Now, I see a lot of positive things on Asian men here on this blog and I do appreciate that, but what about the not-so-positive ones? There is one thing in particular i’ve been thinking about for a while lately: the cheating and the tradition of having xiaosan [mistresses] here in China. I can’t even remember how many times I have been approached by married men or guys who have been with their gfs for 8 or 9 years! Not to mention the fact that dating someone is actually quite complicated because a good part of the guys in their late 20s are already married!!
I know a lot of foreign girls who do get in troubles eventually for starting relationships with men who are already taken and it just becomes a mess…
What do you think about this? Why is it that so many seem to prefer cheating than leave their ‘safety net’ (aka gf)? Why does it seem that foreign girls are their preferred choice when they look for xiaosan?
A, there’s a reason why you and your friends meet so many of these two-timers in China — stereotypes about Western women:
…when you put Western women and Chinese men together, some Chinese imagine we’re no more than his mistress — as they say in Chinese, the disanzhe(第三者) or ernai (二奶) — or the ultimate one-night stand. We’re not marriage material, but we’ll give him “a good roll in the sack.”
Sometimes, we’re even mistaken for prostitutes. Past expat female friends of mine recounted onlookers muttering “Russian prostitute” as they walk by.
Yes, many Chinese think Western women are sluts — you can largely thank those Hollywood movies/TV shows, which are ever-so-popular in China, for reinforcing this idea. We also stand out in a crowd too. So in China, that makes us an easy target for any guy with an easy extramarital affair on his mind — he sees your foreign face, and immediately assumes you’re already game for just about anything in bed, even if it means playing mistress.
So statistically, I expect that Western women in China are just more likely to run into these no-good sort of guys. It’s no wonder my Chinese friend Caroline once said to me, “You should be careful who you date.”
That doesn’t mean all Chinese men are on the ernai bandwagon — or hope to be. According to Sociologist James Farrer, an expert on sex in China:
In a survey of married urban Chinese conducted from 1988 to 1990, 29 percent of married men and 23 per cent of married women said they had engaged in extramarital sex. In a more recent national survey, Pan Suiming of People’s University found that between 17 and 19 per cent of married urban residents engaged in extramarital sex. In comparison, in various sample surveys roughly 25 per cent of American men and 15 per cent of American women report having ever had extramarital sex.
Yes, this is data from 2002 or earlier, so we might guess the numbers are higher (thought a 2005 study cited in this Guardian article put the rates at 20% for men and 14% for women). But then again, other surveys on extramarital sex in the US have suggested rates as high as 50 percent, so don’t assume my fellow Americans are necessarily any better.
I say, learn to guard yourself against China’s dishonest men. Since these guys are usually trolling for fast sex, consider having your own “five date rule” (that you won’t have sex until the fifth date) or something like it. (Just don’t tell him you have such a rule — otherwise he might play along, and then drop you like a hot dumpling after date number five). Also, I’m a big fan of having your Chinese friends introduce you to possible dates. While it’s not a 100 percent guarantee the guy’s not a cheater, chances are your friends will know if he’s already taken. They’ll also be a better judge of his personality, and whether he’s someone you can really trust.
As for what you said about the dearth of unmarried men in their late 20s, it’s true — many Chinese get hitched before 30, leaving you with fewer choices (though it’s far more acceptable for the men to be over 30 and single — double standard, as usual). You can’t change the trend, but you can change how you date; for example, consider dating someone younger (something I did, since I’m more than a year my husband’s senior).
What do you think?
Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Send me yours today.