I have been dating my Chinese boyfriend for more than 5 years. We met in the West and he lives and works in my country and became a citizen of my country. He is however a childhood immigrant. His family is very traditional, I think. I have never met them. They live elsewhere and do not know I exist. He goes to China every year to visit his family, is the oldest son, and his family still believes in arranged marriages. We broke up once because they found him a woman to marry. I love him and thought I could continue to deal with this, that I was bigger than this ridiculous situation. But, as time drags on it becomes more difficult for me to tolerate. We had come to an agreement that I would obtain a doctorate and that would make me as close to worthy enough to tell his family about. I graduate this year and he has backed out of the deal. I am more disappointed than I can express. I feel like a mistress, to be hid forever. He went to China last week to visit his family and turned his phone off. I never call him when he goes to China or visits his family but with his phone off I couldn’t even contact him in an emergency. We live together, what if something happened to the house. He said it was because he didn’t want his phone to make accidental international phone calls but, really? That has never happened before and I doubt his veracity on the reason. It seems the closer I get to finishing the goal he decided would end the hiding, the more thoughtless things he does. But, he swears he doesn’t want to end our relationship and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I have a wedding dress because we were going to get married this year, it mocks me from the closet. It feels like he panics when he is afraid of getting caught and does or says hurtful things out of a knee jerk reaction but expects me to understand his cultural needs but ignores mine. Is this a Chinese thing or a him thing?
I think it’s actually a jerk thing.
It’s not hard to piece together what’s going on behind the scenes. Traditional Chinese family wants to arrange his marriage to a traditional kind of Chinese girl, and your boyfriend can’t find the nerve to break them the news about you.
He might try to justify this with his cultural background – such as coming from a traditional family with traditional ideas about marriage, or the fact that he’s the oldest son and doesn’t want to be unfilial by going against his family. Reminds me of my father-in-law, who married my mother-in-law because his mother told him to.
But that doesn’t excuse the rest of his behavior, which in my book says “jerk” no matter where you come from. He said you weren’t “good enough” to meet the family without the Ph.D. (which, to me, would be a red flag that he’s probably not “good enough” for you) — now that you have it, he broke his side of the bargain. He turns his phone off when he’s in China, and his “oh I’ll make an international call” excuse is just bullshit; to me, this move suggests either he doesn’t trust you to respect his boundaries, or that he has something to hide. And of course, he demands you to “understand his needs” but ignores yours. None of this inspires confidence in a relationship — or even the wedding he dangles before your eyes. No wonder you hear that wedding dress mocking you from the closet.
It breaks my heart that he claimed seven years of your life — far too long for any girl to wait for a wedding — and disappointed you in so many ways. But you might consider countering his “jerk thing” with another thing — a breakup.
What do you think?
UPDATE: edited this letter in response to asker, who wanted more anonymity.
SECOND UPDATE: Apologies to commenters — I needed to edit out details in some of your comments because they revealed the details I removed from the original letter, but none of my edits impacted the overall content and meaning of your comments. Thanks for understanding.
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