Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Boyfriend Never Plans Our Dates

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Her Chinese boyfriend leaves all of the date-night decisions to her, and she's tired of it. How can she get him to care?

MC asks:

I hate the whole “passive Asian man” stereotype because I don’t think it’s always true. For example, my Chinese boyfriend is a Banquet Captain at a hotel, and sometimes his coworkers will call him to ask where something is or how to set up the banquet hall. The way he takes charge and responds shows that he has a leader in him, and it’s a huge turn on when I see him like that. But then when we hang out, I decide everything, from what we do, to where we eat, and even what we eat sometimes. I don’t mind doing it sometimes, because it basically means he’ll go anywhere I want him to without complaining, yet it gets tiring. I feel like it’s the guy’s role to lead and to decide even just where to eat sometimes. I’ve talked to him about it but his thinking is so different than anyone I’ve ever met (though he doesn’t think so). I can see it from his point of view, but he can’t see mine. And I understand his logic. He honestly does not care what we eat. So even if I tried to make him care, his mind would be a blank. If that’s the case, you’d think it’d be easier for me to just choose a place, right? What should I do?


Whenever my Chinese husband and I go to restaurants, he hands me the menu to place the order. He lets me decide what movies to see at the university movie theater. And when we take vacations, he lets me plan out the details. Sound familiar?

Still, I hate the “passive Asian man” stereotype as much as you do — because it sure isn’t always true for my husband either. He decides where to go out to eat as much, if not more, than I do. He suggests things to do, whether attending a talk at the university or going on a weekend ski trip with classmates. And he really knows how to wow a woman on her birthday.

So, in my opinion, your Chinese boyfriend could step it up a little. And given that he’s done it at the hotel, I don’t see why he can’t do it for your evenings out.

I wonder if he realizes just how much of a burden this is for you (and it does sound like a burden, from your question). I would sit him down and tell him it is – if you haven’t already. Explain to him that he really needs to make decisions, at least some of the time. Otherwise, the responsibility rests on your shoulders all the time. It’s not a matter of who cares more — it’s about sharing this responsibility of arranging your free time.

If that’s no good, next time you go out, choose some really bizarre foreign restaurant, or the kind of movie a guy wouldn’t be caught dead watching. Then see if your Chinese boyfriend still “doesn’t care.”

Good luck!

What advice do you have for MC?


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20 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Boyfriend Never Plans Our Dates”

  1. Maybe bcoz he is a banquet captain and he is tired of planning for dinner, etc..?
    i know a lot of salesmen who rarely talk after they went home…

  2. This has nothing to do with the “Passive Asian Men” thing! It has to do with your boyfriend wanting to PLEASE you ALL the time…I have a cousin and best friend (non Asian) that are married to wives that are pretty demanding and they just cater to their EVERY needs! Quite frankly I get a little annoyed that they are such “Wusses” and let their wives walk all over them? I mean they both have great jobs in which they need to be assertive…But when it comes to their significant other, they are anything but! Maybe its because my friend and cousin feels like since they have pretty wives (1 out of 2) unless they please them constantly, their wives will leave them? Or maybe its because they simply like being told what to do all the time…These are low self esteem issues IMHO!

    You should really let your BF know that while its great that he wants you to decide and plan…Sometimes its comforting to have a “Strong, assertive” man taking charge:)

  3. We have so many trips to go but we’re bombed with too many funtions to go to. She plans them in my marriage because she loves to search online. When we go, I lead and tell her where , when, and how we go about. When we decide , I don’t like her to change mind. We do need to compromise or else there won’t be a marriage. If you only think for yourself, be a loner then, don’t get a gf or get married rather :(. Chinese men will try to please sometimes to keep her happy.

  4. Just to bring to everyone’s attention here that there are many commenters using the name John, and this John hates people acting like little kids.
    this seems to be a case of cultural differences at play again. Your bf obviously thinking that it is a sweet gesture to let you decide things in your relationship as opposed to him imposing his views and ideas unto you. While you think of him as passive, he may think of it as polite. it is a culture. Talking it over may be the only solution to your problem. Good luck.

  5. I am like that sometimes and it can drive my fiance nuts. I am not sure what your boyfriend’s experience was like as a child. But for me, my mother has always asked for suggestions from me when she wanted to make a decision but my ideas always get the shut down. Overtime, I learned that she just wanted me to say, “Yes, your idea is the best!” So from an early age on, I’ve learned to do whatever the woman wants so I wouldn’t be in trouble or waste my energy. I wonder if it could be your boyfriend’s case as well.

  6. @Bruce. That’s the best comment from you so far…its all about compromise!
    @not stupid John. Again its not a cultural thing at all…in fact Asian cultures are pretty sexist so its actually a good thing that her bf let her decide. Most won’t .
    @sean. That’s a valid reason…Both my cousin and friend was raised by dominating Mothers.

  7. It was difficult for me to plan dates before my wife and I were married because I really didn’t know what was going on in Shenzhen, though I sometimes came across interesting shops or restaurants that I suggested we try. When it comes to vacations, my wife always planned our China trips. When we traveled in Thailand, Bali, and Malaysia we shared some responsibility. When I took her to the US for the first time I planned almost everything that my parents or relatives didn’t take charge of. Of course, she isn’t always happy with my method of wandering around until I found what we wanted (it’s not that I won’t ask for directions, I just enjoy getting lost sometimes).

  8. Women change mind allllllll the time sometimes so it’s hard to plan for dates or trips. It’s frustrating at times but we don’t want to argue so we adjust to their mood. Men get tired after work too, you know.For example, my wife just changed her mind again but I tried to make her go anyway. Sometimes, I really want to tie her up and throw her in the car and go. I have a very explosive personality so I always have to choose the right comments to say. She knows I’m harmless. Compromise, compromise, compromise ! Control your temper and everything will be fine. I have compromised over a decade and our marriage is just beautiful. Always be flexible at allllllll times, planned dates don’t always work out. If you guys dont want to argue, be calm and cool down. To me, marriage is like understanding and respecting each other . Most couples don’t work out due to unwilling to compromise. Sometimes, I’m can be like a dictator and I won’t listen to suggestions and just plan and go. At times Im exhausted from work and clients,I let her plan and do everything but I drive though. This is my personal experience. Don’t try my way, guys!! Not all women ‘s personalities are the same.

  9. Nah, this guy’s reasoning makes total sense to me. He’s trying to be nonconfrontational by ceding decision-making to his partner. It’s overcompensating for the bad rep of Chinese men being domineering and patriarchal. Unfortunately, the Western female is often not expecting it and views things negatively.

    In the end, after you strip away the cultural barriers to communication, it’s just another case of the woman expecting the man to read her mind. Imagine another case when he takes charge more often than she would like. She’d feel suffocated being constantly dragged to events and places she doesn’t like and doesn’t want to be confrontational by saying no.

  10. The “Passive Asian Man” stereotype seems to have passed me over. I don’t know many Asian men who fall into this category and especially not here in China. I have seen men leave date night planning to the women but I don’t really think it’s for lack of leadership skills. It’s been my experience that when men do this, it’s more to defer to the woman’s wishes so that she’s happy. If he knows what she’ll like (or in some cases, wouldn’t dislike so much), then he might be a bit more proactive in planning. I think it’s a sweet thing for him to allow her to choose what they should do together but I do see her point in wanting him to participate more. Maybe if they took turns planning date nights/dinners/etc., then it wouldn’t be too much for either of them to handle and each one would have more of a chance to introduce something new and fun to the relationship. No one wants the responsibility of planning all of the time. Sometimes the fun is in seeing what the other person planned with you in mind. It would make for interesting memories anyway.

  11. LoL, I won’t say anything on your comment is because I might say something silly. You might fall off your chair! heheheh ha ha ha lol :).

    I don’t think Chinese men are control freaks. Well, do men like their women to sit still and let the men do everything? We want our women to participate also.

  12. I find myself giggling at a lot of what is said here. Thanks for allowing me to add my two cents.

    To be fair, I don’t think Chinese men are control freaks. I just don’t know many men that I see as wishy-washy. They’ve all been fairly opinionated, strong, and no-nonsense kind of guys…unless we’re all having fun. You have to respect someone who knows his (or her) mind. But the “softer” side, as she noted, where he gives her the reins on planning, I think should also be appreciated. She mentioned she thought it was the guy’s role to lead, but in a relationship, I think she should be sharing responsibility. Que no?

  13. Really? I am a white girl dating an 1st generation Chinese American and he takes charge of everything!

    For example, whenever we go on a trip, he would plan it out from flight to hotel to rental car and things to do. One thing I have noticed is that he likes to do the planning because he likes finding deals such as a 4 star hotel in Manhattan for $90 a night!( which I am not complaining at all!)

  14. As a married couple, I’ve never thought that I did more than my wife or she did more stuff than me. We always work as a team. Doesn’t matter if your AMWF or WMAF couples , etc . WE SHOULD APPRECIATE WHAT WE HAVE IN FRONT OF US,NOT WHAT YOU’RE CHASING AFTER. At the end, you will have more. Divorce rate in America is soo high due to the “me me me ” attitude. Seriously, I do not want a woman just sit around and complain all day long. Everybody has stress at work, too. Other friends’ wives come to our home and say to my wife ” wow, your husband did that for you , he plants / grows this and that for you ? , I want a handy man in my life too” Women will always compare like size of the yard, size of the home, your husband’s income . It’s endless. I’m a different man and other men are excellent in their ways ,too. Maybe their men make $500k a yr I don’t know. Let’s appreciate the goods about your men and everything will be fine.

  15. Address the issue sooner or later. At first, I liked that I always got to pick and decide things. I planned things in advance and everything was good.

    Then I lived in China for 6 years and learned that I had to learn not to plan or else I would be driven completely insane. I learned to go with the flow, and that was also fine with me. I don’t really make plans anymore.

    Now we are back in the US, and my husband always seems grumpy with me that I do not have anything planned for us to do on the weekends. Actually, I am fine to not do anything, but he isn’t. I also realize he does not make the plan to do anything either, and that is somehow my fault as well.

    So get him involved with the planning sooner rather than later because it will just cause more issues down the road.

  16. Sometimes, I know you guys will wonder here why Bruce (me) has so much time commenting here :). I used to work extremely hard in the past and now we’re more stabled than before. Both of us are stabled career wise but we’re not rich. We just have more time to take trips (lots of friends have money but no time 🙁 ). We’re both self employed and our time is very flexible. We planned 3 trips for the coming months already but we don’t know if they will happen. It’s okay to not go on those trips ,too. We must learned how to be flexible. It’s fine just talk a walk and everything will cool down. I’m constantly doing things around the home so I’m pretty busy guy. In one hr, I have a meeting and after I come back, I have to do something for my wife. Just keep moving. don’t be a couch potato and throw boms boms / potato chips in your mouth.

  17. @ MC: uhm… so he is very assertive and has leadership qualities in him that turn you on, that’s great! He has already shown that he can take responsibility. Then, do him a favor and stop sweating the small stuff. If he wanted to make those decisions about restaurants and dishes, he would do that, guaranteed. But he doesn’t have to, he really doesn’t. Give him a break, he definitely trusts your judgment and sometimes he is probably just tired from work. Honestly it baffles me how this can affect you to the point it becomes a burden. Unless there is more to it, of course. You say that you feel like it’s the guy’s role to lead, which makes it sound like you feel burdened by the responsibility of making choices, albeit small ones. You have talked to him and his mind went blank: then it’s ok, there is probably nothing much you can do. I mean, unless he is a total dead weight, which I doubt, he has other redeeming qualities. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t try to compromise a little bit. But, apparently, you knew from the start that he was like this, don’t try to change him. And what’s this “passive Asian man” stereotype? Asian history proves everybody wrong: there is not such a thing. =)

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