“Jane” (not her real name) wrote that she hopes this one Chinese man will forgive her for her mistakes and missteps. And while I feel she’s very hard on herself, her story might give you a different insight into why some cross-cultural relationships in China don’t work out.
I first met Tony at a party. It was a language exchange party with native Chinese and native Finnish speakers. I was neither, being an English girl. Tony was from Jilin.
Before I continue I feel it necessary to explain that I suffer from social anxiety, so it is very possible that my interpretations of his behaviour were wrong. That said, long story short, he was fun, funny and flirtatious, which was surprising to me because I was a victim of brain-washing (much to my shame I must admit flirtatiousness was not something I associated with Chinese men). A few weeks later, after much angst, I received a long- awaited, eagerly-received invite to have coffee.
It was evident to me that this brilliant man of 25 was suddenly nervous — a shadow of the outgoing, cheeky man I met at the party. I did not mind however. We talked and he said he’d never had a girlfriend before, but had had sexual encounters. I had had a boyfriend, but no sex. It was after this that things went downhill. I panicked and tried to overcompensate. He retreated further into his shell. I complimented him, but he just looked away. I began to feel that he too was suffering from anxiety. The worst thing was my careless comment, “But you’re so sophisticated”, in response to his telling me that he came from a poor village with no running water. It was a prejudice I was not even aware I had. And though I apologised profusely as soon as I’d said it and meant it, feeling utterly ashamed of my ignorance, I think the damage had been done.
We left the coffee shop. At the bus station he said, “See you next time,” and hugged me. My Western-dating-culture-filled head was confused.
“What?” He said.
“Nothing, I was just expecting something else,” I replied, such as a kiss.
“I’m Chinese,” he said. He hugged me again and then quite literally ran away, although he might have just wanted to catch the bus.
Needless to say he didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I never heard from him again. I was mortified by my behaviour so it wasn’t a surprise that this charming, highly intelligent, lovely man was put off. I wish I could have done things differently, as he seemed such a lovely person. Sadly my anxieties, worries and unknown prejudices blocked my own path to finding a relationship with this extraordinary individual. I hope he can forgive me and find someone worthy of his love.
We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.