Ask the Yangxifu: How to Avoid Dating Dishonest Chinese Men

A Western woman had her heart broken, when the Chinese man she loved turned out to be married. How can you avoid dishonest men in China?

Just recently, a reader also shared with me how her friend, a Western woman, was heartbroken by a Chinese man who didn’t disclose his marriage — and pregnant wife.


There’s a saying in Chinese: 林子大,什么鸟都有 (there are all kinds of birds in a big forest). So, it goes for China too: there are all kinds of Chinese men. And some aren’t really looking for THAT kind of love.

The thing is, when it comes to love and dating in China, Western women are no longer in Kansas, as Jessica Larson-Wang writes in this eChinacities article:

Western society is often portrayed as loose, morally bankrupt and hedonistic and much of the blame for this seems to fall on the shoulders of Western women. Often implicit in China is the attitude that men — Chinese or foreign — will be men. They might keep mistresses or gamble or drink too much, but as long as they do their duty to their family their shortcomings can be set aside. Women, however, are held to a different standard, and foreign women often seem to represent everything that good Chinese women aren’t. Foreign women fail at being virtuous and pure, fail at being long-suffering self-sacrificing upholders of family and tradition. Foreign women date around before marriage, have sex with whomever they feel like (and enjoy it), they drink, they smoke, and they don’t obey their husbands or their in-laws. Almost any foreign woman who has been in China for any length of time will have come across the stereotypical attitude from certain people — from the guys at the club who assume you’re theirs for the asking, to the co-worker who asks if foreign women all sleep around after marriage, to the guy who asks you out and wonders out loud if he’ll be able to satisfy your voracious sexual appetite, to your Chinese boyfriend’s parents, who tell him that you can play with foreign girls, but they aren’t marriage material. It is these sorts of attitudes that are the truly infuriating part of being a female expat in China, not the problems with Western men or the lack of datable guys, but how you are looked upon.

In China, Western women are just “not that innocent” by Chinese standards — making us a target for dishonest Chinese men with less-than-innocent intentions. And if we’re used to getting physical fast, because of past relationships or experience, we may not even realize he doesn’t care.

The question is — how can a Western woman protect herself from dishonest Chinese men, who are really married or engaged?

Chances are, we won’t know he’s spoken for. Chinese don’t wear wedding rings, and they come from a culture where burying your deepest feelings — including love — has been honed to an art over thousands of years. I can’t tell you how many times my Chinese male friends, who I thought I knew so well, would suddenly disclose their romantic ties, much to my surprise. Often, couples in China must live apart, because of work or school — so just because your friend is available on date night, doesn’t mean he’s actually “available.”

Your best defense is dating like Chinese women do: very slowly. Chinese women often start with a group date, normally a group of friends that includes the potential romantic interest. If they like the person, they may then go on solo dates, and kiss, perhaps more. But never, never will a “good” Chinese woman sleep with someone, until she is certain they plan to marry. Sometimes that means months of dating — the perfect antidote to any dishonest man looking for sex on the sly.

Group dating — initially, at least — also helps you “vet” a man, because your Chinese friends are a better judge of his intentions. Plus, group dating is a lot safer, as sometimes dishonest men (the world over) don’t believe in “no.” Last summer, a married Chinese driver (chosen to drive me by a friend) tried to sexually assault me in his car after we pulled into the airport parking lot. Nothing happened (thank goodness) but the lesson is clear — don’t be alone in China with a strange man.

But don’t be afraid to get to know Chinese men, either. There are lots of great, honorable men in China. I should know — I married one. 😉 And with patience and time, you’ll find your man, too.


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China (or in Chinese culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.

18 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: How to Avoid Dating Dishonest Chinese Men”

  1. i’m sorry for that 混蛋 hurt Jessica ‘s heart.
    so many assholes ,playboys in this planet nowdays
    kick him in the butt may let her feels better 😛

  2. What I said in my article was more speaking to generalities, not to any specific situation, but thanks for the sentiment just the same, 唐朝君子. 🙂 I can’t say my heart was ever broken by a dishonest Chinese guy, but the whole stealth marriage (and sometimes stealth kids) thing has come up before regarding guys that my friends and I have dated in the past. Western women are often seen as easy prey and some guys would assume we wouldn’t really mind being with a married guy. When in doubt, you could always ask to see his hukou book! (kidding, of course … if you don’t feel like you can trust a guy to be honest about his marital status then you probably shouldn’t be with him in the first place, right?)
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Father, Son and a Big Music Festival (with mom too) =-.

  3. You can always ask if he is in a relationship. I believe most chinese men will give a honest answer. No matter where you live, the good ones always far more than bad ones, unless you are extremely unlucky…

    Misconception of western women, or vice versa misconception of Chinese men, it is a bit problem. If so, why not a western woman date a Chinese guy who has some insights. I guess it makes your life a bit easier, no? Good luck.

    P.S. Date a chinese guy is not a rocket science, lol.

  4. J! I didn’t really understand what you said.
    Do you mean that Chinese men have a different perception of what is right and what is wrong, and that they don’t see a problem in dating someone while being in relationship? So they can do it and still be good men, and upon being asked if they are in relationship calmly answer – “Yes, my love, I am in relationship”?
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Why Thai Laugh When Chinese Cry? =-.

  5. Crystal,
    I think you got me wrong. What I meant was that, a western woman better date a Chinese guy who has some insights about who they really are in terms of misconception of western female.

    If there is such option, why not go for it. I have living aboard for quite a long time, most of my mates in college; they all went back home for good. I guess they are the group in somewhat has a better understanding of western female, not all, but the chances are higher than someone never meets western ladies in person but prejudged them based on somewhat fiction or silly American TV soap.

  6. This was a very good blog… as a western woman living in China … I see many things…. and Most Chinese have a lot of secrets… so you have to really go slow and do your research…. They hide things … so be careful… My husband and I dated and lived together for a year before his parents even knew he had a girlfriend….. just be careful in your search.
    .-= Jo´s last blog ..New Theme: Bueno =-.

  7. Pretty bizarre! Here in the US Asian men complain about Asian women dating white men, and white women not wanting to date Asian men and then we have situations in China where a western woman falls for a married Chinese guy who takes her for a ride! Must be one good looking Chinese dude!

  8. Really sorry to hear about such negative experiences. Being an overseas Chinese, I had to constantly shrug off stereotypes since day 1. It sucks that Chinese are stereotyping Americans all the same.

    For better or worse, people are people everywhere.

  9. Really sorry to hear about such negative experiences. Being an overseas Chinese, I had to constantly shrug off stereotypes since day 1. It sucks that Chinese are stereotyping Americans all the same.

    For better or worse, people are people everywhere.

  10. This is a great post. I’m not a western woman, but I was raised in Canada for the last 20 years of my life. I was originally born in Hong Kong, and had moved to China for work 2 years ago.

    Many of my colleagues know of my western upbringing and have outright asked me if western girls are loose, and have lots of casual sex.

    Another male colleague and I went out on a trip to Hunan and he tried to sexually assault me also. I’ll never go out with just one man again.

    Others are always proposing marriage to me in very short periods of time, which is also very strange, makes me think of what kind of hidden agendas they have got.

    Even though I’m Chinese, the Mainlanders are very very strange.

    1. Hi June, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry to hear someone tried to sexually assault you in China. Hope you have found some more honest, caring men to spend some time with. 🙂

  11. I am also in the sexually assaulting boat, but it was by a monk on a mountain. It’s actually happened twice. They used the same move even though it’s in a different city. The man will see I’m alone, ask me what I’m reading, look at it (even though he can’t understand the English in it) and then reach out to touch me. If you don’t run by then you’ll have no chance. 🙁
    Just a warning to any other girls out there that think that monks are celibate and won’t try to rape you. It’s a stupid misconception and generally it’s bad to be alone anywhere with a guy you don’t know in China or anywhere else.

  12. So rule of thumb is to date as though you are 15 years old. Got it.
    Perhaps the assumptions of some chinese men are influenced by western norms that encourage people to cast off the binds of childhood and engage in ‘adult’ and seemingly scandalous behavior. Whether or not innocence is actually neediness i don’t know but the two are easily tightly entwined. Sociosexual attitudes in western culture mimic the independance and self interest common in western politics, economics and religion. Why is it foreign men are so oft inclined to date chinese girls while the opposite is so rare? To be honest I don’t really like China that much and I’m leaving soon so I don’t really care. I sincerely hope that everyone who posted gets laid anyway.

  13. Chinese or Foreign men a-like, the married ones are more attractive!

    I am sorry that your friend fall for a married man. Just remember, not all Chinese men are bad, and not all Chinese men are married!

  14. Try getting a can of pepper spray if they have that in china. They have them in America in most states that is legal. Thanks for the warning about the sexually frustrated monks. I’d recommend kicking them down there were it hurts them and then pushing them off a mountain if it is steep enough usually does work. Or a walking stick with some heft to it. A sock full of quarters work good as well. I wonder how hard chinese men are to beat up:) J/K

    Good advice whomever said take friends with you or course a good hard left hook or a sock full of quarters works well too or pepper spray. Watch your surroundings carefully too that helps. You can also buy a portable sound alarm that’s about 150db. Or a taser if they are allowed. What we ought to do is get a bunch of females and prey on men. Like these monks get a bunch of women to beat them up and throw them into some mud. Or have your friends hide approach the monk alone and when he grabs you your friends jump out and on him then throw him so it’d be called monk bouncing. hehe. I can imagine all the monks being thrown off the mountains and landing in a heap

  15. I can’t remember if this was your idea or not, but this is what worked for me:

    Play dumb and pretend you can’t read Chinese. Also pretend you don’t know what the hukou debate’s all about. Then get him to explain it to you — and ask to see his. It’ll say whether he’s single or married on it.

    Works. Every. Time. At least for the wives…

    I can’t tell you how many guys I weeded out this way. (30+?)

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