Last year in August, whilst I was puzzling over how to prepare my British friends' first visit to Chengdu, my American friend has facebooked me an article published on the E-ChinaCities titled: ‘Chinese men, western women: differences in the dating’ written by blogger Susan Walker. It went in depth explaining why most western women are uninterested dating Chinese men including reasons from how Asian men are being falsely portrayed in the western media to different dating cultures, lack of sexual experience and most importantly the conservative gender roles in Chinese relationship:
Indeed, as a native Chengduer when I wander my way down the streets of Nijiaqiao, Tianfu Square, Tongzilin and any other places where the Chengdu Expat Community residents are centred, its a jolly easy task for me to discover Chinese ladies with their western boyfriends. The Chinese lads, however by sharp contrast, very rarely you would see them walking with their western missus. So linking my own dating experience with western women to a series of in-depth communications with my western friends living in Chengdu about this topic, I thought I could also make some contributions to the same ttopic from the perspective of a Chinese man and perhaps compensate some of the points Susan had missed.
Therefore, the first important thing you need know is what are other factors causing western women to block the idea of dating Chinese men despite all of the reasons Susan had explained? The answer can be summarised in 4 words: The different dating expectations. Yes the answer seemed to be easy and simple but it is caused by a number of different reasons:
Do we have less sexual and dating experience than western women?
Although there’s this idiotic stereotype of western perception of Chinese men having small willies and unable to satisfy western women’s sexual needs, in most cases, the answer is 99% true and the lack of sex and dating experience in our youth led to different expectations when it comes to dating. This I believe is the Alpha One major reason deterring western women away from dating Chinese guys. Back in our school days, it is actually school rules forbidding students having relationships. This is because of Chinese society’s enormous demand for higher educations had greatly exceeded its supply. Since Chinese universities are struggling to accommodate the hundreds of millions of candidates all competing for offers for the outnumbered reputable universities. Our parents and schools placed a heavy emphasis on our academic achievements when we were students and viewed dating as a distractions to our studies, thus shall be outlawed. Meanwhile, the Chinese society has long held its traditionally conservative attitudes towards sex education like America before 1960s. All of these phenomena above have undoubtedly caused the lack of experience for Chinese men in dating and sex. As we’ve been told that sex is only meant for marriages and children, we would expect the girl to be ‘pure’ and ‘nobel’ by not enjoying sex too much. Hence many of us would be fairly sensitive and shy when our western friends would openly discuss what’s your favourite position for your normal ‘Netflix and Chill’ activities. Such expectations would be a discouraging actor and kills a man’s attraction when it comes to dating western women, as the western society have been socially liberal and progressive about sex by the influence of the Second and the Third Feminist movements. Lets face it, how many of you western girls would like to date someone who is uncomfortable talking about sex and has very little experience in pleasing you? Not a lot, I assume!
Those of you who study history would understand that while the west was embracing social liberalism in the 60s, China was suffering from the chaos of the cultural revolution which was staunchly conservative on sex and relationship, marriages were arranged by your superiors at work place. As a consequence, many Chinese men’s expectations on dating a woman have been derived either from films or fictions, which are deemed to be immature and even scary to western women.
How could you use the word ‘Love’ for someone who you had a crush on?
In the West, the L Word is intense, you can only use such term when you have a long term committed relationship to your partner, the infrastructures of your relationship is strong. However, as I mentioned before, Chinese youth lacked of dating experience and sex education, they educate themselves about relationship based on stories portrayed in films and books. They misunderstood the true weight of this word and often use it for making a confession to someone they met not long ago. I remember my French friend had showed me this ‘Love Letter’ from a Chinese guy which he used the L word 12 times and the length of the letter is about 200 words. This is a common mistake made by many Chinese men to turn away their potential western girlfriends and I am not excluded. I dated this American girl earlier this year and we had a jolly good start with her and I did not use the L Word for confession but stiil, I screwed everything up by using the L Word two weeks afterwards during a brilliant night out. Even though I could excuse myself for using that inappropriate word by saying that I only said it after we already begin our relationship and it was said during an intimate personal moments between us I still felt like a fool when I look back. Especially after I watched the famous comedy film, the 2009 <500 days of the summer> Tom was absolutely right: ‘What does that even mean, "LOVE"? Do you know? Do you? Anybody? Its these cards, these movies and the pop songs they are to blame for all the lies and the heartache...I think, we do a bad thing here, people should be able to say how they feel, not some words some strangers put in their mouths, words like 'Love' that don't mean anything!’ I mean of course, when people don’t have sufficient education and guidance on ‘what to do in a relationship’, or ‘what is your role when it comes to date’, you cannot prevent people’s curiosity on these things when they are at certain age, and of course they’d base their findings in films, books and operas just as Tom stated in the film. Anyone would date people who models their relationship as what happened in fictional stories? Nah! So my advice to my Chinese brothers is that DO NOT use the L Word till your relationships are strong enough to sustain the weight of the word Love. When making a confession to a girl you had a crush on say something like: 'I dare to persume, that my megre qualities could have the honour to earn your affection one day?'
‘Casual Dating Before Commitments ’ vs ’Get Married and Have Children ’
This is what I see as the MOST IRONIC phenomena and probably the main reason scaring western ladies away from the Chinese gentlemen. During the Cold War Era, the Christian West regarded China and the USSR as the Godless reds who disrespects family values and disregards the holiness of marriage. Today the table has turned, as Susan have pointed out in her article that Chinese people often expects marriage to be the result of dating and relationships, while westerners believe that’s something you could do casually. However, Susan has missed the reason why us Chinese would commonly hold such views. Similar to the Christian concepts of familism, marriage is the whole point of dating. Chinese Confucianism puts a great emphasis on fertilities as it is the only way to resume your family blood line. Almost every Chinese family would desire to see their grandchildren, therefore the expectation of having a relationship in China is to get married and have Children. Such expectation often result in early proposals and pushy parents forcing the young couples to get married a few months after the commencement of dating. But to western women, this is scary and ridiculous. Marriage is a serious matter and could only happen after a long period of time. More often, there is an ‘unofficial Casual date before commitments’ policy in the west. Such expectation about ‘relationship leading to marriage’ does not only apply to Chinese men, but women too. Before I began writing this article, I discussed this particular issue with my male American friend who told me that he told his Chinese girlfriend at the very start that ‘I am NOT going to marry you’. This may sounds extreme but I think its rational, its going to be a great tragic if you over invest your commitment at the early stage of dating due to the strong expectations of getting married soon, which have occurred to my relatives children when they were dating western women.
Speak your mind out: Different communication methods
Westerners expect their partners to be direct expressing their affection to you and be honest to you on what’s going on in their mind, while us Chinese are more likely to be ‘Implicit(Han Xu)’. For this part I can tell you from my own experience, the real reason that killed my relationship with my American ex is communication. Susan said in her article that western women generally admire men who express their feelings for you in a direct and frank manner but for Chinese is different. But such difference does not only exist in confession of feelings, its also an issue when it comes to being honest to your female partners about your pains and difficulties. As I have stated before that China has been socially conservative regarding gender roles and since we have not had any revolutionary feminist movement as the west, we are still living in a more patriarchic society. Men in China are generally believed as the ‘leader of families and relationships’. It is less socially unacceptable for men to cry in front of women. Men in China are naturally expected to be the one who do most of the work and support the women emotionally. Thus many of us are shy when it comes to talking about our own problems and difficulties. This nonetheless contradict to the socially liberal values on gender equalities in the west, where the society has a more tolerate attitudes for men asking their misuses for emotional support. So during the time i dated my American ex, I had to deal with a tremendous amount of issues which gave me a really hard time. But due to my unwillingness to bother her with my problems, I refused to tell her what’s going on and pretended to be happy. I also tried to leave her some freedom and space by not texting her as much as I used to when I went away in Macau to resolve my family mess but it back fired. As my ex girlfriend is a strong independent but caring woman believed that I was not trying my best to communicate with her, finally had enough of it and I was left heartbroken.
The moral of this article is not saying that Chinese men are weak, ignorant or male chauvinistic, what I attempt to explain is that we are an ancient kingdom with rich cultures and histories but still bear many burdens from the past. Today more and more people are realising the problems with Chinese youth on dating and relationships, and they are gradually improving by bringing up changes in schools. But the key to a successful interracial relationship, in my humble opinion is that both parties must develop a mutual understanding to the cultural differences and expectations for both side. Cultural Globalisation is what I see as the vital step to strengthen the bridge of understanding between China and the West, not only in terms of dating but other things such as lifestyles, politics, commercial deals, languages etc Like what many anti-Trump protestors claimed : ‘Bridges NOT Walls’