Walk down any street or into any bar in China and you will see the oh-so familiar sight of foreign men with Chinese girls. Go on any internet forum and you will be able to access myriad conversations and threads extolling the trials and tribulations of Western men dating Chinese girls. But what if we flip it the other way round?
Source: Fe Ilya
The sight of a western woman with a Chinese man is, although admittedly more and more commonplace, still a relative rarity, and the information and advice available to Western women who are seeking to date Chinese men is still comparatively scarce. So scarce, in fact, that Jocelyn Eikenburg, an American who has been married to a Chinese man for several years, has written a successful blog, and even been interviewed by the BBC about this "phenomenon".
First of all, it’s important to think about the reasons why the Western woman/ Chinese man pairing is so rare. One of them could be the way in which Chinese men, all Asian men for that matter, are portrayed in Western culture. The emasculation of the Asian male is a well documented trope of Western cinema. Asian men are either portrayed as celibate, pure, martial arts heroes or one dimensional token minorities. The idea of Asian men as sexual beings doesn’t really exist in the Western public consciousness. This undoubtedly has an effect on the way Western women view Chinese men.
Another reason is the relative conservatism of Chinese relationships; gender roles in Chinese relationships are so clearly defined that even lesbian couples frequently divide themselves in to masculine and feminine counterparts, T (for tomboy), and P (for princess). Whilst this also exists in the occidental world, deviation from this is much less common over in China.
But all this aside, what are relationships actually like for Western women who take the plunge and date Chinese men?
Are We Exclusive?
With a Chinese man, 96% of the time the answer is going to be yes. It’s important to remember that ideas about dating are totally different in China. In the West, dating is seen as something you can do casually (at least in the beginning). Something that will only result in long term commitment or marriage if those feelings develop. It’s perfectly acceptable to date someone without the end goal being marriage. However, in China, marriage is an inevitability; it’s not a questions of if, but when, so people are often looking for something stable from the start. Comfort, reliability, getting on well with his parents and being family oriented will often take precedence over passion, common interests and sexual compatibility.
This also has an upside as the awkward conversations and game playing that tend to occur in Western relationships often don’t exist. If you’re having sex with them, they’re your boyfriend. It’s as simple as that.
Chinese men, especially those in their early twenties, may also be less sexually experienced than you, so you might want to take that into consideration before you pounce. Unfortunately, idiotic myths and stereotypes about Chinese men’s inability to satisfy the insatiable libidos of Western women abound both in China and the West. Bear in mind that while he’s presumably open minded and intelligent enough not to believe them, he may be slightly intimidated.
And be sensitive to the fact that you’re in a more conservative society. In China, exes very rarely stay friends, so if you say goodbye, it’s probably for good.
Express Yourself: Differences in Communication
When it comes to communication, sometimes less appears to be more in China. The Chinese are much less prone to expressing love directly, and confrontation generally avoided.
Chinese guys can sometimes be much less forthcoming with their feelings. When interrogating a friend of mine he had this to say: “Even though a Chinese guy likes you, it will take him a long time to admit it; maybe he won’t ever actually say it”. This can be confusing to Western women who may be used to more direct expressions of admiration. Several blogs by Western women who have come across this problem report that they had to eventually just ask directly whether the guy actually liked them or not. One woman even had to ask her now-husband to kiss her when they were dating.
Chinese guys are more likely to show their love in different ways, however - by taking care of you, for example. Many Western women have experienced confusion over Chinese guys carrying their bags for them, insisting on paying for everything and taking them shopping even if her income far outstrips his. Texts and phone calls offering advice such as "wear more clothes" and "don't come home too late" are fairly routine. For the more independently minded woman, this could be construed as patronizing. However, it’s just a way for them to show they care.
The other side of this is that Chinese men are generally very attentive, considerate and caring, and will do their best to help you out and be there whenever you need them.
Gender Roles: To Sajiao or Not to Sajiao?
Anyone who has been in China for more than a couple of weeks will have noticed that the gender dynamics of relationships are slightly different. Matching outfits abound, and for women, speaking in a whiny voice, stamping your feet, complaining and being incapable of carrying your own bag are seen as cute here as opposed to annoying or childish.
So where do Western women fit into this? An American girl I spoke to told me she essentially slipped into the role of a Chinese girlfriend and would sajiao at her boyfriend, originally as a joke. However, he responded well to it so she continued. But this backfired when she was genuinely angry with her man and wanted to have a serious talk about the relationship. She would be told "bie bibi" (stop nagging). Because she had feigned anger in the past in order to elicit a certain reaction from her boyfriend, any genuine issues she had were also interpreted as sajiao-ing.
Not every Chinese man enjoys being sajiao-ed at however. Part of your appeal may be your independence and the different way you communicate with him.
Keeping It In The Family
When you date a Chinese man, you aren’t just dating him; you’re dating his family and all their expectations of you.
Family relationships in China are different to those in the West. While families in the West obviously vary in terms of how traditional and conservative they are, when you get to a certain age, you and your parents are considered, if not equals, at least as a group of adults. In China the parent-child roles remain fairly rigid, and when you date a Chinese guy you will often need to fall into line. Be warned, your relationship with his mother can potentially make or break your pairing.
A British friend of mine who dated a Chinese guy for over a year described the difficulty she had dealing with the intense relationship with her ‘mother in law’, from her popping into the shower for a casual chat whilst she was butt naked, to the constant comments about her weight and questions about how quickly she was going to marry and get working on some grandkids.
And when it came to breaking up with him, my friend ended up screening dozens of calls a day, not from her exe, from his mother. She said: “An important piece of advice: don’t tell everyone until it’s serious. The concept of casual dating is still not very common in China. Announcing to everyone that you are boyfriend and girlfriend means you’re in it for the long haul, and then, you’re stuck.”
Although not all cases are this extreme, it’s undeniable that if you commit to the relationship, your boyfriend’s family will be almost as big a part of your life as they are his. And that’s if they like you. Not all parents will take kindly to their son dating a foreigner; there’s always the danger that you’ll take their precious son away to live on the other side of the world, (a worry that many parents, wherever they’re from, will have). Even Eikenburg who has made a career from writing about her happy marriage to a Chinese man wasn’t accepted right away:
“…my own husband was first told by his parents that he could be friends with a foreign girl, but not date her. Fortunately, their ideas changed when they met me in person!”
One undeniable advantage of dating a Chinese man is the opportunity to learn about China and be part of a new family that will be loyal to a fault. Being part of a culture that puts huge importance on ritual, tradition and ceremony means you will be able to enjoy these traditions from a unique viewpoint, learn real Chinese cooking, and speak better Chinese. The important thing to realise is that in a country of over 1 billion people, not everyone is going to be the same. Dating one Chinese guy isn’t the same as dating every Chinese guy and, like dating anywhere else, each relationship is unique.
Just remember that the cultural differences pose a challenge, but they don’t make it impossible. The difficulties you may face because of these differences can be made up for in the many things you can learn from each other and the unique experiences you can have together. You just need to be aware and decide what you’re comfortable with and what you can compromise on. Stick to your principles, but be willing to make a few sacrifices - even if it means venturing out in public wearing couples' outfits.
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Keywords: Western women dating Chinese men dating Chinese men
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Some interesting points. The reason why foreign women are not interested in Chinese men is because most (not all) Chinese men are little pansies. Women want a real man - Not a weed who has his mother control his life. You see these guys everywhere, carrying the girlfriends handbag, copping abuse and being stepped all over. The same goes for Chinese girls. Some are OK, but the majority are just selfish and rude. The 'sajiao' part is correct. Ive seen this on countless occassions where the man will give in to the womans childish behaviour and tantrums because he doesn't have the balls to stick up for himself - it's really pathetic. I've dated quite a few Chinese girls in my seven years in China, and I don't ever see myself marrying one. I just can't tolerate their way of thinking and their self centred attitude. Don't get me wrong, there are some great girls here - but they are few and far between.
May 14, 2014 09:08 Report Abuse
Like any relationship, I think it is important to make concessions and compromise, but I also think that if you find yourself "putting on an act" or drastically changing who you are as a person in hopes of being compatible, then the relationship is probably not something you want to continue over the long-run. Eventually, you will be suppressing your own hopes and dreams, which will lead to bitterness and resentment. I think this goes for both genders. Role playing is just that, it's not real. So what happens when that puppy-dog love wears off? You're staring at reality, and the true nature of the other person. You need to be considerate of the other person's time here in China. That is why it is important to show the other person the "real you" towards the beginning of the relationship. Otherwise, your relationship cannot grow if it is built on a false perception of who you are. This article, although helpful, promotes a lot of courtesy and "giving-way" by suggesting that you attempt to change your persona, your m.o.. But there are dangers of growing into a relationship where you are just unhappy. Though this is China, "The truth" is still universally fundamental and necessary.
May 14, 2014 10:13 Report Abuse
I'm not at all convinced that most Chinese men are attracted to Western Women, I think it's only a small minority who are. Sure, Western models are plastered all over billboards as some kind of ethereal creatures whose features are to be seen as desirable but I think the average size and weight of a Western Woman puts them off, as well as the already mentioned inferiority complex that some Asian men have. If you flip the coin Western Women are not attracted to Asian Men primarily because they are too short, and they just don't approach women they sit in the corner giggling like schoolgirls. In the family domain they aren't decisive, relying too much on other people for advice on what to do. If they were more decisive and confident they would find that Western Women are approachable and are open to dating them, it's not their looks that are off putting it's the attitude.
May 14, 2014 14:23 Report Abuse
Cross-cultural relationships are about communication, negotiation and compromise. Most foreign women would be willing to compromise to some degree. But when you are up against someone who won't, or dismiss your concerns and refuse to communicate by saying 'you think too much', it becomes too much like hard work for one person.
May 14, 2014 22:53 Report Abuse
I could not agree more with this post. I was constantly being told "you're over-thinking things", "don't think too much", which drove me nuts. I am speaking from an American perspective, but I think in general we are fairly direct and realize that open communication, even about uncomfortable issues, is important in the success of a relationship. The Chinese man I dated was not as open in communication and never really posed any feasible solutions to the issues and conflicts that invariably come up in a cross-cultural love affair. We all know that men mature later than woman, but I've found that in China, in general, they mature even later. Part of this probably stems from not working until after college, overly-involved parents, etc.
May 15, 2014 08:36 Report Abuse
I've gradually learned what "traditional Chinese woman" and "family oriented" mean to women over 44 - and it doesn't mean they are ready to have your child. You have been absorbed into group think and your ship may be turned around 180 degrees by a septuagenerian captain.If you are a journal writer, I would leave the diary at work because there is no space for privacy in a Chinese marriage. A 40 year old woman sent by the school for "English" lessons from a teacher came for a visit that lasted 6 hours. When he went for a nap to get rid of her, she stayed and his current girlfriend said this woman went through every drawer in the house and inspected the passport when she discovered it. She had another agenda besides language lessons when she arrived at his door.
May 15, 2014 15:32 Report Abuse
When I first read this article (Especially based on the material) I was expecting the usual Chinese culture bashing that goes on in every other article. I was pleasantly surprised. Glad to know hate has not completely overwhelmed the comment section of this site. Thanks for that.
May 17, 2014 17:25 Report Abuse
100 years ago a woman would have to surrender her American or British citizenship if she wanted to marry an Asian man. Times are changing... for the better. It's still rare to see Asian men with Western women, especially in Asian countries, but it DOES happen. The problem is that in most Asian cultures it is encouraged for people to remain introverted, whereas in Western culture extroversion is prized. Western women expect to be chased. They expect a man who isn't afraid to make the first move. When Asian men hold back, Western women assume there's no attraction. It's not that Western women don't want Asian men or that Asian men don't want Western women, or even that they're incompatible: it's that their cultures have two separate values for what dating means and how it is supposed to happen, and Asian men who want to date outside of the box need to realize that they can't always use an Asian approach on a non-Asian woman (http://www.abcsofattraction.com/blog/6-dating-tips-how-asian-guys-can-get-any-girlfriend-they-want/).
May 19, 2014 08:24 Report Abuse
I have one piece of advice for Western girls thinking about dating Mainland Chinese men: make friends with Mainland Chinese girls and ask THEM. After all, who knows them better? Having said that, in my 4 years in Shanghai I saw maybe 3 "Western girl-Chinese man" couples. In a smaller city, you might be the "talk of the town".
May 19, 2014 12:53 Report Abuse
Use for what? Are you just looking to score with a foreign girl, because none of these work to any girl with half a brain. A guy who has to put on an act clearly lacks confidence, which is not attractive AT ALL. each girl will find different things attractive so there is no formula.
May 19, 2014 21:35 Report Abuse
Frankly, even though I agree in principle, in practice Chinese men don't approach Western girls. They are way too shy for that. Heck, notice how many Chinese men approach Chinese girls. 99% of the time they are introduced by friends and family. The only "pick-ups" in China are by foreigners.
Jun 06, 2014 00:28 Report Abuse
Anyone, Foreigner male or female, who are dreaming of dating or worse, marrying a Chinese man or woman is just crazy, dumb, stupid or high as a kite!! Chinese women age like coffee, cold and bitter, as for the men, wow...ok, there are a lot of white trash floating around China, but as low, depressed and addicted, or as fat, ugly and depressed as most white women are, it's still a looong drop down to getting married to a Chinese man...I mean, now you talking someone who is, generally speaking of course, just plain ignorant, delusional, usually spoiled, always on mission impossible...then again, who knows, this may actually be what Western women secretly desire in a sort of sadistic self-flagellating way, with heavy dollops of masochism obviously mixed in...some people can never get enough of suffering, and they love to dream the impossible dream and to take on 'big projects'...for these this is the relationship they need...but it will be an eye-opener every day, and seldom of the pleasant variety...suffer through is the motto!!
Mar 17, 2015 04:51 Report Abuse
I for one find Chinese men extremely attractive and not at all attracted to Caucasian men. The Chinese men I have dated do not seem to fit any description I have read about on posts like these. I have found they rarely want to commit and tend to date several girls at once and lie about it until found out, then you never see or hear from them again. Most Chinese woman are either my physique or larger so western women size comments are widely inaccurate as far as I'm concerned. I find Chinese men to be very dishonest and players. They just do so in a different way to western men, perhaps more discreet about it whereas the western men like to boast. Never dated an abc so perhaps they are different.. the negative comments about dating Chinese men that are off putting to western women, is actually quite attractive to me, however I'm yet to find even one Chinese man that is like this..
Feb 10, 2017 21:10 Report Abuse
@Aussiegirl If you like 180cm + Chinese guy You can go to Qingdao, yantai jinan I am from yantai, shandong province I'm 23 years old, 184 cm tall, 91 kg weight When I was in high school Eight guys above 195 cm But most of the guys is 175 cm to 185 cm tall Yantai young men's average height is 177 cm girl is 164 cm to 165 cm(16 to 18)) average weight 70 kg 45 to 55, the average height of 171cm to 172cm average weight 77 kg
Mar 05, 2017 01:56 Report Abuse
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