Middle-Aged Chinese Women’s Transnational Intimacies

Disappointed with China’s cultural chauvinism, middle-aged Chinese women prefer to seek true love abroad.
In 2017, the Changsha Evening Newspaper documented a beautiful transnational love story.  
Fang is an ordinary girl from the Hunan province. Her early experiences prevented her from believing in love and marriage. In 2009, she moved to Shenzhen to restart her career. At an international jewellery exhibition, an American stranger offered to take a photo for her. Due to the language barrier, they did not interact after the photo-taking. In 2013, Fang's sister, who was married in the United States, was invited to a dinner by her classmate. The host also invited a male colleague of his. While having dinner, they talked about Chinese food. The male colleague expressed that he had once fallen in love with a Chinese girl at first sight, but he did not dare to go after her. Otherwise, he might have enjoyed Chinese foods for many years. 
Upon hearing this, the host jokingly asked the sister to introduce Fang to him. When the male colleague saw Fang’s photo, he was shocked to find out that Fang was the girl he had fallen in love with.
The story ended happily as the man's sincerity moved Fang, and the couple now lives together in Houston. They regularly share moments of their lives by posting videos on Tik TokHaokan Video and Bilibili.

The convenience of the internet and transport bring makes transnational marriages increasingly widespread. In the past, transnational couples used to know each other from a common school or workplace. Now, many couples meet each other through online social platforms instead. It is increasingly the norm for middle-aged Chinese women to find their partners of a different nationality online. As a result, they dare to pursue love despite language, culture, and distance barriers.  
Why seek love abroad?  
In China, older single women are called "leftover women" and are often looked down upon. Although public opinion towards single middle-aged women has improved over the years, the unfavourable view remains widespread in rural areas. These are the reasons why a middle-aged Chinese woman might prefer to seek love outside of China:
  1. Chinese men prefer younger women, caring more about a woman's appearance and age. If not, they look for richer women that can raise their standard of living.
  2. Older women are less preferred by Chinese parents, as they are often associated with a lower fertility rate. Chinese families typically want to have children on their own, and few would consider the option of adoption or allow the couple to have no kids.
  3. Chinese traditional values are harsh on middle-aged women who are divorced or widowed. Women are always blamed for an unsuccessful marriage. Even after divorce, widowed women are expected to stay "loyal". Remarriage is frowned upon as it is viewed as a form of betrayal.
Middle-aged Chinese women deliberately seek partners abroad to be free from the chauvinistic culture in China. This will allow them to live the life they want without fear of judgement. 
According to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China, the number of transnational marriage registration (including those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas) has been rising steadily in recent years, in contrast to the domestic marriage registration rate, which is under gradual decline.
The qualities of a middle-aged Chinese woman 
Many foreigners are attracted to the unique traits of Asian women while having their concerns: "I heard that many young Chinese girls treat marriage as a springboard. They leave as soon as they get the green card.” In contrast, they find middle-aged Chinese women with strong family values more appealing.
Middle-aged Chinese women are known to be hardworking, competent, and tenacious. They have strong family values and make it their duty to take care of their families. To the Chinese, a family consists of the couple and their children and their parents, brothers, sisters, and other relatives. Older Chinese women devote themselves to build a harmonious big family. They handle almost all the household chores and have the family matters under their control. Middle-aged Chinese women tend to take charge in making living arrangements for all their family members. 
In addition, traditional Chinese women are willing to share the financial burden and work to improve their family life. If they have the energy and opportunity, they will work to enrich themselves. Many women who live abroad started as enthusiastic buying agents for their Chinese relatives and friends, and their business grew steadily over time.

Source: News.sina.cn

The transnational marriage market  
Nowadays, many women who have found their spouses abroad share their lives on the internet. Their authentic experiences allow more people to have a sense of the lives of ordinary people living overseas. It also encourages many women to open their options and have the courage to search for true love across China’s borders. 
With an increased demand for transnational matchmaking, many intermediaries – both local and aboard, started to provide specialized matchmaking services to seize this business opportunity.
However, more people tend to meet their other half organically through online platforms such as Momo, Soul, WeChat and Tik Tok. Many of these platforms have translation features to overcome the language barrier. As a result, people can use different languages to chat without significant concerns.

Source: kknews.cc
Potential problems in a transnational marriage
When pursuing true love abroad is courageous, there are also many problems that a transnational couple will inevitably face.
  1. The transition from online dating to real life will be tough. Establishing emotional connections online is very different from maintaining a relationship with someone who lives with you in real life. It takes time for both parties to get used to each other's presence.
  2. Language barrier is the biggest obstacle. Most of the Chinese are not good at foreign languages. Learning ability also slows down as individuals age. In short, it costs time and energy to pick up a new language. 
  3. Cultural differences play a part, and therefore couples need to adjust to each other.
  4. The differing political climate may have some influences too. 
Before embarking on a new relationship, figuring out these problems early will help avoid unnecessary arguments and disappointments before it is too late.