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?