In real life, we are offered our choices of partners; we narrow them down and pick the most suitable based on our preferences, our needs, our dreams. If the relationship does not work with a particular partner, we repeat the process of selection. With online dating, the process is pretty much the same, except that the practice of selection and elimination is more overt, organized, and widely recognized as acceptable, even prudent. Just as it is in real life, women and men alike are put on and taken off “lists” by interested or uninterested individuals on dating sites. At what point, however, does such a practice of “maintaining” a list of potential partners become unacceptable?
As they say, to each his/her own. What may be acceptable to one, may not be acceptable to another. In the Chinese online dating setup, different cultural influences play a significant role in how a foreign man considers his actions acceptable and how a Chinese woman judges the same actions as unacceptable. Gender differences also come into play, as well as personal ethics and beliefs independent of one’s cultural background. Take being on a list, for example.
A foreign man, given his western background, may not see anything wrong with maintaining a list of potential partners with whom he communicates regularly online over, more or less, the same time period, and with whom he explores the possibility of taking the “relationship” to the next level, which is meeting in person and perhaps committing to a long-term, monogamous relationship. His culture may greatly influence his ethics and beliefs and he may honestly think that the means by which he goes about his quest for a Chinese wife is sensible and acceptable. The fact that he is a guy may or may not make him sensitive to how a China woman would feel about being on a short list of potential partners.
There are also some men whose personal ethics and beliefs are not greatly influenced by their cultural background and may feel that online dating should still be a monogamous affair even before the two have yet to meet each other in person. Being male may not have anything to do with their more romantic and hopeful approach toward their quest.
From the point of view of a China lady, whose attitudes and behaviors are still traditional and greatly influenced by her culture, being put on a short list may be taken as a sign of dishonesty and disrespect. Cultural influences may also make it harder for her to understand the practical nature of the behavior. Being a woman, and given that gender discrimination have always been a serious problem in Chinese society for millennia, she may be very sensitive about and feel strongly against such treatment.
At the same time, there are more westernized Chinese women who may be more understanding of the motivations behind such a practice of elimination and selection, especially when the foreign man has been honest about it from the very beginning. Being a woman, despite the unfair treatment of women in their society and despite her traditional upbringing, may not have anything to do with her open-mindedness.
How can such differences be reconciled? The key factor would be honesty from both the foreign man and the China woman. Whether or not either one of them would offer their honest feelings about being in an exclusive online relationship or being on/having a short list would be up to them. When asked about it, however, both should be honest about what they consider acceptable and unacceptable. If they are not on the same page, then they can cross each other off their respective lists (real or theoretical) and move on with their selection process. At the least, they were able to eliminate a person with whom they wouldn’t have had any real future before they started investing time and emotions on each other.