Chapter 10: Did I Ask John to Move In?

There it was, a tiny blue duffel bag on the floor of the guest room. I found it Tuesday evening, after returning home from work.

It was John’s suitcase, of course. In a way, it was natural he would bring his things here. We hadn’t spent a day apart since that Friday, my birthday, when we first kissed. My apartment — with two bedrooms, a full bathroom and kitchen, dining room, TV and A/C — was far nicer than the cramped, sparse room in the peasant house that John shared with his friend. And, I had given John the keys — wasn’t that an open invitation?

Still, I couldn’t help wondering how he came to the conclusion — moving in — when we’d never really agreed on it. 

It didn’t make sense to me because I didn’t think in the Chinese way. I didn’t see, as John did, that our dating, our kisses, our everything meant, to him, that we were heading towards marriage, eventually. He never said it then. But years later, he admitted that, since we had kissed (and more), our relationship was already settled in his mind.

I’m glad he didn’t say any of it to me. Maybe I would have been scared, to even imagine marriage just days after our first kiss. Maybe I would have overreacted, and complicated everything. Behind closed doors, my emotional fluctuations have frightened more than one Chinese man.

But he didn’t say it. And, I didn’t say what I felt in my heart either — that I believed John was the one.

Maybe that was why I wanted to keep him close, even though it seemed too soon to move in. I said nothing about the duffel bag, or how it was so early to live together. I stayed silent, instead enchanted by the idea of having him, and his suitcase, right by my side.

Were you ever surprised by how serious dating was in China? Did a Chinese ever move in with you before you thought it was time?


Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, visit the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

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14 thoughts on “Chapter 10: Did I Ask John to Move In?

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  • January 21, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I must smile at your article…. I didn’t ask my Irish American husband to move in; however, I did ask him to marry me. Why waste time if you know he is the one?

    • January 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Tiffany! It’s true, sometimes you shouldn’t waste time. I guess John and I were still pretty young. I definitely wanted to take my time. But I did believe he was the one. Now, how contradictory is that? 😉

      Anyhow, thanks again for reading, and hope to see you around again soon.

  • January 25, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Nice post.
    As a traditional Chinese man, I think it’s very weird for a person to come to other’s apartment even he/she gets the key.

    I think the only reason is that he really was in a deep love with you and wanted to be with you all the time.

    I think this situation usually happens to yong people, especially they don’t have much love experience, no matter what culture they live in.

    • January 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm

      Dear Adam,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this post.

      Yes, I think you’re right, that John was very deeply in love with me, and he did want to spend more time with me.

      Of course, it didn’t hurt that his current apartment was pretty minimal, and he preferred the amenities at my apartment (such as a shower with hot water) that his apartment didn’t have. 😉

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  • February 3, 2010 at 5:34 am

    There alone, you can tell (thinking of our discussion on the “dating history”-post) that you can’t tell… year before last, the German debate competition had “Does it hurt society’s morals for people to co-habit?” as one of the topics; you are not supposed to live together before marriage, after all. Then again, you are also not supposed to do more than hold hands and maybe kiss before marriage, either 😉

    • February 4, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Thanks for the comment, Gerald — you always write thought-provoking things! It really is true that you can’t tell.

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  • May 7, 2010 at 7:44 am

    My Chinese boyfriend moved in the first day we were together. I knew he liked me and I liked him but he kept postponing saying he liked me so I just asked him to come home with my that night (not that I’m that kind of girl who wants a one night stand, I just was to shy to say to him that I liked him :p). And since that day we have lived together. We’re now four months together and about to get married (some people think it’s to quick, but we have our reasons), so he can come back to my country with me, but there is so much paper work to do. I never thought getting married to a Chinese man and getting him back to Belgium involves so much paperwork.
    And we don’t even intend to stay in Belgium, we’re moving back to China after I graduate in one year.
    Seriously, marrying a foreigner shouldn’t involve so much paperwork.

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  • April 3, 2012 at 5:14 am

    haha…my Chinese boyfriend is studying here in America, we met at my university in September. he then chased me for about 2 months,but it didn’t really get anywhere. then the first night i visited his apartment, he told me he loved me 🙂 he also begged me to move in with him, offering free rent; he really knows how to dote on a girl.
    i thought it was rather quick aside from the fact that i liked him too, but we’ve been officially together for 4 months and counting, i don’t regret a single thing =)))

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