For this week’s Ask the Yangxifu column — which features a question from a Chinese-American woman — I decided to turn to Michelle Guo (who was featured in the post I ran a couple of weeks ago called Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National) for answers. She blogs about expat life in Beijing and social media tips at her site. Thanks to Michelle for stepping in to answer this question!
I’m a 2nd generation Chinese-American, and I’d like to expand my boundaries and look for a possible boyfriend (or husband) in China.
Although most of your posts are aimed primarily at Western women who aren’t Chinese, I was wondering if the same rules applied for Chinese-Americans, or if things get even more complicated from there. I’m afraid that native Chinese people will look down on me for numerous reasons, such as my not being able to speak Chinese (however I am learning Mandarin), my not-typical-Chinese-girl looks (short hair and a naturally more curvy figure), my not-typical-Chinese-girl attitude (I tend to have a more Western mindset, however I do enjoy many Chinese cultural things and am proud of my Chinese heritage), and the fact that my own parents were not born in China.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!
Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to a relationship with a Chinese man! I myself am also Chinese-American (my parents immigrated to the US at a young age, and I was born there), and I am approaching my one-year anniversary with my husband, who is from Henan Province in China. I’d say that in a Chinese-American woman/Chinese man relationship you don’t necessarily have more or less complications than other Western women/Chinese men. It’s more like you trade in some complications for others. 😛
Each couple’s situation is different, so I can only speak from my own experience. I’ve actually asked my husband before if he would have married me if I was a Caucasian-American woman. He replied honestly, “Maybe not, because I don’t think I’m physically attracted to Caucasian women.” Then again, he’s also said that he likes that I’m different from traditional Chinese women, particularly that I’m more independent and not super high maintenance. So he basically gets a wife who looks Chinese but has the views and personality traits that he admires in Western women. Lucky guy.
I think the fact that you’re learning Mandarin is admirable and humble, definitely not a reason to look down on you. Cross-cultural relationships are awesome because you end up speaking in your own bilingual language. I wrote about this in my blog post titled “The Language of Love,” where I talked about how my husband and I speak a mix of English and Chinese and it feels like our own secret language. I do realize it’s not actually a secret language and that a billion people in this country can understand at least half of what we’re saying, but it’s fun nonetheless.
I’ve actually talked to a lot of local Chinese guys who prefer curvier bodies over anorexic ones. My husband has told me many times before that in his hometown, they actually prefer to find wives who are tall, have darker skin, and have some meat on their bones. I chose to take that last quality as a compliment. He said that the reason why they want wives who are curvier is so that it’s easier to give birth to a baby. In which case, it would make sense in a lot of places in China that the preference is a curvier body over a stick-thin one if it means you have a better ability to bear children.
Since I’ve never been a non-Chinese Western woman in a relationship with a Chinese man, it’s hard to say whether it’s more or less complicated than being a Chinese-American woman with a Chinese man. I’d say in general, more of the cultural issues you’ll experience will have more to do with differences in thinking and expectations than in how you both look. But one thing I can say for sure, it’s definitely worth it to go out there and give Chinese men (and yourself) a chance. 🙂
Michelle Guo blogs about expat life in Beijing and social media tips.
Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture or Western culture? Send me yours today.