I don’t have a “996” work-life balance and I still can’t find a partner
Across social media over the past month was a viral video of a man in Hangzhou rushing home on his bike late at night to give his keys to his girlfriend. Police stopped him for cycling haphazardly all over the road. He ended up having an emotional breakdown because all he wanted was to deliver the keys and get back to work.
This video is the embodiment of the “996” culture in China. In China, “996” refers to a 9 am to 9 pm workday that lasts 6 days a week. The schedule is mandatory, doesn’t include overtime or bonus pay and is becoming the norm for tech companies in China.
“I’m already on 996, how am I supposed to find a partner?” It’s true. Who has the energy for dates when you can’t even find the time to rest? Who even wants to buy a house when you spend so little time in it?
Does that mean in America, where work-life balance is highly valued, it’s easier for Chinese singles to find a partner?
Statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in regards to the Chinese population here in America state that there are currently around 5 million Chinese living in America. Among Chinese singles, 25.5% of them have been single for less than a year, 18.1% have been single between 1 to 2 years, and 56.4% of them have been single for more than 2 years.
So, for Chinese singles, what are the difficulties between finding a partner in America compared to one in China?
Chinese populations vary by city
In North America, the cities that are heavily populated by Chinese are New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Less Chinese people live in areas with a smaller population.
Coming to America, Chinese citizens have to take into consideration opportunities, cost of living and so on. Obviously, cities with a large Chinese population is ideal but cost of living and expenses tend to be higher.
To make matters worse, many Chinese who are in research roles live in less populated cities. With their main focus being research and career advancement, coupled with the fact that they are living in a less densely populated area, their partner only includes themselves and their research.
2RedBeans senior matchmaker Bessie says that in America, there is an increasing number of Chinese holding doctorates using 2RedBeans’ matchmaking services. For one, they trust professionals more than they would themselves in online dating. Second, they prefer more help because most of their time is devoted to their research. Still, the main problem they have is the small populations in the cities they live in.
In larger cities, the gender imbalance in the Chinese population is a greater cause for concern. From the report released last August by 2RedBeans, we can see that there are a lot more unwed men than women in the Bay Area and Seattle. The opposite is true for the East Coast where there were more unwed women than men.
When social circles don’t help you meet new people
Overseas Chinese in America have small social circles. Many members of 2RedBeans have said that other than the friends they made in school here in America, their other friends are those they met back in middle school and high school in China. Meanwhile, social activities are scarce so they end up with more acquaintances than friends.
Social circles are ineffective. Especially when people are prone to leave. Take Miss A for example. She moved from Texas to New York after graduation while some of her friends moved back to China and others relocated all over America. After living in New York for around 3 years, even the friends she made there began leaving the country because of family or expired visas. Staying in New York, Miss A finds it harder and harder to gather the energy to meet anyone new.
Uncertainty and worry for young adults
To many overseas Chinese in America, obtaining a visa is still their biggest worry. They frantically look for jobs after graduation hoping they win the visa lottery. Then they worry about their green card application status after getting their work visa. With so much uncertainty in their lives, they don’t feel settled enough to even start a relationship with others.
There are even more worries than this. One member told our 2RedBeans’ Matchmaker that while she still wants to experience love, the people she’s dating just want to talk about marriage. For some, marriage is the end goal at this stage of their life. When dating someone, how and when they should talk about their plans for marriage becomes an obstacle for them. In more extreme cases, some are getting anxious because they’re close to filing their I-485 to become eligible for permanent residency but they’ve yet to find someone to marry to file the form together with. With all this to think about, it’s no wonder that many are growing tired of so-called “relationships”.
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