Ask the Yangxifu: How Chinese men can meet foreign women in China

Aiden asks:

I am a Chinese guy who is going to graduate next June. I am majoring in English simply because I want to know more about this world. You mentioned a lot about the cross-culture relationship which is something I desired for years. I always wanna a life different from the ones that most people have in China. I know it is gonna be tough, but I have faith. No difficulty no fun. Life itself is that way. Anyway, it is rather hard for a Chinese mainlander to seek the chance of meeting any International women especially those who want to marry chinese guys. If you have any good channels or tips, why not tell us?

Aiden, I salute you — you’re daring to imagine a love and future different from many Chinese men. The question is, where can you dare to find her?

Why not start with your future job? Consider working at a company that employs foreigners — such as a multinational company or a school with foreign teachers. After all, I met my husband at an Internet company.

Still, you can’t put all of your hopes on a job — and fortunately, you don’t have to.

One of your best bets may be a Chinese language school or department in your city. From my experience, foreign women fascinated with Chinese language and culture tend to be more open to Chinese men. Some schools, such as Beijing Language and Culture University, even have Chinese corners. Do a search and find out if there’s one in your area. Even though you’re an English major, open yourself up to the possibility of connecting with a foreign woman in your native language.

Another option is getting involved in an international organization or NGO. Many foreigners gravitate towards service like this as a way to enrich their China experience and “give back.” You also tend to meet a lot of nice people along the way, as I did when I participated in birdwatching with a WWF China group in Shanghai. You may not necessarily meet someone right away, but you could build relationships with foreigners and Chinese that may lead to that special someone, and do some good at the same time. The Beijinger, for example, has a long list of NGOs and options for volunteering.

If volunteering isn’t your thing, why not try other organizations or activities? Consider joining a gym — a lot of foreign ladies do, and, again, it’s a great way to build relationships over time with a foreigner (though, realize we’re more often into the cardio, aerobics, yoga/pilates, instead of just weight lifting like many guys). Get involved in sports or outdoor activities you like (which many foreigners love as an escape from big-city life), everything from long-distance bicycling to hiking and camping. When you meet people through these activities, you already have a shared foundation to start from, and it makes building a relationship so much easier.

What about English corner? You could try it, but you may find less success. Some foreigners — myself included — experience what I like to call “English corner burnout” after getting mobbed by too many English learners at once, or entertaining the same questions (well-meaning though they may be) over and over. And even if you do find a receptive foreign woman at an English corner, you’ll have to compete with other English learners for her attention.

Avoid expat bars — they’re more a refuge for homesick foreigners who want a break from life in China, or want to meet other foreigners. The demographic here isn’t really in your favor. (I take this back — give the expat bars a try because, after all, many single foreign women do go to them. But just realize that not all expat bars are created equal and every place has a different atmosphere — some more welcoming, some not. Do your homework before you go and remember, you don’t have to depend on the bars to meet people!)

But it’s one thing to meet a foreign woman, and another to charm her. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be too aggressive. For me, it was always a turn-off when a Chinese man would, for example, shove his phone number in my hand moments after saying hi, asking if he could be my friend, and then expecting to have lunch with me that day. That doesn’t mean that you can’t give us your phone number or e-mail or even suggest coffee or tea sometime — just realize that we need time to get to know who you are to develop a friendship, and more.
  • Realize we’re often looking for true love or a soulmate — not merely someone who will “make do” as a husband, or simply because he has an apartment or a car. Personality and interests often mean a lot to us. Be willing to share of yourself, and let her really get to know you, instead of simply offering “love” without a reason why she should love you. I think of one Chinese man I flirted with for a while — he kept on showering me with romantic poetry and declarations of love, but he had the personality of a Ken doll. Needless to say, the flirting ended pretty fast.
  • Maintain language equity — in other words, make sure that the relationship is not monopolized by one language, if the foreign woman can speak or is learning Chinese. Otherwise, she will feel disrespected (as in, why won’t he give me the chance to improve my Chinese?) and used, as if she were just an “English machine” there to serve you.
  • Don’t let what I like to call “the inferiority factors” get in the way of a good relationship. We’re often taller, heavier, earn more, and may even have more education than many Chinese men. But if you’re willing to let go of cultural expectations, you may find the love is worth it.

Good luck Aiden — and if you find a foreign woman, please let me be one of the first to know!

Do you have a question about dating, marriage and family in China (or in Chinese culture). Every Friday, I’ll choose one question and answer it on my blog. Send me your question today.

35 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: How Chinese men can meet foreign women in China”

  1. Great answers, Jocelyn! I would especially like to second your second and fourth bullet points. As a Western single woman in China who would be very open to a Chinese boyfriend, I have found that many Chinese men seem incredibly intimidated by me. They also seem to want to peg me as a 开放 (“open”) Western girl who is only looking for sex, which is not the case.

    Additionally, I would also say let go of any “inferiority factors” in regards to what Chinese typically favor: a house, a car, etc. Don’t let a lack of those things stop you–I know it stops a fair amount of men here, no matter the nationality of the girl they’re pursuing.

    Also, I echo don’t be too aggressive, but try make it clear you want to date a girl, if you meet her and decide you like her. I have, a few times, found myself in a situation where I wasn’t sure if a Chinese guy was being friendly and/or curious about a foreigner, or if he was interested in dating. I usually guessed wrong. Embarrassing either way!

  2. Well, I read this blog twice and surely got something. Actually what Ellis says is also ture. I onced liked a lady who is about three years older than me. She came to our university to teach(teach freshmen, I am senior.) and we met and became friends. I sometimes talke with her on skype and for once I showed my interest on her and then asked her if she would like to go out for a field trip. The answer is always “No, I am kind of busy recently.” Then, I lost my confidence asking her out or telling her that I liked her. There sure are a lot of reasons why I did not carry on. Firstly, she comes from the USA and the inferiority you mentioned does exists. One of my American friend is now treated like a king in China. He was invited frequently to fancy banquets, was given all sorts of gifts and was given all the priority, etc. All these keep you feel that they are superior. I sure do not like those Chinese who treat foreigners way better than they treat their own folks. We should be nice and friendly to our International friends but not that way. Secondly, pressure from people around you. When my classmates learned that I like her, they all came to me and started to joke about this. I can put up with all the joking with one or two days but not being joked all the time. By the way, I was just fond of her and I can not even say I love her. Like and love are just too different for me. Like is the basis of love and I have no idea why the “like” is killed in the cradle. Anyway, she is leaving for Europe tomorrow and I guess I should say good bye to her tonight. We can be friends anyway. Haha.

  3. Aiden, it would have been very unprofessional and risky for her to date a student of the university where she is teaching!

    1. @ellis — thanks for weighing in on this! Good point the whole “openness” issue. Most foreign women in China are not seductresses looking for a casual one-night stand. Also good suggestion on being clear about your intentions. I guess that might be difficult for some men, given the nature of communication in China (which tends to be more vague and indirect) — but it doesn’t mean Chinese men can’t try.

      @Aiden — I’m glad the post helped you. It was a pleasure to write.

      I would echo Vesper’s comment, with an explanation. In Western countries, we try to avoid what you call “dual relationships.” An example of a dual relationship would be where a teacher dates or has a very close friendship with a student. While you weren’t necessarily asking your teacher out on a date, she was probably trying to avoid the problems of a dual relationship. Some programs that send English teachers over to China strictly enforce a no dual relationship policy (meaning that those teachers who violate the code could lose their position).

      Of course, there are Western professors and teachers who, unfortunately, engage in dual relationships (such as dating students). But this is generally frowned upon and considered unethical.

      @Vesper — thanks for the comment!

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  5. Thanks for your suggestions. The explaination is reasonable. Haha. it explains everything and we sure have so much difference. I have worked as an part-time English teacher, I should have know better about this. Anyway, when this came to me, I totally forgot. Thanks again.

  6. Aiden
    How’s this for pragmatic advice – try to work part-time at a place like starbucks or another laid back foreigner-infested place in your area. One evening a week spent making espresso and cleaning tables would be fun and how could a potential employer say no? You’ve got the qualifications and you’re in it for more than just money. Don’t say you want to meet chicks, though, just say that you are looking for a diverse atmosphere.
    There’s alot of advice pertaining to your personality here but how do I know you aren’t already sensitive, non-aggressive and assertive? You want greater numbers so you can try different tactics and not regret the mistakes. That’s possibly the best advice I can think of.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Louie. Working part-time could definitely be another good way to meet a foreign woman — provided, of course, that it is a place that would attract enough foreign women to justify the effort. I’m not sure, though, if, say, Starbucks would let anyone work only one night a week, as they seem to have a pretty formalized approach to employment. Still, I suppose other places may.

  7. Hi, Jocelyn, I am back again. I just moved to Shanghai and am got employed in an Korean company. Great place Shanghai is. Anyway, I read this article again and all the remarks. And I also noticed that Maria(Ma Rui) said hi. Is it possible that you help me to contact her and tell her I said hi. If she is interested in having a new friend, then give her my email. Haha, I guess this is not aggressive. Thanks again.

  8. I do like western girl. They’re really smart and independent. problem is what I want is serious relationship ,just don’t wanna find them in bars….

  9. Jocelyn-I think there is ton’s of money to be made being an international/inter-racial matchmaker! I am a 30 year old bi-racial (African American/White) woman who had dated and is currently in a relationship with a Chinese man. I have been facinated with Asian culture for a long time now and took my first trip to China in Oct. 09. It was definatly a life changing, eye opening experience. While I was there for a month I had a relationship with a long time online friend. Ironically he wanted to be an international matchmaker. Anyway, that relationship didn’t work out, but we have stayed good friends. When I came back to the states I met my current boyfriend and that has also been an adventure. I’m now that the “honeymoon” is over with my new bf I’m looking to your blog and others for advice and ideas on how to keep things positive in this new relationship. I wonder if you could sterotype a little bit and talk about the temperment of Chinese men? I always percieved Chinese men to be extemely gentle, but I have found that me new bf has a bit of a temper. I heard from another family member that sometimes Chinese men change after they get married and don’t treat their wives well. I am horified at even hearing this, but now my curiosity has kicked in. Can you tell me what you think?

  10. Thank you and hi to the guys here with the guts to look for Western women!
    I think it depends on the girl. For me, I don’t mind aggressive. It would be a breath of fresh air for a guy to come out and shove a phone number (or QQ number) into my hand. 😀
    I don’t like bars either, but English corners usually have women and a foreign woman in an English corner always feels she has to compete for the one man there with the 234234235 Chinese women there!
    I guess the best way would be in the street or a public place. Just approach someone!

  11. Aiden’s question is exactly what i want to ask. but my situation is a bit of different, i had few years of experience of being in Europe, I am currently running a company with my classmates in Beijing, as our work required, we often go to the events organized by Chamber of commerce, which is more on the business side, and of course, bars and events for foreign expats are also where we go to, however, it just did not work out for me so far. as the nature of our business, most of the foreigner i met are males (businessmen). Jocelyn’s suggestions are very helpful, i think i might try the NGO. and i just stumbled upon a paid dating event in Beijing which attracts some foreign ladies and i gonna give it a try, but still have no ideas if it works. i know in city like Beijing, the chances of meeting foreign ladies is much more likely than other smaller ones, but i would appreciate if someone here could give some hints for single Chinese men in beijing area.

  12. hey,Jocelyn.

    Could you ask Aiden whether he is single and want a wingman in shanghai?

    I am moving to shanghai soon and definitly need a wingman to hangout with.

  13. Thanks, Jocelyn. I will contact Frank and see what I can offer to help. I know it might be extremely difficult to visit a country where most people have no clue what you are saying, therefore, I would like to help him with everything about our country. Thanks for you email, again.

  14. @Lee: it doesn’t need to be so complicated. Approach foreign girls on the street, in the subway or in a store! The key for this to work is to be super casual. Smile and just say hi. Or ask them a simple question like “what time is it?” Nothing more. See what kind of response you get from that. If it’s a positive response, make small talk or crack a relative joke. Then introduce your self and exchange contact info or just directly go out to coffee with them.
    I met a Chinese guy in the subway once who asked me out to coffee right then and there and I was so impressed with his bravery and confidence that I said yes and we hung out the rest of the day together.

  15. just do it.
    no man will like all women, and no man can be liked by all women, that is why friendship is valuable, and Chemistry is fantastic!
    I work in Shanghai in a big Germany company, I love to talk with foreign colleagues, cause it is easy and happy, openly, frankly, without any hesitaion, about movies (with USA guys), music (about Rock with USA guys, about symphony with germany guys), Philosophy(with germany guys), etc, to share with them all those things I have been loveing for decades of years.
    Unfortunately, I have not found my Ms. Right. I am still looking for. lol

  16. Reading this post was interesting as I would not have previously imagined that a Chinese man would purposely seek out a foreign woman. I, a 20-something, white, American female have been seeking outside the American realm myself. Although I am able to have my own children, since I was very young, I have wanted to adopt internationally, particulary from China. It is difficult to meet American men that are seeking marriage, nevermind single American men that are even appropriate or available for marriage. I would then like to reverse the question for discussion. How would a fairly conservative but sporty American woman place herself in a position to be pursued for marriage by an appropriate forgeign prospect? Is it even likely to gain the attention of an Asian male if the intimidation factors are so prevalent?

  17. it is true that Asian guys are generally not very sporty.
    however, marriage is based on love, love is based on feeling, and feeling is not based on shape.
    As I always say, you do not have to attract every one in order to get a marriage. You only find the one who attracts you and is attracted by you. That is all.
    BTW, do those white females seek asian guys because ” It is difficult to meet white men that are seeking marriage……” ?

    also, welcome to my page, 🙂

  18. Thank you, gogood, for your response! Why do you say that generally Asian guys aren’t particularly sporty? Is this characteristic of those in their home country? Most of the Asian men I know in the US do place importance on physique and are pretty out-doorsy and active which is why I ask. Also Asians as a whole seem to have physical activity ingrained into their culture, and they also seem markedly intune with the relationship between mind and body, thus the relationship between the strength of body in relation to strength of the mind (Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do). I am really just drawing form those that I actually know though. This is one reason that I have so much respect for particular Asian cultures and continually try to adopt the lifestyle/perspective. I am not able to represent all women everywhere or even most women regarding the interest in an Asian husband, and as someone else has commented here, it’s rare. However, as for myself, it’s not that I absolutely cannot find an American, white spouse; I am considering that I may not desire the cultural beliefs/behavior that American men generally possess. It is my thought that the culture has evolved sharply to allign with the feminist movement, leaving men confused as to their roles in a traditional setting (which has all but been completely annihilated) and significantly lowering the bar on the commitment men have towards their families. Culturally-based moral standards have been lost here. Traditional Asian culture can be much more appreciated, and, in my opinion, a more desirable foundation on which to raise children.

  19. I should mention also that my perception of who is approriate and available is defined pertaining not only by those already married, too old/young, etc., but largely by those that I deem as “emotionally unavailable,” and there is not a shortage of the type at all. That’s a term I use to describe those that may want to get married but do not want to take the leadership role in a marriage, have moral or integrity issues, are self-focused, etc. All of these being, in my perception, highly prevalent in American society.

  20. First, my mistake, and my apologize: I should have said that Asian men are not always very big in the body size. This is what I want to mean. sorry again. 🙂

    Secondly, OMG! You see things in a really deep level.
    I never live in USA so I can not say anything about the men there. But Traditional Chinese men do take most of the responsiblity of his family: his wife, and his kids. He sees his family more important than himself. that is a traditional chinese way.

    Thirdly, welcome to put your eyes onto China, 🙂

  21. one small thing: i don’t agree with the advice of not going to expat bars. Honestly, some of the things you said are indeed true, but that’s not always the case. I used to go to expat bars in beijing really often, not necessarily because i “needed a break” from china, but because that’s where the fun is! And for fun i mean live music, clubs, concerts etc. If you’re 20 something, as a foreigner, you’ll need that. And those places are perfect to meet people, especially in summer: you go out for a smoke or to get some fresh air and you start to chat randomly with people and get to know them. Unfortunately, whenever I went clubbing/bar hopping in BJ, i would find foreign guys, chinese girls, but hardly any chinese guy, and if they are there, they don’t seem to mmh be very “sociable” (read, they don’t approach girls and stay on their own) or they tend to be a bit too agressive (like, asking your phone number after 5′). So, my advice to Aiden (if you’re still checking comments, this post is pretty old ><) is to go to bars/clubs/concert and try to meet people and make conversations. You never know, something might happen! And in the worst case, you've made new friends 😀

  22. Hello Jocelyn I am really admire your husband. He can
    meet and date marry with your such as pretty west girls
    I am living and working in Shanghai. But unlucky I don’t have chance to know and meet the west girls in Shanghai
    and don’t know how to know them. and where I can easy to say hello to them and be their friends. If any foreigner girls that working and living in Shanghai. Pls contact with me. I really want find a foreigner girls as
    girlfriends. I hope I can marry with a west girl like jocelyn
    Then have a nice family. My name is Frank. any my E-mail is [email protected]. and my skype is frankzhao555. my mobile is 13671918270. I am waiting for the good new. Thanks!

  23. aiden,

    Not all foreign white women are the same!

    If you met a young Chinese-speaking Italian girl who is fascinated by Chinese culture and is dreaming of falling in love with a young Chinese man, you do not have to try very hard, that young Italian girl has been dreaming about loving a Chinese man all her life, she will just love to go out with you.

    On the other hand, if you met one of those English-speaking girls from England or Australia who have been fed all those negative racist stereotypes against the Chinese men, you should never try to talk to her, because she obviously does not like Chinese men, she probably believes that Chinese men are disgusting and repulsive.

    And you also have the problem that many young Italian girls are now learning to speak English and those Italian girls are watching all the racist Hollywood movies with the negative stereotypes against Chinese men.

    In general, if the Italian girl does not speak much English, the Italian girl has not had much exposure to racist English media propaganda against Chinese men, and the Italian girl will be more friendly to Chinese men.

    My best recommendation is to learn to speak a different language from English. You could learn to speak Italian, French, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Croatian, Portuguese, ..etc.. and then you could make friends with foreign white girls from Italy, France, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Croatia, Portugal..etc..

    For instance, if you could speak Danish, you could easily have 10 or 20 Danish girlfriends. I know a lot of Chinese men in Denmark, those Chinese men have lots and lots of Danish girlfriends, because so many Danish girls think that Chinese men are exotic and attractive.

    A Chinese friend of mine who went to Denmark found that so many young Danish girls were attracted to him, like they were staring at him, as though they were lusting after his hot Chinese body, he went out with so many Danish girls, it was like heaven for him.

  24. “young italian girls are NOW learning to speak english”? btw just so you know, in Italy Hollywood movies are dubbed so anyways we’ve been watching them for decades now.

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