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When Zhou reached her late twenties, she felt an increasing amount of pressure from her family to get married.In Chinese culture unmarried women in their late twenties and beyond are labeled “leftover women” or 剩女. Unlike in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where new trends emerge and quickly permeate society, Zhou was considered an early adopter in the second-tier city Yantai in Shandong Province when she began online dating in the early 2010s. When 30-year-old auto sales manager Zhou Yixin joined online dating at the behest of her cousin living in Beijing, she did not expect to meet her steady boyfriend of two years.On dating apps, Zhou says, “We have the autonomy to decide if we feel good about and would like to meet this potential date in real life.” When Jiayuan’s founder Gong Haiyan was a Masters student at Shanghai’s ultra-competitive Fudan University, she came up with the idea for the website in the hopes of helping her busy college friends find love.Privy M8 (M8), a new American matchmaking platform currently targeting young Asian-American professionals, was inspired by the experiences of the founder and CEO Stephen Christopher Liu, who met his wife through mutual friends.“We’re looking for people who are more relationship-driven,” says Liu.
Chinese dating apps accordingly ask users personal questions, such as “annual income,” “housing” and “the type of car you own.” These questions are not only important for the future life of the potential partner, but also for the “face,” 面子, or public image of their family.
Chinese online dating services have grown increasingly popular as they draw on traditional Chinese dating values such as material security and marriage-focused relationships, and expand connections beyond the screen with offline events and relationship counseling services.