When I think back to the months I spent in preparation for that year of teaching English in Zhengzhou, I draw a blank on Chinese men, apart from one simple thing. I assumed they weren’t dating material for me, and I wasn’t alone. An American man who had once taught in China famously told me, “You don’t have to worry about the students falling in love with you.”
It made sense to me. I had only ever forged friendships with foreign Asian men at my university, feeling romance was never a possibility, and had yet to move past “Hello” with any of the Chinese men on campus, who almost never noticed when I smiled or waved at them while passing by on the way to classes. I never saw white women dating Asian men on television or in the movies. Even the handful of Asian men who went to high school with me in my very white, very middle-class suburb didn’t seem to date anyone, let alone a girl like me. It was as if the universe decreed that there was a racial and cultural line that I was never meant to cross if I wanted to find love.
But beyond all expectations, love happened to me in China – and it was a love deeper and more passionate than anything I had ever experienced before. It was as if I had never truly loved before. Here was China, giving me a real-life lesson in what it actually meant to be intimately connected with someone else.
None of this would have happened if I hadn’t opened my heart to the possibility of love – if I hadn’t transcended my own past assumptions and biases about dating in China.
For me, the interracial and intercultural relationships I’ve enjoyed in China – including, most of all, my marriage to John – have been a transcendental experience. They’ve allowed me to go beyond what I used to believe about Chinese men and Asian men, and have made me more aware of how prejudices and stereotypes against certain racial groups still loom large in the dating world.
Granted, I know that one person isn’t a lot. But I’d like to think that every time someone like me ends up loving beyond their own boundaries — their own perceptions of what it means to be in love – it brightens our world a little more.
Do you think that interracial/intercultural relationships can be a transcendental experience?
Reinventing yourself abroad is practically an expat tradition. Whenever I sit down with foreigners here in China, more often than not they have a story about how the Middle Kingdom unexpectedly transformed their lives, forging them into the fascinating person they are today.
Writer Ray Hecht, who hails from my home state of Ohio (he’s from Cincinnati and I’m from Cleveland), is no exception. But he has a different kind of story to share. After all, how many have you met who took the “go to China” plunge in a psychedelic haze in the Nevada desert (Burning Man)? Ray does have an easier time meeting Chinese and foreign women for dates, but he never turns into another “charisma man” (or worse, Chinabounder) because of it.
From the girls he could have loved forever to the “just sex” moments to the one who stalked him (yikes!), Ray doesn’t shy away from letting you into his utterly imperfect love life. He’s refreshingly self-deprecating about it all and ultimately comes across as a genuinely nice foreign guy just looking for love in China. (Note that, besides graphic descriptions of sex, this story does include a lot of recreational drug use, so reader discretion is advised.)
Ray Hecht was raised in America, from the Midwest to the West Coast, on a starchy diet of movies and comics and science fiction paperbacks. Mostly writing about such states as California and Ohio, and such provinces as Guangdong. Lived in Shenzhen, China since 2008, that Special Economic Zone & Hong Kong-bordering chaotic city of the future, occasionally partaking in freelance journalism for various local publications.
I asked Ray about what it felt to have such personal stories out there for people to read, how he ended up with such a fascinating mix of women, what regrets he has (if any) and much more:
What inspired you to write this memoir?
I went through a lot of drama back in 2013. While my writing career was going up, my love life suddenly exploded. I briefly thought I met a perfect girl abroad, one Chinese woman I dated basically turned out to be a stalker and caused me incredible stress, and then it culminated in having my heart broken.
I often write private journals. It helps me process.
This time, I thought it would help if I put it all out there as a blog. It may have been a rash decision. But it did give me some inspiration to further write, and a lot of the conversation it ensued really helped me think about things. I found a lot of supportive people in the WordPress blog scene, and I’m glad I did it.
I finished the blog at a certain point, because I didn’t want people who personally knew me in Shenzhen to know all of my business. I share a lot, but I do have limits. However, at least making it an eBook seemed the thing to do, and for that project it wouldn’t be freely on my blog. It would cost just a few dollars, and I could share even more…
I don’t know if this is was a bad idea or not, perhaps putting these revelations out there will come back to haunt me one day, but too late now.
Your stories get incredibly personal and intimate at times, sharing details that would make many of us blush! How does it feel to have these stories out there for anyone to read (including your former girlfriends/lovers)?
As said, the blog was less blush-worthy than the finished product memoir. I’m fine with acquaintances and stranger readers out in the world reading about my personal life. I’m much more hesitant about people I personally know well — especially if they were there in some of those experiences!
Surprisingly, I haven’t had any negative feedback from ex-girlfriends. A few said they liked reading. I even pointed it out, in the name of honesty. There’s really just the one girl I hope doesn’t read it…
You described yourself as “a nerdy American boy from Ohio” who wasn’t “particularly good with girls” and yet your dating life was transformed in China, where you ended up dating many women and found your stride. Still, you write that “I was lucky to date anyone who would have me.” How were you able to keep such a humble perspective about it all?
I don’t know if humble is the word. Self-loathing at times? Realistic?
I try my best not to be one of those obnoxious expats who think they god’s gift to (Chinese) women. And I have been rejected so many times. I have to have a real perspective. It’s not like I’m the one-night stand kind of guy, but I was persistent for a while there and I kept trying no matter how many bad relationships I was in. More than half were due to online dating, I admit, which is easier than the confidence it takes to pick up women in bars and that sort of thing I’ve never been good at.
Mainly, racking up all these stories shows there’s something wrong with me in that my long-term relationships were so seldom.
Over the course of the book, you write about being with a variety of women — from those you could imagine spending the rest of your life with to someone who actually stalked you for months. I was so surprised by the wide range of personalities and the drama of course! Why do you think you ended up with such a diverse (and fascinating) bunch of women?
Hey, diversity is the spice of life. I’ve always been open to having friends from different backgrounds, why not give anyone a chance no matter where they’re from? That’s one of the opportunities that comes from the expat lifestyle, I suppose. Ultimately I learned through trial and error that Chinese women may not be my type. No offense meant to any great Chinese people out there!
It has been just my luck that I got to meet so many fascinating people in the world.
Looking back on your dating experiences in China, do you have any regrets? Anything you would have done differently?
I have so many regrets. I don’t want to get too specific, sorry. I guess I basically wished I knew what I was doing. I could have been more honest about the relationships that were to be short-term. I could have treated women a lot better when I wanted something deeper but couldn’t get that to happen.
But it’s not good to have too many regrets. Life is a series of harshly learned lessons, and I hope to move forward.
Social skills take a while to learn for someone like me.
What do you hope people come away with after reading your memoir?
I don’t know what people should think when they read my work. Feel some empathy with me? Simply be entertained by the more wild parts? It’s hard to say. I emphatically do not want to be giving out any pickup advice. I do hope that people who might like Chinese/Asian girls can read it and see that women are individuals and cannot be stereotyped. If anyone is an expat, I hope they can relate. If anyone is interested in becoming an expat, especially in first-tier cities in China, I hope they can see what they would be getting into with the social scenes.
Mostly, it but is what it is and if you like reading that kind of thing then more power to you.
Until 2014, that is. He had plans to travel to Hong Kong in April and decided to trying fixing up his nephew once again. So, will Fred’s nephew finally find love in the US this time? Read on for part two of this fascinating story.
About two years ago, my wife and I went to Hong Kong to visit my half-brother and half-sister and their side of the family, all of whom are Chinese. My cousin Yew was my half-sister’s oldest child of three. When my wife and I visited him in 2012, Yew was single and approaching his late thirties, unattached and unmarried.
My half-sister was concerned that he still had no marriage prospects in sight. So I offered to help him by arranging for him to date four white American girls if he came to visit me in the US. Before traveling to Hong Kong in 2012, these four ladies had agreed to meet and date Yew if he came to the US. However, before he could even consider this proposition, Yew subsequently developed a strong case of kidney stones and was hospitalized, preventing him from coming to the US.
I then when to Hong Kong myself to visit him and also do some sightseeing, and it was then that I once again proposed the idea of dating these four American girls. He quickly rejected this notion because he felt he was not their equal.
Just recently, my wife, children and I visited Hong Kong from April 2, 2014 to April 12, 2014. We once again proposed that Yew should come to the US and try dating some American girls.
This time, I had hoped that things would be different.
Two of the four American girls from 2012 had since moved on and found boyfriends of their own, making them no longer available or interested. The other two (the nursing student who is my secretary’s daughter and another female lawyer) were still single, available, and interested. These two ladies once again were happy to meet Yew and give him a chance. But again, I did not tell these two ladies about each other, lest they think my nephew is a philandering playboy and refuse to date him. I promised that I would approach him and invite him to visit me this summer so that they could meet each other and seal the deal.
While last time I was the only one recruiting prospective dates for Yew, this time I had the help of my wife. She looked within her circle of single friends and knew of a handful of single girls, a group comprised of white American girls, white Brazilian girls, and Latina girls. She could not promise they would be available when Yew came or that they would give a foreign Chinese man a chance. She would not approach any of them with the idea of dating a foreign Chinese man who is not even in the US until Yew showed he was serious about dating them. She did not want a repeat of the 2012 debacle, where those four American girls agreed to give Yew a chance only to be let down by his refusal to come to the US and date them. My wife was very leery of raising false hopes within her circle of friends for fear of losing credibility. Besides, the girls in her circle could refuse to date him even if he agreed to date them.
So this time we had two white American girls who would certainly give Yew a chance and potentially a handful of other Western girls.
On the third day of our trip to Hong Kong, we met my half-sister, my half-brother and their children for dinner — but Yew was noticeably missing from the table. I couldn’t understand why he was absent. I had informed them over five months ago that I was coming and we had planned well in advance to meet on at least two occasions for dinner.
I asked my half-sister, “Where’s Yew?”
She said, “He’s much too busy with his work and studies to join us.”
I asked her, “When will he be available to meet me and my wife? I have great news for him about how to solve his singleton problem.”
My half-sister said, “Perhaps next week you will be able to see Yew.” We were scheduled to dine with the whole family then before returning to the US.
Next week came. We once again met the family and once again Yew wasn’t there.
So, I asked my half-sister, “Where’s Yew?”
Once again, she said, “He’s too busy with his work and studies.” She added that, “His company’s business had improved much since 2012,” when I last saw him. “His firm wants to promote him, but he needs to pass a course and test in IT. He’s embarrassed since he failed the test and must study again to repeat it.”
I then asked my half-sister, “What about his singleton problem? Does he have any prospects or solutions in mind?”
She said, “Yew is quite secretive about his dating life. Whenever I bring it up with him, he shuns me.” I could not believe it!
I said to her right then and there, “Call him on his cell phone.” I wanted to talk to him immediately about why he was not with us at these two family dinners and also discuss how to solve his singleton problem.
My half-sister called him and then I spoke to him. After we exchanged greetings and salutations, I cut to the chase.
I asked Yew, “Why weren’t you at these two family dinners? We planned them over five months ago.” He had initially promised to attend both of them.
He apologized and said, “Things at my company are so busy that I must work late and study to pass this course.” He never mentioned he failed the test and was repeating it, nor did I want to embarrass him by saying I knew about it.
Then I tried inquiring about his dating life. But wouldn’t you know it, Yew cut me off before I could even tell him about all the girls awaiting him in the US.
I told Yew, “I’m proud that you’re so diligent, hardworking and loyal to your company. I’m glad you’re trying very hard to advance in your career. But what about your future girlfriend or wife?”
As soon as I brought this up, he cut me off. He said, “I’m very busy right now and have to go.”
I tried asking him to give me just a few more minutes, but he insisted he had to leave and then hung up.
I could not believe it. How someone could be so disrespectful to his uncle? How dare he cut me off in the middle of a conversation?
I asked my sister, “What’s his problem?”
She said, “Honestly, he’s embarrassed about his failures in life. Not getting a promotion yet, failing that course and the test, still being single, and not being able to buy his own flat. He even shuns me when I try to discuss something serious with him.”
My sister had suggested he should go to Mainland China and find a woman in a remote village, someone willing to leave her hometown for Hong Kong. But Yew insisted he cannot find a wife until he has attained a certain level of financial comfort, including owning his own flat and having a large bank account. He believes he cannot call a woman his girlfriend or wife without having these things first.
I reminded my sister, “Western women don’t have that kind of mentality, where she’ll only date a man if he’s financially successful. Instead, she will work together with the man and reach success together as a couple. So he really should give Western women a try.”
Plus, one of the two girls I wanted to introduce to him is a lawyer in her mid-thirties with a well-paying job in the legal department of one of California’s largest insurance companies. She also owns a Mercedes and a two-story home. And best of all, she is willing to give Yew — a non-resident foreign Chinese man — a chance. That’s pure bravery and courage! This girl is willing to take a chance with him if has the courage to come to the US and meet her.
But my sister said, “Yew cannot even look a woman in the eyes unless he has some level of financial success.” She then abruptly cut me off and said not to talk about this any longer. It upsets her too much.
In the end, I left Hong Kong without even being able to see Yew or have a meaningful conversation with him. I also had to break the bad news to the two American ladies. From now on, when it comes to dating women, I guess I’ll let him fend for himself.
Fred practices employment law in Torrance, California.
Well, Fred returned to Hong Kong earlier this month and decided to do an informal “study” so to speak. Specifically, he wanted to know whether interracial couples of Asian men and Western women were really as rare as I had written before. Keep in mind that this is not a scientific sampling by any means — it was simply one person’s observations during a vacation in the city.
So what’s the verdict on interracial dating between Asian men and Western women in Hong Kong? Read on to find out! And thanks so much to Fred for filing this report! 😉
When I first sought to date Western women over 14 years ago, I found that it was often a lonely experience because I rarely encountered couples of Asian men and Western women (hereinafter “AM/WW”). I could not consult with anyone except my full brother who himself was married to a White woman and so I had tremendous difficulties bouncing ideas between couples of my equal.
On the other hand, I saw plenty of couples of Western men and Asian women (hereinafter “WM/AW”) like my younger sister and her husband. Often times, I did not find the advice useful or applicable when I consulted with WM/AW couples.
1) Why are there so many more WM/AW pairings as compared to AM/WW? 2) What are the statistics? (i.e. how many WM/AW pairings versus how many AM/WW pairings can be seen in a typical geographical area given a typical day or week?)
I found Jocelyn’s website and read On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands in China. I felt she did an excellent job explaining why AM/WW pairings are so rare. Among the reasons that she gave were stereotypes held by Chinese men against Western women and by Western women against Chinese men, the media (i.e. portraying Asian male as asexual and lacking masculinity), Western perceptions of the relative physical size of a certain intimate part of Chinese men that makes it unattractive to Western women, etc.
However, there are no statistics on the number of WM/AW versus AM/WW pairings. There were some statistics I read once from the Shanghai Marriage Bureau showing the number of marriages between Chinese men and foreign wives compared to Chinese women and foreign men. However, they did not account for the couples that are not married and dating but nevertheless still a couple.
Jocelyn wrote in her article that it was not uncommon to see an expat walking hand-in-hand with a Chinese (or other ethnically Asian) girl. But neither Jocelyn nor any source told me the numbers. So, I decided to investigate the matter further. In order to answer question number 2 above, I decided to take the matter into my very own hands. I was also curious to see if Jocelyn was really right when she averred that AM/WW pairings are rare. I wanted to prove or disprove her article.
If AM/WW pairings are so rare as she wrote, then how rare are they? What is the proportion of WM/AW over AM/WW pairings?
So, I decided to take the matter into my own hands and do my very own personal investigation. My White Western wife and I, along with my two children, were heading to Hong Kong between April 2, 2014 and April 12, 2014 for a brief vacation to visit my half brother and half sister and their families and to do some sightseeing. So I made it a top priority during that trip to use my very own eyes to count how many WM/AW couples we saw compared to AM/WW couples. Every day I brought a sheet of paper and a pen with me, and I drew a vertical line in the middle. On the left side of the paper I wrote the heading “WM/AW Team” and on the right side I wrote the heading “AM/WW Team”. Then every time I saw either a WM/AW couple and/or AM/WW couple, I would mark a vertical stroke on the corresponding side of the paper. On the fifth stroke, I would mark it as a horizontal stroke. I would continue counting this way until my return to the US. This would be like a game for me; it started when I first entered the plane in the Los Angeles International Airport and would end when I returned to LAX International.
(Please note that my personal study is by no means scientific as it is not done by random sampling or any type of representative sampling method. It was purely my personal daily observation not predicated on any scientific basis whatsoever.)
My team was “AM/WW” and when I entered the airplane on April 2, 2014 en route to Hong Kong I wrote a stroke on the right side of the paper (i.e., one point for AM/WW team) as my wife and I constituted a AM/WW couple. So, our team was immediately leading the game by one point versus zero for the WM/AW team. “Hurray for us!” I said to myself filled with confidence that our numbers may not be so rare after all, contrary to what Jocelyn wrote.
Well, guess what? My team’s lead was very short lived.
No sooner after landing at the Hong Kong International Airport, the other team WM/AW immediately scored 3 points and now the score was 3 to 1. As time passed between April 2, 2014 and April 12, 2014 the score was skewed more and more in favor of the WM/AW team. In fact, when I visited my half-brother and his side of the family, I had discovered that on his side of the family his youngest of the two daughters is engaged to a White European man (Arnold) from France, and they are both living and working in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Arnold’s father, another White man from France, divorced his French wife many years ago, moved to Hong Kong, and now is dating and living with an Asian woman in Hong Kong. It seemed that the WM/AW pairings are incredibly ubiquitous, just as Jocelyn wrote. Well, all of my hopes of winning the game were dashed.
So, here is the final score from Hong Kong between April 2, 2014 to April 12, 2014:
1) AM/WW Team: 6 couples (including me and my wife)
P.S.: Please note that Hong Kong is considered quite Westernized. If the AM/WW couples are so rare in Hong Kong, I can only imagine how rare they must be if we conducted this study in mainland Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.
Fred practices employment law in Torrance, California.
Do you have a “field report”, guest post, or even love story about Asian men and Western women that’s worth sharing? Submit yours today!
This week, I’m not responding to a question. I’m responding to something else entirely that’s been on my mind.
There’s this white guy who continues to post hate-filled diatribes of comments on my site about Western women dating Chinese men, about how we shouldn’t be dating at all. The comments all go to my spam folder now (I have a personal policy about keeping hate speech off the site), but he still keeps ’em coming.
He’s clearly one of the douchebags that Shanghai Shiok author Christine Tan once referred to as “taking up way too much discussion space on the Internet.”
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