Fenshou: “We Were Soulmates”

(photo by Martyn via Flickr.com)

“Sara” (not her real name) met a Chinese man online, and soon came to think of him as her soulmate. But even though he loved her deeply, he ultimately felt that she “deserved a better man.” Read on, and thanks to Sara for sharing!


I was using QQ International for a while now and something amazing happened. One day I received a message from a Chinese guy who is living in the Netherlands on temporary basis. He just wanted to chat. Although we had a 15-year age difference, soon we talked on a daily basis.

From the beginning, we were soulmates. We both had the same odd humor (a bit ironic and teasing), and the same stubborn and competitive personality. We loved the same movies — such as Woody Allen’s Whatever Works — and enjoyed good conversations about life and love. We could talk for hours and there was never a dull moment. I learned more about differences in Dutch and Chinese society, like filial piety in China (which is different from the Netherlands) and the way parents are involved in lives of their children. Most of all, we had so much love and respect for each other. We decided to meet and it was love at first sight.

But after a couple of months, something changed. He told me that I deserved a better man. It was not because of his own reputation, but it was because of my reputation. It had to do with my job as a civil servant in the Netherlands. He felt like he was not good enough for me, and that he could never be my equal. So if he would go on with the relationship, he would be selfish. He told me he would be an obstacle on my way to finding a better man to marry. It was like he was sacrificing himself to give me a better life. We talked about it, because I didn’t want to search for another guy to marry. But he was so stubborn and proud, and he just couldn’t handle the situation.

So, one day he just quit without saying anything and never answered a message or phone call. That caused so much pain — not only for me, but also for him. I lost my beautiful Chinese love and my soulmate, and he wanted me to forget about him. But that will never happen.

I feel lucky to have shared time with such a wonderful person, and I have enjoyed learning about Chinese culture. This summer, I hope to start a Mandarin Chinese language course, so I can practice conversation with other Chinese friends of mine. And maybe I will visit China in 2014.


We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

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37 Replies to “Fenshou: “We Were Soulmates””

  1. ITS pretty ODD that so many Innocent white gals/women were trigged by online Chinese wuss… what pity situations..


  2. I’ve told you guys last year that normally a white guy could accept a woman who made more money and out ranked him in the job dept. For Chinese men I think it’s a little bit different unless the woman gradually moves up in the corp. ladder later on during the relationship. For me, I don’t care because the money is going back to our family and bank acct. I personally think this Chinese guy above has made a very big mistake . Do you know having millions of dollars in your bank acct or having an executive/vp position won’t make you happy? I’ve taught this concept to all of my friends and they now accepted my idea in pursue of happiness.

  3. @ Sara. I can relate to the fact that the Chinese man felt that he was not your equal. I am not sure whether you read my story about my newphew, but once I tried to set up my Chinese newphew in Hong Kong with 4 White American girls, 3 of whom are lawyers, and he declined to meet them partly because he felt that he was not their equal. What a lame ass excuse! He does not deserve you if he thinks this way. I wish you well and hope that you find the man of your dreams be he Chinese or a man of another race and ethnicity.

  4. From my perspective, I think the guy finds it hard that he’s not on par – socio-economically with the woman, so if she’s used to a certain lifestyle, and that he can’t provide that or better for her, then he may feel less worthy of being such an integral part of her life.

  5. I would also like to add that if there was a sudden accident, in which were to occur (knock on wood), say after marriage to one person in the relationship that rendered them unable to (permanently or temporarily) generate income, then the other person will have to shoulder the expenses. Obviously, he feels that she is a capable individual, and he doesn’t feel like he can uphold that kind of long term responsibility.

  6. Oh my gosh, this is so heartbreaking :'( Why why why he left her if they were soulmates ;'(??? There is nothing more important than being soulmates, the rest doesnt matter ! I could never give up my soulmate, no matter what. I’ve found my Chinese soulmate online as well, he is also from a poorer country and it breaks my heart to read such a story.

  7. Wow, this was tragic. I can relate. Nothing like meeting someone who is perfect in every way except they think it will not work out. I am sorry to hear it.

  8. Poor Sara. It must have been heartbreaking.

    But I can’t help but feel what a sorry excuse it was for a breakup. If you truly love someone you ask them what they want, not force something on them that you think they should want. Also, if you truly love someone there is no way you’re going to walk away for any amount of pride.

    I had somewhat of a similar experience, a Korean guy felt he needs to finish his education and get a job before he can be worthy to be my boyfriend. I told him I don’t care, and it’s only him that I want, and that I want him right away. He respected what I wanted, and we’ve been crazy happy with each other ever since, even though he hasn’t finished his education yet 🙂

  9. If he feels so insecure about the relationship, you won’t be happy anyway. Too bad he won’t find a better way to end it. But it is no surprise given how he thinks. I am sure it wasn’t easy decision. I see it happens a lot in China. You almost have to accumulate some material wealth before taking a wife. Few women act “Dutch”.

  10. Even I am a Chinese, this is hard for me to understand. The only thing I can think of that might be responsible for this line of thinking (i.e. i don’t think i am worthy of you) is that it is considered a noble thing to do for the “true love” — self-torture is kind of in Chinese culture, people are really suspicious that true happiness/love can really happen to them.

    Chen Gang

  11. Sorry it’s seems to me there is actually another reason as that’s kind of lame. A real man wouldn’t feel insecure. This is some problems I’ve found with Chinese guys; they aren’t mature enough for a relationship & don’t know what they really want. They THINK they know.

  12. @Ham Lover
    Isn’t that the idea of filial piety? You are expected to do certain things including what type of girl to marry. It might seem not mature to someone from a more individualistic society. You suppose to know what you want without realizing your choice is never without influences either.

    I think when you live in a society that provides more to its citizens, you often forget how other people will have to choose differently. This guy might feel he can’t have what he wants. In a very chinese way, he chooses to let her go instead fight for the relationship. Sounds very old fashioned, but still happens.

  13. I don’t want to be impolite but what a W****y!!! (傻*) Why many of these guys don’t have the guts (for not saying balls) to go on with a relationship for XYZ reasons, and end up being selfish for real and hurting us at the end??!!…. in my case the “filial pity” took over two guy’s “true” feelings twice! I still have hope though, and your process of learning Mandarin and visiting China, will be indeed a great catharsis.
    You’re a great girl who indeed deserves a REAL asian man, not that insignificant “person”.
    Keep in mind that unfortunately most asian people are raised to serve and obey and not to have any ambitions for themselves….
    That is the reason why I find that asian men who DO live their love outside their race ARE strong and great persons.
    You will be for sure able to find even better! I wish it to you!!
    All the best!!

  14. i dont think these guys are selfish, filial pity can be extremly gut wrantchly painful — you have to choose between your family and your own — it is a 2000 year old baggage.

  15. It’s easy to write this guy off as a pussy, but it’s so much more complicated than that.

    A huge income or educational gap in a relationship can be create a lot of problems later on in the relationship. Maybe he had the foresight to realize he wouldn’t be able to cope with it, especially along with all the other things cross-cultural couples face.

    I think this kind of gap is especially hard for Chinese men to deal with because they are taught to provide for their families. They often pay for everything in the courtship stage of the relationship and then marriage comes and they are expected to buy a house, car, etc. This has got to be overwhelming!

    Granted, our writer probably wasn’t expecting any of this, but that doesn’t change the fact that they guy wants to be able to provide it. As a westerner, it can be hard to understand what the big deal is, but it is, in fact, a very big deal to some people.

    There are those who think you should do anything for love, anything to keep your soulmate, but life is much more complicated than that. Too many hardships, insecurities, and misunderstandings can eventually turn the greatest love sour.

  16. well this is the reality in Chinese culture. I hate emphasising cultural traditions, as someone who believes more in institutions matter the most, but it’s just too true that most Chinese people think it’s either him/herself or you who is less ‘worthy’, but never as an equal… for the better or the worse.

    As China is becoming more impotant for years to come, people in the West will see more examples for that. Call this inferiority complex or whatever you like, Chinese men had been tamed and mentally castrated by their rulers since Qin Emperor, though I can see there are signs of change on this sentiment.

  17. @ R Zhao
    It might be hard for him to deal with it in the long run. But at least he can give it a try before giving up so easily. Otherwise, he might spend the rest of your life what could have happened.

  18. Wait a minute… imagine if the other partner is Chinese woman. Will the outcome be different?
    You can call him selfish because he chooses to hurt rather than taking a chance to make a difference. Maybe he will hurt later. But many guys have a practical mindset for marriage stability. You can’t change it.

    To overcome inferior complex is easy, the other partner has to be as Chinese as she can be. This is very hard to do. Unless this Chinese guy can navigate her western partner’ world pretty well, he will always feel that way. It is also a reason why local Chinese men don’t end up with western women so often.

  19. What the hell is the real meaning of the word ” soulmate”??? A marriage and a soulmate are almost the same meaning to me. How can you leave your soulmate regardless of any situations…You never leave your spouse/soulmate eventhough he/she is dying from a disease or you lose everything in your life. I’ve gone to more funerals than you eat rice people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When you have $10 millions, you still eat the same amount of food and wear the same amount of clothes. When a man makes money, he brings back to his wife and family . Where is the money going when the wife makes the money? Of course, back to the family right? Yrs ago, I really didn’t care if I made more money or I was a janitor.. IF THE WOMAN DOESN’T CARE, WHY DOES A MAN CARE? If she doesn’t care, GO FOR IT! Sometimes, women do care then you’re in trouble. If a woman who will work with you and spend the rest of her life with you to build something with you, don’t let her go please. Very hard to find this kind of women again. From my experience, life is just another test to see how low you can go with someone. It’s not about how good or what such a better life you’re living.. When times are good, who doesn’t stay with you most of the time? What if you lost a fortune and you’re poor again. Will she stay with you ? If she leaves you, then you’ve made a huge mistake . Another situation here…… If she’s rich or her family is rich then you’re afraid she might control you . hint hint no one can control you unless you want to or you’re an ass kisser. You people think that by having high salaries/title = wealth,good health and huge saving $$$$? Hell no! I friends who are making in the $300’s and still stressed out. We have a chinese saying” Every family knows its business”.. I’m stressed out tooo. Why do you think my comments are lesser and lesser? Maybe some tai chi will help . No matter what’s her status as long as you make her happy or else you don’t even worth a penny to her. This is my thought for today.


  20. I guess what can be concluded here is that this scenario is much more complex then it seems than just a couple of paragraphs from her perspective. Peoples views will differ from different cultures, heck, even in the western culture, peoples views tend to vary as well, take abortion, and gay rights for example. What one person views as right can be completely different than another individuals because of their background and how their ideology shapes their actions. Generalizations can be a very dangerous thing, so take this story with a grain of salt because as strangers to her experience, that’s all we can do, really.

  21. Oh, come on. This is one side of the story. Love to hear his version. Meeting a person online is a flaky thing. Profiles are often exaggerated and having deep and meaningful conversations can, IMHO, only be done in person. Sara thought it was love, the guy had his fun for a while and went on his mary way. The shoe didn’t fit.

    It’s not you, it’s me. And that sentence is available in many languages. Sorry Sara. Wish you all the best.

  22. It might be an old tradition to find a good match, equal social economic background, to help shape a stable family. This thinking is not unique either.

    The entire Chinese revolution is based on class struggle. So people in general are still aware of how class can play a role and not to cross over too much. Given how modern western ideas play down this factor to promote freedom and equality, you have people who are entirely ignorant and often blame on themselves or the other person. It fails because you have not tried hard enough. It is your own fault.
    In the same way how class struggle did not eliminate that problem, the western way of ignoring it is also flawed.
    This guy might be selfish not to do more. Why shouldn’t he protect himself? How is it different from saying we are not right for each other because personalities do not match. It is one of million reasons to break up.

  23. @”Sara”,
    You know him better than we do but I also think he had more reasons. Plus, to be honest , the fact that he gave up at a very early stage and for money gap,.. maybe that shows that he is not willing to improve his own income, maybe he was not a fighter..

    I found this post of a very trendy topic because this week two people asked about something similar.
    Don’t you mind that he comes from a normal family? I found that question is annoying, because it inplies that even when they dont know him or know him very little, they assume how he is just with numbers.
    Same time the girl asking was telling me that is better to choose some “snobbish” who can provide you and take care of you..

    Since I was educated in an environment / family where all women work in different roles, house chores are shared and relatives are very close despite physical barriers, that kind of question shocks me, i have always thought that every family was the same.. But is not.
    I can take care of myself, and provide with an income, let’s call it “independency”. But is nice to share my life with someone who shares family values and who is a fighter!
    Not everyone is / wants / expects the same.. But I do hope people stop giving up so early!

  24. I am speechless.
    I know a very successful white woman, her husband had a crappy job before marrying her and now he is stay home dad.
    I just don’t see why he would let her go when she does not care about his job.

  25. Hi Sara, so sad to hear about this. 🙁

    I think you mentioned there was quite an age gap? I could see how, if he was the 15 year older one, then yeah, he might just honestly feel that he has no way to “catch up” with your earning potential, and he might feel the pressure to provide that people have been talking about with Chinese men.

    I think that pressure is very real, my own husband feels it, but we married even before he finished grad school anyway. I think it might be because he’s of a younger generation – that pressure to be the man and provide for the family is certainly there but he’s also more flexible in his thinking and realizes that although I earn more now, he’s on the way to being able to earn more in the future, by investing in education. If your love felt he was already too old to improve even in the future he may have felt hopeless and didn’t want to take more of your time for something he himself felt could not work out well. 🙁

  26. It’s so difficult when someone just cuts off all communication. I have had a similar experience. I think there is also a sense that someone is your ‘soulmate’ early in relationships as you get to know someone. There is a tendency to see mainly the similarities and to overlook your differences, or to find them as things to be celebrated. I too met a wonderful Chinese man online and for the first year of our relationship things were amazing. We could talk for hours, we had similar interests, seemed to agree on just about everything and really had a great time getting to know each other and the differences in our upbringing and cultures. It seems that after that initial year, things started to change. I wish I understood exactly what it was, perhaps I was a bit too assertive for his somewhat conservative views. After that initial year, our differences became more clear. I still love him dearly, but he cut off all communication. It hurts me deeply, as I just want to understand what it was that I did, but I suppose it is not for me to know.

  27. I wish the relationship could ended on amicable terms. Why are so many Chinese guys end up cutting all contacts? I think it is an easy way out. You can love someone, but not in love with her at the same time. In that sense, I found most white girls I dated are more mature.

  28. Maybe I am a bit too cynical, but this seems a little fishy. Firstly, she had been in a relationship for ‘months’. So the income gap is something that should have been obvious to him from the start. Its possible that he tried and couldnt cope with the stigma of that, but then there are usually signs early on that the person is uncomfortable with such things but just havent found the courage to end things.

    I am not sure if thats how it happened, but disappearing just like that seems a bit abrupt and must have hurt this girl tremendously. I wish he did it in a better way.

    I hope you find someone who is able to deal with such things. Its sad that men (from anywhere) can’t overcome such petty things.

  29. First I like to thank everyone for all your comments and support. I also liked the critics, because it can always be an eye-opener.

    Some aspects must be a bit clarified, because it might create misunderstandings. About me: I have a job as a civil servant on a good level, no high salary (but sufficient) and no degree (I was trained on the job for years). I came from a poor family, I am not used to a ‘certain’ lifestyle. About my friend: he is still in my country, busy with his study/phd and a parttime job. His parents are civil servants.
    Some time ago I have read the story from Fred, about his nephew. It was recognizable. The comments from Bruce are also very good, because he really is giving a good point of view about cultural/social differences between east and west.
    For the persons who believe there must have been other reasons, like influence of parents, the shoe doesn’t fit or whatever: sorry guys, that was not an issue at the time. Sure, you only read my point of view, but I am realistic enough to ask myself if there could have been other reasons. I did and there were no other reasons as far as I know.
    I was told by friends that the system in China, with jobs as a civil servant and their ranking, is very different from the system in my country. For example: we don’t have to do some kind of exam to get such a job and the job has no prestige. My friend could not believe there was such a big difference. So his point of view about my job was based on the Chinese system and on his pride (the feeling that he was not good enough, never could reach equal level). By talking with friends I understand more and more how this works. And yes, if my friend had needed ‘security’ in our relation, I certainly would have considered to make it official.

    Recently I received a message from him and we are a little bit in contact now. It seems like the strong feelings are still there, but his decision has given us a lot of pain. He made this choice, but that doesn’t make him a very bad person. I still think he is a wonderful person and even if there is no chance to get together again: I am happy he was part of my life.

  30. Sara,

    Sometimes at a certain point in the relationship, you have to tell him that it’s okay that he doesn’t make that much money. Women are running for President now so time has changed. We have stay at home dads across America so what’s the big deal? If a husband makes less money than the wife and both have separate bank accts then that’s a real problem. Why? You guys are smart enough to figure it out.

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