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Lust in Translation

Dear Natasha,

I used to think online dating was for losers who can’t meet people the “normal” ways through friends or sports. But… I’m impatient. So, bring on the online dating! Which sites should I use? How can I get some attention?


Tired of Double-clicking My Own Mouse

Dear Tired,

Welcome to reality, hon. Meeting people live, in-person, by coincidence works in small towns and brothels. Is that what you want? Something cheap as pork bun? Bu yao. Cast a wide net. 

There are several sites that can help you land a man in the Middle Kingdom. If you really know your putonghua and want to get out of the expat rut, hit If you’re in the English-language dating circle, SmartShanghai’s dating service is a popular option. It’s free, regulated and last time I checked (just before going to press) SmSh Dating had 10,947 users. They may well be boasting over 11,000 hot, hot bodies waiting for discovery by now. Yum!

That’s a pretty strong number, considering SmartShanghai vets profiles. They eliminate suspicious users during the sign-up phase, and double-check accepted profiles when users add photos. Scams and spam: out! People who post cartoon images instead of real pictures: buh-bye!

Runner-up prize goes to They have a decent “pool”, haha. A search for Men Seeking Women in Shanghai yielded “600+”. The list stopped at 40 pages.

If you’re in the mood for no-obligations flirtations, Craigslist may be your yellow brick road to a Wonderful Wizard of Sex. Be ready for dirty ads, but don’t let them get you down. (I’ve never seen the word “fagina” so many times! WTF.)

Between four and ten people post ads on Craigslist in major Chinese cities each day. Occasionally you’ll find a hot, rich dude looking for a pretty lady to sit on his yacht (no innuendo intended). I’ve also noticed guys seeking arm candy for company functions. That’s right. Insta-network and free shrimp in a nice hotel. You could do worse.

Once you’ve selected your one-stop shop for man meat, it’s time to make a titillating profile!

The Rules of Photo-Shopping:

Win ‘em with: one good close-up of your smiling face, one full-body shot so we can see whether you really deserve to select “athletic” in the body types list. Everyone says they’re “average” or “athletic” and everyone says they like to travel. Bullsh*t. Prove yourself

In your photo, there should be: No exes. No raucous drunken misadventures. No sunglasses. No hot friends. Keep the focus on you.

Guys, no flexing your pecs, and girls, don’t visibly* squish your boobs together. (*Get your bra to do the squeeze-n-tease. You want him to think your bosom is as natural, big as the space between ice ages and effortlessly well-arranged.)

Most importantly, try to look like you have a life. No bathroom mirror self-photography. That sends a clear message: I’m a friendless and boring as a dead horse. Worse, potential dates will infer that you’re desperate and your lady-parts are dusty. Look like you air yourself out once in a while.

Reel ‘em in with Words: Profiles and Emails

Your want an alias that says: “I’m a healthy, only moderately alcohol-soaked creature with a sense of humour and a penchant for supernaturally fulfilling intercourse.” In three words or less. Finding the balance between humour and sexiness can be hard. Worst names I’ve seen: Fanny4U, WarmBodyWanted, Scottydangles, Gunlover007, and Cavegoat. What message are you sending? Think about it.

In your profile, drop hints about what you want to do on a date and then shut the F up. It’s simple. Leave the mystery. That goes for guys, too. Nothing turns me off more immediately and completely than faux-charm."My hobbies: tennis, wine tastings and looking into your eyes ;-)" Ugh.

So now that you’ve mustered the courage, Photoshopped those zits off your nose and added extra shading around your boobs to create alluring spherical sex… your profile is up. What can you expect?

Well, there is a big gender imbalance. On SmartShanghai’s “looking for dating / relationships” category there are 5,327 women to only 2,523 men. Ouch. Looking at the "most popular" members page also serves to confirm stereotypes about life in China. The most popular members are beautiful Asian women. The most common searchers: Caucasian males.

Don't be discouraged, expatriate ladies. Those numbers are probably skewed by guys who are just looking for the sake of looking. During lulls at work, what would you rather do: play Tetris or get mildly aroused? Yeah. You’re human. Admit it. You voted for “aroused” just there.



Have you got a question for Natasha? To have your relationship conundrums solved, email [email protected] 


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