Can Interracial and Intercultural Relationships Be a Transcendental Experience?

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Recently, I shared the story of my own unlikely pathway to marrying a Chinese man, including what I originally thought of Chinese men before coming to China, in an opinion piece for the China Daily. Here’s an excerpt from that:

When I think back to the months I spent in preparation for that year of teaching English in Zhengzhou, I draw a blank on Chinese men, apart from one simple thing. I assumed they weren’t dating material for me, and I wasn’t alone. An American man who had once taught in China famously told me, “You don’t have to worry about the students falling in love with you.”

It made sense to me. I had only ever forged friendships with foreign Asian men at my university, feeling romance was never a possibility, and had yet to move past “Hello” with any of the Chinese men on campus, who almost never noticed when I smiled or waved at them while passing by on the way to classes. I never saw white women dating Asian men on television or in the movies. Even the handful of Asian men who went to high school with me in my very white, very middle-class suburb didn’t seem to date anyone, let alone a girl like me. It was as if the universe decreed that there was a racial and cultural line that I was never meant to cross if I wanted to find love.

Yep, in my mind, white American girls like me just didn’t date Asian men, let alone Chinese men. And when I read stories like Why Did I Assume I’d Never Find a Man to Date in China? from Rosie in Beijing, I know I’m not the only one.

But beyond all expectations, love happened to me in China – and it was a love deeper and more passionate than anything I had ever experienced before. It was as if I had never truly loved before. Here was China, giving me a real-life lesson in what it actually meant to be intimately connected with someone else.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t opened my heart to the possibility of love – if I hadn’t transcended my own past assumptions and biases about dating in China.

For me, the interracial and intercultural relationships I’ve enjoyed in China – including, most of all, my marriage to John – have been a transcendental experience. They’ve allowed me to go beyond what I used to believe about Chinese men and Asian men, and have made me more aware of how prejudices and stereotypes against certain racial groups still loom large in the dating world.

Granted, I know that one person isn’t a lot. But I’d like to think that every time someone like me ends up loving beyond their own boundaries — their own perceptions of what it means to be in love – it brightens our world a little more.

Do you think that interracial/intercultural relationships can be a transcendental experience?

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29 thoughts on “Can Interracial and Intercultural Relationships Be a Transcendental Experience?

  • October 5, 2015 at 6:32 am
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    You’re not alone! I, too, can thank an intercultural/interracial relationship for letting me realize my own prejudices, stereotyping, and racist tendencies no one is immune from possessing. ????

    Reply
  • October 5, 2015 at 9:11 am
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    So I’ve never been to China. I was raised in the U.S., yet it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t/ shouldn’t/ couldn’t date an Asian guy.

    I never realized that other white women wouldn’t. It never occurred to me that there were any negative Asian male stereotypes or racial biases that might stop other American women from interracial dating.

    And while I definitely noticed that Andy and I used to be one of the few AMWF couples around, compared to plethora of WMAF couples, I didn’t realize we were in any way unusual until I started snooping around online (prior to starting my blog) and discovered AMWF was a rare thing. Then I read the articles, saw the stories, and my jaw just dropped.

    I read about racist stereotypes in movies and TV, and thought, “Oh, yeah, I guess I can see that. Huh. Why DIDN’T I notice that before?”

    Apparently I live in my own little bubble, oblivious to unspoken racist rules.

    For me, dating Asian guys was no big deal.

    Getting Andy’s Chinese-American parents as in-laws? THAT is a big deal. But it’s more apocalyptic than transcendental!

    Reply
    • October 5, 2015 at 10:45 am
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      I so agree with Autumn! Having also not been to China (yet!) and meeting my Chinese fiance here in Australia where we both live race wasn’t a thing – until I met his parents. Even though my fiance is full Chinese he is very much a “world citizen” (the fact that he speaks Chinese, Spanish and English all fluently is, alone, enough to prove this but his personality and everything else about him is difficult to put in a box – cultural, racial or otherwise!) his parents are a completely different story. I don’t think they have any friends who aren’t Chinese (if they do I haven’t met them) everything they do is in Chinese from shopping to going to the doctor. I’m some strange anomaly that even after years I’m not quite convinced they don’t think I’m some kind of “phase” in their son’s life that will pass…

      Reply
  • October 5, 2015 at 7:34 pm
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    I do agree what Cat and Autumn are saying. International / inter-racial couples are just like the others. I wasn’t aware of the discussions like these online until last couple of year.

    No-one really seems to care in UK or Hong Kong or many parts of Asia that my wife and I have lived or travelled. To be fair, UK and HK are very international. Of course, if we go to places like some Chinese villages, people will stare at us. But why wouldn’t they? These guys had probably not seen any foreigners before (rather than down to the AMWF relationship)…

    For most of the mainstream media I’ve seen so far such as TV and Hollywood films, I wouldn’t consider the Asian stereotypes are racist or anything offensive. Just bit of fun really. One needs to know how to take a micky out of oneself. 🙂

    Reply
  • October 5, 2015 at 11:20 pm
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    In America whites don’t notice white prejudice because they are white. In China, the Chinese don’t notice the Chinese prejudice because they are Chinese. I know some Indians are also deluded into thinking there is no sanitation problem in India.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2015 at 4:40 am
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    Up until three months ago, when I found out about “AMWF” and what it was all about, I thought that our relationship was plain normal. Of course we strugled a lot, but I thought it was more about long-distance relationship problems, partner’s parents problems – and not about being from different cultures.
    We struggled together and also worked on our relationship together. We fought a lot, cried a lot, but we somehow worked it out together.

    And as I went into this relationship rather blue-eyed without any previous knowledge about Chinese culture, I let out some rather racist comments in the beginning. And he wanted to see what was true about Austrian stereotypes. We worked it out together. But still I thought about all these problems as normal ‘relationship problems’ like any other couple struggles with too.

    I never planned to date an [insert any ethnicity here] guy, I only wanted one guy to treat me well. (And I wanted him to be taller than me, but that was not a must, just a bonus.) And some girls might end up with new awesome opportunities if they could just open their views. But maybe this is just blue-eyed of me again.

    Reply
  • October 6, 2015 at 11:49 am
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    I really needed to read something like that. Maybe its hormones, maybe its something else, but prior to my current relationship I used to date Korean men, thus I thought I’d end up with someone Korean, and I took steps and tried to get into as much Korean culture as I could by listening to music, teaching myself to read Korean, and watching unique dramas, but I guess it wasn’t my fate. At that time I gave up on being with someone from China or Japan and didn’t really care much about keeping up with music or dramas from those countries. Now I’m struggling to adjust my thinking because guess what, if everything goes right, my child will be half-Chinese and I don’t want for my baby to have issues or feel shame regarding my emotions.

    I recall when I was in high school and I told someone from South Korea that I’m into Asian men, I was told that a very low percentage of Asian men would find non-Asian women attractive. I was disappointed by the guy’s words, but I guess I refused to give up and continued to keep on trying.

    Reply
    • October 8, 2015 at 5:03 am
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      > I was told that a very low percentage of Asian men would find non-Asian women attractive.

      That’s false. The more likely reason is that there’s so many sterotypes against Asian men , asian men fear that you will sterotype them. Afterall , the media has already screwed up the psyches of Asian men so much , I don’t think the average asian men would think that white women would even have a thing for them.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2015 at 2:01 am
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    @ Svetlana.

    I am so elated to read that you are about to experience the blessings and joy of a child. I am especially happy that you have chosen to be with a Chinese man and will have a mixed race childn, when WW/AM pairings are so rare. I wish you every success.

    Did you know that it is not uncommon for Chinese and Russians to marry in Northern China near the border with Russia? Read this article:

    http://rbth.asia/society/2013/05/25/the_key_to_a_happy_russo-chinese_marriage_46943.html

    Reply
    • October 7, 2015 at 6:23 am
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      @Fred

      Just to make things a whole lot more interesting, the father is from South China, Hong Kong to be exact hehe.

      Reply
      • October 8, 2015 at 12:18 am
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        Cool! Any wedding date in the future yet?

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        • October 8, 2015 at 2:35 am
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          @ Svetlana.

          Perhaps you can write a post for us to tell us about your pairing with this man from Hong Kong. After all, you wrote a post before about your attempt to date a Chinese man but it was not successful. All the best.

          Reply
          • October 9, 2015 at 10:55 am
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            I would love to, but I’m not sure if this will be considered a Double Happiness story because the marriage part hasn’t happened, and if I have a child with someone but am uncertain whether or not to be with him, would that be considered a Double Happiness or not?

        • October 9, 2015 at 10:51 am
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          So far, I predict that if there is discussion of wedding, it will happen in a few years or so. It won’t happen before the child’s birth or anything like that. At times as well I’m having doubts whether or not I will be happy with him, for reasons I prefer not to write on here. All I can say is that if he does want to marry me, he’ll have to prove that my impression of him is incorrect

          Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 2:21 am
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    I didn’t know about the whole AMWF thing until I started blogging and read other blogs. All these things never seemed strange to me until I saw that I was pretty much living in my own little bubble. It might be also because around me were a lot of interracial couples, including AMWF. But this shows also that all depends where you live or what background you have yourself. Nearly half of the students at my uni in Finland were “foreigners” so it was nothing special to be constantly around a multicultural mix. Now I am living once again in Germany in a small town and things are very much different here. Thus far I have only seen one AMWF couple and thats it, so even WMAF couples get stares from people on the street…

    Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 2:39 am
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    @ Timo.

    What! I thought that Germany is now more multcultural and more cosmopolitan than before such that either an AM/WF or a WM/AF couple will not get stares, because with so many migrants coming there to declare refugee status the folks there are used to the mix.

    Timo, are you a Chinese man? Or are you a Western female?

    All the best.

    Reply
    • October 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm
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      In fact I am neither Asian man or Western Female. I hail from a WMAF relationship. I started blogging just to share some absurd stories of my mother-in-law but of course I got into reading other blogs as well and thus ended up learning a whole lot more, especially about the stigma of WMAF…
      I think it is very interesting how many people are out there against interracial relationships. Especially the whole AMFW gets a lot of attention and also hate.
      Anyways, it always depends where you live in Germany (or any other country as well I assume). In big cities you wont get stares if you are in any kind of interracial relationship but we live now in a small town of just 80.000 people and there are still people around who have never seen anything like that. Sure enough Germany had many migrants over the decades but it is still hard for some to understand any kind of mixed relationships.

      Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 8:21 pm
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    Actually there are some Germans who will not even approve of their kids marrying non-German speakers.

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    • October 9, 2015 at 1:28 am
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      Could be that there are still some backwards minded people like that around but you find them probably anyways in every country. So far I have not heard yet about but it can happen.

      Reply
      • October 9, 2015 at 10:41 pm
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        I hear these stories all the time in the international organization I work in. A Japanese American woman from Hawaii whose family has been here for five generations is dating an Irish immigrant who came to this country when he was five years old. His family and friends always warn him that she is after a Green Card.

        Reply
      • October 10, 2015 at 1:27 am
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        @ Timo.

        Sorry for this question: Is it true that the German lasses are extremely pretty over there just like in the movies?

        Reply
        • October 10, 2015 at 3:42 am
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          haha, nah, I doubt that they are as pretty in average as what the movies try to tell people. You surely find some pretty ones here but well, its the same as in any other country when it comes to “pretty ones” or even more so it depends on the personal taste

          Reply
  • October 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm
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    “was told that a very low percentage of Asian men would find non-Asian women attractive.”

    More like afraid of loosing face because of rejection from a white woman.

    Reply
  • October 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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    They had a AMWF couple in the show Criminal Minds on Wednesday here in the US. I was all excited. But, first she has an affair with a white guy supposedly because he is not well endowed. The AM ends up killing the white guy and the family is broken up as he goes to jail. No romantic scenes or passionate kisses between the couple..simply not accepted by the Trump supporting public. You may want to watch it here, at least folks in Canada and the US…

    http://www.cbs.com/shows/criminal_minds/

    Reply
  • October 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm
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    God please Bless Me to meet a right woman. A man.

    Reply
  • November 22, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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    I could not agree with you more, Jocelyn. When I wasn’t sure whether my love story with Zorig (Mongol) would play out the way I hoped it would, I feared I’d never find a similar deep and rich love in America (or rather, with an American). I didn’t know love could be this limitless and opening. My analogy is that though I’ve loved before, I’ve never loved like this. Loving Zorig and being loved by him has made me feel a bit like the Grinch….my heart has grown and expanded in ways I never imagined. And my mind is being opened on a daily basis, as well. He is the first and only Asian man I’ve ever dated….and now we are married. I’m nearly as excited about how I will evolve through this relationship, as I am to have the opportunity to have love and a life with him.

    Reply
  • February 6, 2016 at 4:42 pm
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    Hello Jocelyn,

    I am Anne-Claire from France. I have been reading your post during a few weeks and I like them very much.
    I would like to share you my experience as a western Mum with a Chinese little boy. Would you agree to leave me your e-mail ?

    I wish you a nice afternoon,

    Anne-Claire

    Reply

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