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While dating and sexual activity among Chinese college students have been previously noted by researchers (e.g., Xu ), comparatively less is known about the attitudes and expectations of youth concerning these behaviors.
In regard to premarital sex, for example, some studies have reported that 86 % of respondents approve of it (see Tang and Zuo ).
In China, marriage and family life continues to be a central element within Chinese culture, with adolescents and young adults typically assuming that they will eventually find a partner.
What is lacking, however, is a broader understanding of how contemporary Chinese youth view dating and intimate relationships.
Researchers have noted that Chinese parents tend to oppose adolescent dating (Chen et al.This, then, may lead young adults within collectivistic cultures to emphasize the pragmatic functions of dating and eventual marriage, while having less concern with notions of “love” and “romance” (Hsu ).The post-Mao Chinese government has steadily encouraged economic modernization and the development of economic practices based upon free market principles similar to those found in Westernized countries.The initiation and maintenance of intimate, romantic relationships have been linked with improved physical and emotional well-being, stronger perceptions of community attachment, and better developmental outcomes for the individuals (e.g., Amato ).During adolescence and the early adult years, dating enhances identity formation for individuals and provides socialization experiences which are necessary to forming and maintaining intimate and interpersonal relationships in life (Chen et al. Although researchers have directed their efforts toward a better understanding of the dynamics of dating and partner selection, focusing upon the influence of such elements as the family environment (e.g., parental divorce, parental marital quality, parent-child relationships), peer relationships, and community factors (Bryant and Conger ), the majority of studies focusing upon dating and romantic relationships have utilized samples of Western youth.