe by studying the change in their facial expression when I mentioned I had been using Tinder and Bumble, both of which I offloaded from my phone a few weeks ago. I think these dating apps are nice tools to discover new interesting people. That is, if you have the awareness to offload the apps once you have connected with enough candidates to be turned into potential dates. As a writer, I try to cut off unnecessary time-sucking addictive apps. Tinder and Bumble can be powerfully addictive.
And yet, you can still use the dating apps for good. It just depends on how you use it. Like many of my female friends, women tend to equate Tinder with ONS. I find the assumption too black-and-white. Truth is, if ONS happens, it means YOU let it happen. Otherwise, it’d be fucking date rape. And only if you do it and decide not to pursue any further. Hence, one NIGHT. When men and I talked about the ‘taboo’ around Tinder and ONS, their replies were unsurprisingly the same, “In the end, it’s up to the woman (to green light or not).” *Gurls, know your power.
A date even added, “I call out to all my mates’ bullshits. ‘She slept with me on our first date.’ ‘But you also slept with her on your first date. It’s NOT a one-way street, man.’ Being a man doesn’t get you the hall pass even though we live in the double standard society.” By the look on my date’s face, I felt his sincerity and I found it refreshing. *So gurls, stop shaming yourself. Embrace your femininity. And gents, brag it when you bag a strong woman for who she is, not for how you bagged her for what you assume she is.
Good looks is rarely enough to get me to swipe right (*But it does get me to pause. I’m only human. Can we agree on it?). The job title and education won’t be the deciding factor to a meetup. For me, a sense of humor is key. Appreciation in strong women gets a meeting. Understanding the creative process is cherry on top.
At a friend’s insistence, I showed her a date’s photo. She stared at me in horror. “Did you somehow go blind? He’s fat, short and ugly.” I realized that the same convo must be happening when guys are discussing their female dates. Such is how we become commodities when the products are free.
“I find him sweet, gentle and has a sense of humor.” I heard myself defending my date. My friend shook her head, “Dump him, quick. Or just don’t get serious.” Knowing that all the men that passed my screening are non-Chinese, she added, “You know, them foreigners can be fun to hang out with, but they don’t have any savings. Let alone real estate. They are not marriage material.” I did a double take at her while she continued, “I have a friend who’s seen foreigners come and go here in Shanghai. She said that their quality is decreasing over the years. Every once in a while she met someone she wants to date, then the man turns out to be out of her league…”
Wow. Wow. Wow. Zing. Zing. Zing.
I had been away from China for three years. Three years later, Chinese women still prioritize marriage-worthiness over personality compatibility even in the earliest stage of dating. When we turn ourselves into the ultimate utilitarians, what joy can we get out of life apart from pure business transactions?
Then, using my friend’s friend as an example:
Gurl, if you still don’t realize the name of the game, how will you find out what kind of people suit you — the unique you? And just how on earth would you become better at dating by strategizing sans doing?
When men ask me what I want out of this, I’d say, “I want to make new friends to have balance from my solitary writing life. And if it leads to something, I’d be open to give it a try.” (Rule of thumb: don’t give chance to those who say they are just looking for “something casual.” Style can be casual. Human connection is for real, bruh. If men rule out that possibility from the get-go, then it’s on me if I ever try to persuade them otherwise. Just walk away. He’s not worth your time, darling.)
And here, for the majority of the Chinese single women:
Don’t wait till some White Knight checking all the boxes to begin dating. Nobody wants to be with a salivating Pavlov’s Dog except for the sake of science.
Just be yourself. But it’s gonna be hard if you don’t know who you are yet.