Guest Post: When Tradition Gets in the Way of Intercultural Dating

How many of you have ever had tradition or cultural differences get between you and your intercultural relationship? I’ll never forget the handsome guy from Nanjing who couldn’t even date me because his family expected him to marry a Chinese girl. Or the Northern guy who was my boyfriend for less than a month, until he discovered his parents could never accept a foreign girl.

Well, Lena (who blogs and vlogs at Lena Around) had all but given up on finding a mainland Chinese fellow because of all the trouble involved. But then she falls for a  fellow she meets in Beijing…and soon discovers that tradition could potentially turn them into two star-crossed lovers.

Do you have a story you’re itching to share here on the blog? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about how to have your words published here.
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I’m not new to this. I’ve been ‘in a relationship’ with China for five years. We have been through good and bad times. We have loved and hated each other but I always come back. I learned something every time. During those years with China I have dated both Mainland Chinese guys, kissed a Taiwanese one, saw an Australian Chinese, made out with a British Chinese and fell hard for a Danish Vietnamese. I’ve been around indeed. Every time I bumped into a guy, I would learn something. I learned that even though they have a handsome Asian face, they don’t act like an Asian guy if they grew up abroad. I wanted Asian culture to be a part of our relationship but it wasn’t. But on the other hand, I also very fast learned that if they had grown up in China, they would be thousands of kilometers away from me when it came to culture and the way we act and think.

After years in China, I’d given up on finding a mainland Chinese guy. There were still cuties around but I knew that the cultural aspect was mafan (trouble) and I was quite sure that our personalities also just wouldn’t suit each other. I’m outgoing, curious and independent and I always saw the Chinese girls as being the opposite so I had settled with the thought of only ‘dating’ China but not the people.

But when I had just settled with that then it happened. He came. I literally bumped into him. I was at this silly speed-dating event because my friend had a crush on the host. I just wanted to make a video and thought, hell yeah, why not? So we went. I sat down at one of the tables and each table had a staff member who told us how to introduce ourselves and play the games. Then he came. The staff member at my table talked to him for a second and then she got up and he sat down besides me. I turned around and played the ‘I’m-just-a-stupid-foreigner-who-doesn’t-understand-anything-card’ and asked about the rules of the game that the other girl had just explained to us a moment earlier. He was patient and told me again. Then I asked about his name because I couldn’t read his characters (that was for real) and I got his Wechat from the girl after he had left the table (yes, sneaky me).

We met up one week later and talked all evening. The same happened the day afterwards and the day after again. I walked around with a big smile on my face all day because of this.

But then the problem came.

After we had said goodnight one evening, he send me a text on Wechat. He said he had something serious to talk to me about. I asked him if he was married. He thought I was joking. I wasn’t because it wasn’t the first time that had happened to me.

He told me then that he was from a very traditional family and he was the only child. His father is very strict and he knew that he had to go home for Chinese New Year to ask his father to accept that he was seeing a foreign girl. I wasn’t sure what to say and it was all just one big mess in my head. He apologized and told me that he was scared too but he also knew that he had to do this.

Because I’m not new to China, I had heard about this situation before so even though my foreign friends laughed at the whole situation (I did a bit too in between the down-moments), I wasn’t really that surprised, just sad because I had a feeling that the father wouldn’t accept this and now I’d finally found somebody who I connected with. Somebody who was fun, chatty, good-looking and smart. He also had a big interest in Chinese history and culture just like me and we could talk for hours about different society issues and historical matter. I didn’t want to let go of this now. It was only the beginning of a beautiful thing, I thought.

Now one month later, I’m still telling myself to not think about it but of course I do because I am an over-thinker and that is what we do. Nobody around me here has tried this before so I can only talk to my guy about it. I call him my boyfriend for now but I know that it might not be for long. He is going back in January so please wish me all the best of luck. I think I need it very much.

Editor’s note: Unfortunately, things did not work out for Lena — his family could not accept her.

Lena is a 20-something Danish girl who is currently working on a master’s degree in Beijing and writing about her travels, China (her favorite place) and love. You can follow her at lenaaround.com.

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

Guest Post: I Shouldn’t Be Dating in My Own Country

Going abroad can change you a lot — sometimes, enough to realize you were never meant to date your own countrymen.

That’s the conclusion Lena, the blogger behind Lena Around, has come to, who believes the cultural differences between her and the local Danes are too great for her to go out with them. Read on for her story!

Do you have a surprising story to share or other guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your words published here.
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12471704_445388395651061_2637610516889358724_oI’ve been at home for a few months now. 2015 was a crazy year. I started out with a broken heart and a lost soul. But there wasn’t much time to think about it because I was going to Australia and then moving onto China. My heart was growing back together during the month in the beautiful nature of Australia, and when I came to China I was getting stronger again. I started to believe a little bit in love or I thought so.

I met a great guy in Beijing and I was determined to move on from past experiences and be happy with this person. He was a great match for me and he loved me just like I am. I should have been happy and I tried. I fought for him for a long time while I kept wishing my heart would open up, but I was afraid. I wasn’t ready to open up yet so I had to move on again.

I travelled through China, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong and Taiwan, I met loads of amazing new friends and hot fellas I could fall for, but I didn’t. I was just having fun. I told myself it was okay to still be nervous about the pain another person could cause you, so I let it go and travelled on my own discovering, exploring, thinking, learning and growing.

Coming back to Denmark, I was tired. I was just exhausted after 10 months on the road. I’d seen so many things and now it was time to sit down, relax and reflect. But it didn’t take long before my wanderlust came back with even bigger power than before. I felt the need to do something, so I quit my little vacation at my parents’ house and moved back to my university town. I thought to myself that now everything would be nice and I could be happy with friends around.

The problem is just that when you come back from such a long trip, not many people are around anymore. Or if they are, they are doing tons of other things. So I sat there in my new apartment thinking, Why not try Tinder? I’d tried before and it was a fun way to meet nice boys. I’ve got to be honest and say that I was pretty bored, which was probably the reason why I turned to Tinder.

886940_444090602447507_3285781544130795302_oAfter a few days, I had a match. You see the problem here is that I just do like the Asian look. I’m not saying that I only date Asian guys but I am just quite fond of them. So if I see an Asian-looking guy, I’m just more curious than a blue-eyed, blond-haired tall Dane. But anyway, the match was with a Vietnamese-Chinese guy born and raised in Denmark. I know from experience that this doesn’t mean they have any interest in Asia but I always hope a little bit anyway.

We started talking and the conversation quickly turned to the topic of Asia. I said that I’d been around. I didn’t want to mention all the places because I wouldn’t want to sound like a show-off, but he insisted on me telling. I told him about my last trip and he asked me if I spoke Mandarin. I said yes. He himself had only been to Beijing and Hong Kong for a week like most other tourists and I felt a little disappointed deep inside.

I knew I was comparing him to my first and only great love. He had the same background as this guy. But instead of not giving a s… about China, he was totally in love with China, just like me.

In the end, this guy left me hanging. Twenty minutes before meeting up, he told me he was going to play football instead. I was furious. I told him what an ass he was and deleted his number. Even though he chose to screw things up, I think it was for the best anyway. I should not date around here. My China stories can be pretty overwhelming. I don’t know why this guy didn’t want to meet. Was it because of my greater knowledge of Asia or did he really just want to play football? Who knows?

Now I know that I shouldn’t try to find a guy in this town. With a big population of pale people and no Asian studies at the university, I don’t think there’s much for me here. Also, I’m planning on moving back to Beijing immediately after graduation so why start a relationship here, right? I think it would be better to just deal with the boredom myself, become stronger, and not think too much about boys right now. I’ll just have to wait for my prince charming, who’s probably sitting on a subway in Beijing hoping for my arrival.

Lena is a 20-something Danish girl who is currently working on a master’s degree in Beijing and writing about her travels, China (her favorite place) and love. You can follow her at lenaaround.com.

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