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Vietnamese Dating Culture

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Vietnamese Dating Culture

Online Dating Dos & Don'ts

Vietnamese Dating Etiquette and Customs

Vietnamese dating customs have historically been centered around class and tradition. In Vietnam, dating is considered an adolescent issue. Traditionally, Vietnamese males and females are not allowed to date. Women of Vietnam are ordinarily non-assertive and are raised to be quiet and dainty. They simply grew up in their family until age 18 to 20. Youths who have affections for one another may carry their relationship in secrecy, but eventually, and dutifully, yield to their parents' wills. Dating is believed to undermine traditions, encouraging sons and daughters to defy their parents' wishes and thus bringing shame to their family.  Public displays of affection by couples, including holding hands, touching, kissing, are still considered impolite and must be done privately. When going out to dinner, movies, and other social events, the man usually pays all the expenses, in addition to buying gifts and flowers.  His date does not. By accepting his gifts and flowers, she is officially accepting his love. But however deep her love, she is expected to remain a virgin until they are married. Females in Vietnam are more withdrawn and shy and usually do not make the first move in starting a relationship. If a young man finds someone he likes, he must formally introduce himself to her family and seek their approval before he can date her.  This usually requires him to meet with her parents and family members in their house several times. After several regular visits, when he has gotten to know her family, he may finally ask her parents for permission to date her. As of 2009, many of these traditions of dating etiquette are still practiced but expectations vary from family to family due to changes in the country. Expressing proper etiquette when trying to date in Vietnam is necessary to avoid offending the family of the person you are courting.

    First Impressions

  1. Making a positive first impression on a Vietnamese woman is important, and expressing a lasting interest in her is necessary because Vietnamese women do not ordinarily date without the goal of marriage. Let your intentions be known by asking her for the chance to meet her parents. Gaining their permission to date their daughter is a traditional and respectful way of getting a Vietnamese girl to date you. Take your time, and bring gifts of wine or flowers to the girl's family to further gain their acceptance, as it is customary for a man to participate in activities with the parents multiple times before asking the woman out on an official date. Dating a Vietnamese man requires patience, virtue and class. Initiating a date as a woman is often frowned upon in Vietnamese culture, and therefore the proper etiquette would be to wait for the man to approach you. Coming on to a man is a sign of an "easy" woman in this Asian tradition and speaking loudly is also looked down upon.
  2. Courtship

  3. Making the first date is an important step in Vietnamese courting tradition, and proper etiquette denotes that the man is supposed to initiate and plan the date. Taking a Vietnamese woman to a movie on a first date is traditionally unacceptable and is a cultural sign of an immoral woman. A traditional first date of a walk in a park or cup of coffee is a low-key and respectful way of initiating a relationship in Vietnam. Keep the first date at a platonic level, because the first date in Vietnamese culture is often a date accompanied by mutual friends. Avoid initiating physical contact whether you are a man or a woman, because Vietnamese culture looks down on premarital affection and public displays of affection. Playing hard-to-get is a tradition of Vietnamese women, and it is expected they do not show immediate interest in the man they are dating, to assure that his feelings are moral.
  4. Making It Official

  5. Courting a Vietnamese girl is much like courting her entire family, according to an ages-old tacit rule, and it is important to date discreetly for several weeks or even months before coming public with your intentions to marry. Asking permission in addition to presenting a gift to her parents is necessary to continue the relationship in Asian culture. Avoiding the girl's parents is considered a great act of disrespect and can result in losing a relationship. Arranged marriage is rarely practiced in modern Vietnam as of 2009, but it is still a tradition in some families. Waiting too long to express your intentions, as a man, can result in missing out in this type of situation. Vietnamese women are expected to remain silent when it comes to arranging a marriage between her suitor and herself, whether it is a prearranged marriage or a result of a mutual courtship.

Vietnamese Courtship Customs - Courting an Asian

Courting is far more indirect in Vietnamese culture than in most Western societies. Vietnamese relationships pass in several stages, usually lasting for a long period of time. An engagement, for example, often lasts for several years and as far as marriage is concerned, it is viewed as a lifetime commitment.

The Friendly Beginning

Often the starting point of a relationship is a friendly date. The couple will go out together in public places as friends only and will be accompanied by other friends. During this stage of courting there will be no public displays of affection, the man has to be discreet and friendly or he will be accused of being too arrogant. It is too early for kissing or holding hands at this point.

Discreet Vietnamese Dating

That is the second stage of Vietnamese courtship and now couples may go out together without the company of their friends. Again, the keyword here is “discreetly”.

Vietnamese women cannot afford to be fast, they are expected to be pakipot (hard to get) because it is seen as an appropriate behavior when they are courted. A Vietnamese girl never shows her admirer that she is also in love with him immediately.

Playing hard to get is one way by which the Asian can measure the sincerity of the man interested in her. It also lets her show the man that he has to work hard to win her love. Some courtships may last for years before the woman accepts her admirer’s love and they become magkasintahan, a term for boyfriend-girlfriend.

Taking the Relationship Public

After some time the couple may decide to come out in the open about their romance. At this time they will inform their family and friends about their relationship. Every man who wants to be taken seriously by a Asian is obliged to visit her family and introduce himself formally to her parents. It is rather inappropriate to court a Vietnamese girl and formalize the relationship without informing the girl’s parents.

There is a tacit rule here that says: “When courting the Asian you are not courting just her, you are courting the entire family”. Following this rule will help you earn her respect by entrusting her family with high regard.

There are certain traditions that have to be observed when visiting the asian’s family. For example, if the man wants to be acceptable to the girl’s family, he has to give small gifts (pasalubong) every time he drops by her family's house. If you have any questions regarding which traditions you should observe, you may discuss them with the older siblings.

Engagement and Marriage

After being a couple with your Asian for quite a time and decide to get married, the first thing you should do is pamanhikan (ask the girl’s parents for her hand). More about this tradition and those following it you can find in our article “Vietnamese Wedding Customs”.


When courting a Vietnamese woman you will find that she is shy and reserved even when holding great feelings for you. This is a part of her culture and even for a Western man there is no way around that. You should treat your Asian with respect, lead the courtship with your heart and you may find a lifetime partner that will enrich your life as you have never imagined.

Understanding the "True asian" Culture

Vietnamese Families

A romantic relationship with a Asian has a better chance of success if you understand her culture. Asian women live in a culture focused on the community, with the family as the core social unit. Here faithfulness to the family is a tradition.

In the Vietnams, it is important to meet a woman’s family because the family is so important to her. If a man wants to be taken seriously by a woman, he has to visit the latter's family and introduce himself formally to the parents of the girl. It is rather inappropriate to court a woman and formalize the relationship without informing the parents of the girl.

Vietnamese children are committed to their parents who usually went through a lot to raise them. Their desire is to make their parents' life easier. If you are capable and refuse to help support her family who may need help, she may not say anything, but she will neither respect you nor understand. Sometimes the family is more important than you. There is an Asia saying, that is accepted in the Vietnams, "You can get another wife or husband but not another mother or father" . This family loyalty is also apparent in the fact that Vietnamese families keep elderly (such as grandparents) instead of sending them to any institution.

Vietnamese and asians are communal, interdependent people, not dependent, like in western cultures. They are so by choice and because of their cultural needs. When you marry one you marry the family at least the mother and the father, the siblings too usually. That is trite, indeed, but true. If you can't deal with that let it be known from the start of your relationship with your Asian. If she is a "true asian", the relationship may not develop. If it does she may not be happy in it, but you will never know.

Asian Sexuality

Sexuality in the Vietnams is distinguished by a double standard that expects women to remain virgins until marriage while men are allowed to enjoy sexual freedom. Young women who lose their virginity before marriage, whether through rape or in a relationship, diminish their chances for a "good" marriage, while young men can "sow wild oats" with abandon and be even admired for being so "manly".

In the Vietnams Virginity is sacred. The culture and the family lets the girl know it is her responsibility to keep her virginity as soon as they are old enough to understand what virginity is. Vietnamese men are reluctant to marry a non-virgin even if they are the one who took the virginity! Vietnamese woman may not even be forgiven if she is raped. Yes, this is extremely unfair but that is the way it is and the Asian girls know it.

Love, Romance and Marriage

As far as courting is concerned, Asians are expected to be pakipot (playing hard to get) because it is seen as an appropriate behavior in a courtship dance. It is also one way by which the Asian will be able to measure the sincerity of her admirer.

In order to legalize sexual relations or to avoid the stigma of becoming "old maids" young Vietnamese women feel pressured into early marriages. Unlike women, young men, on the other hand, are allowed to express their sexuality freely, and are sometimes initiated by fathers who take their sons to brothels for sexual intercourse with women.

Traditionally, in Asian families the husband is expected to be the main breadwinner, chiefly responsible for the financial sustenance of the family, and the wife is "queen of the home". Vietnamese ladies equate domestic responsibility with being a good wife. They put their family first and they are more willing to sacrifice their career than their family.

There is no divorce in the Vietnams. Vietnamese couples have only three ways to change the status of their marriage: legal separation, declaration of nullity, and annulment. Legal separation allows spouses to live separately but they may not remarry. Declaration of nullity presupposes that the marriage is void from the beginning and the court declares its non-existence. Annulment legally cancels the marriage and both spouses are restored to their single status.

 

 
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