“I matched with a black Canadian guy on Tinder, and a friend told me he was nice. I got super drunk one day, and he invited me to a bar, so I went… but it was a massive white guy. Like twice as big as his chair massive,” says Vicky, who added that she didn’t say anything, finished her drink and left. “I like dating apps, I still use them and met some of my best friends on there, but I always expect drama.
Dating apps are often believed to contribute to a ‘hook-up culture,’ where users are not serious and only looking for some fun. This perception is twofold though.
“We aren’t dating; we just meet up. And it’s been awesome. He is very experimental and always showing me new things to try – I dig it”
Firstly, where both parties consent and seek out this behavior, apps allow them the opportunity to find like-minded individuals. “I’ve had a great experience through Tinder with a Chinese guy,” says one person from Anhui province who asked to remain anonymous. “We aren’t dating; we just meet up. And it’s been awesome. He is very experimental and always showing me new things to try – I dig it.”
Although maybe not too upfront, as one user listed common questions she regularly faces when logging on. “Tantan is the place to be for memories. Marriage proposals, people thinking I’m a escort service San Francisco bot – I was offered money for sex and my favorite line: I’m a gay man but I have a female friend who is interested,” said Lenka, who is based in Hangzhou.
These miscommunications can further increase the stigma of dating apps, but as the world increasingly shifts online, you have to question whether dating entirely offline is the most effective use of time.
As expats in China, it’s easy to find dating overwhelming. Expat communities are relatively small, and many foreign nationals here are nowhere near fluent in Chinese.
If you don’t wish to be confined to expat groups, but struggling to find dates, then this is where apps come into play.
Dating apps allow you to meet more than just a soul mate, as Shoshanna found out after an unsuccessful date with a doctor. She remains friends with him and recalls, “When I experienced bedbug bites, he helped me diagnose them over a quick WeChat conversation.”
Life as an expat can be a double-edged sword, where you have a ready-made community waiting for you, but many expats will actively avoid it in pursuit of cultural immersion.
Anue from Fuzhou discovered that despite his aversion, Tinder enabled him to connect to an expat with similar views, and two years later they’re still together. “We are from different continents and both avoided the expat circles in our city so were unlikely to meet without the help of apps.”
Although he still remains hesitant of expat-only gatherings, he admits, “I couldn’t recommend them enough to help you outside of your immediate surroundings.”
“Bad dates help you figure out people you don’t want to be with and are just as important as good ones. Put your worries aside and go explore”
Every date doesn’t always go well or even include someone we would typically spend time with. But, ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ could be the slogan for dating apps.
Linda from Nanjing admits that her most memorable encounter was an awkward, cheap first date. After her date let her pay for show tickets, he sought out discounted drinks and ultimately cut the date short after failing to find any deals. Linda recalls it positively though and admits, “Bad dates help you figure out people you don’t want to be with and are just as important as good ones. Put your worries aside and go explore.”