Ask the Yangxifu: Texting to Ask a Chinese Guy Out?

Picture of the textpad and screen on a smartphone
A woman is interested in a Chinese guy, but they work in a romance-unfriendly government organization. Should she text him to ask him out? (photo by John Lee)

N asks:

I’m interested in this Chinese guy. When there is a group of us at work he doesn’t speak to me as much as when the two of us pass each other in the office when nobody else is there. This makes me think that he doesn’t want the other colleagues to see us become friends. Our company is part of a government organisation. He has shown interest by smiling, eye contact and staring. He’s asked me questions about when I’m going away and how long I plan to stay in China.

I’ve been thinking of asking him out via text. Do you think this will be seen as too keen or a bit sloppy?


When it comes to asking him out, to text or not to text? Some say it’s sexy, some say it’s sloppy. But in your case, I say it’s smart.

You already sense your organization isn’t exactly friendly to workplace romance. And while more and more young people dare to flaunt their love in public, in China, many still prefer to keep their love life under covers and behind doors — especially when it’s with a foreigner. (Heck, even my husband still shakes his head at romantic comedies from Hollywood, always commenting on all the “public kissing” that just doesn’t jive with what he knew growing up.)

So texting to ask him out allows you to keep things just between the two of you — which your guy will love. You’ll save him, and you, a lot of pressure and bad office gossip.

What if your workplace wasn’t so love unfriendly? Texting still might make sense if you prefer the privacy — and sense he does too.

Now if only you could keep those dates out on the two just as private… 😉

What do you think? What advice do you have?

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.

18 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Texting to Ask a Chinese Guy Out?”

  1. Send him text asking him if he would like to have a cup of coffee in an out of the way place where your workmates are less likely to be. If he accepts, start slow, just get to know one another and let nature take its course.

  2. After our first coffee date my fiance and I began building our relationship via text message while I travelled around China for a week. The texts started innocent… “now I am checking out the Terracotta warriors” and then became ” I miss you too…” Eventually he helped me book a flight back to him and now we are getting married next year! Texting is definitely a modern communication tool and should be utilized!

  3. As a Chinese guy, it’s pretty true that some of us are tend to feel extremely self-conscious with romance in public… I think it’s probably because we were socialized in this way since we were kids… When we were watching movies or TV program which have kissing scene, not saying sth further, our parent or adult would require us to close eyes immediately, which makes us think it’s kinda ‘shame’…

  4. Ok, maybe I’ve been in America for far too long but shouldn’t the guy be more active in this? What happened to a guy asking a girl out? Not to terminate your dreams, he could just be curious.

  5. @Sean, from personal experience, I never had Asian men making the first move, at least when it comes to communicating with me. I always started talking and they just followed up with that. (When it comes to dating and whatnot, well, they followed up on that.) Sometimes Asian men take forever, and perhaps she doesn’t have years or months and perhaps she has immediate decisions to make? Not trying to be mean or anything, just pointing something out.

  6. I think you’re mistakingly equating dating with public displays of affection. They’re not the same thing.

    If the guy doesn’t want anyone to know about your existence, that’s a really bad sign. This is especially true in a culture that prizes face and indirect communication. It probably means that (1) he’s ashamed of you for some reason (e.g., because you’re fatter than normal, so he’ll lose face by being seen with you) and/or (2) you’re the er nai, and he doesn’t want to risk people seeing the two of you together and telling his wife/primary girlfriend.

    A good rule of thumb is that if someone doesn’t want to be seen with you, don’t date them. Full stop. If you can lose your job because you’re dating them, then you probably shouldn’t date them. It’s sad, but true. Even large cities in China are really small towns where foreigners are concerned, and word will get back to your employer.

  7. I think she eantt that she doesn’t want to jeopardise his job chances with a government job and that she wants to keep the friendship in the office light…

    perhaps text is perfect.

    I think Chinese men are very shy when it comes to western women. I think if he has responded then a friendly text is ok.

    Any thoughts with the rules (The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider) and Chinese dating.

    Has anyone here dated work colleagues in China?

  8. Actually, my Chinese boyfriend and I met while working at the same hotel. He got my number from a mutual friend/co-worker, and initiated in texting me. However, I initiated the first date =P I think with Chinese guys, they sometimes just need a little push. There’s the added factor of being afraid to “lose face,” while I think Western guys are more willing to put themselves out there.

  9. “Ok, maybe I’ve been in America for far too long but shouldn’t the guy be more active in this?”

    “There’s the added factor of being afraid to “lose face,” while I think Western guys are more willing to put themselves out there.”

    “Sometimes Asian men take forever, and perhaps she doesn’t have years or months and perhaps she has immediate decisions to make? Not trying to be mean or anything, just pointing something out.”

    Most Asian American males perceive whites, especially white women or their familes to be racists (wrongly or rightly), and that is the reason they dont approach white women for two reasons: (1) it is a loss of face especially if it is with a white woman living in Asia..friends will say he went for a white woman, but got turned down and will laugh. It is easy to call them racists and stand in the sideline and hope the white women make the move…then he gains face; (2) signals from women could be misinterpreted…so the guy is not going to read the ambiguous signals and take a risk…persistence could lead to charges of stalking and harrassment…for white guys it may be ok, but for Asian guys that is a no, no! The Osmond’s song goes…”had they met they would have found a world of joy (but would they have?)” However, one thing they say is true…”he lives on the morning side of the mountain (Asia) and he lives on the twilight side of the hill (in North America or Europe).

  10. Hmm…texting is a good starter in today’s fast pace world, but we don’t really know much about this guy.

    The modern-more assertive-dating culture is still pretty new to a lot of Chinese guys. So yeah, we could use that little “push” from the other person, but not too much.

  11. I text him and he replied within 2 minutes!
    He said yes. I need to arrange the place. I guess he’ll sit back and let me organise because it was my idea. Hopefully it’ll be a good start to something more…

  12. N
    I would do that. Pick a public place that can still guarantee an appearance of privacy. Starbucks or a similar coffee shop would work because even though you are out in the open, you are generally ignored by others. Just be yourself and you will do fine.

  13. I recently started going out with a young Chinese man. I originally told him I thought we could help each other practice our language (him English and me Chinese). Now we’ve begun going out nearly every week. It’s hard though to help him understand that I like him and would like to do more or go further. He is extremely shy and when I asked him why Chinese men are so shy he said it’s because, “中国男人的面子很大“. But still I want more from him and I don’t think he’s going to make the first move, even after I told him liked him and found him interesting. Maybe I have to put some actions to my words? I am also afraid of “losing face”, ha. But seeing as he is never going to take the first step, maybe I should? What do you others who have dated Chinese men in China think? This is my first experience.

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