Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

This is the weekly Amplify newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Amplify and all Globe newsletters here.

iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Twenty-five is a magical age for many single women from Asia. In my experience, and that of many I know, that’s about the time we start to think that maybe we should look for a partner and settle down. Or, we brace for the alternative: the immense pressure from our families to get married.

Yes, it’s 2019. Yet, many women born and raised in Asia still can’t shake this traditional, family-oriented social expectation. Myself included.

Story continues below advertisement

I’m Xiao Xu, a reporter at The Globe and Mail. After I turned 25, my mom, who lives in China, would ask me the same question almost every time we spoke: “Are you dating anyone?”

If my answer was a truthful “no,” then my mom would come up with 10 other questions: “Why? Life is too busy? Is there no good guy around? What are you busy with every day?”

So I adopted a strategy: I’d either ignore her initial question or sneakily change the subject. But she soon levelled up her tactics as well. She shot trickier questions that were hard to predict:

Mom: “What are you doing now?”

Me: “Having dinner with my friends.”

Mom: “Any guy friends?”

Me: “…”

Story continues below advertisement

When this ploy hit a dead end, she turned passive aggressive, sending me pictures of her hanging out with my cousins’ kids, later murmuring on the phone: how I wish to have my own grandchildren.

Last year, my father, who used to be reluctant to even acknowledge that his daughter might be interested in dating, joined my mom’s camp, asking me all sorts of questions about why I‘m single. That’s when I realized: the pressure is on.

My mom and I are very close, and I know she asked these questions out of love. But they weren’t exactly bringing out feelings of affection in me. Instead, they just made my blood boil. They were like constant commentary that I won’t be complete until I’m married with children.

While that’s a notion I don’t agree with, at least some part of me can understand where her concern (and that of other parents, some far pushier) is coming from.

Chinese state-run media says the country’s marriage rate was 7.2 per cent last year, hitting an 11-year low. The number is even lower in more developed regions such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong. And according to the country’s 2015 census, 27 per cent of women between 25 and 29 were unmarried, compared to less than 5 per cent in their mother’s generation.

All those unmarried women are getting people’s attention – even earning their own (truly wicked) moniker: “sheng nu,” which translates to“leftover women.”

Story continues below advertisement

It’s also worth pointing out that China now faces a huge gender imbalance, with men outnumbering women by about 34 million. So why are there still so many unmarried women? One reason explored by American journalist Roseann Lake, the author of Leftover in China, is that a large number of these single women are highly-educated urban professionals. But in traditional Chinese culture, guys usually “marry down” – preferring women who are less successful than they are.

And today, women are more selective too, since more and more of us no longer see marriage as a must.

I recently met one such woman. Let’s call her Rosie.

Rosie, from Vietnam, now studies logistics at a college in Vancouver. Working and living in Canada had long been her dream, so a few months ago, the 28 year old left a stable job and a four-year relationship behind, settling down on the other side of the Pacific. But Rosie’s boyfriend, who has a career in Vietnam, was not willing to set off with her. She chose to chase her dream anyway. “I consider career much more important than marriage," she told me.

I see myself in Rosie in some ways, but I’m not sure I could have been so courageous.

A few months ago, my mom and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I told her the truth – that although I’m not dating anyone, I do want to start a family some day. But I’m waiting for the right person. I’m not settling. I borrowed a line from a friend of mine, and so far, it seems to have convinced my mom. “I’m going to spend the next 40 years with this man. Do you still want me to rush it?” She hasn’t nagged since then.

Story continues below advertisement

But, honestly, if I never meet my so-called Mr. Right, then I will learn to embrace that too – because I don’t believe that marriage and family are always meant to be.

So I want to thank Rosie, and all the other Rosies out there, for embracing their singledom and tearing down that social stigma. Thank you for setting inspiring examples for young Asian women like me.

Inspired by something in this newsletter? If so, we hope you’ll amplify it by passing it on. And if there’s something we should know, or feedback you’d like to share, send us an e-mail at

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies