Ask the Yangxifu: Is Married Chinese Man Worth The Trouble?

Many junctions ahead road sign
A Western woman in a long-distance relationship with a married Chinese man faces a lot of trouble ahead in their relationship. Is it worth it?

White Lotus asks:

i have a long distance relationship with a married chinese man ..he has never been in love with his wife, they married because she  was pregnant. He is a great man, a loving father. he wants to marry me after the divorce . I ‘m afraid i’d be a burden for him since it would be hard for me to get a job in China. I’m not a native speaker of English and despite being an English teacher in my country .. i think i won’t be able to get a teaching position ( i don’t have an internationally recognised degree in my cv).  i don’t have other skills  and i’m just starting to learn chinese.
Sometimes i think i should set his heart free before he gets the divorce and spare him the pain we might inflict to his daughter. He doesn’t earn a lot of money so it would be hard for him to support us while i’m looking for a job. He doens’t live in a big  city  so i think opportunities will be scarce.
it’s difficult for me cause i love him a lot… he is more confident than me saying that i can do it, that  i will be able to find a job ..we have only one shot at  love cause it’s taking me half a year to save the moneyi need  to fly to china.

What  job opportunities are there  for me? Should i set his heart free?


White Lotus, you will face more challenges as a non-native English speaker if you want to teach in China, though opportunities exist for the persistent, and especially those willing to move to smaller cities. Get the scoop on this at Middle Kingdom Life. Still, shooting for only one small city in China — where your lover lives — might be asking a LOT.

Which, given what he is asking you to do, brings us to the more salient issue at hand: should you go?

I’m reminded of the advice my friend Gaby passed on to me many years ago when I contemplated moving to the United Kingdom for my Chinese boyfriend, a move that also had me tied in knots over finding work and more. “Tai mafanle!” (Too much trouble!)

Let’s consider some of the mafan (trouble) you’re facing here:

  • Moving to a foreign country, with a foreign language you still barely understand
  • Looking for work in only one small city, where you have few chances to find work
  • Saving up half a year’s salary for a plane ticket

That’s already a heaping rice bowl of problems, and we haven’t even considered your relationship.

Speaking of that, doesn’t it bother you that you have to do everything in this relationship, and he just sits there and waits for you? I know, I know, it’s his “situation” and so on. But all of the pressure is on you, not him. It’s no wonder he’s so confident. If you go there and things don’t work out, you’re out half a year’s salary for the plane ticket and stuck in a foreign country you barely understand. He, however, will only have a little heartache.

That’s, of course, assuming he’s sincere. But I wonder, can you even trust this guy? He says he plans to divorce, but for all you know, he might continue to stay married and just enjoy you on the side like an ernai, the modern version of a concubine. It’s not uncommon for married couples to live and work separately for long periods of time, so he could conceivably get away with it. Most Chinese men wouldn’t risk the shame of divorce (see my article on cheating with a married Chinese man).

Instead of setting his heart free, why not set yours free instead? You could do a lot better than this guy (I know my Chinese male readers are nodding at this one). Love doesn’t have to come with so much mafan.

What do you think?

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

34 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Is Married Chinese Man Worth The Trouble?”

  1. I agree! Also think about this: if he’s cheated on his wife with you, who’s to say he won’t cheat on you? There are plenty of available guys out there who are not married and half a world away. Good luck and don’t worry!

  2. It can feel hard, but set yourself free and move on. I wouldn’t trust a man who is ok cheating his wife. He could do the same thing to you too! There are just too many mafan in this case and I really think you can do so much better. Good luck!

  3. i think its a bad idea to go there all by yourself especially if he lives in a small city it may be difficult to make friends and you won’t have any support except for him. things could go horribly wrong. personally i think it would be a better for him to go and live wherever you are temporarily and if you find you are getting on very well and you thrust him then you can think about going to China. Personally i don’t like the sound of him. He has a wife and a child do you really want to be involved with breaking up the family?

  4. I am that Chinese male reader lol *smiles* :). If you want to take that hardcore route, you will need concrete proof that he’s divorce. Talk is cheap really ! How long have you known this man? Some men are bored and they can email you for hours. We have a saying here ” when you haven’t gotten it , you want it . When you got it, it’s the same like anything else”. My point is will this man stick with you to the end. No matter how hard you have to walk this road, you two will support each mentally and physcially. I am assuming that you will be eating bread and drink water for meals . When the divorce is not finalized , it’s considered cheating and we don’t know if he’s telling the truth. He hasn’t done step one ( get a real divorce) and step two , his wife and kid are not stabled yet ( still hurt from divorce). Give him one yr to do everything first or kick him to the curb , babe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, I sound mean but I’m really a nice person.

  5. Let me tell you something. The guy is not divorced yet. He could change his mind and go back to Wife #1 and you will be all alone there in China. Or he could divorce Wife #1 and you become Wife #2, then he finds someone else to be Wife #3. And so on. At any rate his family and friends could decide you “broke up the family” and they’re not going to want to talk to you so you’re going to be all alone as well. The way the world economy is, you are going to be an IDIOT to leave a job you have now with steady income and benefits in exchange for no jobs and no benefits in China. Do all of us a favor and lose this loser, please do that.

  6. Before I take my wife to dinner, I’m going to give you another advice from me … The wise one :). no, not a wise ass! If you still don’t listen to us, when you cry , your tears will fall upward not downward my dear! White Lotus, do not rush into anything yet. Take one day at a time and test him again and again. Here is another senerio.. If I’m a single guy, I will never consider being with a married woman period unless I’m a gigaloo.You’re using only emotions right now. Please wake up and think careful dear. Okay, I think you know what to do now.

    Thank you,


  7. I’ve been reading this amazing blog for a while now and I’m finding the articles really interesting. I’m going through the same thing and I’m having a lot of difficulties at the moment. I’m 18, just out of high school, from the UK and about a year ago I met this amazing Chinese guy and we just fell so deeply in love. After months of talking he wants me to come live with him in China, eventaully get married, and hopefully I’ll get a job teaching English. Honestly if I was rich I would go because there would be nothing to lose and I adore this guy and I’m fascinated with Chinese culture – it’s always been my dream to travel there. But at the moment I’m struggling to even find a decent job since I’m so young, it doesn’t look like this is going to be on the cards for me right now. He’s already talked about me to his parents, his family have been so supportive and call me their ‘beautiful daughter in law’. He offered to work overtime so he could pay 1/2 the cost of my plane ticket over there.

    Then I think of the cons. I can’t exactly afford to be skipping back and forth between UK and China, so if I go there, I’m going to be there for a while. I’m so young, and I want to be out there living my life, not doing laundry and taking care of babies all day. I don’t want to be an 18 year old bride. Like you said, Jocelyn, if I was to go over there, and things don’t work out, then I’ve lost out on all of my money, potentially my University placement, I’m far from any loved ones/friends, I’m stranded in a country where I can hardly speak a sentence of the language, and I’ve lost the love of my life. What does he have to lose? Not much, not much at all. He seems to think that it’s basically impossible for him to come to the UK, but it’s easy as pie for me to just get a visa and hop on a plane, when in reality it’s pretty complicated. He’s even said himself: now all the pressure is on me.

    I know guys…If I was reading this comment I’d think ‘this girl is a complete idiot’ but I have never been so deeply in love with anyone before. I’ve debated so many times in my head whether I should stop wasting my time on this hopeless ‘dream’ or if love really can overcome any obstacle. I know if I call things off after all we’ve been through, not just one but two hearts will be broken. I feel like such a naive little girl lost. People do crazy & desperate things for love…but I’d kinda hoped I’d never be one of those people. I thought I had more sense than that. I honestly don’t know what to do.

  8. @White Lotus, your situation looks not just ma fan, but fraught with so many uncertainties like all the rest here who have commented. Really, you have to be very certain before you even think of flying out to China. But it doesn’t really look promising at all. The only thing you have is just his words. If you are wondering whether you should set his heart free, it looks a better bet the other way round like Jocelyn said. @Hye Ya, your situation is not quite the same. If you are certain your Chinese bf is single and both of you love each other, you could always give yourself a chance. You are still young, but of course if you don’t want to settle down yet then you have to make this clear to your bf. If you want to be in China to be with him, I think Jocelyn and others who have experience with living and working in China and having a Chinese boyfriend or husband would be better qualified to give you advice.

  9. @white lotus,
    it looks to me the guy is not trustworthy. If he can cheat on his wife, he’ll cheat on you too. And from the looks of it, you’re the one who’s making the sacrifices, not him. Why bother ? A man is judged by his actions, not his words.

  10. okay this guy sounds like a con artist to me, esp when he says he’s got a wife and wants to eventually divorce and marry her… (for her permanent residence legibility ?)

  11. I want to thank you all for your thoughts and concern. I think you might judge him a bit too harsh, because i haven’t been very explicit.
    We haven’t met yet’s an internet love story ( but please don’t imagine anything sleezy) . We won’t meet until he divorces and his daughter gets used to the idea that her parents are separated
    ( we agreed on that from the start). Both of us have something to loose here least it’s what I think.

  12. White Lotus, I think you are making excuses for him. I would never make such a huge decision because of someone I have never met. I know that people can sound and behave very well and then in the end you realize how badly you have been fooled.

    You have much more to lose than him.

  13. White Lotus,

    What do you plan to do if he low-balls you with the “my daughter can’t accept the divorce/my daughter can’t accept you”? Or backtracks and says it’s hard to get a divorce in China? Due to money, or social implications, family pressures, etc. I’ve both met and heard about lots of guys who pull this stuff to get what they want without really putting anything into the new “relationship.”

    There’s a lot that can be imagined when the love is made by internet and has no root in reality (yet). Things could change on a whim when you do meet. I wouldn’t spend money you don’t have and/or waste work opportunities you do have to come to China for someone who doesn’t have himself better organized. Yeah, life is messy, but you try to do things right and don’t go into situations that are clearly a mess. Let him clean things up on his own and make an effort. If he’s serious, you’ll see this happen soon. If not, he’ll drag it out as long as you let him.

    You also mention he married his wife because she was pregnant, not because he was in love with her? Was it immaculate conception or did they agree to have a sexual relationship with no feelings involved (in China, I doubt she was some random girl…it doesn’t work that way here so much in small towns). The point is, he likely told her he loved her, much like you’re hearing. You have a lot of people here warning you against this guy because they’re seeing something your feelings may not be allowing you to see.

    Take a break from this guy. It will give him a chance to get his act together and you a chance to breathe and gain some perspective. It’s a lot to give up to come to a place you don’t know, to a man you’ve never met and is not available to you, and to a town where you have no family or friends to support you if he flakes out.

    I’m gonna close with a couple of pieces of advice I’ve received from my dad and by proxy from my good friend’s dad…

    1. Always keep yourself in a position to take care of yourself (you never know what will happen to a husband/boyfriend)
    2. The man who deserves your heart is the one who treats you like the princess that you are (actions speak louder than words).
    3. No man (or woman) ever has the right to make you into their own personal toilet. (A little crass –I KNOW– but it makes sense).

    Be well and good luck to you whatever you decide.

  14. You haven’t met him?? This is not love yet then. You know you should date a person in person first . Trust me , you will find more things about him/her in person. Love will happen if you nurture the relationship in real life. For example, my wife and I love each other more and more every yr because we compromise and adjust to each others mood swings and personalities. White Lotus, even though we’re total strangers here but we don’t want you to get taken advantage of. You have to check him out in person to see if he has a crooked eye or crooked lip etc,etc. Will his personality compromises with yours or not you know. When I met my wife, she didn’t know that I have a short fuse ( just for a few minutes) but she accepted it. Later, she realized that I am a good person and my jokes and sense of humor are too good that she can’t get enough of me and I have a kind heart and treat people right with respects. Okay, fly over there and get to know him for a month and you decide for y ourself. People usually don’t show their true side within a month dear. Anyway, good luck. Write us back in a few months and keep us update okay.

  15. okay if you never dealt with him face to face. An internet or keyboard romance is going up quick in smoke and gone like you’ve never known it existed in the first place. Words are just words unless he’s sacrificing alot for you first. How would you know you’ll still have that spark for him in a few mths time even if you’ve met? Don’t get carried away by internet seduction!!!

  16. A keyboard romance can totally mess up and even destroy lives in one key stroke. By the way – DO NOT GIVE HIM YOUR HOME ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER. Not until you have seen him face-to-face in the Real World and in Real Time, at least three to six months.

  17. Internet relationships are incredibly difficult. Trust me, after personal experience, they were never ever worth it in the end. They can also turn very nasty once the fantasy is over and things start to develop into the ‘real world’. I don’t entirely agree with Bruce that you can only love someone once you’ve met them – because I think under exceptional circumstances you can – but I guess actually it makes more sense. I know it’s going to be so difficult but I think you should give this guy up. He’s treating you like a doormat, if he needs you so much then he should at least offer to cover some of your expenses and provide solid proof of his divorce and finalise it. He’s proved himself to be quite a schemer, Hell, he went all the way to marrying some girl he didn’t love. Yes, it was to provide security for his daughter which is admirable, but now they’re divorcing so it didn’t really count anyway…and to go through the whole process of marrying someone – that’s a big emotional deception. Who’s to say he won’t deceive again? I know it sounds harsh, I’m not blaming you, I’m just saying. There are plenty of more trustworthy and available Chinese men out there. I really suggest that, unless you are stinking rich or prepared to start life all over again somewhere completely foreign to you: I think you should find someone closer to home. The expense of LDRs is unbearable.

  18. White Lotus,

    I hope you’re hearing the concern people have for you here. It would be better for you to find someone closer to home. If you manage the money to get to China then get out and meet a nice single guy when you’re here. There are lots of available men around who would be happy to make your acquaintance.

    Good luck.

  19. this relationship is doomed from the start. If neither of you are financially able and bound by cultural differences and stuck with marital problems (on his side)

  20. Long distance sometimes really need the great courage and understanding. I wish they can work it out and find the solution with their relationship.

  21. White Lotus,

    With this huge surplus of single Chinese men you had to choose to get involved with someone who is married and has a kid? As Jocelyn said, most Chinese men wouldn’t divorce. Especially in similar circumstances, they can have their cake and eat it too.

    But then, you haven’t even met each other yet, how can you talk about marriage? You said that you “won’t meet until he divorces” – so, did he tell you exactly WHEN he is going to do that? You are putting your life on hold for him and he is just waiting for you to do all the hard work – you will show up at his door and then what? Sorry, it doesn’t appear like you both have something to lose here.

    You are required to put in all the effort and the money while he is just playing at his own pace, things will happen whenever he is ready – even worse – whenever his daughter is ready to accept his divorce. He has no control over this factor, which means he can use it as an excuse to postpone his final decision to the 12th of Never.

    “He has never been in love with the woman he got pregnant and married” , what makes you think he is in love with you now? Fact is, she is the mother of his child. And you are his online buddy. Get a reality check.

  22. Explain the meaning of love to me, guys. Online and long distance love.explain to me. I will give you the answer later on.

  23. Could this story be any more ridiculous? It’s hard for me to believe there are girls out there that would even go along with something like this.

    Is the guy single? No
    Can the guy support you financially? No
    Can you trust the guy? No
    Do you know the guy? No (How can you know someone you’ve never met?).
    Is he a great father? No (A loving father would be focusing on his kid, not putting time into an internet affair)

    You’re obviously in denial if you think any part of this relationship is worth taking the risks you’re talking about. I know it’s sometimes easy to get swept away when a guy makes you feel important and “loved,” but come on, this relationship is a train wreck. Take Jocelyn’s advice and get free yourself.

  24. Guys I think you should stop blaming White Lotus. It’s not her fault. Obviously when a guy you like promises himself to you (well, over the internet anyway) and makes you feel loved then of course it’s hard to face reality and say no. But I think you could get hurt in this sticky situation. I do not agree that you should go over there and stay for a long time or at this point, even think about moving there and starting work in China as an English teacher – definitely not yet. He should be making more effort and provide you with some kind of financial support TBH. I was in a LDR relationship with a guy in China – and I don’t regret it. We would call, text, MSN, email and skype constantly and even mail each other gifts. He even gave me his passwords to his email and renren account because he wanted me to trust him! It’s very easy to have an idea set in your head about what that person must be like – but I’d say videocalls are about as close as you can get to the real thing. Of course, it’s so different from actually being able to touch, hear and smell that person. Haha. But LDR’s can work if two people are totally 1000% honest and committed. That is where the difficulty about LDR’s often arises – there’s no real way of making sure that person is telling you the absolute truth, which is vital. But I believe they can work out beautifully. Love is a risk and if you never take that risk then it’s likely you’ll never get close to experiencing it! You shouldn’t regret falling in love – you should only ever regret being afraid to love.

  25. this is just a fantasy yet to come true. He’s looking to the internet and meeting someone to escape the consequences of his actions and you prolly needed someone to say sweet nothings and cute words to make your heart flutter.

    i’m not writing this out of sarcasm anyway but look at the cons here of where you’re taking this ‘net’ relationship to.

  26. I agree with Jocelyn when she says that you should worry more about setting your own heart free, not just his. I know that we can’t really judge because we don’t know the whole situation or the details of your relationship with him. However, based on what I know, such as the fact that he’s from a small town, I’m guessing that his family put a lot of pressure on him to get married to the girl, even though he didn’t want to. And I’m guessing that they’re going to put even more pressure on him not to get divorced, especially since they have a child together. In China, especially in small towns, getting divorced is a huge loss of “face.” There are people who wouldn’t dare to go out and be seen in public just because they don’t want to face people asking why their son’s wife hasn’t been around.

    In China, many couples break up because the parents don’t agree with the relationship. In one article I read, a girl said that what her parents want is more important than what she wants. That’s just the culture. Basically, I’m saying that it’s not a guarantee he’ll divorce his wife.

    I also think that if he cheated on his wife with you, who’s to say he won’t cheat on you? I know you may think the difference is that he loves you, but I believe that marriage is a commitment, and he broke that when he began his relationship with you, even though it was online.

    Good luck to you, and I wish you the best as you work this out.

  27. I really don’t care if you’re having online or long distance relationship. You can call and say ” I love you ” all you want ;however, both minds and hearts have to be ONE. Verbally , he/she is with you ,but he/she might have another affair on the side. I really do admire women and men who can keep their pants on 24/7 for one yr while you’re having a online or LDR. I know a Chinese man who is still currently waiting for a woman to come back. She’s having an affair on the side ( we assume) and always asks for money all the time. He is very naive . Life is very complicated and we must know what we’re doing.

  28. Sorry White Lotus, i agreed with Jin’s Girlfriend. Why in the world would ANYONE trying to get involved with a MARRIED man? Cut your losses now!

  29. Wow, this comment is a year late. But I agree with pretty much everything said here. I am sorry you think that love is a justifiable reason to cheat. Its NOT. For whatever reason he may have married his wife, its not like he never benefitted from that union. If he is unsatisfied and looking for something different (you), that does not make him any different from so many men who cheat. If he was already divorced and figuring out his life after and then you met him, I would be a bit more positive.

    But right now, to me, it looks like this guy is too chicken to risk anything. Sure it sounds like he is, but I think if he was sure he did not want the marriage he would have divorced his wife because he was unhappy, not because he found someone else to fill her position. Thats just cowardly. So if you are OK being with a coward, well good luck to you. But value yourself a bit more if you can. You CAN do better.

    Also ruining a woman and a child’s life (even if the woman was never loved by this man) is just horrible (BTW child accepting the divorce and all that all sounds like big words to me. Even if his kid accepted the divorce do u really think its easy for the kid to accept her daddy with another woman, immediately after that?!). No good karma can come from hurting innocent people. Even if the reason is love, its still selfish (and therefore most likely NOT love)

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