There are more than a few western men (and also Chinese men) who are interested in how to flirt with, chat up and pique the interest of Chinese girls using their native tongue. Well gents, I have done my best to collect the best advice from friends on the internet and IRL to give you the low down how to flirt in Chinese (specifically Mandarin). We will be featuring Chinese words and phrases that can be used within reason to approach Chinese women in a respectful, non-threatening (but at the same time bold) way. So if you are ready, let's begin.
No Such Thing As Chinese Pick-Up Lines
Okay, the first thing to know about Chinese pickup lines; is that there really are no such things as Chinese pickup lines. Pickup lines, loosely defined as "conversation starters whereby the speaker tries to interest someone in romance or dating," are a purely western construction. In fact, the very concept of the "pickup line" has probably been oversold so much in the West that most pickup lines are viewed as cheesy and ineffective.
In fact, cheesy and bold one liners like: "你是模特儿吗" (Nǐ shì mótè ér ma - Are you a model?), might elicit confusion or a feeling of unease if the target of your affection has not established a proper repertoire with you initially. In fact, the Chinese have a name for pickup lines or pick up artistry in general: 泡妞术语 (Pàoniū shùyǔ), and it is generally frowned upon.
In truth, western-style pickup lines don't work too well because many Chinese girls (well many other women too, but Chinese girls especially) are raised to believe that all men have ill wills, devious natures or both. You can debate the virtues of this on your own time, but for any potential suitor it means that your average Chinese girl has an almost built-in reflex to reject your advances (especially the particularly bold ones).
In my opinion, this also partially explains to me why many Chinese guys "appear" shy. My Chinese male friends have informed me many times that winning the heart of that "美女" (beautiful girl), may involve weeks of perseverance. So they aren't too hasty to waste effort on just anyone.
Note To Foreigners:
All else being equal, it is helpful to remember than when you are a foreign male (or even a foreign female) in China; you are able to flout the social rules to a certain degree. Just don't get out of hand, it can bite you.
The Art of Simple Flirtation
Instead of pickup lines or "having game"; romance and dating in China is really based on very simple interactions between men and women. People usually meet each other through various means. They date for a while and if they want to get more serious about each other they make that known to family and close friends. And shortly thereafter, marriage is a real possibility.
But let's take a step back. How do these simple interactions work, especially for a foreigner whose Chinese may not be all that great but simply wants to get their foot in the door. Let's see some examples of how to flirt in Chinese.
The introduction is crucial for getting into the good graces of any woman, so let's start there. As a foreigner, pretty much all Chinese women will be expecting you to use English by default. So you can surprise and capture her attention a little bit by introducing yourself in Chinese.
你好! 我叫 (Your name here). 很高兴认识你! - (Nǐ hǎo! Wǒ jiào (XYZ). Hěn gāo xìng rèn shí nǐ!)
Translation: Hello! My name is (your name here). It is very nice to meet you.
See, that wasn't hard. Already half the battle is won. Now you can continue to flirt in Chinese by getting to know her with more direct questions. One fun way to do this (if your a foreigner) is to ask this beautiful stranger if they would like to practice Chinese:
我想和你一起练习我的中文. 可以吗? - (Wǒ xiǎng hé nǐ yīqǐ liànxí wǒ de zhōngwén. Kěyǐ ma?)
Translation: I would like to practice my Chinese with you. Is that okay?
Now its time to let your creativity shine through. You can go in all kinds of directions with this type of conversation. For example:
你在空闲时间喜欢做什么？- (Nǐ zài kòngxián shíjiān xǐhuān zuò shénme?) Translation: What do you like to do in your free time?
Now let's say your deep into your fun conversation. Now's the time to seal the deal and make an attempt to meet up with her at a later time.
你愿意和我出去喝 咖啡/茶 吗? - (Nǐ yuànyì hé wǒ chūqù hē kāfēi / chá ma?)
Translation: Would you like to go out with me for some coffee later?
She may say yes or not depending on a variety of factors, but if she does say yes now you are pretty much clear to get her number.
你的手机号码多少? (Nǐ shì shénme shǒujī hàomǎ Duōshǎo?)
Translation: What is you cell phone number?
And there you have it. A decent approach that could potentially lead you to the girl of your dreams. Good job flirting in Chinese. And you did it without using any Chinese pickup lines. Now let's talk about some tips and pointers
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Tips and Tricks for Flirting in Chinese
Things To Do Pre, During, and Post Date:
- Assuming its the first time you contact her by phone, instead of calling her directly, the safest method of reaching out is by text.
- Instead of saying no directly to your advances, many chinese girls will make subtle excuses as to why they can't give your their number or go out with you. In this case, do not push the issue. She is trying to spare your pride.
- Compliments will go along way. Compliment her on her new hairstyle. Her new jacket. Her new job. Or even her new phone. Trust me on this. It works a lot better than Chinese pick up lines.
Pet Names and Terms of Endearment:
Below are a compilation of Chinese pet names for your girlfriend (or boyfriend) should you ever get that far in your relationship:
宝贝 (bǎobèi) - which is the equivalent of "baby" or "treasure" in English.
傻瓜 (shǎguā) - which is the engilsh equivalent of saying "dummy" if you are in the mood for the innocent teasing.
心肝 (xīngān) - literally it means "heart and liver". It is really a strong term of endearment. The closest things to English would probably be "darling" or "my heart and soul".
Well I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Chinese pickup lines (chat up lines) and how useless they actually are. You are much better off approaching Chinese women naturally and confidently. Don't come on too aggressively (especially in social situations) because it could be off-putting. Don't forget to notice the special things about her and compliment them. Just let your creative, funny and agreeable nature shine through and you should have no trouble.
Lastly, as a fun little gesture, a little bit above this paragraph I have included a video on the humorous use of Chinese pick up lines done by 3 Canadian girls. Enjoy!