4 China soccer experiences to expect when dating Chinese men who love the sport

In my mind, soccer — also known as football — is synonymous with romance. That’s because it’s the relationships I’ve had in China (especially my marriage to John) that introduced me to the sport and made me a fan.

(photo by Chris Brown via Flickr.com)

Who’d have thought that the woman who in 1994 had no idea the US was hosting the World Cup now has her own list of can’t-miss matches for this year’s World Cup in Brazil?

Before I came to China, and starting dating the men here, the World Cup — and, for that matter, the entire sport of soccer — was completely off my radar. I knew what a soccer ball looked like and had a handful of girlfriends who played in kids’ leagues growing up…and that was about it. In fact, when I first arrived in China in August 1999, the name David Beckham meant absolutely nothing to me.

All that changed in the fall of 1999 with my first relationship with a guy named Yao, where I spent part of my weekend evenings snuggled in his arms as we watched the English League soccer matches. He schooled me in the rules of the game, the best teams, and of course, all his favorite stars (including, of course, David Beckham). We even played the FIFA soccer video game together a number of times.

As it turned out, Yao was no exception. Every single man I’ve dated in China — especially my husband John — has been a big fan of the sport. In fact, John even famously cut work during the summer of 2002 just to watch matches. Yes, that big.

Now I’m not saying that every Chinese man here in China will go to that extreme for soccer — or even likes the sport. But there’s a good chance that any man you meet here will be a fan of some kind.

So if you’re going to fall in love with a fellow from the Middle Kingdom — and you’ve never been into soccer — get ready to experience a different kind of relationship with the sport (one with decidedly Chinese characteristics).

Here are four things you should know about soccer and Chinese men if your sweetie is a fan:

1. Get ready for some late night soccer time (including when you least expect it)

(Source: http://www.cqnews.net/)
(Source: http://www.cqnews.net/)

John often says, “Chinese soccer fans have the hardest time.” Take a look at the scheduling of the matches in Beijing time and you’ll understand why.

Essentially, China gets “the graveyard shift” of all World Cup scheduling. Matches start at either 12am, 3am, 4am or 6am.

My eyes are already going bloodshot just reading those kickoff times.

Chinese fans don’t even get a break during the official soccer season in the European leagues, where the games kick off late into the evening or after midnight or even in the middle of the night. Remember the UEFA Champions League Final last month in Lisbon? If you wanted the privilege of watching Ronaldo score goals in real time in China, you would have had to wake yourself up at 2:45am in the morning and then survive more than two restless hours before it was all over.

But anyone who knows China’s history also knows the Chinese people never flinch from a challenge — including when it comes to watching soccer matches. This is why as I write this, there are literally tons of sleep-deprived soccer fans scattered across China, including the really hard core folks who will stay up all night to catch World Cup matches. (It’s a dangerous occupation — three people have already died from staying up multiple nights in a row.)

Fortunately, John isn’t crazy enough to give up his life over some World Cup matches. But yes, almost every night he’s been catching the first half of the soccer games that start at midnight here. And because John is a morning guy (who, without fail, rises and shines sometime after 6am), he often catches the entire last game — if not most of it. And if I’m unlucky, his early morning matches snap me straight out of my dreams and into the hard life of a Chinese soccer fan.

The most infamous experience in our relationship has to be the Euro Cup matches during the summer of 2004 in sweltering Shanghai. Of course, John couldn’t miss the semifinal or final matches, which all started sometime around 3am or so. The flickering of the TV and the hum of the crowds in the background became the late night wake up call I never asked for. I remember mumbling something to the effect of, “What are you doing?” Up until that moment, I never knew that my husband would actually sacrifice part of his nighttime rest just to enjoy the excitement that comes when the announcer screams, “Goooooal!”

But then again, I’m just as guilty. Wasn’t I the one who dragged John out of bed for all of those early morning matches during World Cup 2010? And wasn’t I the one checking the score well after midnight the other night in the Argentina versus Iran match while John dozed away beside me? (What can I say? I’m a fan!)

2. You’ll learn the meaning of 2002 and the China World Cup soccer conundrum

China’s national soccer team (photo by Albatross2147 via wikimedia.org)

China’s population exceeds 1.3 billion. So why can’t the country find at least 11 soccer players talented enough to get China to the World Cup finals every time? Call it the China World Cup soccer conundrum, which is something you’re sure to learn about if you date or marry a Chinese man who loves the sport.

John, bless his soccer-loving heart, still dares to watch China’s national team play in real time (usually followed by a string of expletives). I’ve learned all of his horrible nicknames for them (including his favorite, the “head-ball team”), and heard the frustration in his voice when they suffer yet another humiliating loss.

Of course, he’s told me all about 2002, the first time China ever qualified for the World Cup finals — and something you’re sure to learn about from any soccer-addicted Chinese guy. John sums it up in these four disappointing words: no goals, no wins.

Well, with any luck, your home country has qualified for this year’s World Cup finals (and hasn’t been eliminated yet). Maybe you’ll give him — temporarily — some other team to root for. (Sigh.)

3. Your mind will be filled with all sorts of hilarious anecdotes about China soccer that your friends back home will never understand

Huang Jianxiang, World Cup 2006. If my husband wasn’t a soccer fan or from China, this hilarious incident in the China soccer world would never have been on my radar.


It was the Italy versus Australia match on June 26 when CCTV sports commentator Huang Jianxiang went wild on the air during the last few minutes of the match (when Italy scored that decisive goal that allowed them to advance). Between his passionate chanting of “Long live Italy!” and “The great Italian left back” (plus his remarks about not giving Australia any chances), Huang put his own pro-Italian bias on public display. Showing favoritism on the job was a no-no by TV station regulations, leading to Huang’s suspension from working the following match. (He would resign from the station later in 2006.) Huang was unapologetic for his actions, and while some criticized his partiality, the stunt ultimately turn this already legendary soccer commentator in China into one of the most controversial figures of the World Cup that year. Incidentally, the best of his anti-Australia rant (including the “Long live Italy!”) became the must-download cell phone ringtone for Chinese soccer fans everywhere.

Even though this still makes John and me bust out laughing, it doesn’t sound nearly as funny when I have to explain the whole thing to you. Worse, my American friends in the US will probably give me extra blank looks because Americans think soccer is the world’s most boring sport.

Still intrigued? Watch the video for yourself (on Youtube or this China-based site) and see if you find this as hilarious as John and I do.

4. You might just end up like me — another accidental soccer fan, thanks to my husband

I wouldn’t call John soccer-obsessed. But he stays up late (or wakes up early) for certain matches, knows the difference between AC Milan and Inter Milan, fondly remembers watching Maradona play in the 1994 World Cup, and still hasn’t given up on the Chinese national soccer team. He even owns three different jerseys and two pairs of soccer shoes to play the occasional pickup game, a legacy of his university years when he captained his department’s team.

John, showing off his soccer form (and Argentina warm-up jersey)!
John, showing off his soccer form (and Argentina warm-up jersey)!

In other words, he is a soccer fan for life. And when you spend time with a guy like that, it’s bound to rub off on you.

For me, it’s about learning to love a sport I never expected to love.

To think that once I had the US hosted the World Cup in 1994, and now I know all the big soccer stars from Balotelli and Messi to Neymar and Suarez. I own a T-shirt with US soccer player Landon Donovan’s name on it. Last year, my parents bought us tickets to a friendly match between the US and Belgium for my birthday. I even have favorite teams in this year’s World Cup: Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, France and of course, the disappointing Portugal and (sob) Spain. And let’s not forget that I’ve been checking some late night World Cup scores these days — and even once pulled a half-asleep John out of bed just to watch the World Cup matches in 2010.

I’d like to think the beautiful game is a little more beautiful when you can share it with the ones you love. 

And besides, I’m not the only impressionable one in this relationship. Ever since I introduced John to birdwatching back in 2004, he’s now been the one pausing on walks in the parks in Hangzhou to catch of glimpse of a heron or coot.

It’s too bad, though, that our love — and the mutual love of soccer — doesn’t do a darn thing about those past-midnight kickoff times during this World Cup.

Ah well, you can’t win everything. 😉

Tibetan husbands, dating Chinese pop stars, and other unusual stories of Chinese men & Western women in love

Kumbum Ta'er monastry at Xining, Qinghai China (photo by Remko Tanis via Flickr.com)
Kumbum Ta’er monastry at Xining, Qinghai China (photo by Remko Tanis via Flickr.com)

This week, I’ve stumbled upon a number of incredibly unique stories in the blogosphere about Chinese men and Western women in love. While I’m on deadline these days (and need a break from my usual posts) I thought I would share some of these fantastic blogs/posts with you. Enjoy!

A Tibetan-American love story in Qinghai

Earlier this week, a reader tipped me off to a few new AMWF bloggers — and one of them fascinated me the moment I read the short intro in her blog’s sidebar:

I’m Kimberly, an American lady living in western China with my Tibetan husband and our beautiful baby girl


Kimberly’s About page offers a glimpse into how it all happened:

Following my stint in the home of Peking Duck, I went back to the states to get my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. (That’s right, I am a certified librarian.) By then I was itching to get back to China and decided to make my home out west, where the air is cleaner, the food is heartier, and the people are diverse.

I used to joke with my parents before I left that I was going to find a nice man there and settle down. To my surprise and delight (and my mother’s disappointment) it really happened. K and I were married on July 28th 2012…

…and on August 2nd 2012. We had two weddings, one western style in the city and one Tibetan style in the village.

Boy, what I wouldn’t give to sit down with Kimberly and hear the details of how she met and married her husband! Still, since starting her blog in March 2014, she’s already offered a lot of insight into her fascinating and unique life, including why she loves China, what she and her husband eat at home, pregnancy and birth in Qinghai, and local expectations for new mothers. This is definitely one blog to watch.

Dating a Chinese Pop Star

I’ve had my share of relationships with Chinese men (including my marriage to John), but I’ll never know — as Hannah Lincoln has reported on Beijing Cream — what it’s like to date a Chinese pop star:

Xiao Li was part of a gang of pop-folk musicians that included not just his band mates, all singers, but also their brothers and cousins and mentors and girlfriends and gal pals.

I had gone that night to get my culture on and enjoy some folk music. Awkward but uninhibited, I picked off one of the shy ones to practice my Chinese. We were having a pleasant conversation until his strikingly handsome friend cut in. He said I was really pretty and clinked beers with me. When I replied in Chinese, he slapped his hand on his face – “Wah! I didn’t know you’d understand me!” He then asked for my number, said he wanted to treat me to a meal.

…After a few weeks, I looked up Xiao Li’s band on Baidu. Apparently they had won China’s version of American Idol and were a go-to choice for the Party at official events.

Hannah recounts her time as the girlfriend of a pop star in China with honesty about it all, including her own missteps in the relationship. It’s a long post, but also worth reading and discussing.

What one Chinese man thinks of his foreign girlfriend

It’s no secret the the vast majority of stories about Chinese men and Western women in love are written by the women. And if we do hear from the men, rarely is it about a relationship that blossomed in China — one that, for that matter, is still going strong.

That’s why I’ve loved this recent post from C, the boyfriend of Spanish blogger Marta of Marta Lives in China. Here’s a snippet of his post, which reads like a valentine to Marta:

But Marta changed my point of view. She knows what is the real happy life, she prefers traveling to different countries rather than buying a CHANEL, she thinks we do not need to buy a house of our own(sorry but that is still one of my shot-term aims), she prefers walking more than driving a car, she is so kind and so nice to every member of my family, she is always so kind and polite, and she loves music.

Marta, he’s a keeper!

Check out the full post here, including a unique photo of the couple with tropical flowers in their hair.

Have you come across any unusual stories of Chinese men and Western women in love? Share them — or link to them — in the comments!


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.

Double Happiness: Tunisian woman & Shanghai man live happily ever after

Sabine and her Shanghainese husband.
Sabine and her husband, who live happily ever after in Dubai.

It’s always a thrill to hear from yangxifu around the world, especially countries outside the usual Anglosphere (Australia, North America, the UK). So when Sabine, a woman from Tunisia, sent me a lovely photo of her with her Shanghainese husband, I leapt at the opportunity to share the story of how they met in Tunisia, married, and moved to Dubai.

Wishing this beautiful couple success in the year of the horse!


I am a Tunisian woman. Seven months ago, I married a man from Shanghai.

The first time we met was in 2012. He came to Tunisia for a business meeting. At that time I was a student and the company that happened to host him was also training me.

While he was visiting the company, we had some conversations. He said he wanted to know more about Tunisia and visit our tourist attractions. We exchanged e-mails. Then we met up a couple of times, where we had coffee together and enjoyed a nice Tunisian lunch. Before he left Tunisia he gave me his phone number in Dubai and his Facebook ID so we could keep in touch.

Within three months, our relationship evolved from normal friends to “shy lovers”. I became so attached to him and found myself falling in love with him. He is always nice, tender, understanding and wise. These qualities are very hard to find nowadays in Tunisian men.

Eventually we decided to get engaged after my graduation. Initially, my family was very surprised with my choice. After they met him, they liked his personality and realized that his values were the same as ours.

We married in Spring 2013. His family couldn’t attend the wedding because of distance and the cost of airplane tickets, but they offered us their blessings. His best friend, however, was able to partake in the celebrations. One month after our wedding, I followed him to Dubai, where we now live together. Next year we hope to visit his family in China.

I would like to encourage single women out there to give Chinese men a chance. While I’ve only dated a few men, I never met a man as honest, committed and affectionate as my husband.

Sabine and her husband are enjoying their happily ever after together in Dubai.


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.

Double Happiness: How Alex married Fei, and became a wedding planner in Qingdao, China

Canadian Alex calls it destiny. She went to China in June 2010 as an exchange student, never realizing she would leave her heart in Qingdao — and end up becoming a wedding planner together with her husband, Fei.

Today, they run H-Flower together in Qingdao, and their story is as beautiful as the designs they create for weddings and more. Even better, Alex shares her how-we-met-and-married tale in two languages — and has graciously provided a video starring the two of them (with subtitles in English and Chinese). In addition to their company website, you can also follow Alex and Fei’s company on Weibo.


Our hometowns share an ocean, but are on different continents. We both celebrate a new year, but at a different time. We both have parents, but only one of us has siblings.

I can tell the story of how Fei and I met in two languages. This type of meeting is called 缘分 (yuanfen) which depicts that by fate or destiny two people come together.

Like most foreigners here I began my journey as an exchange student in June 2010. At the same time Fei agreed to help his friend by teaching a class on Business in China. Fei studied and lived in Dublin, Ireland for nine years. When we met it was not in Canada, it was not in Ireland, nor was it in Fei’s hometown Qingdao (青岛). We met in a small suburb outside the city, in an old classroom on the 6th floor.

In class we exchanged cards and arranged to meet later on. We went with several friends for a dinner of roast duck, which led to night market shopping, and further an intimate pot of blue mountain coffee shared between the two of us. After coffee I followed like a puppy to watch a football match in a pub even though I had never been a fan.


The next day I left to Xi’an. It was painful leaving but the Terracotta warriors, Yangzte River, and Wuhan Dam all distracted me for a little while. As I traveled throughout China we kept in contact every day via text message. Through these short but meaningful first messages we subtly developed our relationship.

We met in a classroom, bonded over coffee, and spent only one week together in Qingdao, China before I had to fly home to Canada. Over the distance our relationship grew closer and commitment solidified.

Today we work side-by-side creating weddings and events here in Qingdao. Everyday we share a cup of coffee together, we make jokes and laugh in both languages, and when I am not at home working we are often crazily texting each other about some little wedding detail or color combination.

Alex, doing a floral arrangement for a wedding.

It feels surreal to think that my small exchange student opportunity has opened up this entire new world. I am fluent in Chinese, married to a wonderful husband, and we are both building our careers and future together everyday.

It’s quite complicated how we came to be in the wedding industry. After we were engaged we of course began to think about how to arrange and coordinate an international wedding party. We also went to check out a few of the local wedding planners (婚庆公司). At first I saw their weddings and just didn’t really understand how there was such a huge T-shaped stage, many different colored lights, and aisle decorations that were nearly touching the ceiling? I thought to myself this isn’t the wedding that I imagined and just doesn’t feel right.

So after some trials and tribulations and meeting the right people, in May 2011 we had our first wedding client (a friend of a friend of course). Our first wedding was an amazing (and frustrating) learning experience about the different between Western and Chinese style weddings. I learned very quickly that creating hand-made seating arrangements for 300+ people just do not work!

One year later I had the chance to design and create our own wedding. I wanted to give my Chinese family and friends the experience of what a western style wedding is like. We were married by the sea, in the yard of a 100 year old building, we ate delicious steak and drank wine, we danced, we ate cake, and we drank some more. It was the best day of my life and Fei agrees it was his too.

Our company is growing, we are learning so much everyday and being challenged in every way possible. I feel honored that I can help other brides and grooms create the same wonderful memories that we had after our wedding day.

我来自加拿大的西海岸, 我未婚夫来自中国的东海岸。 我经常会被问到我们相遇的故事,通常我都会用中文和英文一起来描绘这一段。

2010年春天,我当时的大学组织到到青岛的一所合作大学交流学习。我从没有想到过会来到中国,但是还是欣然接收了这为期6周的越洋学习的机会。我未婚夫的朋友当时请他帮忙来这所大学教一节“在中国做生意”的课,用英文。第一次我看见他,第一次听见他的声音,我知道我喜欢他整个人 。

(photo by TANG VISION from Shanghai www.tangvision.com)

他在跟我们讲经济的时候我当时在凝视他的眼睛… … 之后有一次机会,我们和我的朋友,我们一起去吃饭,然后逛街,一直到只剩我们两个人的一壶醉人的蓝山咖啡。那天晚上,我就高兴的跟着他去看足球比赛(世界杯),在那之前我从来不看足球比赛,但是突然间我发觉紧张的被这项运动吸引了。

那天晚上,Fei送我回到我朋友的楼下,第二天我就要去西安旅行了,一去就是十天。刚刚遇到他就要离开让我很舍不得。 当我游览中国的名胜古迹(也是最热的城市)的时候我们每天都不断的互发短信。 当时我还不确定他对我的感觉,直到当我收到一条消息,说,“我想你”。那个时候我就想马上回到青岛!


Alex lives with her husband Fei in Qingdao, China, where she is the executive designer, florist and stylist for H-Flower.


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.

Ask the Yangxifu: Rec’d Websites/Links With Dating Advice for Chinese-Western Couples

“You should check out this website.” That’s what I’ve been telling a number of readers who send me Ask the Yangxifu questions — I refer them to some of the fantastic sites that I follow and admire. So I thought, maybe it’s time to do a brief post and spotlight some of my favorites?

Western Wives, Chinese Husbands. I’ve dubbed this article, which I compiled together with the generous help of three other yangxifu (including Melanie Gao and Jessica Larson-Wang), “everything you wanted to know about dating Chinese men but were afraid to ask.” Whenever I hear from a woman new to the dating scene in China looking for comprehensive advice, I always send this along.

The Love Life of an Asian Guy. Ranier Maningding dishes out some of the funniest advice around, and speaks to both Asian men and the non-Asian women who love them.

My New Chinese Love. Whether you’re a Western woman dating Chinese men or a Western man dating Chinese women, you’ll find friendly advice from Jeff Cappleman and his Chinese wife that covers everything from courtship to weddings.

Middle Kingdom Life’s Guide to Dating Chinese Women. For the Western men dating Chinese women, I often send them straight to this incredibly comprehensive guide.

Candle for Love. This forum was created to help Americans bring their Chinese loved ones over to the US (and navigate the whole visa process). But it’s also a good sounding board for anyone grappling with cultural conundrums in their relationships — especially Western men dating Chinese women.

Asian Man White Woman Magazine. Founded by JT Tran, the Asian Playboy, this magazine bills itself as the lifestyle and dating site for AMWF relationships — and offers advice written by JT and white female bloggers. I also interviewed JT, and I frequently send this interview to Chinese men seeking advice on dating Western women. (Disclosure: I’ve written for his site, and JT is one of my advertisers).

What sites or articles would you recommend? Sound off in the comments!


A Tumultuous European-Chinese Marriage + Advice Needed

(photo by Leolein via Flickr.com)

When I usually share stories about couples of Chinese men and Western women, they usually fall into two camps: the “happily-ever-after” couples and the couples that once were. 

And then there’s the story I’m about to share — about a couple fighting for their marriage. Petya reached out to me recently to ask that I publish her tale on my blog, hoping that readers could also weigh in with advice on how to save her marriage and family. So please, don’t be shy in the comments! If you have any ideas, Petya would love to hear them. 

Petya, thanks so much for your courage to share this publicly.


I’m Bulgarian. My childhood passed under Communism in the Eastern Block. When I went to study in Western Europe, I got on very well with my Chinese colleagues. There was something deeply similar in the education and behavior that made contact very easy.

Years later I went to study Japanese in Tokyo. The second time I went to Japan, in my class I met a Chinese man who was interested in me. He was working in a big multinational Japanese company and they took him in Japan and payed for his Japanese lessons because they were preparing him to become their Marketing Director for China. I didn’t return his interest, even though we were getting along well. I knew we lived in different worlds — I would go back to Europe and he had brilliant career prospects in Asia.

But one day, we had a debate in class about love and he said in front of everybody that the perfect person to be his girlfriend exists and it was me. Of course it was very flattering for me, but most importantly, I found this very brave and I decided this guy is exactly like me — a fighter — so I gave him a chance.

We started a beautiful relationship. I had to go back to Europe to work. As I have a flexible and well paying job, I was traveling every month to Japan for approximately 10 days to be with him. We got engaged and continued like this. He came two or three times to Europe. We also went to China and he introduced me to his family. His mother passed away a long time ago, and his father is remarried. He has an elder brother who is married with one child.

This situation could have continued for years. He had business trips everywhere in Asia and if I could, I joined him in exotic destinations. Then the big earthquake and the tsunami hit Japan. He was in Tokyo and I was deadly worried. Then Fukushima happened too. It was horrible to be so far away. And suddenly, even though I always said I didn’t want to hurry to have children, I changed. I thought life is so short and we are so vulnerable. I could lose the love of my life and will have nothing left except some beautiful memories. Then I decided I’m ready for a family. We married one month later. A few months later I got pregnant. The big surprise was I was pregnant with twins. We decided it’s better for me to stay and give birth in Europe, because of the radiation in Tokyo. So we did. Meanwhile he moved back to China for the new position. I travelled two times during my pregnancy to China The twins were born in Europe, but he couldn’t be here to see their birth.

My life changed completely. Before I knew I was pregnant with twins, I was still planning to travel. I overestimated myself. With the two newborns and no family to help me, only a full-time nanny, I was crazy tired here. And I had to resume working on the third month after the birth, because we went through all our savings. It was impossible to travel. I thought going to Shanghai to live there, but my husband’s job, even as Marketing Director didn’t pay well enough to allow him to support our big family. I had to take care of the two babies. And I don’t speak Chinese. How could I bring the babies to a doctor without speaking the language if my husband is on business trip? I couldn’t even order a taxi. He said he would send the babies to his family, but I doubted his step-mother would take care of the babies of somebody else’s son. I went to visit him with the babies and the nanny, a long and difficult flight from Brussels to Shanghai. His father didn’t even come to see the boys in Shanghai. Only the wife of his brother came and she helped me a lot.

If we move to Shanghai, we don’t have enough money to live normally, I don’t speak Chinese, and the only solution is we hire an English-Chinese speaking nanny and I still have to travel to Europe to work for at least one or two weeks every month in order to contribute to the family budget and eventually pay my loan for the apartment I’ve bought in Brussels.

If I quit completely my job, I have to sell the flat in Brussels, abandon everything, and become a housewife and somehow live there. I’m not the housewife type. I’m conference interpreter, working for Heads of States and Governments, the European Commission and Parliament. But my main language, Bulgarian, is too small to be interesting for somebody in China.

The third solution was for him to abandon everything, but I didn’t want this. I know how difficult is to make a career from a scratch because I did it too. I could not destroy his career. And as a Bulgarian from the former Soviet Block, I know what discrimination means in Western Europe. I lived as a second category citizen in France during all my studies there, even if I had more diplomas and better notes than most of the French people. I know what humiliation means. I didn’t want him to experience the same as a Chinese.

I was getting more and more tired, depressed, and even crazy. I had also some health problems resulting from complications of giving birth, so I had surgery.

I started asking him to come. We fought, we argued. Then I asked for a divorce. He realized it was serious and quit his job. He came here. Was I happy? No, I was crying over his destroyed career. I was feeling guilty. He came here broken. I think unconsciously he was hating me because I destroyed his career. He hated also to be dependent on me. I tried to find him something to do while we were searching for a job. I registered him to study French and to go to driving school. He refused to finish the classes. He said he will decide when to go to classes and what to do. We argued about how could I help him. He said my job-hunting assistance wasn’t helpful and he doesn’t need my help.

I was nervous, often crying and shouting. He said he hated this kind of woman and if he knew I was like this, he would never marry me. He accused me of using the boys as a tool to make him come here. We fought for half a year. Although I found him a job as a shipment manager, and not a bad one, he wasn’t satisfied and hated it. The atmosphere in the company was bad, he said. Because of the family reunion law, he couldn’t leave the country for 6 months. He felt even worse – like my hostage.

And one day he saw me completely broken, crying and telling him that I made a mistake to ask him come here, that all I did was stupid and I’m ready to quit my job and Europe and go to China. The colleague who replaced him as Marketing director in China had left, so his position was free and he could have gone back. He refused.

So this is our story until now. We stopped arguing and I don’t ask anything from him. I just try to stay calm and he also seemed to calm down recently. But I don’t know what will happen.

What do you think? What advice do you have for Petya?


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.

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Researchers, Group Dating, and ABCs vs. FOBs

In this week’s Ask the Yangxifu, I feature not one but three different questions from the mailbag — and invite you to weigh in with your own advice!

“Katie” wrote that she met a Chinese research assistant with a PhD at a nearby university in North America, but is frustrated because he’s so busy and often cancels their plans. “I want to somehow tell him that I feel frustrated that he can’t find a good time to hang out with me, but I was wondering if you might have any ideas or suggestions on how to do it without causing him to disappear.”

My husband’s graduate education in the US has schooled me in the many challenges that Chinese face when they choose to study or do research abroad. We’ve all heard the jokes that PhD stands for “piled higher and deeper” and all the horror stories of graduate student life. Well, on top of the usual obstacles of graduate/research life, Chinese also have to navigate their education in a foreign language and culture and often encounter discrimination. That means they have to work even harder and longer than their North American counterparts — and when you’re challenged like that, something (i.e., social life) sometimes has to give. Look, I lived with my husband during his education and some days I wouldn’t even see him until late at night or during mealtimes; even our weekend movie date nights weren’t always a sure thing if he had a major deadline or project coming up.

You may feel frustrated with him for cancelling on you, but chances are he’s more challenged than you actually know — and might have valid reasons for bailing on you.

Instead, you might consider reaching out to him as a friend and offering a little help that any overworked research assistant could use. For example, even the busiest people in academic settings still have to eat. Why not offer to bring him some dinner or a snack on those late nights or weekends? It would give you an excuse to contact him while showing him you care at the same time, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Also, why not ask him about his plans for the upcoming holidays? Universities quiet down, right down to research projects, meaning he’s less likely to back out at the last minute.

“Christine”, a Western woman in China, is interested in a local Chinese guy, but she’s afraid to spend too much time with him and potentially scare him off and lose him as a friend. “What do you think I should do? Should I just continue having less contact with him because we cannot hang out in a group as often or should I push the boat out and invite him to hang out alone more often? And, if so, what kind of activities do you think would be appropriate for male and female friends to do together in China without it seeming overtly like a date?”

Here’s a thought — have you considered perhaps proposing some group activities with him and his friends? For example, you could say you wanted to meet his friends (male or female) and thought it might be fun to do something together as a group (like sing karaoke or have dinner or play sports such as badminton or table tennis). That way, you could hang out with him but it’s definitely not a date. Chinese often go out together in groups, and it’s not uncommon for people to introduce others in group settings as well (to, of course, avoid the pressure of a date). It would also give you the opportunity to meet more locals your age. Plus, if you make friends with his friends, you’ll learn more about him — and potentially, they might help bring you two together.

“Maya” asks, “What’s the difference between dating an American-born Chinese versus dating a FOB [someone born and raised in China]?”

I’ll leave this answer to Ranier Maningding of The Love Life of an Asian Guy, who essentially sums it up this way:

Unless you can tell that an Asian-American guy is VERY attached to his cultural values and customs, treat him like you would every other American citizen….

If he’s an Asian Immigrant, just ask him a bunch of questions and figure out how “Asian” he really is. Get a better understanding of how he feels about his culture because when you think about it, if he is an immigrant, he chose to immigrate to your country for a reason. Maybe that reason is because he dislikes his culture and is seeking a better opportunity – or maybe he just likes Black girls.

And don’t miss Ranier’s entire entry, which will leave you both entertained and enlightened!

What do you think?


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture or Western culture? Send me yours today.

Three Things I Wish I Had Known About Dating in China

The other day, someone asked me why I started up this blog. I mentioned a number of reasons, including this one — because it’s the kind of blog I wish I had discovered when I first went to China and started dating men over there.

That got me thinking about my first year in China in 1999, when I stumbled into a cross-cultural relationship — and knew little of China’s culture and could barely even speak full sentences in Chinese. I wondered, if I met my 1999 self, what advice would I have given her about dating Chinese men?

Well, here are three things I wish I had known back then:

1. Actions matter more than words

In the weeks leading up to that first relationship, I was caught in the midst of an “is he into me?” guessing game. As I wrote before:

We spent over a month together in this “dating limbo”. We took late evening walks, our shoulders dangerously close, and he would say things like “I love the color of your eyes” or “I think foreign women are beautiful.” He would also inquire about what I was doing at certain times, or, if we were together, what I would be doing next — and then casually suggest we do something. But it wasn’t until we were crossing the street one day (to escape a beggar running after me) that we finally locked hands together — hands that didn’t part after crossing. Then he kissed me at my apartment, and I knew we were together.

I longed for the reassurance of his words in understanding where we were — and where we were headed — because that’s what people generally do in the US. Of course, once he held my hand and kissed me that evening, I had all the reassurance I needed! Yet when I look back on that time, his actions were saying “I love you” even though he never uttered those words to me.

Later, I had similar experiences in dating — including with my future husband, John. And when I came to know John’s family, I also realized that they show their love, instead of saying it.

2. Keep that past relationship in the past

One of my first arguments with a boyfriend in China happened over something that many Americans think nothing about. I happened to tell him about a relationship with an ex-boyfriend during my senior year in university.

While couples in the US bond over swapping relationship “war stories”, discussing your exes with your Chinese boyfriend could blow up in your face. I’m not saying there aren’t guys in China who might be amenable to such discussions — just realize it’s the usually exception and not the norm. After all, my friend and fellow yangxifu Jessica once told me, “My husband does not want to hear anything about my ex-boyfriends, sexual history, or even ‘regular’ history.”

But on the flip side, it’s kind of liberating to enter a relationship without some unspoken expectation that you should unpack all of your past relationship baggage before your significant other. Some Americans actually judge you over your past relationships, which can obviously sting. Instead, you can leave that past where it belongs and focus on the present happiness.

3. It takes a lot longer to meet the parents

When I was in high school and I started to date guys in the US, they often met my parents on the first or second or even third date. Maybe it was just a handshake and a few quick words of hello, but you could still call it a “meeting”.

Not so in China. With one exception (I met his mom well before we were even considering dating) it took a long time before my boyfriends in China would actually introduce me to their parents. In one case, I never even got to that point — we broke up. Later on, I learned that Chinese usually don’t introduce their boyfriends or girlfriends to the family unless it’s a serious, heading-towards-marriage kind of relationship.

And maybe that’s a good thing. I remember one guy I dated in college and how I came so close to his mom that she even wrote to me while I was studying abroad in Spain. So when he and I finally broke things off, I had a double heartache — losing both him and her.

What about you? What dating advice do you wish you would have had in your first cross-cultural or interracial relationship?

Ask the Yangxifu: Help a Western Woman in Shanghai Meet Chinese Men

(photo by Keith Marshall via Flickr.com)

M asks:

I am a single [Western] girl living in Shanghai, just turned 30. From what I’ve noticed most chinese guys around that age are already married. Is there any chance of meeting a single guy in China?


Yes, there’s always a chance of meeting single men in China — despite the fact that 30 remains a sort of unofficial “marital expiration date” in China (especially for women, sadly). I know of women who were 30 and older when they met their future husbands in China (most notably Jo Gan of Life Behind the Wall — who was in her early 40s when she married her husband, and even recently wrote an entry about how men in Hangzhou were still flirting with her). I’m not saying it’s always easy; but it’s possible.

But maybe the more important question is — how to meet single men in Shanghai? The more single men you meet, the more chances you have of finding that one special guy.

Since I haven’t lived in Shanghai for a decade, I decided to reach out to a friend of mine — a Chinese fellow who met his Western fiancee in Shanghai — for some ideas. Here’s what he had to say:

Meeting guys through friends is a good way. Don’t make the meetings like blind dates. It could be just a group of friends going out for a drink or going to sing at KTV or having a house party. So the guy you meet through a friend is like someone with a reference or recommendation, more reliable than the random guy you bumped into at the bar.

Speaking of bars, for sure they are venues to meet up new people. Many guys would only go for the bars they like, so you would see them over one certain bar at most of the weekends or even weekdays. The point is, choose the bars carefully, since one kind of people would only go to their kind of bar.

Clubs would always be the worst place to look for a relationship.

Cafes, gyms and artsy places (Red Town, Ke Center and Et Cetera) would also be good places to meet up with people.

Avoid places that dominated by foreigners (if you intend to find someone Chinese). Also don’t go to places where you only see Chinese (if you are not prepared/intend to know someone very Chinese).

I know many of you out there live in Shanghai too. What suggestions would you have for meeting single Chinese men in Shanghai? Sound off in the comments!


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture or Western culture? Send me yours today.

Fenshou: Algerian Muslim Falls For Chinese Atheist, But Love Doesn’t Last

(photo by openDemocracy via Flickr.com)

I receive e-mails from people all over the world with tales of love, and one of the most unusual ones comes from Soulef. She’s Algerian and Muslim, and falls for a Chinese atheist she meets in her home country. Thank you for sharing this story, Soulef!


My name is Soulef. I am from Algeria, North Africa. I have always been interested in Asian culture, especially Japanese culture. I’m a big fan of manga and watched many manga shows and movies in their original version. But I never thought of being in love with Chinese men. China was for me the barbarian side of Asia. Yes, shame on me.

I work as a translator in an American company, which is located in a building with many other foreign companies. Two years ago, while I was waiting downstairs in the building for a friend, I noticed the most beautiful — yes, this word suits him — man that I have ever seen in my life. I was petrified. I couldn’t even look away as my heart skipped a beat. I was literally staring at him. He was Chinese and was with his colleagues. I remember that I spent two hours in the car waiting for his return. I even had lunch in my car. Stalker? Yeah, definitely.

When I got home, I told my sisters that I had “the coup de foudre” for a gorgeous Korean, as I thought he was from Korea. I spent the entire weekend thinking of him.

Upon returning to work, I was downstairs in the building at 12 noon — lunchtime — to wait for him. He saw me that time and kept staring at me. The day afterwards he sent me his phone number. I called him immediately, but he couldn’t even talk. He told me later that he was unable to speak, and that his name was Bo.

Everything was so evident and so obvious. We fell in love at the first glance, we talked about marriage and kids few days later. Of course, there were some obstacles as he said. Language. Even if we both speak English, we couldn’t express our real feeling through it. Religion, too. I am Muslim and he has no religion. Physically he had issues at the beginning as I am more curvy and not like Chinese women (we had to have a long discussion to overcome this). In age, he was four years younger than me. But it didn’t matter. We were in love, totally in love.

A few months later, he had to return to China to see his parents and to tell them about us. He was a little worried, and kept telling me he will say that I was pregnant so they would accept our marriage. I found the whole thing funny because I didn’t have a clue about his inner turmoil. I thought that since my parents agreed with it, so his parents will too.

Then my sister died and I was living a family tragedy. Bo left three days later. Then things went worse when Bo sent me an e-mail two weeks into his visit to China, saying his parents were against our marriage.

He returned from China and the guy before me was not the one I once knew. He was cold, tough and rude. He avoided me. I remember once I touched his face and cried, “Look at me! It’s me! I am the one that you love!” He was crying, but never he loved me again. Despite all this, we spent some time together. Sometimes he said he would miss me. He told me once that we would meet at the end of our lives, and that he would take me to a Chinese mountain ( I don’t remember its name). The last day, he made a video for me that I recorded. He said he was not happy. He wished I will be happy, and that I will forget him. The day after, he left forever.

Later on, sometime after returning to China, he sent me an e-mail saying he was a married man. I felt as if I was living in a real-life drama, with the loss of my sister and the love of my life.

After one year of mourning, I was still in love with Bo. But I decided it was time to meet another guy — Chinese, of course. I’ve recently been flirting with another Chinese man who also works in my building. I don’t know where things will go with him, but I’m certain of one thing. Bo changed my life forever.

Soulef is a translator in Algeria, North Africa who hopes to one day marry her true Chinese love.


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.