Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change and Development


This paper attempts to research urban youth’s attitudes and behaviors concerning everything having to do with dating (the process, PDA, typical dating spots and behavior) and opinions towards “hot issues” in contemporary, Vietnam such as pre-marital sex and co-habitation. My research question focuses on what the term “dating” means among youth in urban Vietnam, and the various influences that affect youth’s dating and sexual lives. Through an extensive literature review, I learned that there is an overall lack of information and discussion about sex in Vietnam. There is also a general idea that from parents, the government, and school that youth are “not supposed” to have sex.

Through focus groups, interviews, and an anonymous online questionnaire I attempt to discover if youth dating behavior matches the youth attitudes I have read in my literature review. I was surprised to see that the sexual behaviors reported in the online questionnaire differed from those reported in previous articles and in my own interviews. I found some differences regarding the findings of previous research, which are stated in my conclusion, but ultimately agreed with the established idea that sex among youth is “not supposed” to happen. However, there is a constant influx of foreign movies, advertisements, and web pages advocating sex –causing confusion among Vietnamese youth regarding how to fit this new world of sexuality into an old world of tradition.

I ultimately conclude that in order handle various influences from society and media, youth must communicate amongst each other. They will be surprised to learn that they share similar sexual attitudes and concern. I also conclude that sex must be talked about and understood in Vietnamese society at large (the government, schools, and parents) to create an open and comfortable atmosphere for youth to learn about sex from trusted sources, rather than relying on foreign websites and friends’ experiences.


Asian Studies | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Place and Environment | Social Psychology and Interaction | Urban Studies