Guest Post: 5 Reasons You Might Not Find Your Mr. Right in Asia

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.

Do you have a compelling post or story you’d love to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about how to have your words published here.
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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:

(photo by Mario Izquierdo via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Mario Izquierdo via Flickr.com)

#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.

(Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões)
(Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr.com)

#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.

(Photo by Emily Gould via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Emily Gould via Flickr.com)

#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.

(Photo by Jason D' Great via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Jason D’ Great via Flickr.com)

#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.

(Photo by jorge larios via Flickr.com)
(Photo by jorge larios via Flickr.com)

#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.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Waiting for Tiger to Love Me Fully in America

Love doesn’t always happen when or how we’d like it to be — including when it comes to Tiger and Lea, whose 11-year flirtation has tugged them back and forth between divorces, difficult marriages and less-than-perfect timing.

Do you have a tumultuous love story you’d like to share, or something else you think would be perfect for Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn more about the guidelines for guest posting and how to submit.
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(Photo by Philip Edmondson via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Philip Edmondson via Flickr.com)

Flirtatious friendship. Tiger and I met at our mutual place of work shortly after I returned from giving birth to my only child. It didn’t make sense to me then, but I realize now that his interest in me was quite evident by his frequent visits to my work area each day to chat. I thought nothing of it since we were both married, hence, the easy breeze to our friendly conversations.

I’ll never forget the early instance when he sat on my desk and I thought to myself, “Who does this guy think he is – acting so casually as to actually sit on my desk. The nerve of him!” In that same instance, I remember looking into his eyes and thinking “But there’s something about this guy and I don’t know what it is.” Eventually, I found myself having reasons to visit his work area from time to time and on many occasions, I found him waiting for me at my car after work. Despite my confusion concerning his actions, I still took walks during lunch with him. They were welcomed afternoon breaks during the days of beautiful weather. We carried on that way for almost three years.

Courting. Tiger and I learned much about each other during our work-day friendship. He shared some very traumatic experiences he’d endured and I shared much about my unhappy marriage. We also found common interests and laughed a lot. During one of my visits to his workplace, I matter-of-factly mentioned that I had separated from my husband. At that time, he revealed that he had separated from his wife two weeks prior. I think that was the moment the door of possibilities opened.

For a few months, nothing really changed until I sent an instant message to him revealing a dream I had with him in it. From that time, we chatted throughout the day via instant message on the computer. We were becoming closer friends helping each other manage the heartache and disappointment of failed relationships. Neither of us was yet divorced, but in his mind, his marriage was already over (and unbeknownst to me, he was in pursuit of me).

However, I was still thinking reconciliation was possible for mine.

He started calling me in the morning on his way to work and in the evening on his way home from work – almost every day! I was happy to have someone to talk to. He became my emotional crutch, letting me vent and complain on any occasion. Eventually, we started seeing each other on the weekends for meals, movies, and just hanging out. During that time, I never questioned his intentions. He was just a good friend that I enjoyed sharing time and space with.

That was, until my feelings started to run more deeply for him.

Guilt began to set in since I was still married, so I initiated a hiatus in our regular communications with the noble statement, “I really want to explore a deeper relationship with you, but I can’t until I’m divorced. After that, I’ll be ready and willing to go to the next level with you.”

I could tell he was hurt, but he showed no emotion and simply agreed to cease and desist contact with one another. I was a bit hurt by his seemingly uncaring reaction.

For approximately the next 2.5 years, we were in a limbo status between no contact, sporadic texting, brief phone calls, occasional email, and spontaneous weekend romps. It seemed we could never go more than about a month and a half before one of us would make contact – even after he changed jobs and we were no longer working in the same building.

Finally, I filed for divorce and two weeks after it was official, I told him I was ready to take our relationship to the next level. That’s when he revealed that he was not ready yet and was getting back together with his wife for one last chance to see if it could work. I was devastated; so much so that I sought sanctuary in writing a poem to him about letting him go. To this day, I don’t know if he still has it nor can I believe I actually cried about it. Anyway, I valued our friendship so I agreed to stay in contact while he worked on his marriage.

Loosely dating. That was roughly four years ago when my declaration to end our so-called hiatus failed in its attempt to usher in bliss with my Tiger. Since then, we’ve been on separate, but parallel roller coasters catching glimpses of each other at the peaks and valleys through the grey mist called friends with benefits/lovers. He’s been adamant about not admitting how he truly feels about me stating, “We’re not on that level yet, so what’s the point of saying it?” For that reason, I’ve learned to keep my emotions in check (although he does appease my heart from time to time when he knows it’s hurting). I’ve also had a very serious internal conflict regarding whether he’s stringing me along or seriously and patiently planning and waiting for the opportune time to end things with his wife so we can finally start our journey on the same coaster.

My internal conflict led me to reading more about Chinese culture and men. It was easy since I’ve always had a keen interest in Eastern Asian culture. Tiger’s interest in me took me completely by surprise since I’ve never been attracted to Asian men, nor did I think they were attracted to me. However, I’ve since learned that they are very discreet, which explains why I never noticed if any were attracted to me. Now, I can easily tell and, to my delight, I’ve discovered that I indeed turn some Asian heads – but I digress.

Two years ago, Tiger fathered another child with his wife. He insisted he was drunk and she took advantage of his altered state. He also continues to declare abstinence from sex since that fateful night of conception. I have reason to believe what he says may be true. Even so, I still can’t seem to let him go. I know he thought for sure he’d hear me say, “Oh, you have a kid now? Okay, have a nice a life”, but I didn’t. Again, I valued our friendship more than my desire to have him for myself. By American culture standards, he’d be deemed a liar and a cheat because he’s still “there” and, to add insult to injury, he had a child too. But, I believe him to be honorable and loyal.

He continues to show his feelings with subtlety. For instance, he planned and paid for a weekend getaway for us on my birthday this year. Of course, he was nonchalant about it so as not to seemingly make a big deal of my birthday, but he made it a point to let me know beforehand that our status had upgraded to “loosely dating”. According to him, it was for my benefit of course, since I’ve always said he’s not mine yet. I was overwhelmed and I wanted to believe it was his way of letting me know how much he cared.

Three months later, I’m still adjusting to our new status because in my heart, nothing’s really changed. I can’t help but wonder if his declaration of this new status is a milestone more for him than for me. He’s a man of few words when it comes to matters of the heart; and as a Westerner who enjoys free expression at will, and considering the circumstances around our relationship over the years, it’s been a challenge for me.

What now? Well, our daily calls/texts/weekend romps continue. In fact, just this past weekend Tiger warmed my heart once again by accompanying me to an outdoor festival despite his obvious fatigue. He also acknowledged and validated my efforts to refrain from pressuring him and to provide sanctuary for him. Again, to the typical American, I probably sound like a fool for accepting such circumstances. But in my Tiger’s case, I hope I’m not wrong so I continue to pray that I’m not wasting time. After all, it’s been eleven years already. My daughter will be on her own in a mere seven years, and we’re not getting any younger. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on this way wondering if he is saving his heart for me. Only time will tell – if I allow it, I suppose.

To be continued…hopefully with a happy ending.

Lea is a biracial American woman who is still waiting for her Tiger to love her fully.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Why Did I Assume I’d Never Find a Man to Date in China?

Why did I assume I’d never find a man to date in China? It’s a question that haunted white American Rosalie Zhao (who blogs at Rosie in BJ), surprised to find the love of her life in the Middle Kingdom (she shared her unforgettable love story here in the post “Enter Zhao Ming…China’s Answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger”). She writes, “With rising tensions and deepening talks surrounding issues of race in the US, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own prejudices.”

Do you have a story worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page today to learn how to become a guest poster on this blog.

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(Photo by Steve Webel via Flickr.com)
(Photo by Steve Webel via Flickr.com)

It’s been a couple years since my first guest post on Speaking of China. I wrote of how, against my initial expectations, I found love with a local man in China. Since that post, there’s been a rise of AMWF relationships in the media as well as a growing number of Asian men (and the western women who love them) speaking up and speaking out. With rising tensions and deepening talks surrounding issues of race in the US, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my own prejudices. I’ve also given some thought as to why I assumed I’d never find a man to date in China, an assumption that many western women living in Asia seem to make. Then, the reason finally came to me—a man that was such a small part of my past but who I’ve come to realize had a seemingly profound impact on how I viewed Asian men and perhaps even how I saw myself.

It was freshman year of college and I was in a dating slump. The good news was that I got along fabulously with the other girls I lived with in my dormitory suite. There were five of us in total; I was the only one without a boyfriend. The two girls in the room next door, Laura and Erin, each were dating guys who attended a university on the other side of our state, which meant they were away most weekends visiting their beaus. I don’t know whose idea it was, theirs or mine, but somehow we came up with the idea of me having a blind date with one of their boyfriends’ friends. They quickly ran through their mental rolladexes (this was, of course, pre-Facebook). Who among these friends would be a good match? Laura looked up suddenly. “We should set you up with Johnny!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, he’s really cute!” Erin assured me. They shuffled through all the junk in their dorm room, eventually scrounging up a photo. Laura showed me his picture.

For a second, I was taken aback. I assumed he would be white, but he was in fact East Asian. I quickly admonished myself—what did it matter? He looked fairly cute from the photo and they eagerly sang his other praises: he was kind, smart, and 21 (old enough to buy us beer!). I decided to throw caution to the wind and join them on their next road trip across state, in hopes Johnny might be the man of my dreams. Or maybe someone fun to make-out with for the weekend. Whatever. When you’re 19 and in college, it hardly matters.

As fate would have it, Johnny was neither my future husband or make-out partner. The second I laid eyes on him I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I’m short. This guy? He was barely taller than me. He also weighed about 30 pounds less than me. The chemistry wasn’t there. I wanted a man who eclipsed me in size and strength, a man who would wrap me up into his arms and protect me from all danger. If Johnny was a little bigger and I a little smaller, maybe something could be there, I thought. Johnny, however, didn’t share my sentiments. He seemed very much into the idea of us becoming an item. He was smart enough to read my signals and not push me too hard, but he subtly pursued me that weekend and later, online.

I felt bad initially and even worse as time wore on. Johnny and I became closer friends while talking on MSN messenger and it became clear to me that he was suffering from a far worse dating slump than I was. He had been rejected over and over, to the point where he felt his efforts were futile. He was never going to find a girlfriend. I wanted to assure him that the right girl was out there, but I didn’t know how to do that without returning to an awkward conversation in which he asked why I didn’t like him. Eventually, our chats online became less frequent and I guiltily sighed with relief.

After that, I fell for my own perception bias. I viewed all Asian men as being smaller than me and therefore undatable. I assumed I could never again be attracted to them because I’d feel like an ogre in their presence. But then I came to China and discovered that Asian men come in all sizes and shapes. I also realized something else—a man’s true strength isn’t determined by his height in inches or weight in pounds; in the years since coming to China, I have found men attractive who had physiques similar to that of Johnny’s. And I have also realized that my own self-worth cannot be calculated by how small my jean size is. I don’t have to be thin for a man to find me beautiful.

I see now that I never gave Johnny a fair chance. Perhaps a romance could have blossomed and chemistry forged if I had had an open mind. Was I racist? Sizist? Self-loathing? I don’t know. But I don’t want to judge my 19-year-old self too harshly. I’m just glad that in time I was able to open myself up to the possibilities of dating cross-culturally and the idea of dating in China. I’m not sure where in the world I’d be today if I hadn’t.

Rosalie Zhao resides with her family in Hebei, China, where she writes a blog called Rosie in BJ.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.