Baihe started out as a networking site called “Hey You” but transformed into a dating site after executives realized that the most active users were young singles.Despite the common stereotype of dating apps being used for casual hookups, these apps are typically used by people who are looking for lasting connections. 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.

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Sick of unsuccessful blind dates set up by her parents and unable to stand the social scrutiny of meeting potential dates at bars in her city, Zhou registered on Jiayuan, a Chinese dating website.

The site is typically used by young singles between 24 and 35 and is commonly viewed as a tool for seeking long-term relationships and possibly marriage.

The New Marriage Law of 1950 was a radical change that replaced traditional arranged marriages by permitting divorces and requiring that both parties consent to the marriage.

The 1980 Second Marriage Law further enhanced marriage freedom and gender equality in China by protecting women’s interests in domestic violence and divorce.

In addition to these laws, China’s Open Door Policy of 1978, which began to expose Chinese to outside cultural influences, further destabilized traditional customs.

More young Chinese took the initiative, many driven by romantic love, to seek potential spouses in their circles through school, work, social gatherings or mutual friends.

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.

Compatibility expert James Houran, says, “American culture emphasizes individuality whereas Chinese culture places more importance on the community as a collective.

Matchmaking is a long-standing cultural practice in China.