Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love in crisis

The importance of being in love

The Chinese celebrate Valentine’s day on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. As if one Valentine’s day was not enough, the people have also whole heartedly embraced the Western Valentine’s day of February 14, as is evident from the spurt of sales promotions and amorous activities seen around this time in the main cities.

It is not surprising, therefore, that love is important for the Chinese - as high as 98% claim that they have ever been in love. In fact falling in love seems to be easy for the Chinese – 76% believe in love at first sight. Surprisingly the sentiment does not wane with age and the belief in first sight Cupid is as strong among the older Chinese as among the younger. On an average a Chinese has been in love 2.5 times, and 10% have been swept off their feet as many as 5 times. They also start their love life relatively early – two in five first fell victims at the tender age of 18 or even less.

Where love has gone

But the Chinese love story has elements of both joy and tragedy. While nearly all have been in love at some point of their lives, regrettably only 37% can say that they feel the sway of the emotion in their hearts today. Age definitely dims the ardor – with only 17% of 45 years and older feeling the tug of love today. Men seem to fall out of love more easily than women – only 32% claim to be in love today as compared to 41% of the women. The words of Ambrose Pierce ( “Love: a temporary insanity, curable by marriage”) seem to ring true as only 24% of the married men and women say that they are still in love, as compared to 94% of unmarried couples. Even among the incurable romantics (who say that they believe in everlasting love) many could not help feeling disillusioned. It would seem that the celebration of Valentine’s day with sending gifts (which is the intention of 36%), dining out (planned by 34%), or an evening out at the movies (17%) for many may be less an expression of passion and romance and more a mechanical ritual.

The lack of love in people’s lives today is particularly poignant as 60% equate love with happiness. This happiness expected or derived out of love seems to come more from the feeling of companionship, affection and understanding than passion and pleasure. Love means passion for only one in ten urban Chinese. Also only for one in five, sex is one of the important meanings of love. While men talk a little more about sex, women perhaps euphemistically refer to “attraction”.

Fidelity and love

The lack of feeling of love today could well be related to a feeling that their partner has not been giving them his or her single–minded attention. Nearly half the people said that they feel they have been cheated by their partner. Whether real or imagined, fidelity seems to be a key ingredient of love in China. The feeling here is “more sinned against than sinning” – only one third admit themselves that they have succumbed to the temptation of an illicit affair, but nearly half are suspicious of their partner’s fidelity.

Written by Ashok Sethi
Based on an online survey of 290 Chinese, aged 18-54 in key cities of China. Conducted in February 2009, before Valentine’s day.


Sara said...

Very interesting! There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: "Wo3 de ai4 ren2 bu2 shi4 wo3 de ai4 ren2". It means that the person I'm with (who should be my loved one) is not really my loved one. Chinese people often marry for financial reasons (to be more safe in society - because of bad health insurance, for example) or cultural reasons. There's a dating company in America which allows married people to meet each other without their partners knowing about it. I think this kind of business could make big money in China!

Check out my blog (not the Google blog, it is closed):

Sara said...


I just found your blog when I searched China blogs in English on the internet. I wonder if you would like to link my blog, and I will link yours?

I am an ambitious student who studies two university educations at the same time - medicine at The Karolinska Institute of Medicine (decides who gets the Nobel Prize for medicine) and business at Stockholm School of Economics. I am also the mother of a beautiful mixed race baby girl and I (in my own company) teach management and leadership at The Karolinska Institute of Medicine.

I started my blog with the aim to help people. In my blog, readers can ask me any question about health, diseases, exercise or diets. I will answer the questions within a couple of days by using my knowledge in medicine, medical literature and questions asked to researchers and doctors. I hope that my blog can be a place to discuss health and medicine, especially for Chinese people. There are so many misconceptions about health in China (for example from traditional medicine) and some of these are dangerous. For example, Chinese people think that breastmilk is not good for babies and that they should eat just water with a tiny bit of rice in it! And they don't know much about nutrition. I would like to write an educational and fun entry about health at least once a week.

My blog is also about my life as a medical student, business student, expat Chinese girl and young mother of a little mixed race girl. Nice pictures from everyday life are published every day, for those curious about this kind of lifestyle.

I also write about "Today's Reflection". So many blogs write about "Today's Outfit" today, but I think it's more interesting to read about what other people think and learn than what they wear. What a big ocean of knowledge we would all have if bloggers wrote about their reflections instead of their garments, right? I have for example written about the patent cornflakes and the interesting new company Happy Socks, zen buddhism and about making the most of our time.

THE BEST IS: ALL INCOMES FROM ADS WILL GO TO THE CHARITY ORGANISATION PLAN INTERNATIONAL'S WORK IN CHINA. They help in building and maintaining hospitals and schools and they give very poor families extra financial help.

Check my blog out and tell me what you think!!

Janny said...

I think it is true for the most big cities which are fast growing, everyone seems having much more options than the past and kinda easy to lost yourself, what about India? cities like Delhi? will be interesting for me to know ;)