Are More Unconventional Chinese Men More Likely to Date/Marry Western Women?

My husband with his crazy spiked up hair
My husband John and his spiked-up hair.

“I’m not at all a typical Chinese!” That’s what a Facebook friend, a guy with a European wife, wrote to me in a message. But his words could easily have been spoken by my own husband.

When I first met John, he was anything but “typical.” I’d never known anyone in China with such a passion for psychology, or such chutzpah (he once threatened to file a lawsuit against polluting factories in his village).

As we dated — and eventually married, I discovered just how unconventional he was. Whether he confronted an exploitative boss in China or the US institutions that discriminated against him, John displayed a courage most would never have imagined in a man who only stands 5’4” (1.65 m) tall. While most Chinese would covet US citizenship and a life abroad, he wanted to keep his Chinese passport and return to China to start his career. He even loves my curves, something you probably wouldn’t expect from a Chinese guy — especially one thinner and lighter than his wife.

And I feel as if that atypical Chinese husband/boyfriend might just be the norm for Western women. I know at least three yangxifu married to musicians who seem to dance to the beat of a different gong (including Jessica Larson-Wang’s husband, who once had very long hair, and Ember Swift’s husband, who still has dreadlocks). I’ve met audacious entrepreneurs who, together with their Western wives, opened successful businesses (such as Alexandra, of Hunli-ing, and her husband, as well as Cause Haun and Gang Chen of See Kai Run). Kelly Sandor-Yang’s husband, who loves to do hip-hop dancing and keeps a whole menagerie of exotic fish in their home, seems anything but ordinary. And I’m certain you could say the same for Michael, the husband of Life Behind the Wall‘s Jo Gan, since he dared to marry an African-American woman more than 10 years his senior.

So I have to wonder — are more unconventional Chinese men also more likely to date and marry Western women?

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

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29 Replies to “Are More Unconventional Chinese Men More Likely to Date/Marry Western Women?”

  1. I would think that any Asian guy, regardless of where he came from, would be unusual if he dates white girls. My Korean ex wasn’t conventional: he was very independent, in the past he traveled a whole lot, and for some odd reason he never bothered to include me into any Korean celebrations (claimed it was because it was America,) but according to him he wasn’t typical. He was still Korean though; he was shy in hand-holding and PDA, whenever he got angry he disappeared for a week (is it his own trait or a normal Asian one?) he seemed very well-rounded as well.

  2. @John. You go bro!!!!! I am happy and proud that you were able to pick-up a White chickie and married her. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration to all men of all races and colors.

  3. Just one word: definitely! There may be some other not that “unconventional” but normally it is an open mind what makes interracial relationships work, not only “love”.

  4. I have often wondered this about Korean men. Every woman dating or marrying Korean man says something along the lines “All Korean men ___ but my guy is different.”

    Is this really because only the unconventional ones date foreign women, or is it that we too easily typify and once we get to know the person initmatelly we see they don’t really fit any particular category?

  5. Sounds like a typical Chinese to me…..

    Everyone says that. Chinese people will tell you ” oh Chinese people are like this…like that…”

    And then you ask them ” so you’re like this? ”

    And they’ll say “no, not me…but other people are…”

    That’s what they all say

  6. Hi Jocelyn,
    Nice post, I would say : yes they are!
    I would also say that we are also unconventional somehow, but sometimes we don’t see that.
    Just the fact that we are living / working in China makes us have a very different life from our friends back home ( and I only realize about it when I go home and they all ask me many questions, and say how different my life is), here we don’t see it because the people we meet are:
    1. Locals; so is normal they are here
    2. Foreigners who are here: So they are like us, and they also feel we are having a normal life…

    Here we are also unconventional, so the topic is: unconventional couples.


  7. Same can be said to western woman who dates and marry Asian man.

    I would say both man and woman of AMWW couple have to be 1) open minded (they both have to open to the idea of interracial) and 2) courageous (both have to overcome extra hurdles) .

  8. If you are referring to people like Jocelyn’s husband, I think they are unconventional comparing to majority of Chinese in China. Maybe western women look for the same set of qualities in these Chinese men as seen in other western men. I don’t think most western women would want to change when entering into such relationships. But each partner will end up changing anyway.
    Also, being with someone from a different cultural background can bring out hidden qualities. It is much easier to be who you are than being unconventional, whatever that means.

  9. Well, the way you guys are talking about “unconventional” Chinese men……well what is a conventional Chinese man?

    I don’t think I’ve ever met one. Every Chinese guy I know is pretty unique themselves, so I don’t know what you guy are even talking about really…

  10. hahhahahahhaheheheheh 🙂 I’m back from a long long vacation!!! Oh yes baby!!! LOL :). Give me a week to recover from a fantastic time.

    I think I’m unconventional maybe..The way I talk in real life and the things that I love to do are different from other Chinese men. We all want to stand out and it’s a good thing. Normally, I like to make people open up and they really open up at the end.

  11. It does not take much to be unconventional in China. It probably has less to do with how you act. Conventional implies stereotypical Chinese men. Western women will have trouble dating this type unless you can see virtues in conventional.

  12. I am not sure if they are unconventional. A lot of people that are “open minded” can be quite close minded about accepting ways of thinking different from theirs too, so I guess the unconventionality lies in both the parties’s desire to explore the idea of relationship that doesnt go by the book.

    For me, I would say I think it takes someone more open to different ways of thinking and malleable to date someone from another culture. I wouldnt try to find a western trait in an asian man though. I think in retrospect the reason why I grew and keep learning from IR is more so because of the so called “conventional” traits in my partner, that taught me to look at both sides of the coin.

  13. Jocelyn can I ask what initially attracted John to you, what was in his personality to take a chance with a westren girl if so many others hold back from taking that chance.

    Is it being unconventional?

    1. First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments! This is a really fascinating and, for me, enlightening conversation.

      @mira, that’s a great question. I actually covered some of this in a post I did last year (To My Chinese Husband, I’m a Hero?) So, as I wrote in that post, he loved me for my courage — the courage, in his mind, that it took for me to travel all by myself to a foreign country.

      Other things that attracted him? He claims that the sensitive, caring side of my personality was definitely attractive (though, interestingly, so was my emotional side too). He loved the fact that I could speak Chinese (he thought it fascinating that I was so good at ordering dishes in Chinese), and even was impressed that I knew all of these backstreets/places in Hangzhou (his hometown) that he had never known before.

      I don’t know exactly what it was in his personality — I would have to think about that, as personality is a complicated thing. But I will say that during his undergraduate years, before meeting me, he never dated any of the girls he met there (and he studied English, which meant the vast majority of his classmates were women, leaving him with a wealth of dating opportunities). I was actually his first (and only) girlfriend. And I think it is telling that, later on, he stood by my side, even though his father initially had reservations about him dating me — which suggests he’s rather bold in some respects, willing to go against others if he does not agree.

  14. Parents of Chinese men may not have much a choice in the future if they want their sons to get married…not enough women for all the Chinese men…big sex imbalance…and hence many western women dont want to date or marry Chinese men, many will remain bachelors unless they are willing to marry someone from the Philippines or Thailand where the imbalance is the other way round!

  15. Seems to me more of a cultural difference than being unconventional.
    It is unusual for someone to date only one person leading to marriage today. Most people accept as it is and question less in China. So anything out of status quo can make someone different, which is really not hard to do. I wonder if people brand themselves as unconventional to get the girls.

  16. I told you guys a while ago that Chinese men are attracted to caring women. If you’re just a western woman WITHOUT the caring personality, most likely there won’t be any potential in the relationship. It’s the caring part etc etc that will make a man moves to another level and takes risk. I’m serious.

  17. Most importantly, making each others happy thru laughters. Being there for each other no matter what happen. Any men and women will fall for you if you have these attributes unless they are stupid. Don’t hold back if you don’t like something because it’s very painful being with someone who doesn’t understand your personality. Lots of making ups in any relationships. If I say something wrong ,please excuse me.

  18. In fact, I was going to pose a similar question to you Jocelyn, because i often hear many of my (foreign) friends and family when i tell them that i am marrying a Chinese, they all say “he mustn’t be a typical guy” or “he must be something special for you to marry him” Which got me thinking..Is my husband so different from other Chinese? In fact i think not. He is just a normal, traditional, country boy. Actually, maybe thats what sets him apart in my heart. He didn’t go out of his way to meet me, get my phone number or anything too forward… in the end we just fell in together!

  19. Unconventional women attract unconventional men (and the other way around). Many of the women who choose to live in China do indeed seem to be unconventional (at least that’s the impression I get when reading the blogs of talented, creative and highly sensitive women living in China), which might be the reason why unconventional Chinese men are attracted to them.

  20. Everyone has a different story. We just need to accept it. There is no one characteristic or a set of them that defines a person. We change through time, our environment, and our interactions. Case in point, if you put an Asian boy in a 100% Asian community, he would grow up most likely liking Asian girls and vise versa. But that doesn’t mean he would end up with one once he moves away from that environment, it’s just less likely. People can be conventional in one way and very unconventional in another. That’s just us, humans. We are never a boring bunch.

  21. @Sveta
    Being Chinese myself, I don’t have any friends like that.
    so it is his own trait, not a normal Asian one.
    I think its not normal behavior
    100% positive

  22. I think that’s the case everywhere, not just China. It’s usually the unconventional people who are more likely to go out of their comfort zone in many aspects of life, including whom they date or marry. Or seen from the other side: the fact that they marry someone from another culture itself makes them unconventional.

  23. I think those who do choose to marry someone from a completely different race or culture AND faces negative treatment as a result of some negative treatement, does need be personally independent in thinking and willing stick to some personal values.

  24. Surprisingly I had a very different experience with my Chinese boyfriend.

    For months he kept saying how he was, “just an average Chinese guy” in almost any situation. To deep topics such as hopes and admirations to really even the most menial of tasks such as going grocery shopping, he’d always end his reasnons with “because I’m just a normal Chinese guy.”

    I always gave him a rough time about this, and whenever he even uttered this phrase I would say: “If you were average or normal, I wouldn’t even date you.” He would look at me and shrug his shoulders.

    It got me thinking that maybe in the US (where I’m from) we’re taught to be a unique individual and being anything but ‘average’ is how you get anywhere in life. Phrases like “be yourself” are repeated over and over to us in school, in addition to being taught to “not follow the crowd.” In Asia, I know this kind of education DOES NOT happen.

    In China most people just want average (except for when it comes to salary). Get married, have a kid, buy a house, and ‘慢慢过日子” (enjoying the average, everyday life together) is their idea of winning the jackpot.

    Recently though, I’ve heard my boyfriend say “maybe I’m just not typical,”or “maybe I’m a weirdo.” I think since dating me he’s realized that, in comparison to his friends, he has gone off the beaten path.

    I don’t know if he was originally “unconvential” or if he just managed to change over time, but I think that when love happens, it happens, and being unconvential or not has nothing to do with it. Of course, to accept a foreign person in your life very much requires an open mind, aside from that you never really know who you’re going to end up with. All of my Asian boyfriends never dreamed of dating a foreigner (because you do have those locals who are on the prowl for a white girl), so I think sometimes you can change them–or, maybe, bring out with was initially there.

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