China youth embrace independent approach to dating – ‘suicidal singleness’ and ‘single love’ – to avoid risks of romance

Explainer | China youth embrace independent approach to dating – ‘suicidal singleness’ and ‘single love’ – to avoid risks of romance

Young people in China are increasingly adopting new approaches to dating and relationships, largely due to societal changes and how they impact life for the individual.

One of these is what has become known as the “single love” strategy.

Its adherents believe that the spiritual and financial independence of an individual is more important, and practical, than wasting time on emotion-charged issues shaped by traditional notions of romance and love.

In other words, look after yourself and the rest will take care of itself.

This attitude has echoes of another approach known as “suicidal singleness”, in which people do not date and remain alone even when they have feelings for someone.

These stand-offish takes on romantic involvement could go some way to explaining China’s growing population of single people, which hit a record 239 million in 2021.

Growing numbers of young people in China are rejecting traditional notions about relationships. Photo: Weixin

The average age for a first marriage has also risen since 2010.

Here, the Post delves into the notions of “single love” and “suicidal singleness”.

Single love

After two years together, first loves Momo and Chen from Shenzhen in Guangdong province, southern China, are more like acquaintances than girlfriend and boyfriend.

They live in different districts and meet once or twice a week when they go Dutch on dates. Their chat messages are formal as they find flirting “disgusting”.

They rarely get excited about their relationship and they seldom argue.

Momo said she enjoys Chen’s company, but values her independence and freedom.

In China, such a relationship is known as “single love”.

This means rather than sacrificing things for their partners, an increasing number of young Chinese have decided to put their own feelings first.

They have disdain for “love brain”, a condition that describes those who allow their emotions to overwhelm them.

“Those who believes in ‘till death us do part’ are fools,” Momo said.

Suicidal singleness

People who adhere to the somewhat clumsily termed “suicidal singleness” approach to relationships may claim to have a commitment to remain single, but they appear to have a deep desire for romantic love.

Individual independence is a cornerstone of the new ideas about dating and relationships. Photo: Weixin

In their fantasies, they picture the moment they fall in love, and countless other romantic scenarios.

But they only allow these notions to happen in their heads, and will do nothing to make them a reality.

“What can be more fun than playing with my phone?” one such adherent said.

They also believe that if they need to work hard to find or keep a relationship, then it is not for them.

A website specialising in psychology, Jiandanxinli, explained that the burnout young people feel as a result of work stress has exhausted their desire for relationships.

They fear a failed relationship might damage their mental health, so they would rather stay in their comfort zone.



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