International love

Dating culture from international students' home countries


Love is a universal language, but everyone views and forms relationships in different ways. UB’s international student body represents more than 110 countries, each with its own dating culture.

Many Asian countries have traditions and values when it comes to dating, marriage and sex and more often than not, domestic students have misconceptions about how international students date. In some cases, Western views have influenced countries to move toward more progressive dating mores, while others countries hold onto traditional values around sex and dating.

Tinder, Bumble and Grindr have made it easier for young people to connect with potential partners looking for a quick hookup. But in China, that’s not the case.

Borui Zhu, a senior geographic information science major, and Xiangrui Peng, a junior business administration major, have dated for four years. They met in class during their senior year of high school and traveled to Buffalo together for college.

They’re both from China’s southwestern province Yunnan and compared to people in their hometowns, both said Americans have looser dating habits.

“Some of my friends have sex before they’re dating someone, but I don’t like that,” Peng said. “Borui’s my boyfriend and we’ve been together a long time, so I have sex with him. … Many people think Chinese people don’t like sex, but that’s not the case. We’re just selective.”

Tinder, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is censored by the government and can’t be used without a virtual private network. This has stopped the wave of online dating from coming to big cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai.

Peng said this has helped Chinese people follow the more traditional route of committing to a long-term relationship. The other reason why Chinese people prefer to date long-term instead of hooking up can be traced to strict parents with more traditional views.

Xuening Kong, a master’s student in the history department, studies Asian history. She discussed the trends of dating throughout the ‘80s until today and said Chinese parents aren’t as open and understanding as American parents.

“Chinese parents’ traditional mindset is troublesome because they can’t distinguish between dating and getting married,” Kong said. “Parents think that whoever you date will 90 percent be your husband or wife.”

In Japan, hookups are an integral part of the hustle of Tokyo’s nightlife. Hooking up with a random partner is still somewhat socially unacceptable, so many young Japanese people keep their love lives private from friends and social media.

Elle Machimoto, a junior physics major from Fukuoka, Japan, said that one of the biggest differences she’s noticed is how open Americans are about hooking up with one another.

“My roommate here at UB always brings her boyfriend to our room to spend the night or have sex, which would never happen in Japan,” Machimoto said. “Unlike dorms in America, Japanese dorms have single-sex floors which prohibit students and visitors of the other sex from entering. It’s really hard to try and [bring someone home] at Japanese schools.”

Machimoto said dating apps are starting to become popular in big cities like Tokyo. However, she’s skeptical of the boys who use Tinder, who often times take advantage of international women looking to hook up.

“Japanese people do use Tinder, but very quietly. If I find out a friend is using Tinder, it’s a total shock,” Machimoto said.

Indian students have noticed an increase in the use of dating apps to hookup in big cities where there is a dense population of young singles.

Devashish Agarwal, a senior computer science major, said India is conforming to America’s dating culture. American dating apps are becoming more popular for young Indian people, and the traditional views on dating are becoming blurred.

“Dating in India is getting very similar to the American style,” Agarwal said. “In big cities like Bombay and Delhi, Tinder is being used frequently. Young Indians are going out and getting drunk more often, going to house parties. It’s all getting Americanized.”

In China, many view dating as a long-term commitment, according to Kong. Once Chinese people do start dating, they’re much older than Americans and don’t have the same kind of experience, Kong said. Many Chinese people don’t know the usual stages of dating like in America and jump straight to commitment.

“In America, when you start dating you fool around for a bit, then you date, and eventually get engaged then married,” Kong said. “The trend we’ve seen in Chinese teenagers is that at the beginning of their dating it’s very easy to say ‘I love you’ and jump straight to the mindset that their relationship is going to last for a long time.”

Similar to the viewpoint of the Chinese, Japanese people value commitment from their partners and need to feel confident that their partner is in it for the long haul.

For Machimoto, the biggest difference between Japanese and American dating is public displays of affection towards a partner. Japanese people tend to keep their relationships private and won’t display affection in public.

“American couples are open. I see couples making out on campus or snuggling on library benches, but we don’t behave like that,” Machimoto said.

India falls somewhere in between China and America’s dating scene.

Agarwal said one of the biggest misconceptions about Indian dating is all marriages are arranged. While arranged marriages do exist, Agarwal said Indians are transitioning into a more liberal form of dating.

“Unless you have an orthodox family in a small town it’s never arranged anymore,” Agarwal said. “It’s refreshing that the majority of Indians are moving away from that ideal. I have a girlfriend, but if I was single, my parents would be fine with me dating in America.”

Max Kalnitz is a news editor and can be reached at