Rules of Etiquette for Chinese-American Dating

A happy Chinese -  American couple. While many Americans don’t think twice about dating someone who is a member of another race, there  are usually a number of big differences in the rules of etiquette when it comes to dating someone from outside your race that are important to become familiar with before making a decision to ask that person out on a date, especially when it comes to Chinese-American dating.

Before putting yourself in a potentially embarrassing situation, take the time to review these important rules of etiquette for Chinese-American dating.

Playing the field


If you plan on dating more than one woman at a time, or consider yourself a “player,” you might want to stick to dating a woman from the western world. In the Chinese culture, casual dating is virtually unheard of.  While some members of the younger generation are starting to contemplate the idea, it is not widely acceptable.

Before asking a Chinese woman on a second or third date, make sure she is someone that you feel has strong potential for a serious relationship, if that’s what you’re looking for.  On the other hand, if you are only seeking women for a series of sexual relationships, look elsewhere.



If you’ve yet to be formally introduced, don’t expect to meet a Chinese woman in the typical American fashion; staring, trying to catch her eye from across the room, or even smiling can be considered rude. If you ask a Chinese woman to dance, she’s likely to be insulted.  In the Chinese culture, many consider it rude just to look someone directly in the eye, cross your arms or legs, or have your hands in your pocket when you are speaking to them.

Of course, all Chinese women are not alike. If she smiles at you, it’s probably okay to ask for her cell number.

If you’ve decided you have to meet her, you’ll probably have to find someone who already knows her and is willing to introduce the two of you to each other. It’s often done through a group dinner, with six to eight people attending. The two parties who have expressed interest in each other will usually not be seated side by side, but will be separated by two or three other people allowing them to be close enough to have some communication but not close enough that they appear to be a couple.

If the Chinese woman agrees to go out on a formal date, she is essentially acknowledging that she considers that person to be a potential candidate for marriage.



Choose your words carefully


By telling a Chinese woman that you like her or you miss her, you are indicating you’re quite serious about her. Enduring words are not used casually in the Chinese culture.  By saying “I love you,” she will believe you will be asking for her hand in marriage in the near future.

Physical affection


Take cues from your date, but remember, most Chinese women are far more conservative than their American counterparts. Always be respectful and remember that in the Chinese culture talking about sex is considered very rude and vulgar. Sex education in China is virtually unheard of and many members of both sexes have difficulties broaching the subject.  It is rarely something discussed with the family at home either. Most women do not even begin dating until their education is finished.

On a first date, hand holding or hugging is something that is taboo for many Chinese women. If you aren’t willing to take the time and effort needed a build a solid relationship before going in for that first kiss, you probably don’t want to date a Chinese woman. If you’ve decided she’s worth it, be attentive, caring and cautious.



Attitudes of maintaining virginity until marriage are still prevalent in the Chinese culture. If you take a Chinese woman’s virginity you are giving her a very strong indication that the relationship is headed toward marriage. Consider having sex with a Chinese woman as a binding contract of your relationship.

Gift giving


While the value of the gift is not so important, a small gift that shows you are an attentive and caring person is polite and thoughtful. A simple long stemmed rose is an excellent and ideal romantic gift, unless, of course, you know that she prefer lilies instead.

Meeting the parents


Meeting the parents is probably the most difficult task you’ll have of all when it comes to dating a Chinese woman. Never agree to meet the parents if you aren’t seriously thinking of marriage.

While most Americans don’t hesitate to introduce their new boyfriend or girlfriend to mom and dad, regardless of the seriousness of the couple, in the Chinese culture it signifies a permanent relationship and can even be considered the equivalent of an engagement announcement.

If you are really ready to meet her parents, do bring a gift. In this case, the more valuable the better, but try to bring something that has special significance to them by asking your girlfriend what they like. At a minimum you could bring some high quality tea or a fruit basket.  Try to learn at least a few Chinese words beforehand, and remember that her parents are likely to be very cautious in the beginning. Don’t be offended if they don’t like you right away.

If you’ve come from out of town and they’ve invited you to spend the night, you’ll need to sleep in separate rooms until you’re formally engaged.

Manners are key – if her parents leave their shoes at the door, be sure to take yours off as well. Removing shoes is not something all Chinese families do, but it’s becoming a more common practice. When you greet them you’ll want to shake their hands and smile. A handshake should be done by using your two hands with one gripping their hand and the other one top. Be warm and friendly, but refrain from hugging.

At the dinner table


At the dinner table be sure to serve everyone else first, even if they tell you not to. Eat everything they give you but don’t drink too much alcohol. Always keep everyone’s tea cups full.

Answer her parents’ questions honestly and find a way to compliment your girlfriend for any of her talents or skills, which will honor them for doing a good job raising their daughter. Try to discover common interests and genuinely show you want to get to know them and be accepted into the family.

Always be very respectful of your girlfriend in front of her parents and do not kiss her in their presence. Be honest and sincere and show them that you plan to be a good spouse. If they don’t speak good English, have patience but be sure you aren’t talking down to them.

A good first impression is a must when it comes to your Chinese girlfriend’s parents. Express your gratitude for their hospitality and say goodbye politely. Most importantly, show her parents that the man their daughter is committing to will keep her safe and that you are a responsible and respectable man.

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