I am very in love with a Chinese-American guy and he feels the same way about me. We have similar educations and world outlooks. I really feel like he might be “the one” for me. The problem is that when he introduced me to his family they had a strong objection to me. Although they said I was pretty and nice and spoke Chinese very well, they were not okay with the fact that I am four years older and two inches taller than him. (A classic case of jiedilian I suppose). They explained to him that our being together was “unnatural” and to prove their point cut him off financially until he found a more suitable girlfriend. I should also probably mention that I am white – but he has dated white girls before and they were okay with that so I don’t think that is the problem.
He is still very happy to be with me and told me not to worry and that they will “come around”. Prior to being with him I lived in mainland China for three years and am skeptical that they will learn to ignore the height and age different. What do you think is the best approach to winning them over? Should I ignore their feelings towards our relationship and just continue to be sweet and friendly (aka play dumb)? Should I try to bring it up with them somehow? Is there some special way to make them like me I haven’t thought about? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Whoa, the financial cut-off. That’s one way to say no.
Obviously, you’re dealing with some pretty authoritarian parents (which, for the record, not all Chinese parents are — my in-laws, for example, are ridiculously lax). Bringing it up with them will be no better than hitting your own head against a great wall, trust me. Such a challenge — where you question their judgment, as the elders in the family — could also reflect poorly on you, since it’s not exactly the filial thing to do.
Since your Chinese-American boyfriend seems unfazed by their behavior (perhaps they have used the “power of the purse” on occasions in the past — and later withdrawn their cut-off?), you should follow his lead. Don’t worry about it. That doesn’t mean you need to get all “Brady Bunch” about this and suddenly take on some syrupy sweet persona in their presence (though you might find some of these tips on building a relationship with a Chinese mother-in-law helpful). Just behave as if the cut-off and their disapproval never happened at all. That’s the most powerful way to let them know they can’t stop you.
As for action, I’d leave it to him. As I mentioned in my article on Asian Man White Woman, one way to help break through a parental impasse is with the support of other relatives. Maybe he has some more open-minded relatives, someone who won’t jump to slap an “unnatural” label on the two of you just because of an age/height difference? If so, have him see if they can do some family “lobbying” on your behalf — provided, of course, your boyfriend thinks that might even help.
Ultimately, I’d look to your Chinese-American boyfriend as the barometer of success in this relationship. Given that he sees sunshine in your forecast, you should too.
What do you think? What advice do you have for Andrea?
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