“Mary” met Yao while at university. And while a series of misunderstandings eventually got in the way of their relationship, she wrote: “I don’t regret getting to know him and being a small part of his life. I feel that my experience dating him has made me grow as a person.” Thanks for sharing your story, Mary!
I was an undergraduate at an American university, with a large population of Chinese and Indian nationals studying at the university. So, when I met Yao, we were working together on a community service project at the university. Out group consisted of students in our department of the university, most of whom, I already knew from my classes and other activities. But, there wasn’t a single person in the group that knew Yao, or had ever seen him before. I remember thinking that he was really silly because he was really vague about who he was, or where he was hiding. The department within my university churns out about 15-30 undergraduate degrees and about 15 masters/PhD degrees, so you basically know everyone. Yao joked about being an undergraduate student in his 7th year, and other stories that I didn’t believe. I thought that he was funny, and I started to talk to him more. As we were working, he would constantly come and help me, and he asked about my background, where I grew up, etc. When he let me ask questions, he only said that he was from China, and that he moved to the U.S. to earn a PhD.
A few days later, he found me on Facebook, and we started talking. At first, he came on a little strong, basically saying that I was an ideal candidate for his attention and affection, and that we should go on a date. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t used to men asking me out. I freaked out a bit, and because he asked me to go to a restaurant that only serves meat, I declined respectfully (I’m a vegetarian). However, I was curious about this Chinese man that had showed interest in me and I wanted to know more about him. So, I invited him over for dinner with a bunch of my friends. He insisted on bringing something, and I insisted that he didn’t need to bring anything, because everything was taken care of. Little did I know that I was being a little rude. Anyway, he came over and brought some fermented eggs from the local Asian market, which didn’t go with Italian food, but was an excellent conversation starter, as strange as they were to me at the time. When I was cooking, he wouldn’t sit down, and when there was nothing that he could do to help, he read my friend’s calculus book and he made notes on printer paper to help him with his research, which is apparently the behavior of a dedicated graduate student. Anyway, I thought that his over-willingness to help and work quirky, albeit interesting.
After I moved out of my dorm room and into an apartment, we started to hang out more, and I would always make sure to have at least one other friend around. He was ten years older than me — which felt like a lot for me at the time — and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him yet. One weekend, both of my friends were out of town, and I invited him over to cook dinner, thinking that we were friends, and that he wouldn’t try to make an advance on me. Little did I know that he was planning to do just that. I was completely surprised, and I rejected him out of surprise. He soon left, with a sadness in his eyes that I hadn’t seen before. Of course, I felt awful, but I still didn’t want to lead him on if I wasn’t sure. Anyway, he still wanted to hang out with me as a friend, and we stayed like that, hanging out a couple of times per week for a couple of months. Then, I left the area for about a week to visit my parents. I missed him so much that it was physically painful, so the night that I got back, I let him know, and gave him an invitation, so to speak. The following day, he invited me to a dinner with him and at least 20 of his guy friends (some of them don’t speak English at all). I cannot explain how frightened I was to go to an event with so many people that I didn’t know (to say it lightly, I’m socially anxious and awkward). The thought of meeting that many people at once scared the living shit out of me, so I declined, and said that it would be better if I could meet a few friends at a time. Yao said that such an event would never happen because his circle of friends was so large, and that was the end of it.
After that, I was planning to move out of the country for seven months, and he was moving to another city in the U.S. We didn’t know when we could see each other again, and I suggested that we break it off because I couldn’t handle the pain of not seeing him for seven months, and I thought that it would be better if there wasn’t a commitment between us. When I was abroad, I tried to stay in touch with him, but he wouldn’t answer my emails or messages, until he said that he didn’t want to talk to me anymore. This was devastating to me, to know that I had lost him as a friend completely.
We have since talked, but we are keeping at a distance, because of the hurt that we inflicted upon each other. Now that I have been reading some of your more recent blogs on how a Chinese mane goes about dating a girl and other social norms, I understand his actions and expectations more. I realize now that we could have communicated more so that we understood the expectations of the other. To this day, I don’t regret getting to know him and being a small part of his life. I feel that my experience dating him has made me grow as a person. I hope to give another man a chance when the opportunity arises, whether he is from China, from my hometown, or anywhere in between.
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.