No Chance asks:
There’s a Chinese guy at my work who I’ve hung out with, but I never considered us more than just friends. I was about 60% sure that he liked me, but for various reasons I had my doubts.
One night, a seemingly casual dinner ended up being (apparently) a date. After reading some of this site, I realize that apparently I’ve been pretty ignorant of Chinese culture and how he probably has seen all of this as dating. (I’m an American woman.) He did later confess his feelings for me, and told him that I wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship. I’ve been pretty upfront with him about how I feel, and he claims that he doesn’t feel led on, but I think he thinks that I’m suppressing feelings for him. Because I still have a lot of respect for him, I want to be sensitive to his confession, but how do I show him that there really is no chance? I feel like he is not listening to me or doesn’t believe me.
I really like the fact you’re looking for a “show, don’t tell” approach to this situation — which, truly, fits with my experience living in China.
I’m sure my ex-boyfriend Frank wanted to show, not tell, his disinterest in staying connected with me (as a friend, that is) the past few summers I’ve returned to China. Whenever I invited him to meet me for dinner, something always came up. He had to decorate his new apartment. He needed to work overtime. His daughter was born (I didn’t doubt that one, but her birth sure had some inconvenient timing). Sometimes, he didn’t even answer my cell phone calls or text messages. While I still refuse to erase him from my address book, the truth is, I’ve lost any hope of ever meeting up with him again, as a friend.
You, too, can be like Frank — to show your disinterest in being a girlfriend to this Chinese man. Make yourself busy every time he asks you to go out or do something together. Don’t engage in anything beyond friendly chat at work — and if he tries to push it beyond something friendly, say, look nervously at your watch and tell him you have something important to deal with (no need to explain — most Chinese don’t). While ignoring all of his calls and text messages is probably WAY too extreme, you might want to let some calls roll over to voice mail first, and leave text messages to gestate for a while before responding.
Chances are, he’ll get the message.
But, in fact, there’s an even more foolproof way to take yourself out of the dating equation — offer to be a matchmaker to him, as many Chinese often do with their friends. Only a common friend would try to set him up on a date with another girl.
Just one thing, though — if you want to try the matchmaker card, make sure that you’ve got a REAL girl lined up for him, and ready to go. (There’s nothing worse than replacing one uncomfortable situation with another.)
What advice do you have for No Chance?
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.