Yahoo won't let me respond to your most recent post, so I'm responding to this one.
I went with a Chinese friend to a foot massage place once, and I literally had trouble walking for days afterwards. The massage itself was so painful, and it wasn't the sort of "good pain" that accompanies some massages. It felt like it was causing nerve damage, and when I asked the girl doing it whether she could be a bit softer, she just giggled and then bit off my big toe.
I've given up having serious relationships with mainland Chinese girls. Whenever I have a relationship with a Chinese girl and think the relationship might go in the bf-gf direction, I always explicitly state this, no matter what. The Chinese conception of monogamy is basically incompatible with the western (or US, at least) conception of it. In the US, if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend or you're married, for the majority of people, it's not OK to continue going out with members of the opposite sex, and other forms of interaction (i.e., phone, internet) are seriously curtailed, generally being limited to work-related and school-related interactions or group activities in which both spouses are involved. If some guy calls your girlfriend or wife every other day just to chat, if people don't label it as "cheating," they at least regard it as something not to be done and something that could very well end the relationship. Ditto for dinner dates, going to see movies, browsing for new male friends online, taking trips to nearby cities, etc. In China, if you mention that these things are no-nos to most people in your country, they (Chinese people) won't even believe you; these things are just what all "normal" people do in China. The other thing that bothers me is the very high marital infidelity rate in mainland China. In the US, there's a large-scale social survey that is conducted each year (associated with the University of Chicago, I think). The survey covers lots of topics, including infidelity. One of the questions that's always asked of married individuals is whether they've had a sex partner other than their spouse during the last 12 months. For males in the US, the figure is always around 4%; for females, it's between 1% and 2%. In 2005, this same survey group (along with some Chinese colleagues) looked at various cities in mainland China (mostly mid-sized cities). For the Chinese men, the figure was 20.6%. For the Chinese women, it was 3.9% (i.e., Chinese women are equivalent to American men when it comes to cheating). So, you're unlikely to land a sexually faithful mainland Chinese spouse, and even if you do, you never know when she is going to exercise her right to go take a week-long trip to city X with "John."
Sigh ... I think I just vented. I've been in China for way too long.
GV, this is a reply to your post. I can't reply to it directly because of Yahoo's limit on the number of discussion thread branches, so I've simply replied to my own post here.
I've seen a couple of articles and news broadcasts about infidelity while in China, but they really weren't instrumental in the formation of my view regarding infidelity in China. My view stems from the University of Chicago study that I previously mentioned, a couple of other non-Chinese studies, my personal experience in China, and the stories relayed to me by other foreigners living in China.
Regarding the Chinese studies being skewed toward relatively wealthier individuals, I don't doubt that to be the case. Their methods of contacting study participants likely exclude the majority of Chinese citizens. In the case of the University of Chicago study, one can't really claim it took a truly representative sample of the Chinese population; instead, it "aimed for the middle," avoiding the both the biggest cities and the most rural areas.
Using the "sex with a non-spousal person within the last 12 months" measure of infidelity, most western countries are not too far apart. You mentioned the French. It's true that the French do tend to express relatively "open" views regarding infidelity, but when studies look at their actual behavior, their infidelity rate is on par with those of other western nations.
Culturally, I'm not sure which other country China is like; China is like China. However, high infidelity rates have also been found in some southeast Asian countries, so perhaps there are some common threads among these countries that explain this phenomenon. I do remember seeing a US study that attempted to analyze the factors contributing to the high infidelity rate in mainland China. According to the statistical analysis performed in that study, almost half of the infidelity (committed by men) took place at brothels (massage parlors and barber shops), so obviously the ubiquity of these places in China is a big factor. Another big factor indicated by the study was income disparity. There's a seemingly never-ending supply of poor individuals from the countryside migrating to the big cities. Among them are young girls who are willing to serve as mistresses for rich businessmen in exchange for financial and material support. Another factor is the permissiveness toward interactions with members of the opposite sex; obviously if it's generally regarded as socially acceptable for one's spouse to meet privately with opposite-sex friends for purposes unrelated to work and school, then more situations will arise in which infidelity can occur. The study mentioned a few other important factors, but I can't recall them at the moment.
This is some general comments with no attempt at cohesiveness.
The heart wants what the heart wants. Saying never in the affairs of the heart is as prudent as saying the market will never change.
Chinese foot massages hurt big time but after the pain, your feet are at a new place. You do it over and over you get the benefit without the cost. Chinese foot massage girls love to giggle
Surveys are a bad way to run one’s life. People do not tell the truth taking surveys. Americans are inhibited by a Judeo-Christian history while Chinese are influenced by a Maoist empowerment of women in the hegemonic struggle against the male historic block. Generally, my experience in life is people cheat on each other. When I was much younger, after being cheating on so many times, I cheated on a girlfriend as sort of a relationship first strike. She never found out. It did nothing for me so I never did it again. I just changed my attitude. I assume now when entering a relationship the woman will cheat on me at some point. For me, it works out better.
Having a girlfriend on the side, in one strata of the economic ladder in China is a badge of membership. The Chinese say something along the lines a wife is for family a girlfriend is for love?
Li, I am from China as well, and I may not leave China as long as you do. Here is my comment: Lots of this cheating culture is somewhat exaggerated because of the Internet, i.e. online forums, micro blogs, etc. Surveys conducted in China are also extremely skewed to groups that have relatively higher wealth. These men have more chances to have affairs. However, I would not say the infidelity rate in China is lower than the US. I would say somewhere between the US and France. Somehow, cultural wise, China is more like France than the US. What do you think?