I recently found this answer on Zhihu from a Chinese student in Germany, who offers dating advice to his fellow countrymen who are studying or living abroad, and translated it into English.
It’s my first time to answer a question, so please be gentle with me.
I studied abroad in Germany — it was a small place and Europeans made up most of the population there. Also the international students came from different European countries. My roommate M was one of these super-beautiful Nordic girls. Recently she went out on a date with a Vietnamese guy (this fellow was not as tall as she was), and she and I had a deep conversation about this issue.
Your average ABC (American Born Chinese) studs don’t have this kind of trouble. So my answer is regarding those foreign students who left China after they became adults, and my examples are based on personal experiences among European students.
My response is, sorry, it’s really hard to date European or American girls.
Let’s first start by talking about the requirements for man to date these women:
To begin with, you have to pay attention to personal appearance and posture. First you need to be in good shape. That doesn’t mean you have to be tall — you have to have the features (women think) you should have, such as biceps, and you should not have the features (women think) you shouldn’t have, such as a beer belly. These are things that can be acquired through hard exercise. People still look at muscles. It’s not a problem if you’re not tall, but being healthy and strong are characteristics a guy must have. Europeans/Americans really do have many short (shorter than 165 cm) but beautiful, buxom girls. Their boyfriends are not all tall. Looks are even less of a problem. People don’t know much about Asian features. Again, I say personal appearance, this is something I really need to mention. What is up with the few Asian guys on campus, with their hair so greasy it reflected light and the shiny collars and cuffs on their jackets? I think these guys, from when they were young in China, just didn’t have this habit of washing their own clothes or tidying themselves up. After I came here, I went to a friend’s house for fun, the way German guys were so neat and orderly threw me several blocks behind even the standards of neatness of Chinese girls. Clean yourself up, and then buy a bottle of fresh-scented men’s cologne. Don’t feel emasculated by it, this is about showing respect to others and it also reflects the quality of your life.
Your language must be good, at a minimum you should be able to have small talk with Europeans/Americans without any pressure. It’s not a problem if you have an accent. But you must be able to freely joke around, make fun of yourself, and flirt with girls. Being humorous and funny is a very important standard. Who doesn’t like to make friends with someone who is interesting? Most of the Asian foreign students I know are not good at talking. Never mind European/American girls — even the Asian girls all think they’re dull. If you’re free just take a look at all the clever postings on Zhihu [a Q&A site in China] and learn from them. Humor requires intelligence, and it is something that reflects wisdom. It would be a plus if you have character, opinions, independent values, confidence, and can intelligently communicate with girls. This is easy. With China’s 5,000 years of history, you can just choose a few amusing anecdotes from history to talk about. And if you can tell a girl about some European/American history or anecdote even she doesn’t know about, great – you will immediately look even more impressive.
Meeting those requirements would enable you at least to ask a girl out. At least the girls in my dormitory would go out with you (Can you take me with you?). This is enough. If people aren’t interested, why would they go walk the streets with you, right? Whether it develops into some kind of relationship, that’s a matter of destiny, right?
To conclude, in general the reason guys cannot get a date isn’t a matter of their Asian looks (there are some who think we look exotic), and it’s not about biology. It’s that Asian men who typically leave the country to go to school are studious. They don’t have these basic features mentioned above that attract foreign girls, and they don’t know how to improve themselves. Most of them only carry a backpack and immerse themselves in the library. To put it cruelly, these Asian men would have a hard time attracting Asian girls, let alone European/American girls. But, for some Asian men who meet the above requirements, what kind of girls couldn’t they find in Asia? They can find light-skinned, gorgeous, buxom, long-legged, well-educated girls who share the same cultural background. These men are not going to look for a foreign girl who is more independent, can’t make Chinese food and probably cannot communicate with your parents. (Of course, dating [foreign girls] is still very cool!) So the buyer’s market and the seller’s market are seriously not matched, and this has always been a difficult thing!
“Her name was Olivia, and she was extremely passionate. … I still remember when I handed the drink to her, the way I felt when she raised her head to look at me. The moment our eyes met, I froze, because her laughter was too enchanting.”
This is the second installment of my English translation of a Chinese-language article on Vice.cn featuring interviews with four Chinese men who dated foreign women. Today’s interview is with a Chinese man who is an architect living in England, and he has dated women from many different countries there.
VICE: From what countries are the women you’ve dated?
Actually quite a few. America, England, Brazil, South Korea, Poland, Vietnam, Switzerland. I came in contact with all of these women after arriving in England to study abroad.
Which girl left the deepest impression with you?
Currently it’s this girl from Brazil. Her name was Olivia, and she was extremely passionate. I was particularly impressed by her when we first met. I worked at a pub at the time, and she came by herself to have a drink. I still remember when I handed the drink to her, the way I felt when she raised her head to look at me. The moment our eyes met, I froze, because her laughter was too enchanting. I think I must have stood there for a while, and now that I think about it, I imagine I must have looked especially ridiculous. I also remember when she noticed I didn’t say anything, she asked one thing: “What do you find in my eyes?” She was laughing as she asked me. I will never forget this.
Having dated so many foreign girls, do you have any vanity or sense of pride?
Yes, in China. Many people will look at me, so there times when I feel a little vanity. And overseas as well. Even though people won’t say so, but I’ve felt that they think it’s strange to see white women and Asian men together, so I can feel I am relatively special.
Why do you think Westerners feel it’s strange? Is it because of stereotypes about Asian men?
Exactly. Most people believe Asian men, particularly Chinese men, are very nerdy. Dating Asian men, it’s just like what we call “science and engineering dudes,” and these men are not the most popular no matter where you are. Western women prefer athletic, humorous and sociable guys, as they were taught by their culture. It’s the complete opposite of our educational environment. Of course, there are times when I feel that this stereotype has some basis.
Does this influence your relationships with foreign girls?
Yes. Honestly speaking, especially in England, the locals are very traditional. My former English girlfriend didn’t have a high estimation of Eastern culture, and thought that the Eastern way of being more restrained was not a good characteristic. Her only goal to date me was to learn about Eastern culture, so she could add some content to her report…she always said, “All of my friends don’t like Chinese men because they think you’re too awkward.” But I felt her xenophobia was also rather awkward.
Are there many Chinese men around you who have dated foreign girls?
Very few. I only know of one friend who has.
Is it easier for Chinese women to find foreign boyfriends?
Yes. There’s a big difference in how foreigners treat Chinese men and Chinese women. For example, when there’s a party, the best place for people to hook up, they will invite the Chinese women who are studying with us to go, but won’t invite Chinese men. It clearly shows that, overseas, Chinese men are not as welcome as a group.
As a Chinese man, how do you break through this kind of “dating barrier”?
To connect with foreign women, you need a lot of confidence. This is the core problem, which affects your language, communication and personal charisma. So, if you want to date foreign women, perhaps you need to have confidence in yourself first. I know many guys who were these huge ladies’ men in China that, after coming to England, never mind that they had no luck with the women, they found it was strenuous to get accustomed to life overseas.
When I first went there I was like that, I had no confidence to speak up among foreigners. But in China, a foreign man who can’t even speak Chinese clearly can get a Chinese girlfriend. It’s not just that they are more “coddled” because Chinese women like foreign men. It’s also that foreign men will confidently express themselves no matter what, and let others get to know them.
For the past year, Yuan Fu, a native of Shandong Province, has graciously volunteered his time to help translate a variety of posts on Speaking of China into Chinese. I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to get to know the guy behind the translations? (I admit, even I was interested in knowing more about this fellow who magically appeared in my e-mail inbox one day, offering his talents to Speaking of China.)
So I put together this interview with Yuan Fu. As it turns out, Yuan is one fascinating and incredibly funny guy — his answers had me laughing out loud at times. I’ve provided his original Chinese responses below (he answered my English interview in Chinese — for those of you who can read Chinese, his answers are best in his native language); otherwise, you’ll have to forgive me for the simple translation of his answers into English. Trust me, if you can read the Chinese, you’ll understand just why he’s such a whiz with words.
You’ve volunteered your talents to help speakingofchina.com translate many wonderful posts into Chinese. Tell us about how you came to find this website and what motivated you to translate content for it.
I don’t consider myself a “volunteer”; I’m just one shrewd “businessman!” That’s because Speaking of China gave me more than I could possibly offer. So if there’s someone I should thank, it’s Jocelyn and her website!
I’ve always loved words and have been weaker with numbers. From elementary school I’ve been far more passionate about writing, even though only I think the articles read well. In contrast, I could barely pass mathematics by memorizing formulas. I really like feeling as if I’m “flirting” with readers through words. When you know that simply adjusting a word or phrase can completely change the reader’s experience, that feeling is really amazing. Ironically, after I graduated I staggered into profession of auditing, a world of figures 24 hours a day. So working for Speaking of China has become really important for me. After a day of getting “bombed” by worksheets, Speaking of China gives me a thread of breathing space and for the first time, provides me with readers. This is an essential change. I really cherish this opportunity.
Of course I also await the day when I will finally meet a girl who shares my ambitions and outlook on life. Among the girls who visit Speaking of China, if they’re not interested in AMWF then they’re interested in language. That’s perfect for me. In light of the fact that I often feel overwhelmed whenever I’m together with a girl I’m attracted to, I’ve learned to be careful, so I hide behind the computer. If I give it my all, who’s to say one day the perfect girl will actively find me?
Finally and most important, I’ve noticed that a lot of young Chinese guys have this kind of demand, but they don’t have a platform where they can be heard. I hope Speaking of China’s Chinese version will change that a little – that they’re not freaks in the world of love and marriage. Many of us have the same thought. If you love foreign girls then you should confidently go after them! Speaking of China can provide you with suggestions in this respect and even real-life love stories. I look forward to the future when we can receive many more “Double Happiness” stories from young Chinese men!
You actually work as an audit trainee for an accounting firm. How do you make time to translate posts?
For that we should thank the horrible traffic situation, the crowded streets and buses – that’s where I’ve finished most of the translations! Just like Ford and his Model T, I “assemble” each article in my mind starting with the easiest and most fascinating parts and then the more challenging parts of the articles. This whole process – starting from nothing to a finished product – is always exciting to me.
“Accuracy, expressiveness, elegance” is the highest standard for translation but I cannot reach it. Instead I strive to preserve a certain amount of character in the articles, (kind of like when, after suffering for a long week at work and finally making it to Friday, you can actually relax). I’m very clear about my own abilities, you don’t even need to mention the enormous gap between me and translation professionals. In front of those readers who are very serious about language, I appear like “Cub Scout” with this hobby of translation. However, with time I will improve.
You studied abroad at Cardiff University in Wales. Could you share with us your most interesting experience or experiences there?
During our graduation trip we went to Loch Ness in Scotland. That sturdy captain of the ship spooked everyone into keeping their eyes glued to the sonar screen, because the Loch Ness Monster could at any time overturn the boat. In reality this was completely unnecessary, as the Loch Ness Monster was in all of the gift shops – just 15 pounds and you can bring one home. If you buy more there’s a discount. And the “Made in China” tag left on each of them would make you realize they were Asian.
Similarly this street of luxury goods in Oxford was completely occupied by Asian merchants. Seeing this in the small village of Oxford made me suddenly feel like I was back in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping area; I even wondered if there was someone selling fried flatbread. As it turns out the place only had French hot dogs for sale, and the taste only proved that the technique of these young Frenchmen couldn’t compare to those Henan women selling fried flatbread (for one yuan more they’ll add an egg to it).
Besides the sights and scenery, England’s good regulations gave me a deep impression. For example, how motorized vehicles must yield to pedestrians or how medical services could really be free (despite the fact they weren’t always the most efficient). Of course everything the English people now enjoy comes from the hard efforts of the previous generations, benefiting from how they became industrialized in the 19th century. They’ve waded through war, endured a recession and the inhumanity of Imperial England. So we have nothing to envy. Maybe the hard work of this generation of Chinese will give their children a better country, don’t you think? Those of us born in the 1990s should be thankful for the many things we have received from previous generations.
Yes, until this day I still regret that I haven’t dated anyone. This makes me feel as if I spent all of that university tuition for nothing. Ha ha!
毕业旅行我们去了苏格兰的尼斯湖，白白胖胖的船东吓唬大家要紧盯声呐屏幕，因为湖怪随时可能掀翻小艇。事实证明这完全多此一举，因为尼斯湖小怪兽充斥在大大小小的纪念品店中，15镑就能搂一个回家，要是多买还能打折。留意一下铭牌你就会发现甚至它们也是有亚洲血统的—Made in China.
Why did you choose to return to China after your studies?
I think it’s because my visa was going to expire, ha ha! What’s interesting is that in England when I tried really hard to find work there, more than once I heard locals complain “they’ve already had enough” of this country that in my mind appears very well developed. There was even one Londoner who sent me a text message when I was boarding my plane: he is returning to Shanghai, and he persuaded me to quickly leave this “sinking” country. The very concerned tone of his message made me feel as if I had just missed Heathrow’s last “Noah’s Ark”. I think he’s not wrong in what he said. Immigration moves from a place you are tired of to a place someone else is tired of. Still that Londoner doesn’t realize that Shanghai is the eponymous “sinking” place because the ground there cannot handle the massive weight of Pudong’s skyscrapers. Fortunately this process can be controlled!
You’re currently single, but you’ve told me you hope someday you want to marry a Western woman. Why?
First off, because you’re so beautiful. Second…aiya, I think the first reason is enough for me, ha ha! Foreign women have provided many thoughts and ideas that aren’t in my culture and circle of friends – this is something that matters to me. I started to realize that there are some things you shouldn’t care too much about while there are other things worth pursuing. In our lives we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves most of the time – we really can just not worry too much about it and move at a slower pace. Regarding “doing what you’re passionate about” or because you love a specific field so while studying you focus on that area, now it seems this is no big problem. Simply put, I discovered some values that resonated with me. I admit, my initial reason for liking foreign girls is because of their pretty looks, but now I’ve discovered many more reasons that go beyond your appearance.
One of my deepest impressions is the alcohol tolerance of foreign women. Once we went out to drink beer with some very petite German girls. After their “warmup” stage was over, I was already very inebriated. Sorry everyone, I think I just made Shandong men lose face.
Actually I’m very interested in Jocelyn, but I don’t know if John will mind. At least China prohibits guns, ha ha!
Just kidding! I mean to say, I hope I can find a foreign girl who is as interested in Chinese culture as Jocelyn is. And if she also loves Mandarin and even wants to become a translator or interpreter, that would be perfect. I can definitely be a big help to her! You see, the fascinating thing about China is that, first it is quite ancient and yet it has changed very quickly. So no matter whether you are a historian with your head buried in the old pages of our history or you want to do something modern or different, you can basically find your place here in China. So to all of the girls living in the first world, if you come over to our third world for a turn you’ll find it’s very fascinating.
Or maybe we ought to talk about what kind of person I am – anyone who loves my kind of personality is also that kind of girl I’m looking for.
I have some really cool friends in my life. These people don’t just live well, they also can bring a lot of happiness to the people around them. What’s even more appealing is that they have this kind of ability to grasp the future. Without exception, they all love to read or at least do according to that saying, “There’s nothing exceptional under the sun,” books provide them with wisdom to understand the world. I also hope for this kind of wisdom. As such reading has gradually become the biggest thing I do outside of work. Of course, this kind of life can be pretty “quiet.” Similarly, my two other biggest pastimes — traveling and making military models – are also “soundless”. One young English guy once told me with a very concerned face, “Yuan, if you want to know the meaning of the word ‘Nerd’, you’d best look in the mirror.” Ha ha, in fact I wasn’t concerned at all about my lifestyle. Ladies, it’s good to find yourself a quiet partner. In this way you’ll always have someone to listen to your stories. Plus, perhaps these guys who are always reticent are in fact the most passionate guys!
Due to the limits of writing, forgive me for not being able to provide more details. But I strongly suggest any interested ladies to come forward and have a try. Based on my understanding of Yuan, I bet I would not disappoint the vast majority of readers. 🙂
There are a lot of Chinese men out there who, like you, have the dream of finding a yangxifu – but not every guy will be successful. What do you think are the biggest barriers for Chinese men to meet and date Western women in China?
First, Chinese men lack opportunities to regularly interact with foreign women. Objectively speaking, the vast majority of Asian men cannot compare to the tall stature of Western men. This is not worth complaining about nor is it racist, this is Darwin’s evolution. Because of this, I ask Chinese men to call upon their “soft power” in more superior areas, such as being more attentive to women or smarter. In this way we can become ideal to girls. Unfortunately this kind of “soft power” is not as easy to see as the huge biceps on a guy’s arm. You have to work long and hard together in order to observe it. And this kind of opportunity to “work long and hard together” is without a doubt in unusually short supply. So it’s very possible that young men here are already excellent enough, but that women just haven’t noticed it yet.
Secondly, you should also blame the spiritual impotence of Chinese men, their sense of inferiority. Whenever I tell someone that I’m interested in finding a foreign girl, the response I receive is, “Gosh, you need lots of money to do that!” As if I don’t have this then I cannot win the battle for a spouse! Another example is when a guy is standing before someone from a developed country, we can be overcautious. Yet when we’re standing before friends from less developed countries than China, we can behave all high and mighty.
I hear from Western women out there who are looking to find a good man in China. What advice would you have for them?
To all of those ladies searching for a “good man”, I want to say your search can stop right here. Just choose Yuan. Don’t hesitate. He will become the best decision you ever made for the longest part of your future. Ha ha!
If you’re speaking of the biggest strengths of Chinese men, that’s probably that we’re hardworking. I remember there was an economist at MIT who, when asked why he was so full of confidence about China, this gentleman shrugged and leisurely replied, “Forget about all of those economic models because the Chinese are very hardworking.” Look, whenever people attempt to answer these truly important questions, we often must return to the most essential things. So if I was a woman, I would stay away from those good for nothing laggards or the men who are constantly changing their jobs – the kind of guys who think they can use women because they’re cool and handsome. Just like Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times once said, “Find a responsible partner, even though that doesn’t sound sexy or romantic.” Then I would choose someone with similar values. For example, my father values frugality; whenever he goes shopping he always picks the cheapest items. But my mother values quality and she absolutely would not compromise her values because of price. You can imagine that this couple of such mismatched people will not live very peacefully together. However, thank the heavens, as long as it’s not time to go to the supermarket, things are fine. But if the two of them cannot agree on what kind of beef to buy, then the two of them are not so well suited for each other.
However, perhaps the silliest thing in this world is to listen to me, some 24-year-old guy who has yet to find love himself to give some advice to such experienced young women on how to find true love. So I’d best keep my mouth shut!
Finally, you currently reside in Ji’nan, China. Let’s say I’m coming up to visit your hometown. What you suggest I see and do in your city?
Oh, Ji’nan is a very embarrassing provincial capital city. Not only does it have no international recognition, here in China you almost never hear anything from Ji’nan. In fact the most recent thing I’ve heard about Ji’nan is that some guy put his girlfriend on his neck and received some praise for being a “Good Chinese Boyfriend.” Still, just because this place isn’t famous doesn’t mean it’s not fun. You should definitely see the usual sights in the city. Qianfo Mountain, Baotu Springs and Daming Lake are the three best in Ji’nan. Of course if you loathe manmade pools, Ji’nan – which is also known as “little Jiangnan” – also has a number of good places to go swimming, though they’re often hidden in the most inconspicuous places in the city and usually only locals can find them. Of course you totally shouldn’t be worried about those lewd stares, as can assure you there are far too many to count.
If you’re willing to walk a little, then we can also have a look at “the mountain”, “the water”, “the sage” – that’s Taishan, the Yellow River, and Confucius. Yes, in Shandong Province you can find all of these things that are deeply meaningful in Chinese culture. No matter what, don’t worry. Any trip with Yuan will be a happy one.
By the way, now that you mention travel, next year I’m planning on visiting China’s West (Xinjiang and Tibet). Is there anyone willing to come with me? (This is limited to single girls only! 😉 )
I am a 24 year-old Chinese man from Beijing. I am currently in California in the US. Your articles reminded me my memories of dating Western women back in Beijing. I do find myself very attracted to Western women. And I have a strong will to develop a long-term relationship, or even marriage, with Western women. I am currently a student and will graduate next March. Due to the nature of my job, it would be better for me to stay in the states and work there (I’m pretty sure I could find a good job here). It’s also highly possible that I would finally end up in Chicago or NYC. I think it would be better if I could find my significant one who have been to China rather than date a local in the states. Given the truth that I would not live in Beijing for a long time period in the next few years, what is your advice for me to find someone who will come back to U.S. soon?
That’s great you’re a student, because colleges and universities are some of the best places to meet women to date. You’re also lucky to live in California, which boasts a surplus of Asian studies programs (check this list of programs arranged by state to see if your institution hosts one). Asian studies (or better, Chinese studies) majors, whether undergrad or graduate students, are the folks who are most likely to have spent some time in China and have an interest in China.
If your university has an Asian studies program, see if they host a Chinese language corner (where students get together to practice their Mandarin Chinese on campus). This is a perfect chance to meet lots of people at once. Ideally, they already have one, so all you have to do is figure out the time and just show up. But if not, here’s an opportunity for you to approach the department and offer to help set up a Chinese language corner. Tell them you’ll recruit your fellow native Chinese speakers to make it a valuable experience for anyone who attends.
Some Asian studies programs also put on events during the school year that could offer opportunities to mingle with women interested in China. For example, I once attended a one-day China conference at Oberlin College that was open to the public filled with young people (including young women).
What if you’re too busy between now and March – and want to wait until you end up in a big city like Chicago or New York City? Then you should get to know the site Meetup.com, where you can discover Chinese language and culture meetup groups in these and many other cities. (See my search results for New York City and Chicago to give you a taste of what’s out there.)
Good luck – and here’s hoping in a few years I’ll be getting an e-mail from you about your upcoming wedding in America.
What advice do you have for Frank?
Do you have a question about love, dating, marriage or family in Chinese or Western culture? Send me yours today.
As I’ve written before, people in China are just crazy about yangxifu (the foreign wives of Chinese men). We’ve inspired two popular forums on Baidu devoted to discussing yangxifu (Yangxifu Ba and Waiguoxifu Ba), while yangxifu regularly make headlines in China news.
So of course, many Chinese men would love to marry a Western woman just like me. For some, it’s even their life’s dream.
But just because a guy would love to marry us doesn’t mean he’s always doing it with love in mind. Unfortunately, some Chinese men approach us with the wrong ideas altogether — things that would surprise and totally shock you.
If you really want to wed a Western woman in China, please – PLEASE — don’t do it for one of these four incredibly bad reasons:
1. To show off
In today’s China, everyone yearns for status symbols like BMWs, Louis Vuitton purses and Burberry scarves. They want to tell the world they’re powerful, wealthy and successful. But for some men, the ultimate status symbol – the proof that they’ve truly “made it” – is a Western wife.
I’ve got news for you, guys. We don’t take well to being treated as nothing more than your accessory. We’re not just some Coach purse, content to swing around your arm in front of your friends and colleagues. And believe me, we’re usually smart enough to figure out that that’s exactly what you’re doing (especially if you seem intent on parading us in front of as many people as possible every time we go out).
If you really want to show off, do us a favor and get a Porsche or something instead.
Have you been “California dreaming” or hoping to live out a permanent “Roman holiday” in a Western country? Perhaps you’ve imagined a highly questionable solution to your problem – just marry a Western woman. With her by your side, a coveted foreign passport, the rights to work or study in her country just like a local, and tons of enviable visa-free travel destinations are all yours for the taking, right?
Except…what happens when your wife discovers she’s nothing more than your personal passport machine?
I once knew of an American woman I’ll call “Sally” who was smitten with a Beijinger. For Sally, a plus-sized woman in her forties used to being invisible to the vast majority of men, finding a guy who actually wanted to marry her and come to live with her in the US was nothing short of a miracle. So they tied the knot and then her Beijing husband came to Seattle. That’s also the city where he abandoned Sally by disappearing from her life, just after he nabbed his US green card. It’s not hard to tell who (or rather, what) he was really in love with.
She posted the whole harrowing story on an online forum. While it broke my heart to read it, I can only imagine the state of Sally’s heart when she discovered her so-called husband had essentially punk’d her in the most despicable way.
Do you want to be that kind of guy? Do you want your immigration rights at the expense of her happiness? Do want to shatter her trust in men forever (including men from China)? We’re talking about a Faustian bargain that could haunt you for the rest of your life (that is, if you actually have morals).
Besides, living abroad isn’t all champagne and English roses. The moment you set foot in a Western country, you’ve just traded in one set of challenges for another. And let me tell you, some of those challenges will surprise and shock you (like discrimination).
Still gotta “Go West”? Just don’t use a Western woman who you never really loved in the first place to do it.
3. To improve your English
“So you only speak English to her!”
God, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from Chinese people, who wrongly assume my husband only communicates with my in English. Even worse, some jump to the conclusion that his English is so awesome because he married me.
Sometimes, I just want to cringe because of what they’re implying — a Western wife who speaks English equals your own private English teacher.
I want to be appreciated for who I really am, not because I happen to be a native English speaker. Who wouldn’t feel the same?
It’s bad enough that a lot of Western women in China – women just like me – end up teaching English here, an occupation that sometimes makes you feel like an “English machine” when seemingly everyone and their brother demands a piece of you to boost their English studies. We don’t want that kind of exhausting mess in our marriage.
But if you’re only looking for love with us for English, believe me, we’ll catch on. After all, we’ve probably all taught English at one time or another – and we can tell if you belong in our bedroom or our classroom. And if you’re only looking for “private lessons”, we’ll dump you and your crazy English ideas.
4. Because you’re racist
To the Chinese guys who exclude all other women in pursuit of a pale-skinned Western beauty with golden hair, I’m talking to you. You know, someone who thinks that mixed-race kids are so much more “beautiful” and “clever”, and therefore must have, for example, a white Western wife.
I get that people have preferences in the dating world. But if you’re dating a certain group of people because of their race (or characteristics only unique to a certain race) to the exclusion of people from other racial groups…that’s racist. I wouldn’t want a guy who loves me solely for my white skin – or the fact that I could provide him with a mixed-race baby. That’s just creepy!
What do you think of these reasons? What did I miss?
When Marghini wrote that her Chinese boyfriend “just never thought a Western girl could ever be interested in him,” it was as if she channeled my good buddy Xiao Yu from 2002. Back then, he offered a nearly identical explanation for the frustrating experiences I had with a number of Chinese men who drifted in and out of my life — and never responded to my subtle flirtations. (I would meet John only months later, who ended all of those frustrations for good!)
Marghini’s story speaks to a reality that, like it or not, exists not only in China but around the world. But it’s also inspiring to see how she and Mr. B still managed to fall in love in spite of it!
The first thing I thought when I met Mr. B for the first time was that he looked very weird. I had arrived in Beijing only few days earlier and I quickly noticed how Chinese guys usually looked, behaved, dressed, and spoke English. Then I met this guy, who didn’t look, act, dress or speak they way the other Chinese boys did, yet sported a Chinese looking face.
Coming from a small Italian city, I was never really exposed to Asian Americans or simply to people with a very international upbringing. Therefore I just assumed that face and identity had to correspond. That is the reason why I was so confused at first; I couldn’t fit that funny looking guy into any of the categories I was used to. This confusion quickly turned into curiosity, which quickly became attraction. I was captured by the fact he looked so different from anyone else and my inability to decipher him just added to my attraction. His reserved personality, coupled with my inability to fully comprehend his American accented English, didn’t make it any easier for me to understand who this charming Chinese-non-Chinese was.
Time went by and slowly I got to know the guy better. I discovered why he looked so “mixed”, being born in Hong Kong but raised in Singapore, New Zealand and the US. My attraction grew bigger and bigger and I started thinking about how to show my interest to him. Being a hot-blooded Italian lady, I was used to being very direct and open about my feelings, but this time I found myself scratching my head. I didn’t know if I had to consider him Chinese or a Hong Konger or a New Zealander or an American, and I didn’t know if any of these identities would require a different approach from what I was used to. Groping in the dark, I decided I had to keep my Italian outgoing nature at bay. I bit my tongue and tried to approach the guy in a more delicate and indirect way — just few glances here and there, a couple of sweetish emails and a lot of eagerness to engage in conversations with him. Yet I felt so lost in translation! This soft strategy kept going for longer than a month and even though I sometimes felt like I spotted some sign of interest in me, nothing really meaningful happened. Then I tried to be a bit more direct, leaving a small present on his desk with a nice encouraging note, obtaining no reaction but a “thank you”.
I started considering the idea that maybe he was just not that into me. I tried to feign indifference, but in reality I felt incredibly sad and disappointed that the Chinese-non-Chinese boy didn’t share my same interest. At some point, I just stopped trying. I thought that my attempt to date out of the box just didn’t succeed and that maybe it was not my cup of tea. Maybe I had to stick to Italians as I always did.
I would have never ever guessed that Mr. B was actually very into me! He just never thought a Western girl could ever be interested in him, so therefore he just assumed he was misunderstanding my behavior. Funny enough, this handsome, smart, talented, kind and well-educated boy was convinced he was not attractive enough to date out of his race. His upbringing in New Zealand and the US, where he had to face some nasty jokes about his ethnicity, made him believe that Western girls would never even consider dating an Asian guy. He had been struggling for his whole life, feeling too Chinese in the Western world and too Westernized in China. He felt like he never really fit. Therefore, during the whole month I spent trying to communicate my interest, he was just trying to convince himself it was not possible that a girl like me was actually attracted to a Chinese boy.
Long story short, eventually Mr. B woke up and realized that he had to take a leap of faith. So he finally invited me out. We have been together ever since our first date.
Sometimes I still don’t understand whether he is more Chinese or New Zealand, or American. I would say that different sides of his personality reflect different cultures and identities, like a crystal prism projects different colors according to the edge. That is why I fell in love with him, and why I choose him everyday — because he is offbeat, different from anyone else and really unique.
Marghini is an Italian architect who accidentally stumbled into a life in Asia and has never been the same since. She currently lives in Hong Kong with her boyfriend while they figure out what’s next for them.
When it comes to the love stories I’ve shared here, a lot of readers ask me, “Where are the Asian men?” Well, I’ve got a treat for you this Friday — the story of how Kane Gu, a self-described “foreign student turned party boy” snagged himself one special lady in New Zealand.
It is true that love can be found in the most unusual places, or in my case, two islands in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
I first arrived on the Kiwi shores 11 years ago at the age of 17. You could say that I fit the archetypal image of a young Asian international student: young, anxious and being the only child of the family. At the peak of New Zealand’s campaign in promoting its education system abroad, I was but one of the tens of thousands of students who left mainland China to study here. However, having lived and gone to school in Texas prior to my arrival also conditioned me better than most for my new life here.
Seven years later, after finishing school and tertiary education, I landed a job I was happy with. And with a few failed relationships thrown into the mix, I — the once clueless foreign student turned party boy — was anything but a stereotypical Chinese male. I had dated Aussie, British and of course Kiwi girls. Years of exposure granted me a social circle of almost exclusively Kiwis, and that meant, sadly, regularly consuming rather large quantities of the happy juice. My first attempt at a serious relationship was with a young Kiwi lass. We dated for one year before moving in together and things quickly turned sour because of things beyond my control. We called it quits just before we reached the two-year mark.
Having sunken into such low spirits, I in turn partied even harder than before. No amount of alcohol could alleviate the feeling of a terrible loss. I was such a mess and thoughts of returning home were already lingering in the back of my mind.
Time went slowly as the wound healed. Christmas came once again and I was invited to a friend of a friend’s party as usual, except this time, it proved to be the turning point of my life. There she was in an elegant pink dress, my future wife to be: tall, curvy and with long blonde hair. We had our eyes on each other instantly and my feeling was apparently shared by a few other guys at the party too. A little competition for her affections had started but it didn’t bother me for long because I won. As the drinks got flowing, we got talking. After expressing a mutual interest in each other, things quickly fell into place. We chatted all night and had so much in common that every sign was pointing in the right direction.
Things went great for two months, then came the hard times. Because of earthquakes combined with issues in regards to my visa, we both lost our jobs. Arguments started to flare, tensions were high but the mutual support never ceased. We had found a soulmate in each other and these tough times forged us into a stronger couple. We always believed there was light at the end of that tunnel, however long that tunnel might be, and we would make it through holding each others’ hands. When everything eventually took a turn for the better, we made the decision to move away from Christchurch to get Jo’s career on track again. Life in Auckland turned out to be very fulfilling for us, and we soon become engaged. Jo had the opportunity to return to Xi’an with me for a month in 2012. She was adored by my parents who started referring to her as their “xifu” even though we weren’t married yet.
With our four-year anniversary coming up at Christmas this year, our now one year old daughter will be joining our celebration. We have also planned a second visit to my parents in China this October, where our wedding will also take place.
Looking back now, it almost feels like things have always been this way. We found our missing puzzle piece in each other, even though we were once kept thousands of miles apart. Sometimes love just comes so naturally as though it had all been decided for you. The distance, the cultural differences and the color of our skin didn’t matter. Maybe that’s exactly what we Chinese call “yuanfen”.
Kane Gu found his true love in Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.
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
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.
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.
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.
Spencer Huang writes, “I dated other girls later on — Spanish, Polish, Welsh. But I could hardly overcome the recurring fear in my heart: ‘She’ll disappear again.’ At last, I returned to China with a lonely and tired heart. Eliza changed me completely.”
This is a story of how one Chinese man met an enchanting Polish woman in London, only to have her vanish from his life without an explanation.
I’m a Chinese man who just finished a master’s degree in the UK, where I once had a relationship with a Polish woman. I’ve wanted to share this story ever since the Christmas of 2012, when I met her.
I was there in London, spending my Christmas holidays with my friend John, who visited me from China. We lived in a hostel to meet more people and to share their interesting life stories. That was where I met Eliza.
My friend and I tried to talk to anyone we met in the hostel during our journey. We were chatting with a Japanese girl earlier that day, but she had grown up in the US and knew very little about Japan. It wasn’t a very interesting conversation to me.
When I was dismayed that I couldn’t find anyone interesting to talk with, suddenly Eliza walked into that room. She reminded me of a lovely elf — petite with long blonde hair, green eyes and a small face.
Before I knew it, we fell into a fantastic conversation. We talked a lot about anime, manga, Japanese culture (especially Japanese pop culture), food and musicals (such as The Phantom of Opera and other Andrew Lloyd Weber works). I really admired her independence. She worked in London as a waitress to pay her way through university. She had also left home two years before; her father passed away many years ago and her mom remarried. We bonded over our lonely childhood experiences as well.
I never imagined that I could meet a girl who had so much in common with me. We were so happy as we talked together through the whole night.
Then I asked her, “Why don`t we go out for a drink?”
“Why not?” she answered.
We left the hostel at 9:30pm to hit the empty London streets that evening, which was still Boxing Day, to have drinks together.
The next day, what a perfect day it was. We visited Piccadilly Circus and many other sites in London, sharing food and laughter. That evening, I prepared a dinner for two of Japanese sushi while she sang “Think of Me” from the Phantom of the Opera.
Suddenly, a feeling of dread hit me: I had nearly forgotten my promise to a friend from Hong Kong. He needed a place to stay during New Year’s time because he had no money and nowhere else to go. Of course, I couldn’t leave my friend to sleep on the streets and had offered him my flat in Glasgow.
I had to leave Eliza suddenly that very evening, December 27. We hugged before I left, never realizing it would be our last hug.
Later, when I returned to London to find her, everything changed. We were meant to meet at this staircase in the hostel, but she never showed up. She just vanished and left me standing there. I spent over 16 hours there, thinking about her. At last, a group of Australians came over to me and gave me a bottle of whiskey. Then I could remember nothing but the fact that she never returned to that hostel again.
I dated other girls later on — Spanish, Polish, Welsh. But I could hardly overcome the recurring fear in my heart: “She’ll disappear again.” At last, I returned to China with a lonely and tired heart.
Eliza changed me completely. A part of me still hoped that someone special might appear in my life, but I was afraid of a stable relationship, something I yearned for deep inside.
It was tough since I returned to China, but I’ve decided to move on. In the end, the memories are beautiful enough for me.
Spencer Huang works as a project manager for a media company in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
“Justin” wrote to me to say, “Many of the past posts in this category have featured Chinese men running away and dropping all contact. Let’s just say that the reverse happens as well, and can cause just as much heartache.”
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