I met and married the love of my life here in Asia.
So did Anne Moss, who shared her own unique how-we-met story last fall in a guest post titled How an American Woman Exchanged Rings, Bows and Hearts with Her Amazing Taiwanese Husband.
But as we all know, AMWF couples are much rarer around the world, including in Asia.
In her latest guest post for this blog, Anne offers five reasons why it might be harder for Western women to meet that Mr. Right in Asia.
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While I have happily met and married my Asian Mr. Right, I have found my case to be rather rare. Excluding some typical cultural factors you might think of as a hindrance to finding your love across the world, I’ve listed my top 5 reasons why a western woman living abroad might not ever end up meeting her Mr. Right in Asia:
#1: Unflattering stereotypes about Western women, thanks to Hollywood
Western media has done us ladies no favors – specifically towards attitudes about sexuality and relationships. I’ve found that men living in Asia have been heavily influenced to believe all us western women will end up sleeping with anyone who decides to smile in our direction. We are often portrayed as easy, with little family regard and would never turn someone down if they are willing to offer us some attention. Many times, the woman is never seen as someone to consider as material for a real relationship. I’ve experienced this myself, and my friends and husband definitely agree it’s an issue for Western women in Asia.
#2: Different communication styles (indirect versus direct)
In my own household, I was repeatedly taught to speak to the point and ask for what I want or need, and learned that I shouldn’t make someone guess. That’s not necessarily the case here in Asia, where I’ve found that people tend to communicate more indirectly. And when you have different communication styles, it can create challenges in a relationship.
For example, if a problem arises in your relationship, sometimes the two of you might respond in completely different (and contradictory) ways. I’ve been in relationships with men in Asia where he may want to ignore the problem and not talk about it, while I would totally want to talk about it and find a solution.
I’ve also had challenges communicating with parents over here. I’ve found that sometimes trying to “talk” about an issue with an Asian parent basically means listening without your input. To do otherwise would be considered ungrateful and cause loss of face.
These differences can put a lot of stress on both of you when working through disagreements. Sometimes, when trying to help guys over here understand my ideas, feelings and concerns, I’ve felt as if I were continually running up against a brick wall. Sigh.
#3: Differences in how you express yourselves and your love
Unless the guy you’re dating speaks your native language well – or you’re fluent in his language — I’ve found that having deeper conversations in your relationship might take some time. It means that when you ask a guy a question like, “How was your day?” he might not always go into the kind of detail you might expect.
Also, how your partner chooses to show his love might be different from you. Is it with actual language? Even within the same cultural group knowing your love language is a skill learned and discovered with time. What is happening when you feel love from your partner? Love languages can include: physical touch, quality time, gifts, verbal confirmation or acts of appreciation. Just because you give love in one way doesn’t mean your partner will receive it in the light it may be given. Do you want love with quality time with your partner but he gives you physical gifts? Getting this far also takes a certain amount of self (emotional) knowledge (and effort to get there) of knowing and understanding yourself and your outlook.
#4: Family expectations for Asian men
Family ties and expectations run deep in Asia. It’s not uncommon for men to live with their family before and even after marriage – which might be a deal-breaker for some Western women.
I’ve also found that children in Asia (especially the men) are often expected to provide financial support to their parents, regardless of whether they live with the parents and if there’s a real need for that money. I was surprised to discover this, and I’m sure this would challenge a lot of Western women, who usually aren’t used to giving their parents money like that.
#5: Becoming invisible (if you’re not fluent in the local language)
For personal reasons I am monolingual – I can only speak English. Yet I live in Asia, where English is not the native language for the overwhelming majority of people and countries. This reality has been a hard blow for me. I was taught to be independent, stand up for myself and be in charge when needed. Yet I’ve left behind the America I grew up in for Asia, and it has meant giving up a huge chunk of my own independence. I’ve been forced to depend on my husband for a lot of things and sometimes I feel like I’ve become invisible. I’ve been at restaurants where the staff focused only on my husband, handing him the menus and directing all the questions at him. On many occasions when I’ve visited shops or banks together with him, no one would even make eye contact with me. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve faced in our relationship.
Anne Elizabeth Moss has spent the last 5 years in Asia and currently lives with her Taiwanese husband in Singapore. She teaches Bellyfit®, Bellydance and Yoga classes and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/riksardance.